Sunday, November 29, 2020

Food, Body and Other Miscellany

My hands are better. Or I'm learning to treat it better. It's amazing what teaspoonfuls of cinnamon and turmeric can do, helped by steamed green-lipped mussels Friday night, hand cream with mussel oil Thursday onward, fresh pineapples since Saturday; (a former weight-lifter Peter told me they are good for... something when I had a tennis elbow, if memory serves; tennis elbow-arthritis, roughly the same area??)
 
It is no exaggeration to say I was in pain. (Mind you, I've never been seriously ill or injured and my pain threshold is childishly low.) Worse than during the lockdown when I was more surprised by the look of my right pinky with a more specific pain. This time it was both hands, all over, up to my elbows. I sat in the kitchen dazed, trying to swallow large glasses of different teas with C&T. 
I don't care for the smell and taste of turmeric, the way it stains my kitchen counter, though I like it in curries, and the color on appropriate surfaces like fiber even if it's not colorfast. With teas, I discovered turmeric overpowers cinnamon, no contest, so most concoctions smell like whatever trying to distract turmeric and failing. By Thursday, however, either I was getting used to it, or blood orange tea has a strong enough smell, I could down it quickly. I also have pomegranate tea which Ben says has a strong scent; I tried it on Monday and it didn't work but I'll give it another go. Another I drink often, one called Mi Chai, which I assume is akin to Indian Chai some drink instead of coffee, could not compete at all with turmeric in spite of the strong scents. 
 
Yesterday morning was coldish, so I made C&T with warm milk. Lo and behold, turmeric blends well with milk (fat?) and the smell all but disappears while the lovely scent of cinnamon remains. Because it's milk, I can't drink large quantities as quickly as herbal tea, but this is a concoction bordering on nice.
 
It appears I must keep making and drinking C&T concoctions for the time being, though. Each glass full seem to work for longer, so I don't wake up with throbbing hands any more, but if I don't have one early-ish in the morning, by noon pins and needles return. And I am more comfortable if I remember to top up with another in the afternoon or evening.

I wove on the small loom in the kitchen all week. I'm preparing for the possibility I have to live with arthritis, because it keeps coming back. In this case, I want to train my body and mind now to get used to the idea of weaving in spite of it, because I'm kind of simple like that, I react in a certain way to a certain stimulus. It's worked so far; the pain is general/all over so no particular weaving motion made it any worse. Between Harry Potter audiobooks and the fun I'm having with colors allowed me to put arthritis on the back burner for the time being. 

Luckily desirable foods for diabetes and arthritis are similar. I was distraught when a good friend recommended a cookbook called "How Not to Die", not because I thought we would die otherwise, (well, we all will eventually, but...) I'm more, Delish/Yum/Domestic-Goddess kind of reader/eater. I tried to recall the 18 months when we succeeded in reducing sugar, fruits, root vegetables and carbo, and portion, rather drastically. Ben lost some weight, we felt healthier, and best of all we started to appreciate flavors better, and yet, and yet, that diet seemed bland and pale and tasteless in my head. (Mind you, the book's content appears good; it has a full chapter on beans, so I'm still thinking.) 
 
On Friday, we spent big money on a shipload of veg and interesting ingredients including new-to-us Indian spices. Coming home with all this and being reminded of how we ate made the world look slightly more colorful. After 18 months of slacking off, eating more "regular" food with more carbo, it's hard to walk past potato chips, for example, in the store, so we didn't avoid them. But we didn't need ice cream or chocolate on top. I got rye and spelt to keep baking our loaf a week, but also enough dried beans, so we can substitute with healthier ingredients. And then, there will be a great deal of cauliflower, again. 

And lucky we're heading into summer; it's easier to eat well now. 
Cannellini mash, which was a great success last night. When making it for ourselves, I make it more bland with its own cooking liquid and rely on the flavour of the main dish, but for company I used milk, ghee and salt. The texture was spot on, though I could still smell the beans. This is a most adaptable dish. 
Ben used it as a paste on toast this morning. 
I baked the weekly rye/spelt sourdough.
I made seed crackers, but I didn't pulverize brown rice enough the crackers didn't stick, so I gathered the bits in a jar to have with yogurt for breakfast. This morning, I was advised by Carolyn Olson to use corn flour to make them stick. 
Green and orange salad: fried carrots and zucchini, steamed string beans and asparagus, cucumbers and grapefruit segments from our garden. Ben made a sweet vinaigrette, which brought together all elements beautifully. Bottom is Esther's Moroccan Harira. 
This morning we had leftovers. Ben opted for toasts, but I chose a dollop of mash and an indecent 
amount of coriander. Boy, they do complete flavours don't they. I'm glad I started a biggish pot this year.
Esther is an amazing-est baker, but we had to decline her pudding. Or she declined to make it. We opted for pineapple, apple, banana and grapefruit segments in yogurt for dessert. It was very refreshing. 
Not a bad consolation prize, though, I say. Now we both want to grow peonies.  But gardening will happen in moderation when the hands are OK.
 
Looking back, during lockdown we ran through the supermarket to grab veg and protein most trips. Since we've been free to enjoy slow food shopping, we've been buying two and three treats rather than just the one. Or none. We were careful not to put on weight during lockdown, but we've certainly bulked up since. So, all in all, it's a good thing my hands hurt to alert us to what we're doing to ourselves now. Rather than relying on Ben's blood sugar level, relying on him to measure at the right times of the day, we now have my hands as an indicator for how we're doing.  
 
Not a bad thing, all things considered.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Meanwhile

Hello again. I've been "busy" doing normal things, pretty steadily for me, hurray, but haven't finished anything to show you in a ta-da! way.
I am regularly weaving the colorful Summer & Winter piece in the kitchen, a perfect position for a something-every-day project, but have slowed down somewhat; the best I manage is around 10cm. Most days I enjoy the weaving, but I am also growing tired of having a loom dominate the kitchen table, with a rather dusty warp at that.  

I was writing to Mom about this, but I couldn't explain well what I was doing. She's woven Summer & Winter, but in the usual manner showing off shapes, while for me it's about color/value interaction. And although I attached closeup photos, I'm not sure if she can see 60/2 tabby adding nuance to the 20/2 pattern. I'm pretty sure she can't.
 
(For non-weavers, this is a weave in which I alternate a fat "pattern" weft, the dominant horizontal color you see in the picture, with a skinnier "tabby" weft, ostensibly to secure the structure of the cloth so there are no long floats which may snag, but I use these to give nuances to the cloth's colors. For e.g. in the middle, purple section in the pic, I used a dark purple tabby first, followed by a pale olive green. These tiny threads can enhance harmony, create disharmony, or bring in very gradual progression, all of which are thrilling to experiment with.) 
 
Speaking of Mom, she can no longer hear her phone ring, she can't hear our voices on the phone well, and to be honest I'm not sure if she's interested in listening to what anyone else has to say. After she rang my sister half a dozen times in quick succession over some days and weeks, with demands, rants, and confused admonitions, pushing sister on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Sister asked the caretakers to take the battery out of her phone. Temporarily, I hope. That's gotta confuse Mom big time. 
 
Writing is the only way I can communicate with Mom at present, though she not being a writer I doubt I'll hear back. And to this end, I'm writing half a dozen very short letters and postcards at a time, with the emphasis on photographs and drawings rather than text. Ben's been posting them three a week for me, so half a dozen doesn't go a long way. A few weeks ago one Monday morning, I realized I may never speak to my mother again. But it is what it is. Mom dislikes hugging and sentimental expressions of affection, but I think postcards saying just, "Love you" or "Thank you" are forthcoming, in addition to old family photos.  
 
With the facility's own restrictions on top of the phone issue, at present Mom's lost all means to reach out to people outside at the moment, unless she writes, which no doubt is going to speed up her deterioration. It appears she's refusing rehab, too, so wheelchair and all kinds of what could have been temporary assistance are becoming permanent. But these are my conjecture. I'm aware I said I'll write about Mom a few times here, but her conditions/situation are changing, and too much is me guessing, so suffice it to say, not very good at all. 

* * * * *

The amount of rain we've been having is becoming unusual for this time of the year. I'm not complaining, it's been mostly pleasant for me, but occasionally loud enough I worry about the roof caving in. In between, I have been weeding, most recently between and under the carpet neighbour Katheryn gave us during Lockdown for the steepest slope between our houses. We also need to finish securing them to the ground. (We ran out at one point, but Katheryn gave us some more, and we never "nailed' those down.) On one of the hottest/sunniest days so far, I pruned branches blocking the sun to her magnificent lemon tree, for eight hours, with a small handsaw. That was exhausting, and to give myself a break, I missed out on a couple of gloriously cloudy and cool days on the weekend to finish the job. but I got some stuff done. 

Most of the more important patches, where we can see from our house, is now looking... bad, as if there was never any Lockdown gardening. And in fact we did work heck of a lot on unusual patches in our grand estate.  

During Lockdown, I had a brush with arthritis; it was very painful but concentrated on the right hand, and it went away relatively quickly with some green-lipped mussel ointment and by cutting out sugar/carbo from the diet. I had forgotten about it, until this week, when it returned big time. At first I honestly thought it had to do with weeding that particular slope, but the weeds are the same as everywhere else, and because it's my hands, both hands all over this time, not legs/feet, so it's got to be other reasons. We did have a particularly sugary/carbo-y day and a half with a successful rye/spelt loaf, (great with peanut butter and marmalade,) for breakfast; my first ever carrot cake for afternoon tea; and a very well-baked asparagus flan with supermarket crust. I was just thinking we need to go back to the bland but healthier diet. The last few days I'm back to no sugar/carbo, giant glasses of tisanes with cinnamon, (like!) and turmeric, (loathe!) and it's better today than yesterday morning when my whole body felt hot and overly sensitive to all kinds of sensations. 
 
To my knowledge neither of my parents had arthritis, but Dad had gout on one foot. I wonder if arthritis is something I need to be mindful of for the rest of my life. 

The only good thing is, foods best avoided for arthritis are similar to those bad for diabetics, so if we return to the healthy low-carb/more-veg-than-we-care-to-name somewhat-bland-but-easy-in-summer diet I was thinking of just a few days ago, we should be OK. Fingers crossed. 
Rye/spelt loaf. I use a no-knead recipe but I felt like kneading after watching a cooking show, and now I know this recipe isn't harmed by kneading.
A very moist carrot cake, because I'm always afraid of over baking things in our wonky oven, and I was in a hurry to turn it out. It went back in the oven at 30C fan bake for a while to dry it a little more this morning. This one is so delicious I can't believe I made it. 
A too-well-baked asparagus flan, because I forgot ours is a tart dish about half as deep as a flan/quiche dish. Yummy, though. Maybe one more before asparaguses disappear from the stores.

Carrot cakes and flans/quiches are some of my favorite dishes, but I've never made them before. It's that thing I do where I fear failing/ruining things I love, same as studying weave structures or buying fabulous yarns and sitting on them for years before actually putting them on the loom. Not delayed gratification, but an overwhelming reluctance. I'm getting old now, and if I'm going to have to live with arthritis on top of everything else, I better not put off things any more lest I'll never get around to them.  

These carrot cake and flan recipes are so simple and adaptable, we brainstormed options/substitutions all evening before my hands flared up. So... I'll try to concentrate on the weaving for now, but I'll have to create occasions to inflict the cake on (un)suspecting friends over the holidays. 

Be well, dear people.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Still Encountering First Time Problems

I had my "head" set on weeding today, (that is, not my heart,) but when we woke up we had... how can I explain it... misty, vertical-fog-like rain, so I gleefully returned to the loom in the kitchen to work on the "election" piece. A couple of hours in, I had a new problem! 

This loom has harnesses secured to the bottom of the loom with springs on both sides, pulling the shafts down when I return the lever to the "down" position. The mechanism makes a pretty loud noise, some days sparrows feeding outside the French doors jump and leave in a panic.

The very bottom circle (?) of the spring is bent outward, so it looks like a foot attached to a leg and secured with a screw. One of these circles broke, which was easily fixed, by Ben when he came home. (My fingers weren't strong enough to bend it.) But he discovered, either when the spring sprang, or always, the vertical bar on the harness to which this spring was attached was bent. If this was always bent, I hadn't noticed because I tied all extra heddles and vertical bars of the harnesses to the side of the loom, holding the bent one tidily in place. The loom works OK for now, so the plan is when this warp is finished, we'll take it apart, clean, and straighten the harness.
 
I can't remember when I was given this loom, and I don't remember if I cleaned it thoroughly, but that would be my normal practice, including waxing the wooden frame. I remember doing a sample or three before weaving the orange P2P, then this warp which sat on the loom for ten years. During that time it was covered by a thick cloth and sat on the same table facing the south (cold) window. I've been hand-vaccing the fluff every day I weave, but never really noticed how dirty it is. There was quite a lot of metal dust, which worries me. Overhauling this loom will be another of our summer break projects.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Buoyant

Yes, definitely, I have been able to look at life and take on tasks with a much lighter heart since Sunday morning. I unsubscribed from a whole lot of news sites, deleted my short-lived Twitter account, and copied out my mid/long-term To Do list. To be honest, I'm astounded how much "free time" I have now. 
 
Yesterday, Monday, I ironed, weeded that terrible slope Ben I worked on in the early part of the lock down, (it's just between the carpet/weed mat, but after seven days of rain, they were ever so robust, I'm between 1/3 and 1/2 done and will have to kill some with vinegar because the roots were like extra-strength gauze,) and wove. In the last while, I would have done only one or two of these in one day, but I managed three. I even thought of knitting in the evening, but the slope is hard on the body and I wanted to lie flat on the floor to stretch my back, so I played a computer gave while listening to Ben watching a 007 film.
The "spontaneous" piece is coming along. I can manage around 15cm in a day if I do little else, but I have been genuinely enjoying concentrating on the placement of "codes", planning the transition of the pattern colors, or talking and laughing out loud, (really!) playing with the tabby colors. And one clear benefit of the last component is, say, with one pattern color and three tabby, you get three nuances of one color, especially if one tabby is similar in hue, another in value, and the third complementary. My natural tendency is to create ripples of gradation, but when I'm able to step out and use unlikely pairs, the cloth becomes most inviting. 
 
I know this is fiddly, but honestly, I don't understand why I don't do this more often, or even have a permanent warp on one of the smaller looms, if only for mental health. And this particular table loom, ex-Nelson Polytechnic Weaving School spring-loaded 8-shaft, for some reason always allows me to weave with nice selvedges. 
 
* * * * * 

I love, love, love it when folks send me pictures of them with my weaving, but it's a slightly unnerving when it's another weaver. Here is lovely Ruby with Kaleidoscope.

Ruby and I have been exploring "ideal" cowel sizes. I remember some years ago I realized I had to make my larger scarves longer because most adult humans are taller than me, or else they have to wear it differently from how I/they intended. Then I had a friend commission a short, wide scarf because she lives in Tokyo and commutes by train, and didn't want extra length tucked in her coat nor getting the ends caught in traffic. So if there isn't "ideal" scarf sizes, it's even less likely for cowl, but still, it's worth investigating. I also noticed Ruby tends to produce scarves in three different length; if she/I did this for cowls as well, it's more likely one will fit most anyone, except this is more suitable if the pieces are sold in person. 

Kaleidoscope is 121cm in circumference. For the most part I've experimented cowls sizes with knitting because you can pull them every which way and not inflict damage. I have a large head/face, no neck, and chunky shoulders, while Ruby is more delicately proportioned and she can wrap this twice around her neck, although a few more cm would make it more comfortable in doing so. (I didn't dare try lest I'd rip it.) OK, just between friends, this is one of the embarrassing pictures I sent to Ruby while discussing sizes, in all my ancient work attire glory. 
The fabric of this piece is thin-ish, (not chunky,) and it doesn't hold shapes well on its own, so it's most definitely better to wear it like Ruby did. But there is more to investigate, and you know I find it intriguing thinner/drapier may not be the solution.  

Oh, I'm still selling, if you know of humans in need of scarves. Thank you.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Secret Codes?

I don't know if you've seen the 2008 film, "Wanted". It's about a group of assassins who end up killing each other, (what else?) but their headquarter is in a large factory with one loom weaving white plain weave cloth. In the cloth, if I remember correctly, are errors which are codes indicating their targets. 
 
Back when we were newish to blogging, a fellow blogger alerted me to this film. Although it was a while before we finally saw it, the idea of hidden codes within cloths has intrigued me ever since. (The binary nature of knitting has been used for secret codes in both World Wars. See the second half of this excerpt.) I'm not sure if weaving ever has, though.

This is what I was reminded when I walked past the loom late last night. While weaving, I couldn't see the patterns, and I was more or less weaving blind as far as the placement of warp-y areas was concerned. (Even though I can now see yesterday's picture shows it almost as clearly, so if you are wondering what I'm on about, I don't blame you.) It wasn't until I saw the cloth in a different light that I noticed. And I walked by many times looking from different angles. 
So, a not-so-secret code, but I bet we can use this to communicate.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

What Do You Do...

On a rainy day, when it's so dark I can't see what I'm doing inside? (And it just so happens there is a consequential election over yonder, but it's too early to find any coverage, and we shan't know the results for at least a few days?) Well, I put on a good story, "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" in this case, resurrect a 10-years-and-a-week old warp, drag the loom into the kitchen, and weave. That is, after consulting a book on Summer & Winter lift order. 
 
I didn't mean for it to be left for so long, but I had to be in the right mood for this. After relearning the lifting, I started to weave, and for someone who has great difficulty memorizing a simple twill lifting, it always amuses me to feel comfortable with Summer & Winter, on this particular loom. Perhaps it's something of a Pavlov's Dog thing; I was born in the year of dogs. And how relatively quickly it weaves.

The warp is 20/2 cotton with no rules re. color/numbers; the pattern weft is the same while the tabby is 60/2. Threading is 1-x-2-x, but I didn't necessarily make warp sets of 4 ends, so I may have 1-x-2-x-1-x-2-y, and so on. So I'm not lifting in a neat 4- or 8- pick sets, either, and colors can change anywhere. It's all pretty random.

To boot, I found a couple of knots in the warp. I remember doing this, but not why, and because it's too onerous to remedy now, even if I break warp ends, I shall tie knots and leaving them in. It can be my own "Grand Finale to 2020" piece. And hopefully nothing astounding will happen for the rest of the year. 

I am glad I took great care of this warp/loom in the decade it sat in my stash room. I knew I would enjoy revisiting it. Although compared to original P2P warp, the late Win Currie said I had too many distractions to enjoy the more saturated look of the piece when finished, and of course she was right.
(Dear Win passed away on Mom's 88th birthday 2 years ago after a really short illness.) 
 
Still, it's been good to get my mind off of weeding and politics for a day, thinking of how fun I had with P2P and all those exchanges and discussions, remembering Win, and being excited by the color interactions.
Apologies, it's mainly purple, and the changes in the tabby weft colors is what's fascinating, but the light is just too darned weird today. And yet I'm still weaving. Maybe we're in for more surprises when it's finished.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

"When is Now?"

After giving some thought to how I should phrase the question this morning, I asked Ben, "When is now?" What I wanted to know was, at which point of this year we "stood", on this gray tape I saw clearly, January at the left end, December at the right, and a black upside down triangle sliding along the top looking for the current position. 
 
Strange, because I knew it is simultaneously already and finally almost November, but names of the months lost their meaning a while back, and I needed to see it. 
 
* * * * * 
 
The weather has been crazy changeable this week, from do-we-need-the-fire? evenings to so-hot-my-skin-itches afternoons. We've also been going through a cycle of steady rain, (no flooding like many parts of the country, though,) and bright sun, which is great for vegetation. Or, from my point of view, we've entered the Gardening Season of Despair where weeding has become a cruel game of whackamole I'm guaranteed to loose. (The Internet says it's "whac-a-mole" but my spelling is better.)
We lost a bottle brush tree overnight. Strange how the dead part remain upright. We loved that tree, gave it quite a lot of TLC during lockdown, (maybe that's why it died?) but to be honest, I can't be bothered to miss it just now. It's on a slope so we'll wait until the ground is drier before we venture out to clear both. And see all the green bits around and under, coming back with gusto? That was all gone back in... (month.) 
 
* * * * * 
 
I've also had a congestion of thoughts which lived in my head for far too long, and while most days I couldn't stay with any long enough to finish a paragraph, on inert days I wrote considered and even researched blog posts until my eyes were blurry. Then I deleted them. These thoughts seemed so important, for me to record if not for you to enjoy, as if to prove I didn't just sleepwalk through 2020. But as I reread/revised, the excruciating details obscured the very thoughts and I couldn't stand my own voice. The one merit was, the exercise was cheaper than therapy. 

* * * * *

Some days I feel like a zombie; on others I take care of housework frantically. I'm not sleeping; I'm eating too much junk food; I remain in one posture for long periods; and I'm constantly holding my breath waiting for the next thing. And yet, over all, I feel fine; and that is not denial, but it's just a more urgent Destination Addiction.
 
We waited to go into lockdown, we waited to come out of it, twice; we waited for the election, which was delayed, then we voted early and waited two weeks for the news to catch up, and now we wait for the special votes and results of two referenda tomorrow, (marijuana and "euthanasia," although strictly speaking not exactly that;) I waited for the 16-month pension application to come through, (I got caught up with the Abdication, Japanese pension office data hacking, and Plague embassy closure and mail delays;) stuff related to Mom; a few trivial stuff; and now the American election. I catch myself holding my breath for no reason. Did you do that as a kid? One kid I babysat used to.      

* * * * * 

Now that I receive Japanese pension, (I get on one year a little less than what Mom gets monthly,)
I joined that group of Japanese pensioners who (help) pay for even older parents' care. I'm hardly unique, Japan cannot be the only country, and there are plenty who pay and care for their parents themselves. Still, this was not in my life's plan.

* * * * * 

It took a while but I listed scarves looking for nice humans to wrap around. Please have a look at my shop via the tab above.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Raucous

Gwen Diehn doesn't know me from a hill of beans, and I don't know about her personal life, (she has a son and a cat,) but I've been an admirer of hers since I found her "The Decorated Page" at our local bookshop in 2002. This was in the days when I was still exploring how to "be a weaver", crawling out of my should-have-been-an-academic mindset and looking for the right door to hippie/artist/artisan/that-other-life-dom. It may have been around the time I dedicated three months to every task in "The Artist's Way". 
 
I remember being somewhat surprised, (perhaps unfairly,) an art book had arrived at Nelson so soon after publication. I felt I was meant to have it. By the time I learned "The Decorated Journal" came out, it was a no brainer. This one even included detailed instructions on how to make our own books, a craft I marveled at and imitated since kid-hood.
 
I could never get enough of the beautiful drawings, the astonishment of seeing, (I had an inkling artist kept them,) beautiful notebooks/sketchbooks filled with not only drawings and mini paintings, but notes, tickets, maps, stuff, etc. The examples of travel journals still take my breath away. I learned "journals" had a specific meaning in a hitherto unknown context. And I gazed and gazed at the process pics of how-to pages but I never got my hands dirty. 
 
It was and is drawings that fascinates me, that making of shapes that remind me of "things". Of the many skills I envy in others, drawing easily, often, or without pain and anguish is among the top on my list. (Also true: I have no idea if the makers suffer in silence.) It's something I wish I could/would do more light-heatedly. For pleasure. If not of doing, then of having done it. I manage sometimes, but even a project like copying a Matisse portrait in a really tiny, quick, line or gesture drawing can be onerous. When you grow up with parents who nonchalantly repeated, "we are not people who draw or paint," as if this is OK, and still, "If you're going to do something, do it right,"... well, no wonder I carried an emotional boulder. 
 
A few years later I mustered the courage and took a short screen printing course locally, because I was good at prints in school. And because I loved the teacher so much, (still do prints with her when I can,) I took a mixed media drawing course with her without knowing what mixed media was, but I still did OK. Although... I swear everybody else had drawn/painted all day every day of their long lives, this was a short course and we were busy experimenting, so bad shapes didn't interfere. Finally, after a few low-enrollment cancellations and bureaucratic disappointments, I bit the bullet and signed up for a figure/life drawing class, which I thoroughly enjoyed for 6? or 8? years, culminating in a small exhibition with two classmates who were far more serious about it. 
 
I've done a few other things since, learned some skills, bought, tried and even used up new materials. I know I prefer old fashioned material like pencils, watercolor, (still have no idea how to use it "properly",) charcoal, collage and woodblock prints. I still admire well-made shapes. I'd like to be that person who draws a little, not just gaze and appreciate, I'm only 62. Early days. 
Lest you think this is going to be another one of woe-is-me-I'm-so-un-good post, there's a postscript. From time to time I look up artists' Pages on Facebook for my daily dose of eye-candy. I can't remember the specifics but I probably couldn't find Gwen's page and audaciously friend-requested. And well, politics has been stupid, the year has been weird, and social media has its own protocols, and as I was adding yet another raucous comment on her post yesterday, I realized, she doesn't know me from...

Friday, October 16, 2020

Meanwhile...

I had a trying few weeks, but I got over it with the help of herbal supermarket cures. I cleaned the house a little more seriously and elevated our status to "OK-clean", but that was a fortnight ago. I planted all hellebore babies just in time for a couple of days of continuous gentle rain, but I must get back to weeding bigly, all over, like two months ago, with gusto. I was nominated to post weaving pics for ten days on Facebook and that's buoyed my weaving gumption. After I got over moments of grave shaft-envy.
So I washed these, a hot pink scarf and a green/orange cowl. The cowl size is a little strange, and the fabric too thin, but there's enough to go over your head like a hoodie which I like. 
I also made calico bags but ran into a problem. I made the two on top right with the old fabric, which is thicker and 90cm wide, which I bought 10m or 20m way back. I got used to it; I fold it in half warp-wise, and cut the width required. The 45cm height was good for most pieces, with the selvedge left untreated at the top. With enough for only one more bag left, I bought the second lot, (I buy whatever the only fabric shop in town has packaged up, which is substantially cheaper than off the bolt,) much thinner, (I knew this,) but 110cm wide, (I didn't check.) Folded in half that's 55cm high, which when making bags 22cm and 25cm wide, is terribly badly balanced and difficult to use. The balance becomes OK-ish from around 30cm wide, top left. Without careful thinking, I cut the 55cm in half, and made bags 22cm high. Except... in this thinner calico, they look like reusable sandwich bags you might get in multi-packs! So we'll check out the only craft/fabric place in town this weekend to see if they have a good alternative, and if not, I'll rework them sideways. (Or if I've been working sideways all this time, ummmm... the right way up.) Anyhoo, this is in preparation for a much-delayed reopening of my online store.
I want to get back to the loom but I don't know how to reconcile the bad tension. You can see exactly where it started, about an inch back. While sampling I didn't like the tension, so before this piece I unwound/rewound roughly 150cm because that's about how long the first scarf was to be. Except when I do this, I really must unwind an extra 1m to complete the piece safely. I knew this but couldn't be bothered. I'll have a think maybe on the weekend. 

Tomorrow is election day in New Zealand but about half of expected voters, us included, have already voted. Friends are going to come over to watch the returns, which is also a sneaky way for us to eat well as they are such good cooks. But do keep your fingers crossed for our lovely Jacinda.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Something Something Disonnace

Now that we are back to Level 1, I shall try to revisit a difficult post I worked on for days and then deleted. I'm rambling, forgive me, because the fact I could not stay with any train of thought is one of the reasons I couldn't finish the post, or do much of anything that required thinking. But for what it's worth... 
 
For years I read the weather/climate affects mental health. I never bought this and was never bothered by bad weather; because Nelson tends to be sunny, warm and dry so many days of the year, I welcomed rainy days for a change. In the last few years, though, I've seen more dark, gray days I don't remember having previously, and about Days Four of those stretches, I felt my spirits wane.
 
With spring arriving, we have more days with strong sun and I've had headaches even when I stayed inside. That itself is an annual spring thing for me, but I was feeling so flat consistently I began to wonder if mild-to-moderate depression was returning. The definitive argument against this was I wasn't doing Jacinda's East Coast Wave, the thing I do with my eyes and chin that usually tells me it's time to get serious.

Besides thinking, I had a hard time reading, designing, (I have three more T-shirts to dye,) thinking of weaving or weaving, drawing, cleaning the house, or getting ready to go into the garden. On the other hand I didn't have to think too hard to knit, weed once I was outside but not planing, laundry/ironing, or do anything in the kitchen. I don't know what these mean, but at the time it didn't feel as simple as menial vs thinking tasks. 

One of the hardest issues, even though, (or because?) we didn't go outside our boundaries much, was the rules of Alert Level 2 vs the way humans were behaving in Nelson. Social distancing was seen only on posters and floor markings in public places. I'd be lucky to see one person with a mask on every outing, to the point once even we forgot to bring ours. 
 
We want to do the right thing, and we don't want to get sick, but by the same token we didn't want to virtue signal, and ended up needing a serious discussion in the carpark of a supermarket on Sunday. In the end, we took off our masks and stuck it in our pockets before going inside the store. Although the poster said' "One person, One trolley," which we interpreted to mean only one shopper from a family/group, we both went in because, I hate to admit, because everybody else was doing it. For this reason, I referred to go to our second favorite supermarket during lockdowns where the rules are somewhat more closely followed. All week, I kept looking up cognitive dissonance but I didn't have the patience to finish reading even a Wiki entry. 

As a Japanese who grew up with famously strict parents, who went to a Catholic convent school for 10 years, who tends to error on the side of caution on many issues, who hasn't got a problem following rules even when she disagrees when such things as a plague is concerned, I find it extremely difficult to understand?/forgive? the majority of folks who ignored them, and wondered who among them questioned in private. On the other hand, there have been no positive cases in Nelson/South Island in I can't remember how long; I concede life has been painfully normal in most respects, I don't blame folks who can't see the point in following the rules. And then there is the small matter of being visibly Asian in a rather white town and wanting to avoid unnecessary nastiness. 

So I was feeling flat all last week and then on Wednesday my sister told me Mom is in hospital for what she understands to be observation, (i.e. something more than the care facility is willing to handle,) but because of the Plague she can't visit and has to wait for the hospital to ring. And they haven't rung. I've got another post about Mom I started in... May? 

There is absolutely no doubt my news consumption isn't helping. That thing about being informed, witnessing history, blahdyblah. Let's face it, opening social media to read, too often only the headlines, is much easier than a lot of other things for a sloth. About a month ago I created a Twitter account just so I can follow a few journalists because they are not on Facebook, but it took me a couple of weeks to tweak/limit whom I follow and train myself to check only once a day. And because I follow no arts/books/non-political folks/institution, it is starker than Facebook how limited one's information leaning can be. It's also ridiculous reading a 37-tweet thread explaining the 5th Senate Intelligence Committee report sandwiched between Tottenham Hotspurs, (I know what that is!) and the state of the plague in Victoria, as if they are of the same importance. Also funny how childish/reactive/slogan-y some revered law profs and former [insert high-ranking legal/govt job titles] can be; so easy to unfollow when even I can think of a snappier dissing. 

Just to be on the safe side, I put myself on low-dose supermarket St John's Wart, and got some herbal sleep inducer. (I also noticed hay fever eased up when the mood was particularly low - I wonder if they were related. I was thinking of getting T-shirts saying, "Hay Fever, not Corona". ) I don't mind talking about my kind of mild-to-moderate depression, being asked about it, but I don't want to talk myself into it, and this time I'm hoping if I ignore and just do stuff, it might go away if it was ever here. 
Anyway... or as we used to say in Minnesota, Anyways... I'm OK. I hope you are, too.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Days of a Plague, Season 2, Week 6

Day 36, September 16. Day 36, September 16. No rain, bright sun, a whole lot of wind. I've been meaning to do a couple of thinky things but I can't stay on a thought. On the other hand, I "just" took a picture of the experimental knitting in the morning and, lo, I couldn't put it down. I knitted quite a lot, undid a lot, knitted some more, but found a big mistake and am contemplating undoing even more. I'll try at least one thinky thing tonight.

(Can you see the bump above the bottom needle?)
Day 37, September 17. Today was a sucky day. Not for a specific reason, (we saw three tuis on the cherry tree in the morning,) but it was a completely uninspired, wasted gray blob on the calendar. Even the fancy evening tea turned out a little weak.
Day 38, September 18. Baking Day 39, Photo Day 40. Feeling flat.
Day 39, September 19. Takeaway Day 39, Photo Day 40. Takeaway from the nearest takeaway. Not coping with the new Blogger editor and even thinking, in sane moments, of switching to elsewhere. (But will others be better?)

Also, considering our last Takeaway was May 23, we patted ourselves on our backs for cooking consistently, and in some cases, much better than pre-Plague.
Day 40, September 20. Not takeaway today, because we went to the supermarkets. Yup, two, plus the Asian food market. And we have junk food. (Sorry, not in focus. We were hungry.) 
 
I love the tails because they're not greasy, but Ben prefers the meaty parts. Today I got my way.  
Day 41, September 21. In a couple of hours everybody except Auckland goes to Alert Level 1, (and Auckland to Level 2 48 hours later,) meaning, once again, other than the boarder being closed, we are free to do as we please, (but keep a log of where we go, wash hands, stay home if sick, etc.) It's just as well because the ambiguous Level 2 was starting to get on my nerve, even with my easiest of lives. 
 
Today I planted hellebore seedlings all afternoon, as well as two-thirds of sage and prepped rosemary for propagation just in case I kill the one I want to move. 
 
And this concludes this diary's Season 2. But the future is unknowable, isn't it? We humans will be living with this virus for some years to come, and I don't know if it means we will go to another lockdown, in the near or not-so-near future. But if we do, oh, please let it be anything but Level 2.

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, friends. We are still all in this together.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Days of a Plague, Season 2, Week 5

Day 29, September 9. Ben's Holiday 10/14. Ward Update: Patient B slept OK and made bitter coffee in the morning, Not-Nurse M added lame cheese toasts and leftover salad. It's windy, so food foraging may be next. Wind-permitting, weeding OR washing a WHOLE bunch of tiny plastic pots OR lost wax project in the afternoon. Garden Center is out because neither of us can lift large bags of potting soil. Or weaving. 🤣🤣
Does anyone remember what occupied this space before the travel agency? A bank branch? I don't remember it being a sporting goods shop this side of December 1996, though.

We watched the recording of the update; we must stop watching the press Q&A afterwards as I fear stupid might be contagious. Then we left home at 2.30 to go to the PO, bank and the supermarket. Schools close around 3PM in New Zealand and many parents pick up their kids in the family car, resulting in Part 1 if afternoon traffic jam, on the road and in shops. We came home around 4.30 exhausted. (In Non-Plague time, we often went to the supermarket in the evenings.) But I still have got it in me to draw a little, and if not, I'll knit.

6PM Update: Patient appears to be in far less pain than initially anticipated, OR being a real man by not showing it outwardly, getting in and out of Pajero more easily than short, old Not-Nurse. (Actually it reminds me of my wonky hip problem; he says staying standing up is easier than changing posture or staying seated.) Patient also chopped cabbage finely for coleslaw, prepped yogurt, and may cook fish for dinner. Not-Nurse is unsure what her duties were, but will start the fire anon and later prepare a hot bath. Medication will be reduced from 3*generic minimum dose paracetamol/day to 1* starting tonight before bedtime.
Day 30, September 10. Ben's Holiday 11/14. I hoped it would be like the weekend when rain was forecast throughout but we got it for all of 20 seconds while I was outside taking a pic. I woke up at the regular time but was consumed by news for hours, HOURS, just reading headlines and summaries but not full articles. Remembering sourdough was waiting, I got up, and:

Made mayo; made coleslaw with cabbage Ben chopped yesterday.
Prepped rye loaf; fed sourdough.
Checked latest lacto-fermentation; all but one (beetroot) went into the fridge; got rid of the white mold and added filtered water in the one troubled bottle; this stays on the table.  
Washed/soaked cannellini.
Salted tonight's steak. 
Had a wee break with coffee No 1. 
Made Tondoori Masala marinade; marinaded chicken for Chooza Tikka and Butter Chicken.
Stomped outside, fetched a paver, shooed away a blackbird digging around the healthiest new Slate for the third day, and placed the paver in front, and some wood behind it. He came back in 12 minutes to dig elsewhere. 
Washed dishes.
Had coffee No 2.

This took less than the aforementioned "hours," but since it was raining, Ben casually mentioned we, (i.e. I,) could make tapenade with some old black olives. Instead of making a mental note and putting the jar back in the fridge, I was on autodrive. Without caper, without anchovy, though, it morphed into a nuts and seeds paste with a lot of thyme and garlic and Ben's peppery olive oil. It was actually good.

I realize some of the tasks in the list took no more than 10 seconds, but some days one yearns for a sense of achievement any way one can get it. Thinking back, had I gotten up at the regular time when I woke up and gone outside, I could have had half a day of working in the hellebore patch. I'm loosing patience with myself because this week plants/weeds are growing at a visibly freakish rate; I kid you not, it's like a bad movies!

After 4PM, the sun came out, the temperature was nice, I was so keen to go outside to do something, but couldn't think of anything I'd be happy to do just for an hour before dark, (or when rain returned,) so I thought to draw. (I haven't started at the time of writing.) I am struggling with drawing lately, partly because I don't do it regularly. I loose not only the knack but the love for it; I find the drawings uninspiring, dispirited.

Still a goodish day. More than half the fridge content is our own pre-processed food. :-D It means for the foreseeable future there is variety in our salads/sides without fuss. So, yay me? But I'm not going back to the kitchen for the rest of the evening.
Day 31, September 11. Ben's Holiday 12/14.
Day 32, September 12. Ben's Holiday 13/14. For the first time Ben went to bed without painkillers last night, and though sometimes uncomfortable, he seems to be doing OK. Phew. In fact, he weeded in a more or less normal posture for some hours in the afternoon, and isn't bent out of shape. I got distracted by a backup software, (I thought Ben instructed me to watch it first and then to do something afterwards; turns out I only needed not to shut down the laptop,) but I, too, went outside later and put three hours' work, including some upside-down convolvulouos root digging where my body is at a higher elevation than my hands and the roots. 

I love strongly scented plants. Last Monday I cleaned the thyme pots, of which we have quite a few! Today I pruned untidy sage plants and prepped for propagation. Near sage I have oregano that's growing not where I put it, and a rosemary I propagated in a shallow planter and left in a suitable position. Of the half a dozen, one grew so well and is now over 2 meters long growing sideways and its roots deep in the ground through the planter. I would like to dig it up without killing it and without destroying the terracotta planter, and put it in the ground properly.

I also have some heliotrope babies that need shaping, and quite a lot of what we call Erica but we know it's not the right name. Their needle-like leaves smell divine, but we lost three because miniature Kowhai above grew so vigorous, it deprived them of light. I also rescued Ben's favorite shrub with yellow flowers, (NO idea what it is,) some years ago from underneath the Kowhai; it didn't do to well in the new position and we thought we lost it but Ben found it while weeding. Other than roses, I am in charge of pruning, except tall trees we do together, so after the hellebore patch, I'll be going around giving everybody haircuts. Sadly, our lilac bush and gardenia-in-a-pot appear well and truly dead.Ben also found out the roots of either a cherry tree, or more probably the big maple, is spreading so vigorously it's now cracking out driveway concrete. That will need professional solutions. 

I'm trying to put as much of what I've propagated in the last... decade into the ground now before the ground becomes too dry and hard. But I say that every year about now. I almost sound like someone who likes to garden, don't I?
Day 33, September 13. Ben's Holiday 14/14. Photo Day 29. Boo hoo, Ben's last day of holiday. We cooked, ate well, didn't go out much; we had hoped to brunch in a cafe and there was a movie Ben wanted to see, but we did neither. Which sounds more or less a typical Nakagawa staycation.

Today we slept in, had a ho-hum breakfast, and I set out to make Butter Chicken for the last night. It was darkish and windy in the morning so I took my time. Ben, on the other hand, might have overdone it yesterday and had an uncomfortable night, but ended up in front of the computer for quite a long time. I.e. most of the day!!

Butter Chicken took longer than usual; I'd forgotten to get tomato paste so had to improvise. I've also been too enthusiastic about fenugreek since Ben commented that makes our house smell like an Indian restaurant, but I'd overdone it and the concoction was turning bitter.

Wind died, sun came out, I was missing out on outside time, but I was nowhere near finishing, all worked up in frustrated, exasperated panic. I did the best I could, it was nearly 3PM, but the only remedy in calming down was to engage in some carnage in the garden.

These days it's light enough until nearly 6PM, so I kept digging convolvulous roots around the hellebores. Though the job wasn't as meticulous this year, and already tiny grass is coming through the bits I weeded first, I'm declaring "winter" weeding completed in Hellebore Patches I and II. I still have to feed them, mulch, place obstacles for cats and blackbirds; and dig around and reset the pavers, but, hey, it's something.

We quit investing in bark, though, because that's an open invitation to blackbirds; they not only make a mess but dig too deep and take out younger plants. I used to have a dozen purple Heucheras in between hellebores, (all different kinds!) but their roots are shallow and blackbirds routinely took out 40cm plants, so now I only have one hidden a little way away.

Last week I noticed bluebells had come out suddenly and I loved the color combination of pale blue and dark purple, so today's pic is a "before" pic. It looks dry but that part of the garden is like a wind tunnel and it only gets dryer in summer, so this is our tough love gardening. Slightly to the left, the next area I'm attacking, currently has creamy alstroemeria behind rosemary, and they, too, are producing a lovely color combo. I always like dark blues and purples, but these pale purples are working out this year.  

Not even I imagined I'll be talking like this, but here's the clincher: the FB succulent group told me the damage done to one of mine was due to snails and slugs, and I had to go out every evening to check for the and kill. And I do. And now, (gulp!) I can even pick up slugs with my bare hands! Although it is followed by frantic Plague-Plus washing.

Ben "goes back" to work in the morning.
Day 34, September 14. Lovely sunny day, but we expected another 1PM update, so once again, I scheduled my morning around it. I'm not sure if watching these live is that important, or reading summaries later would suffice and I'm just using them as an excuse, or to anchor my life. Anyhoo, I took a bunch of photos of these fading dark pink hellebores, and some of the outside ones, in my pink PJs at hours normal people were heading to work. :-D

Parliament was dissolved on September 6 in preparation for election on October 17, but I assumed the Labour-led cabinet was deciding, and Jacinda was announcing from Dunedin where she was today; the uncertainty annoyed me. And though that was the case, silly camera person showed Jacinda only, and the sign interpreter was just out of view and but we could see his shadow!

Auckland will stay in Level 2.5 to be reviewed next Monday. (There is potentially another cluster, though I doubt we'll know before next Monday.) The rest of the country remains in Level 2, with a lot of fancy language, but nothing changes for the week. Rules on public transport changed but that doesn't concern us. There was a big anti-lockdown protest in Auckland, but I'm glad the government didn't succumbed to political pressure. Aotearoa* is becoming divided, populist politicians and business folks are spreading stupid. The worst part is, it's always the already vulnerable communities that is affected the worst.

I had intended to, and needed to, go out for sanity's sake, even though the sun was really bright and I was getting a headache even inside the house. I dithered for a long time, too. Once again I wanted to plant some stuff as rain is forecast for the rest of the week, but planting requires some thinking and I just couldn't manage, so I planted myself in one of the worst weedy areas and did my thing. Sure, shoulda done more in the winter, shoulda done more last week, so new plants are already in the ground, yadda yadda, but just because rain is forecast doesn't mean we'll get some, so maybe there is time to pop out if I have good ideas.

*It's Maori Language Week, and Jacinda thought it'd be great if we used more Maori, starting with "Aotearoa" i.e. New Zealand. Until a few years ago I had my heart set on learning some Maori, (and a lot of Italian,) but I abandoned them because English is hard enough. But I hope to learn a few words, and perhaps untranslatable concepts, my fav. 

PS. Sorry about the horrible windows. I have firewood under the kitchen windows so I can't hose them down just now, but perhaps I'll add that to my list and move the firewood, so I can see my progress while I work in the current patch.
Day 35, September 15. Brilliant spring sun, slight breeze, perfect for weeding. Except on Wave II Day 3 of Hay Fever my eyes were so itchy I used eye drops before finishing the usual morning chores. Still itchy, with more eye drops plus nasal spray plus antihistamine, I waited for them to kick in, taking pics around the kitchen. I was going out at noon one way or another.
 I wondered if I can cut this up to get multiple beet roots?
Lovely cool temps, occasional wind. Then more wind. Then cold gusts and gray sky. Around 12.45 soft rain; by 12.55 it was cold and the rain got serious, I came. By 1.05 the sun was out again, and 1.07, rain stopped. It was going to be one of days!

But rain is good; plants needed it, the ground needed it, and hay fever eyes really needed it. I left a small shovel and seed packets by the front door so I could rush out if the spirit moved; otherwise there was plenty to do inside.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Days of a Plague, Season 2, Week 4

Day 22, September 2. Ben's Holiday 3/14. A year ago today I boarded a plane to come home after three weeks helping siblings clean out mom's condo and move her into a care facility. It was a tumultuous trip and I had stuff on my mind. Though I've written to and spoken with Mom many times, and communicated with my sister and one friend electronically, I wanted to write to them once the dust settled.

After coming home I bought nice Kiwi design cards, but I was never sure what to say. Finally in November I filled up the cards and bought NZ chocs and nice smelling soaps but never got around to posting them. It was a busy-ish summer and/or I might have been avoiding sounding OK with everything or felt I hadn't said enough. Came the merry season and we ate the chocs and used the special soaps.

It's these letters I was going to write yesterday, in addition to the scribbles inside the cards. I wanted to type and print them because my handwriting is difficult to read at best and it's easier to edit while typing. I felt I had to say something... meaningful... in addition to Corona, the weeding, cooking and the temporary absence of weaving. Put some thoughts into them.

Except the printer broke. Or Ben broke it. Whichever, it has served us for many, many years and, as much as I hate throwing things away, especially plastics, let's face it, it's nigh on impossible to get old electronics repaired these days. Especially in a small town. So that's on order. I drafted the first letter.

It's really been a LONG and VERY short year.
Day 23, September 3. Ben's Holiday 4/14. Planned to go outside as soon as I washed the dishes, but remembered we bought veg to process, so I thought I'd do them quickly.

We love lacto-fermented beans and beetroot, but I fail more often than not, so I used smaller jars. Also roasted beetroot; prepped sourdough that'll go in the oven tonight; made mayo. Remembered I did a load of laundry yesterday so gave it another rinse cycle, sniffed, and hung them; tried to take an old stain out of mom's jacket... And... it was nearly 2PM.

I have to change the way I spend the day; the sun is getting stronger so I should go outside in the morning to weed, come in when the sun is strong, and do whatever, rather than the pattern I fell into during the autumn/winter lockdown. Starting tomorrow.

As long as I didn't go outside, I promised myself I'll finish the letters instead. It's OK, there is six more hours of today left.
Was-Pink
Was-Purple
Was-Purple
Still-Slate
Day 24, September 4. Ben's Holiday 5/14. I was really really tired today. Alert Level 2 (and 2.5 for Auckland) was extended; Cabinet will reaccess on Sept 13.
Day 25, September 5. Ben's Holiday 5/14. Photo Day 26. Last night I was planning on an early night and checked FB one last time at around 10PM. I stumbled upon the start of Reuters' live coverage of Beirut rescue attempt and watched it for four hours. Between a dozen to twenty folks, men and women, took turns removing rubble using hands, gloved and otherwise, two shovels and two pick axes, occasionally assisted by large dust sucker/s, a large shovel attached to a vehicle, and a vehicle attached with a large pillar-like thing that can extend and pull/push, which may be the same as the shovel vehicle, and I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. It was a painstaking, slow process, occasionally made worse by what the comment section said was helicopters raising such bad dust the screen just turned brown. There were a few small drones as well. Reuters turned it off when yet another sensor/scanner was set up and everybody with a heartbeat had to leave and all the communications machines had to be turned off. Today I kept looking for an update and found none.

(Two guys never lifted a finger, just observing, talking, giving orders. One of them had a snack while everybody else was working, and took a selfie with the other boss guy.)

I also remembered I joined an NZ succulents FB group a while back and switched back on their feed. Who knew succulents had proper Latin names, different sub species, and oh-so-many fans who spends hours and dollars loving them! I'm only interested in keeping mine alive and propagating when possible.
Day 26, September 6. Ben's Holiday 7/14. Hopefully the last of the yucky sucky days. The weather wasn't great in the morning so I tried to take care of as many small unfinished jobs as possible; among others I wrote aforementioned letters - four not three. Now we wait for the printer. I also looked up Beirut rescue gazillion times; that appears sadly more or less over.

Second week of Ben's holiday we sincerely hope to get some yard work done. Honestly.
Day 27, September 7. Ben's Holiday 8/14. We didn't feel like going outside, but hey, this is the start of Week 2 of Ben's holiday and this was supposed to be a weeding/gardening holiday, so we went outside, took up our respective stations of choice, and worked all afternoon. And we feel great, though Ben's lower back and my legs are tired.

This tulip bulb is about 20 years old. Though the flower has become smaller and smaller, it never fails to bloom. This year the plant is about 20cm tall, but see, the flower is ready. I planned to finish weeding the two main hellebore patches, but ended up weeding/pruning/tidying the pots. Tomorrow, hellebores.

Lately as I weed, I've been listening to the audiobook of Roth's "The Plot Against America". It's mind-blowing how he knew authoritarian tactics so well. It's... what's the word... breathtaking in a astounding way. And no weird sex in 7/12 of the book.
Day 28, September 8. Ben's Holiday 9/14. We must have had a good day yesterday because we both slept soundly until 8.30. Today was a beautifully sunny, cool day with a slight breeze, but neither of us went outside, because, ladies and gents, Ben definitely pulled a muscle. There is a Japanese word for this "injury", but we don't know if there is an English equivalent. Ben's done it in the past, and so have I. We stayed inside, Ben taking it easy but stretching regularly, while I nagged, coaxed and nursed to make sure he did. I'll go outside tomorrow, though; I get so frustrated when he doesn't mind me.