Independence Day

Today was, of course, our second Saturday in a row. My hardworking husband chose to do a lot of yard work, including digging and installing a new hose line in the yard so I’ll have a spigot near my garden. He really hasn’t liked me dragging the long hose all over the yard. And of course the new setup will be more convenient for me too!

I did some sewing work and mostly tried to prepare ahead for this evening’s supper. Lina arrived at lunchtime and then spent quite a while outside in the hot sun keeping Walter company while he dug the water line. When he found he was missing a couple of parts he needed, the two of them went up to buy the parts—and also to stop by the snow cone place for a treat!

Meanwhile, Jasper was gone all afternoon having an airsoft battle with his friends.

As the afternoon wore on, we “seasoned” the new grill and then I could start using it. I had been marinating the chicken for about 24 hours and that takes longest to cook, so I put that in first. Later I added sausages and corn on the cob:

Not bad for our first meal on the new grill! I also made (hot) German potato salad and cauliflower salad to go with our meal. Spencer and Jade came over to join us and we didn’t do anything special except hang out as a family and then eat watermelon for dessert. I got out some sparklers but no one wanted to go out into the heat and light them, I guess. We’re pretty low key around here.

Sometimes a Cold is Just a Cold

I know that when I mentioned having a respiratory illness on Saturday, some of you were thinking CORONA. I was quite sure then that it was nothing serious, and I’m more sure now, after doing plenty of research and taking online assessments. I really do have just a plain old ordinary head cold, from which I am quickly recovering thanks to my grueling regimen of naps, fluids, and indolence.

And I would just like to point out that after eschewing sugar and following a keto diet and doing a lot of fasting over the last three years, I get sick much less often and when I do, I get less sick and don’t stay sick for long. It used to be that when I got a cold, I knew I’d be very sick for at least three weeks—first with the cold itself, and then with the sinus infection which always followed. So to be feeling so much better after only three days is pretty great, to be honest. This evening I am almost back to normal.

Of course, I did not go to church yesterday because I wouldn’t want to share even this less deadly illness with anyone. Instead I took a nap, as a precursor to my regular Sunday afternoon nap.

Sammy went to church with Walter, Jasper having left early to help with the lights. Sammy left right after lunch, having promised to mow someone’s yard—but right after he left it poured down rain! Maybe he was able to mow later in the day.

I made an easy Instant Pot supper, due to my weakened condition, which I think was a bit of a letdown for Spencer and Jade after last Sunday’s seafood feast.

Our regular family Zoom session was a hoot though, with Paisley in fine form blowing a series of raspberries and drooling copiously on a bearded Flynn. He’s growing a pandemic beard and it really changes his appearance!

Today I slept in (see above for my common cold cure) and then made sure to get some time in the sauna in hopes that the heat might kill off any remaining virus. I worked in my garden and wrote notes and did some embellishing on my slow-sewing project, my dressy mask. I’ve kind of neglected it in favor of knitting, which is easier to do while watching Lord of the Rings! I also made a loaf of sourdough bread for my husband as he was almost out. He only eats one slice of bread a day, so he goes through it very slowly.

Finally, now that’s it’s Facebook official, I can finally share some big news with you—our Mary and Jordan are moving to Colorado next month! Jordan has accepted a job teaching at the Colorado Springs campus of the University of Colorado. Since Mary’s job is mostly online, she will continue what she’s been doing.

I am SO HAPPY for them. Colorado has played a huge part in their lives and their relationship. They both belonged to a teen writers’ group that was based in Colorado, and enjoyed seeing each other at the annual gathering. Mary lived in Colorado for the year before they got married, and they honeymooned there.

Unlike their last couple of moves, they will be moving into a place where they already have a host of supportive friends—not to mention family in the form of Flynn, Tiffany and Paisley! They are buying a small townhome and looking forward to settling in.

My husband and I obviously have mixed feelings about this. We are THRILLED for them—but now, instead of being 380 miles away, they’ll be 850 miles away! So I’m sure we will see them much less often. On the other hand, every time we go to Colorado we will get to see more family! And speaking just for myself, I love Colorado and am quite happy at the prospect of visiting more often.

The Masky Month of May

Sorry for my silence last night. I just ran out of time—and I don’t really have time to write tonight either. I have finally finished the masks except for the one I’m making by hand. That one is going on my road trip with me tomorrow. I am finally going to visit my dad and help with going through my mother’s things.

So today was about getting ready for the trip and finishing the masks. I never anticipated that most of May would be about mask making for me. It hasn’t been fun. One of the reasons I’d never do it for a business is that I absolutely loathe making the same thing over and over. I’ve made 26 masks now! And I’m very proud of the fact that I haven’t had to buy any supplies. I had plenty of fun fabric to work with. All the right colors of thread. Wire. And, incredibly, even enough elastic! I thought I would run out but I found one last unopened package of elastic in my backup stash. If anyone ever questions the size of my crafting stash, I’ll just shrug and say, “2020.”

Parting Shot:

Here’s about half of the finished masks.

A Birthday Dinner

So, anytime we have a birthday dinner, it usually means spending the day in the kitchen, because typically my kids don’t choose easy meals. Today I made two loaves of bread, cut up and marinated nine pounds of chicken, made tzatziki sauce, tabouli, falafel, and Greek salad. Then I fired up the grill and grilled some of the meat while frying the rest, because I didn’t have enough room in any one place.

Mercy arrived late this morning, on her own as Daniel wasn’t feeling well. Lina arrived soon after and the two of them went out for coffee to celebrate Lina’s birthday (which is actually on Wednesday).

My hardworking husband had to work all day, between doing floors at the daycare center and fixing a pipe leak in the lawn at the property he maintains.

Spencer and Jade joined us for our big fat Greek dinner—chicken gyros with all the aforementioned trimmings.

Lina had made her own cake—German Baumkuchen. It is a grilled or broiled cake and hers has 21 layers!

It looked beautiful and I’m told it also was pretty tasty.

When not cooking, I finished three more masks today, bringing the total to 20. There are 7 more on my “to make” list—and then I hope I’ll be done.

Shopping & Socializing

I didn’t have any time to work on masks at all for most of the day. This morning I did my “big” shopping at Aldi. We have another birthday dinner this weekend so I had to make sure to be ready. And when I got home I had sourdough pizza dough to make too.

I did have a moment of amusement in Aldi though. The lady behind me in line at the checkout preempted the cashier’s spiel by beating him to it. “Hello, welcome to Aldi,” she said. “How are you doing? Did you find everything you needed?” The cashier didn’t know what to say!

After lunch my friend Darlene came over for tea. We haven’t seen each other for months and months. She brought me a Christmas present and a birthday present! So as usual when we get together, I ended up just about talking her ears off. I think I must have a backlog of words inside me after all this isolation.

By the time Darlene left, it was too late to take Lucy to the post office as I had planned to do. So instead I went to Walmart in hopes of getting the rest of the supplies I need for tomorrow’s dinner. Walmart did not have two of the things I needed, so I came home and did some online searching. I found one thing at Kroger and another at Albertsons, so I drove up to the other side of town and went to those stores. I don’t often need to go to four separate grocery stores just to get the ingredients for one meal!

Since I was running all over town, Lucy made the pizza and served supper. It wasn’t until this evening that I finally could start working on masks again. I’ve made a good start on four more and hopefully should have them done by midday tomorrow. Except that I’ve got a LOT of cooking to do too!

Excited about seeing some out-of-town kids tomorrow . . .

A Little Sick of Sewing

The mask marathon continues! I did do some other things, including running an errand and working on some tedious writing chores. But the day mostly felt like it was all about masks. I have now made 17. But meanwhile, I’ve had more requests from family members and I’ve also figured out how to improve the mask design. Naturally, it’s a little more time consuming, but the result seems to fit better. So this evening I cut out 10 more using the new design. I’m hoping that’s the last of them!

However, I have been facing a dilemma. Most of the masks I’ve made have used ¼-inch wide elastic ear loops. For a few I’ve been able to use elastic cord, because I actually used up all the ¼-inch elastic on hand. I have ordered some more elastic, but it won’t get here until the middle of next week—and I need to finish several of these masks by Saturday.

This evening as I worked in my sewing room, I noticed a clear plastic storage box and I stared at it for several seconds before remembering that I have a backup elastic stash. And there was enough ¼-inch elastic in there to at least make the masks that have to be done by Saturday! It’s this kind of experience that serves as justification for the hoarding of massive amounts of crafting supplies. Who could have predicted years ago that in 2020 everyone would need ¼-inch elastic?

Parting Shot:

I love it when my daylilies are blooming. I think they look like they’re smiling.

The Notecard Initiative & Slow Sewing

One of the lost causes I champion is the custom of writing and sending actual notes and letters on paper rather than using electronic media. Yesterday was the first day of my notecard initiative. Those of you who follow me on Facebook already know about it. It occurred to me that during this time of self-isolating and mandated lockdowns, some people, especially those who live alone, might enjoy getting a personal piece of mail.

I asked for volunteers who would like to receive a note from me, and received very few takers, but that’s okay because I already had a fairly extensive list of people I planned to send notes to. So my goal is to write and send at least one note a day until I run out of people to send them to. Believe it or not, this was a custom I used to follow in my youth—writing at least one letter a day to one of my friends. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t enjoy getting a personal note or letter in the mail—and it’s something I can do while staying at home myself. And, you know, even after all these years I am still full of words, so I don’t think I’ll run out.

My other big job of the day was working on masks. I’ve only made fourteen so far—I know it must seem like I would have made more than that. It feels like more! But I’ve had more requests from family members so I’ll be at it for a few more days.

Which brings me to another project I’m about to tackle. Years ago now, I read an article in a sewing magazine about “slow sewing.” All that means is to make something entirely by hand, like they did a couple hundred years ago. No sewing machine. No serger. Just needle and thread. I read that article and thought about how much I love handwork, and I knew that someday I’d take on a slow sewing project.

Ultimately I want to make myself a skirt or dress by hand. But it occurred to me that making myself a mask might be a good starter project. I have cut out a mask that will be my “dressy” mask and I plan to sew it entirely by hand. Who would have thought a year ago that so many of us would be wearing masks in public or that having a dressy mask would even be a thing?

Baking & Sewing

Today was a stay-at-home day, although I did have to go to Walmart for supplies this morning. I made banana bread this morning while the “real” bread dough was rising, and then later of course I baked bread.

Most of the day, though, I alternated between writing chores and sewing chores, with a little bit of envelope making thrown in too. I am doing some very tedious revisions on one of my manuscripts and I can only work on it so long before needing a change of pace. But I’m not complaining! I am so thrilled to have time to write again!

I got the rest of the face masks I plan to make cut out and have been working on them in between doing the other things. By the time I go to bed tonight I should have five more done. Just want to make sure everyone is covered because we are hoping to go to church tomorrow, and they want us wearing masks.

We had some rain today, but not nearly as much as predicted, so my husband was still able to mow the yard.

Tanner left this afternoon to go to Austin and spend some time with his family. I assume he arrived safely because I haven’t heard otherwise. He and Lucy are still waiting on word from Alaska.

Meanwhile, I guess those masks aren’t going to finish making themselves . . .

Out and About

I thought I’d be done with my grading by now—but thanks to waiting for some things to be handed in, I still have a little more to do. So I graded some papers this morning and then put them aside so I could finally take time to make myself a face mask, because I had a feeling it would be required in Dallas—and it was.

After lunch I set off for my first non-grocery-store trip in two months. My friend Joanna had invited me to come for a visit, and since this was my big chance to go the “big city,” I had a couple of things I wanted to locate, and Joanna very obligingly took me on my quest.

The first thing I wanted was some injera. Yes, I know I can make it. But real Ethiopians make it better, and I thought if I could get some and freeze it, we’d have it for the next time we eat Ethiopian. Believe it or not, Joanna buys her injera at a 7-11 gas station—that happens to be staffed by Ethiopians. So we drove to the 7-11 and sure enough, they had stacks of fabulous spongy injera for a very reasonable price. They seemed a little puzzled as to why two white women were so excited about it.

From there we went to an Indian grocery store in hope of finding some fresh samosas for me to bring home for a birthday celebration tomorrow, but alas the deli was closed. All was not lost, however—the freezer case had plenty of samosas so we both stocked up. Tomorrow I can just heat them up.

Having succeeded in our mission, we discussed supper, and Joanna willingly called my favorite Ethiopian place and ordered takeaway. I was so relieved it is still open! But the proprietor is worried that she won’t be able to stay open as business has been so slow. We took our food back to Joanna’s place and shared an Ethiopian feast with her daughter Olivia.

It was so nice to just be out of the house and even to spend the hours in the car driving! And it so happens that this excursion coincided with one of my favorite sights in the world, which is the moon rising just as I happen to be driving home (east) from Dallas. Tonight’s moonrise was so spectacular I had to turn off the music so I could just rave to the moon about how pretty she was. The giant amber disk rose so slowly and majestically as wispy clouds blew past her face. By the time I neared home, the moon was much higher and paler, but still stunning. I kind of have a thing for the moon.

Why I Can’t Ever Live in a Tiny House

It’s been a while since I talked about my tiny house obsession. I watch videos about them and scroll through photos of them and have a whole book about them. I think what attracts me to them is the amazing creativity that goes into them. So much care and thought and so many stunning artistic flourishes. I can’t stop watching. Some of those tiny houses cost as much as a full-sized house!

But what made me think about tiny houses today in particular is that Lucy and I are both struggling with the lack of an oven in this house. All those other appliances I listed don’t actually take the place of an oven. And an oven is the appliance that is so often missing in tiny houses. Many of them only have two burners and no other means of cooking anything. I’m sorry, but that would never fly with me. I’ve barely survived a few days with no oven.

So why couldn’t I live in a tiny house, even if it DID have an oven? Well, there are reasons. One is that I do a LOT of cooking, and no tiny house kitchen could hold all the pots and pans and appliances I’m used to using all the time. Another is that I have some bulky hobbies, like knitting and sewing. I have yet to see a tiny house with a yarn room or a sewing room, or even a sewing station with a sewing machine and ironing board set up. And climbing a ladder to my bedroom? Forget it. Especially multiple times during the night . . . .

But I still keep looking! And I think, if my ship ever came in, that I’d love to have a tiny house as a writing retreat, where I could hole up for days or a couple of weeks at a time, with nothing to do but write, write, write. And maybe knit a little. *sigh*

Today was an indoor day. I was busy preparing for my tutoring students this morning, and by lunchtime it was storming, so I just stayed in. I didn’t make it out for a walk either.

Today was my last day for the blond brothers and I know I will miss them. They’re both very smart and also cooperative and hardworking. At the same time, I am so thankful that this school year is coming to an end. We did have some fun writing haiku after they had read me their stories though.

Lucy had talked me into not cooking supper and instead getting supper from the drive-through at Brigitta’s Hungarian Restaurant (our family’s hands-down favorite on the very rare occasions when we eat out). So I called in the order (although sadly nothing for me) and Lucy and Tanner set off to pick it up. There was just one problem: a semi truck had gone off the interstate and into a creek right on the route that Lucy and Tanner needed to take. So what should have been a half-hour venture took three times that long. Everybody said the wait was worth it to get that good Hungarian food!

I have spent most of the evening researching and preparing for tomorrow’s Geography class.