Saturday, September 16, 2017

Walls

Our housemate moved out a week ago, and I'm still trying to get the house back together.  Any change, whether it takes place in our portion of the house or not, is still unsettling, and she and I had lived here for 17 years.  Before that, we were roommates in my 20s and early 30s, so even though the changes has been a while coming and is the right thing to have happened, it's still difficult to get used to.

We're empty nesters, more or less, and I didn't expect to feel like that.

But on to what I wanted to say, rather than what I haven't quite figured out how to talk about yet.  I had to undecorate the halls so the movers could get furniture out without damaging my stuff, and that's when you realize how much stuff you have.  I took 70 things off the walls, and then had to pull 70 accompanying nails -- because you don't want the movers to get caught on them, of course -- and now I'm patching the holes.

Because what I've decided to do is to not completely redecorate.  We're going to be moving ourselves in the next year or less, and partly I feel like there's no point in putting it back up to have to take it all down again, but the other, more pressing thing is, watching her move was a learning experience for me, and I want to have as much of my excess out of the house before the move as I can.  There's no way I want to move it all to a new house and then realize it doesn't fit.

So things are going to go back up on the wall slowly.  With deliberation.  I've gone through all the piles of artwork and odds and ends that were hung and I've chosen all my favorite pieces, the ones I know I'm going to keep.  I'll place those, and then I'll go through the remainder and find some pieces that work with the ones I've rehung.

The rest are going.  Really.  They have to.  There's no way in hell I'm going to have another house with a 3-story, high-ceilinged stair hall to decorate.

If I do, I need my head examined.  Someone please remind me of that fact if I show up here one day talking about my new BIG house.

Right now it's both oddly quiet and strangely noisy in the house.  Quiet, because there's no one upstairs, and noisy because without things on the walls to absorb some of the noise, every single sound echoes.

It's like the house is telling me it's time to move on.  I'm listening, really; these things just take time.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

zero waste

Over on my Facebook business page, I have a weekly Recycle Tuesday feature.  Since most of those are either photos or links to articles elsewhere, I don't generally share them here.  But every once in a while, something is so good that it needs to be spread around.

One of the reasons I got into upcycling was the epiphany one day that I was throwing out more fabric than I was using.  I'd always kept scraps, but never really did much with them until I started my business.  This designer closed his business and then got the scrap epiphany -- in a major way.  Here's a video showing his technique.  Watch this and try to stay away from your sewing machine.  Just try.  I dare you.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Moving on up

17 years.  Still never finished the paint job
I bought my house in West Philly in spring, 2000, so I've passed the 17 year mark.  During that time, my life changed a lot - and quite a few of those changes were brought about because of the house.

I bought a big house because I looked at my friends buying "starter" homes and thought, I never want to do this again.  I'm not buying a small house so that I can buy a big house later.  So I went big from the beginning, big enough that my oldest friend could rent an entire apartment on my third floor.

In 2005, I met Mario, through a neighbor.  I would have never met either of them if I hadn't bought the house.  He and I got together in 2007, and married in 2011.  Slowly but surely, he moved all his stuff into this house, and it got absorbed with no loss of space.  During this time, I also sewed a lot, bought even more fabric, started a business, bought more fabric for that, and just . . . bought more fabric.

There's also a really good thrift store down the street, and the phenomenon  known as "Penn Christmas," when all the students leave the neighborhood and abandon most of their worldly possessions on the curb.

So, in 17 years, I moved a one bedroom apartment into a 3 story house (with an attic), added 2 more people, a dozen or so cats, and filled the house to the bursting point.

Now our housemate is moving out at the end of the month, and we'll have an empty third floor apartment - which can't be rented to just anybody, because they would literally have to walk through our house.  Trust like that only extends to your oldest friends, who can not only be trusted with your stuff, but with your cats.

The porch raccoons were not my favorite guests
This coincides with the City raising property taxes in the last few years.  Taxes have gone from $1300 when I moved in (2000), to $6500.  With no increase in services, street repairs, or anything else that I can see.

So it's time to move.  To a smaller house.  A "starter" house.  With a bit more yard, far less space to cram stuff, and a slightly longer commute to work.  (Not thrilled about that part, since I've lived within walking distance of work since I was 19).  But the nearby burbs are where it's at for us, where we'll be able to find a smaller, less expensive house, with possibly lower taxes (but at least a higher level of service for said taxes).  More yard.  Did I mention I want more yard?

After our housemate departs, I'm going up to the attic and start ruthlessly sorting.  If it stays, it goes into her space, for now  Otherwise, it's getting donated down the street or put on the curb.

I'll start my own Penn Christmas, all by myself.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Blanket Bears

The receiving blanket bear / bunny / animal project is still moving along - at this point, it's my best-selling Etsy listing.

There's a lot going on right now, gearing up for show season, and I'll have a lot more to show soon.  For now, I'll just leave you with a selection of some blanket bears, old and new.  Most of them are the classic stripe, but every so often someone surprises me with a totally new blanket and it's a treat to work with.












  







Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Camp, week 2

The second camp session there were 4 campers.

This was a mistake.  With the space I have, and the attention they require, 3 most the most I can handle.  Possibly the most they can handle, as well.  There was more squabbling this time - for space, for machines, for attention.  Just for the fun of it?

But we still got a lot done.

The girl who started doll making last time finished a total of 15 dolls. She's going to sell them at the local farmer's market during Labor Day weekend, with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.  (It is West Philly, after all).  The second girl made a tote bag/birthday gift and helped with clothing for the dolls, and her little sister (the quilter), made accessories and a very large bag to carry them.

The fourth girl, who only did the second week, wanted to make a dress.  She showed up with 2 different fabrics, one for a dress for her little sister and one for herself.  Since we didn't have patterns to fit, we just took her tank top and drafted a pattern from that.

The pink gingham is for her sister (they're 3 years apart but nearly the same size because my student is a gymnast), and the zebra stripe was her own.  Because the zebra dress was more fitted, we added a zipper and did a front and back facing to make the neck and armholes neater.  The smaller dress was just pull-over and had hemmed neck and armholes, mostly so she would get frustrated and agree to learn about facings.  (It worked).

I think we all learned a lot.  They learned about sewing and the best ways to drive me crazy.  I learned a lot about patience and how loudly I can bellow without scaring the neighbors and yet still be able to freeze 4 girls in their tracks.

Not sure if I'll be doing this again next year - we've been talking about moving, and it might put us out of range, but it's still a possibility.

I learned enough to know that I'd do it again, just a bit differently next time.






Saturday, August 12, 2017

Camp Projects

Another camp session will start on Monday (I'm not ready, I'm not ready) and I wanted to share some projects from the first week.

Two of my campers are sisters, 9 and 11.  The 9 year old wanted to make a quilt.  She'd made a few small patchwork pieces in the after school class, but she wanted something big enough to sleep under.  I said sure, thinking, "She's 9, she'll realize how much work it is and find something else to do."

Nope, not this kid.  It may be a little wonky-shaped, and some of her fabric choices weren't the best -- but at 9, I would have mixed fabrics with abandon, too -- but it's a quilt, it's big enough to sleep under, and she did it in a week.  I'm really proud of her!

Some of the squares got decorated with patterns from my embroidery machine, which was in use as a reward for good work.  Others have pockets, or drawings, or drawstrings from a pair of PJ pants so she can practice braiding.

We yarn-tied it, because machine quilting may be a little much yet, and with 2 (soon to be 3) other campers, there really wasn't enough space to properly lay it out to stitch.  After being shown, she did most of the yarn work herself, except when the layers were really thick and she was having trouble pulling the needle.  Then I showed her how to pin the binding, and she stitched it herself.

Her older sister, who for a year has fought the idea of hand sewing, decided she wanted to make these hand-sewn felt dolls she'd found in a book.  Because she learns best by repetition, she's now made 8 of them, and she intends to sell them at the farmer's market in a few weeks.  The third student didn't have a specific project in mind, and decided to join in on the entrepreneurial project by making clothes for the dolls.

And because they're kids, in addition to the sewing and inevitable eating, there was some goofing around.  It's not sewing until someone falls into the box of stuffing and can't get out.



Thursday, August 3, 2017

Happy campers

After four semesters of once-a-week after school sewing class, I decided this summer to take on a week-long sewing camp at my house.  Actually, two sessions, separated by a week so that teacher has a chance to recover.

It's been interesting.  In a mostly good way.

I don't have kids.  I've never particularly wanted them, and this week has reinforced why that was the right choice for me.  It's also made me realize that kids -- particularly smart, creative ones -- are pretty cool, so long as you can give them back at the end of the day.

There are 3 campers this session, 4 next time.  They're all from my after school class, my favorites, the ones who worked hard and actually wanted to be there.  Which doesn't make them any less than what they are, which is 9-to-11 year old girls, stewing in their own pre-adolescent hormones and with more energy than they (or I) know what to do with.

My cats took one look at them and moved upstairs for the duration.  Katie is the only one who comes downstairs, and she generally likes to supervise from the middle of the dining room table, where all the action is.

Tonight she's paying the price.  She's been out cold like this on the bookcase for over an hour, with no sign that she's moving anytime soon.

Actually, I feel pretty much the same way.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

African dolls

I drafted this post a few weeks ago, scheduled it, and didn't notice when it didn't appear.  So it's a little belated, but here it is.

I'm not sure if I've posted about these particular dolls before, but if I have, now there are more.

I made the first African doll for a co-worker at a former temp job.  Her granddaughter was looked after by a neighbor from Liberia who wore traditional clothing.  She wanted her granddaughter to have a doll that looked like her caregiver, and to grow up knowing that friends -- and dolls -- come in all colors and costumes.

I posted a photo of the doll when I made it, and it sold before I turned it over to my co-worker customer.  Thankfully there was more fabric, so I made her another.

After that, I made more and listed them on Etsy, and when the original fabric sold out, I found some authentic wax print fabric at the thrift store, and reached out to my sewing friends for any scraps they might have on hand.  (Being sewers, they had scraps and were happy for them to find a home that wasn't theirs).

The doll on the left isn't actually authentic fabric, but I loved the pink/gold/brown combination.  The green/white and pink/lime/black are real African textiles.

I don't always take these to craft shows because they list a little higher than the standard dolls, but when I did my a recent show in Swarthmore I took the 3 pictured here, and the green-and-white one in the center came home alone.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Finished Quilt

The baby quilt is done!

Once I decided how I wanted it to look, it took far less time than I had expected.

It's a 9 block quilt, I'd call it "log cabin inspired" more than anything, since there's a central motif and the pieces around it are more or less mirroring the idea of a log cabin quilt.

But it's not exactly one, which is about what I'd expect from me.

Because not all the blocks were the same size, and because I wanted to use some of the other pieces of clothing that didn't make it into the blocks, I did strips in between each block and around the edges.  It used up a bit more fabric and added a few more prints to the mix.

I have to give props to a mom who dresses her child in such nicely coordinating colors.  There were literally only a few pieces I didn't use, and most of them would have still worked.

When I sent her a progress picture and told her I was going to back it in a neutral fabric I had on hand, she was fine with that.  We also decided on a light gray binding, which was from a gray t-shirt I had in my stash for that purpose.

All the years that I thought I didn't need a serger.  I could kick myself, except then I'd have to take my foot off the pedal of my serger.  Because every piece of fabric in this is a knit, this entire quilt was assembled with my serger.

I think my favorite bit is the central LOVE panel.  It was two sides of a jacket with a separating zipper.  I reinforced it before cutting, removed enough of the zipper top and bottom to be able to run it through the machine without hurting anything, and kept it as is.  I could have probably picked out the zipper and sewn the fabric together, but to me that would have changed the point of the piece -- it's meant to be Katy's outgrown baby clothes, and losing the zipper would, to me, lose some of that.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Chicken Update

video
A little chicken video to start your day.  The girls like blueberries, particularly Frankie, who quite literally swallows them whole.

She's is still somewhat broody, but I've been messing with her schedule lately, feeding them either early or late, and the inconvenience gets her up out of her corner and pacing.  I'm hoping that if she keeps getting up, she'll forget to go back down.

In other chicken weirdness, these two, unlike their predecessors, have decided to spend warm summer nights downstairs in the coop instead of sleeping up in the roost.  They already decided to go their own way and ignore the perch, but now they sleep in the straw near the exhaust fan.

It probably feels good, but the night that a raccoon decides to come calling, those birds are going to get the fright of their lives.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Baby Clothes Baby Quilt

Center squares - images from tiny shirts and jackets
Last month, I was contacted by a mom who had purchased one of my receiving blanket bears.  She and I had talked after the bear's arrival about doing something else, but the project never happened.

When she contacted me this time, she was ready.  She had been cleaning out her baby's clothes, she said, to give to a friend who was expecting, and there was a pile of stuff she just couldn't bear to give away.  Would I be able to make a quilt out of her little one's outgrown clothing?

But of course!

The clothes arrived last week, a whole copy paper box full, in bags labeled 1, 2 and 3 (order of importance for use).  I didn't cut up everything right away, because I'll either return or donate the unused pieces, but I ended up using all the pieces in bag 1, a good bit of bag 2, and some of bag 3, because I needed some solid colors to break up all the prints.

Katie trying to tell me to take a break.
Originally I had wanted to do something a little more free-form, like the baby clothes stockings I do, but then I saw that a lot of her pieces were infant-sized and I wasn't really going to be able to get a lot of pieces out of them.  So after I found 8 shirts with writing a central motif, I embroidered a 9th piece with the baby's name, and cut everything else into 2" wide strips.

It's sort of a bastardized log cabin, but not really.  Most of the central squares were 4", but a few of them were slightly off.  I put the largest in the center and worked outwards, inserting extra strips to make things line up.  The central "Love" square still has a zipper down the center (edges removed before serging and then anchored from behind so it doesn't unzip).

It's not quite done.  I gave it a good pressing after the last photo here, and now I'm looking around for backing fabric.  She didn't send anything large enough for that, so if she doesn't have any objection, I'm going to use a section of ivory sheet that I had on my shelf for this purpose.   Not sure yet if this quilt is going to get stitched or tied; it's small enough (32x32) that I could get it through the machine with minimal swearing.

Finished photos to come, hopefully by the end of the week.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Still more blankets

The world will never run out of that striped receiving blanket.

And I'm okay with that.

This little Claire Bear headed off to Annapolis, MD, yesterday.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Last day of school

Potential new housemate
Tuesday was the last day of school, and also my last after-school sewing class of the semester.  I didn't really expect many students to show up since it was the last day, and also their fifth grade teacher was retiring and I'd heard something about a farewell party.

The director asked me to come in whether or not I had a class to look over some old sewing machines they'd found in a closet and were thinking of selling.  (These were the machines I'd tried using with my class initially, but they're older and idiosyncratic and cranky and just not what ten-year-olds want from a sewing machine).

When I got up to the third floor classroom where the machines were set up, it turned out that six of my twelve students were there too.  (Flattered that they chose me over their other teacher, but really, none of us were prepared for anything, so they ate water ice and watched a movie on one girl's phone while I futzed with the sewing machines).  They came over occasionally to see what I was doing, or to comment that the machine pictured above looked like an old car -- which it does, all it needs is fins and a little more chrome.

How to watch a movie.  
The turquoise and white Revere machine may be coming home with me.  My bargain with myself is that I have to Craigslist the two unremarkable table machines that live in my dining room, and which never get any use except as tables anyway.  The Revere weighs a ton but sews like a dream, and hey, it looks like a vintage car, so if I'm not sewing, I can just look at it, right?

The girls all left a little early -- they had a graduation party to attend -- but I enjoyed them while they lasted.  I'll be seeing four of them in August, when they're coming to my house for a week-long sewing camp (I must be mad).  Until then, my life will be blessedly child-free.

As far as the photo to the right, there were plenty of chairs in the room, they just decided not to use them.  There were two more girls sitting on the floor under the edge of the table, one of whom was holding the phone for the rest.

It's going to be very quiet without them on Tuesday afternoons, but I think I'll get used to it.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Wandering

Woodland Cemetery is still my favorite place in my neighborhood to go walking.

I've lived in West Philadelphia for 17 years now, and walked there nearly as long, and there are still new things to discover -- looming angels, beautiful trees, something flowering that I haven't noticed before.

Recently, the cemetery hooked up with the horticultural society and organized volunteers to tend some of the "cradle" graves in the cemetery.  (These aren't infant graves, just cradle or bathtub shaped planters in front of the headstone).  They were meant to be planted, but since most of the stones are 19th century, there is no longer anyone tending the graves and they were all overgrown.

The grave gardener volunteers sign up to tend one grave.  The only rule is that the plants have to be historically accurate to the Victorian time period, but I think that makes it more fun.

According to the organizer, who is interviewed here, she got more than double the volunteers she needed and had to turn people away.  I wasn't sure I'd have enough time to devote, so I'm glad she got more volunteers than she needed; however, being in there as often as I am and seeing all the flowers blooming makes me want to apply next year and find the time.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Strange days. I made a dress.

Obligatory headless bathroom shot; bias matched bodice;
pieced hem band; matched-as-well-as-can-be sleeve to bodice
I had a good weekend out in Swarthmore recently.  So good, in fact, that I had to come home and make a bunch more things to restock so that I'm not running around like a headless chicken before my next show.

As a chicken owner, that description might be unkind, but now that I'm better acquainted with the species, it seems even more apt.

So I embroidered a dozen faces, cut out arms and legs and dresses and hair and --

stopped in the middle of everything and made myself a dress.

Which I haven't done in ages.  And it felt GOOD.

I didn't want to spend a lot of time on it, because I knew I had things I should be doing, so I chose a pattern I'd made before, a vintage 1950s dress.  I made this pattern up about 15 years ago and somehow, despite all the figure and weight fluctuations during that period, the original dress still fit me.  So I knew I could use the pattern.

I only made one major change, and that was to move the zipper from the back to the side.  The original dress zipped up the back and, since that back neckline ends in that spot (what's the opposite of a sweet spot?) where I just couldn't reach, I usually left the house with the top inch unzipped and a sweater on, and got someone at work to finish the job.  Being a grown up, I wanted to be able to dress myself, so I moved the zip to the side.

I've had the fabric, a nice wallpaper-stripe cotton, for at least 15 years.  I chose it because this dress has that wonderful wide V neckline and I knew I could stripe match to my heart's content.  Bias for the bodice, vertical for the sleeves and skirt (with horizontal bands on each).  I had about 3 yards of fabric and I used it all.  That skirt is over 10' at the hem, gathered into the waist.

I made the entire dress on my serger, which meant it was finished in absolutely no time flat.  Why I thought for all those years I didn't need a serger, I have no idea.  And if you're reading this and you don't think you need a serger, well, YOU DO.  It even made gathering that enormous skirt a breeze.

There wasn't enough fabric to make the skirt as long as I wanted, so the hem band was necessary, but toward the end I ran out of fabric, so the band is pieced in 5 places.  It's not visible unless you're right up on top of it, and probably not even then -- I'm just being oversensitive because I made it.

Actually, if I'm being honest, I went on a cutting marathon before I went back to dollmaking.  I cut out 2 more dresses, another woven and a knit.  Not sure when I'll get to them, but at least they're waiting the next time I get a sudden urge to sew for myself.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Broody Birdy

Something new and interesting on the chicken front.  Frankie, one of my new hens, has gone broody on me.

This wouldn't be such a big deal if I wanted baby chicks, but I don't.  Without a rooster, her eggs aren't fertilized anyway. And actually, she's not even sitting on any eggs.

Apparently birds just do this sometimes.  I did some reading about it on Friday, and there were many recommendations on how to break her of it. Right now I'm going with removal of the nesting box, lots more light and air, and a few frozen,
water-filled plastic Easter eggs tucked under her.

She'll stop this on her own eventually, but when a hen's on the nest, she only eats and drinks once a day, she loses weight and she plucks out her own breast feathers -- feathering her nest.

Amazing how many common phrases come from chickens: pecking order, rule the roost, hen party, nest egg, madder than a wet hen, scarce as hen's teeth, henpecked, flew the coop, up with the chickens, walking on eggshells, spring chicken, ruffled feathers, got something stuck in your craw, bad egg, chickens coming home to roost.

And then, in my yard, what comes as a threat: earn your keep, or there will be a chicken in every pot.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Let it be (bear)

I'm still working at my friend's office 3 days a week.  It's going well so far, not taking too much time away from the business.  Most of the time, anyway.  I need to get better organized and also not spend so much time watching the repeating car wreck of the news.

Last week I made a bear for a coworker. Her son is turning 13 and she just found his baby blanket.  It's a John Lennon design, not something I'd run across before.


It perfectly matched some blue cotton from the doll stash, so I used that for contrast, embroidered his name and birth date on the legs -- have I mentioned how much I love my embroidery machine? -- and carried him back to work for photos and delivery.

I may not like spending time in an office but you can't fault the view.

Monday, May 22, 2017

And then there were four

Garden girl
It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been through this, it always hurts. And there’s always a surprisingly big hole in the house from the loss of a small cat.

We lost Alice on Saturday. It was completely unexpected. We came home from an afternoon errand, and when I went upstairs, I saw her on the bed and went to pet her. Alice was always skittish; she didn’t come in until she was at least 3, and she had that female-cat-on-the-street wariness that never wore off, even when she wanted to relax.

She let me pet her head for a bit, then rolled over, put her leg in the air and began to wash. I started to turn away, and my eye was caught by something red. There was a large, red, fleshy thing under her tail that hadn’t been there the day before.

Tired mama cat, still outside
Side note: why is it that pets never get sick except for nights, weekends and holidays when your regular vet isn’t available? 

We took her down to Penn Vet Hospital, which is only about 8 blocks away (and which I have taken advantage of more times than I can count in the 17 years I’ve lived in my house). They were pretty busy, but she was seen quickly and after about 1.5 hours a resident came out to talk to me and get a history.

I gave her Alice’s background, including the fact that she reacted badly to anesthesia and that I generally let her issues ride, in the hopes that they would heal on their own (a cut paw and an eye infection healed; she had to be vetted for her bad teeth). Because the thing on her rear looked so odd – red, but not bloody, and recent – I asked if it could be possible that Alice had actually pooped out some of her insides.

Thinking about life indoors (with Max)
The resident said that a prolapse was possible, though usually it was a dog thing, not a cat thing. She said that would be a good thing because they could just give her a light sedative, reinsert it and put in a few stitches. Fingers were crossed. About a half hour later, the real vet came out with the news. 

It wasn’t a prolapse, it was a mass; but yes, she had actually strained so hard that she pooped out the mass. It had probably been growing for a while, giving her some trouble in the litterbox, but not enough to actually cause the kind of discomfort that would make her alert me to a problem. He said that she was sitting calmly in her cage, alternating between snacking and cleaning this newly-found piece of her anatomy without a seeming care in the world.

Which, to me, at least meant that she wasn’t in pain yet. I already knew that mass = not a good thing = either remove or euthanize. I said to the vet that I didn’t really want to put her through sedation and surgery at the age of 15, and asked his thoughts. He said that he agreed (which was surprising, because Penn is generally very eager to part you from your money) and said that the surgery wouldn’t be as complicated as the recovery, due to where the mass was. It would be difficult to keep clean, and she obviously wouldn’t be able to use the area for a while. I didn’t even ask if he was talking about a bowel resection or something traumatic like that, I just told him that I would wait in the exam room until he brought Alice in so I could spend a little time with her.

Which he did, and we had a nice, un-Alice-like cuddle. Which to me feels almost like she knew what was coming and could finally relax. After about 15 minutes, he came back and gave her the first shot, which would relax her and eventually make her go to sleep. While that was kicking in, I rubbed both her always-itchy ears and could feel her feet moving in the blanket. Then, slowly, they stopped and her purring quieted. He gave her the second shot, and later I walked home with the empty carrier.

I’ve been here before. It’s never easy, but this was easier than some. There are worse things than going before you realize you’re sick, before you’re in pain. There are worse things than making the decision to let a loved kitty go before you’re ready, but she is.

We had her for 12 years after she invited herself in on Valentine’s Day 2005 by climbing onto my porch roof and scratching at my bedroom window. She was at least 15, and probably felt older sometimes after spending her early years on the street and having at least 3 litters of kittens. She wouldn’t have made it 12 years out there.

Alice. Alice Marie. Little Alice Roundhead. A-Bomb. Alley Rabbit. Rabbit Cat. Bunny Cat. Bunniqua. Owlis.  Little Mama.

She was all those cats and more. Mom to Nicky and Harriet, both still around (one oblivious, one looking for her). She will be missed.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Spring?

Maybe?

Finally?

These weren't blooming a week ago, but apparently Mother Nature has decided she's tired of endless March and has gone straight to July.  It's 90 today, and 2 days ago, it was 40.  Go figure.

One part of my landscaping that might not have survived all the weather-induced drama is my young street tree.  You'll note the leafless shadow on the sidewalk.  It had begun to bud and we got one last, hard frost and all the leaf buds turned black and fell off.  Now it just looks sad.

Maybe it'll come back.  And one thing I've learned in all my years of gardening is that there's no point in crying over a dead plant (or tree).  It's just an opportunity to try planting something new.

Happy spring, everyone.  Hopefully you haven't gone from shivering to sweating in the space of a few days.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Overload

My local thrift store.  Photo courtesy 2nd Mile Center
I had to share a something that happened yesterday.  I was heading out to lunch with another woman from the offioce, walking down to Reading Terminal (a large indoor food market in Philly), and because she didn't have her jacket, we decided to cut through Macy's instead of walking around the building.

I can't tell you the last time I was in a department store, let alone a Macy's at lunch hour, with the big Wanamaker's organ playing in the background and an anthill worth of people milling around.  Why do those stores always feel like it's Christmas?

It stopped me for a second.  All the stuff was just overwhelming, and I realized as we continued our walk that the extent of my shopping in the last few years has been for food or fabric, or at thrift stores.  Being inside an actual, huge retail establishment was weirdly disorienting.

Macy's at Christmas. Photo courtesy Getty Images.
And yet, that kind of shopping used to be a way of life.  Maybe not department stores (at least for purchasing), but I was a happy browser and would go in any store and look around, more often than not coming out with a bag of something that I didn't really need -- and probably just recently unearthed and donated.