Category Archives: domesticity

We rearrange

It’s a mistake to think people are creative. They don’t create anything. What they do is rearrange things.

Novelist Mark Helprin interviewed 10-5-17 on the podcast, “The Avid Reader“.

Prior to that, he said, “You have to have models [to write about]. We have only what we are given in creation. We don’t create anything. All we can do is interpret it.

He’s one of those superb writers who’s had an incredibly interesting life, like Louise Erdrich (with her 1/2 German, 1/4 Native, 1/4 French ancestry (talk about a cast of characters!)). Turns out that as a boy, Helprin lived in a Parisian house that had safeguarded a Jewish family in its attic for years. Imagine what those walls had to tell a young child!

It’s important to remind a person like myself that every life is interesting in some measure. And besides, my life, to use his logic, is what I was given.

He also talked about how often writers’ first novels are autobiographical. He didn’t think so at the time but now sees it to be true.

His new novel is the first he’s ever set in contemporary time. I can’t wait to read it.

Meanwhile, my antique-dealing neighbor who sold his house put even more treasures on the curb today. I snagged a triptych — with hinges that work in both directions! I’ve wanted one for years. I mean, years. Our family room has a large opening to the cellar stairs which acts as a conduit for cold air. The temperature issue’s been partly resolved by hanging one fluffy blanket over the cellar door and another over the dog gate. But still, I’m thrilled.

I’m going to make some collage packs for Newton Open Studios and include some of this gorgeous Chinese-scribed paper. If you, dear reader, would like to receive a collage pack, leave a comment below saying so and I’ll draw a name next week.

Curb finds and scale

When the neighbors move, I sometimes get prizes like that chunky and lovely planter above. It’s perfect for holding some of my SoulCollage cards!

I had hoped it would work in this corner cupboard (a neighbor cast off itself which K bought for $400 and cleaned and waxed). But the planter’s too big — yet another lesson in how much scale matters. It’s also not white enough. Not sure when I became this fussy, but there you have it. (Three other white pieces on those shelves, by the way, were curb-finds and two plates purchased for a song at a yard sale).

A too-busy weekend. The good news? Having one event on the calendar inspired me to get my hair cut! (K’s office holiday party). I feel reborn. Somebody remind me in about two months, okay?

Geometry and Junk Drawers

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Two free photo apps and a quilt picture and I could fiddle all day (PicFrame to combine images / Prisma for filters).

Monday, I like to get some cleaning and straightening done (is this how we’re referring to procrastinating these days?). I hadn’t intended to go on a tear but ended up organizing the kitchen drawer — the one we call “the vitamin drawer” even though it’s also the chap stick drawer, the dental floss drawer, and the spare key drawer.Most items were keepers, like the coins and rusty bits above, but a few items had to go — like the Teen Multi Vitamin with a “use by” date of 2010.  Found all my silver bracelets, which I had been vaguely missing, as well as a number of watches.

There were LEGO guys and a miniature warrior, as well as a Playmobile broom. And look at that tube of BB’s! I suspect that dates back to my husband’s childhood and I have no idea how it arrived in this drawer.

Next up was the blanket chest in the corner. Inside I found cloth, of course, and on top: a lot of paper (printed out chapters with beta reader comments and one of my research notebooks). None of it’s particularly essential at this point but the pile was a reminder of the dangers of shoving shit into closets and drawers when company’s coming — you may not see those things again for another couple of seasons!

Soon the rain

SCARE: watching water drip from my study ceiling onto the router positioned on the floor. Drop. Drip. At first I thought the router was clicking. But, no.

The pipe that carries condensate from the attic furnace down to a well in the basement had frozen.GRATITUDE: K was NOT in Asia or Russia and knew just what to do. It appears to be fine now.

TRICK: to walk Finn and then write a chapter set in 1744 from the point of view of an enslaved mother. Meaning : to save reading the middle portion of the Fusion gPS transcript for later.

TO DO: find a company-worthy Miso Cod Chili recipe. Go for a glazed fish with bok choy on the side or a soup with soba or udon noodles, bok choy floating?

COMMENTS, please: what is your view on how and when posting to social media becomes a life force drain? Drop. Drip.

Can’t shake this interview in the literary journal, Rattle, with poet Maggie Nelson (that was the fourth book completed for #theunreadshelfproject last week).

Or put another way: how can you use social media in a manner that DOES (fairly consistently) engage the parts of your intellect (or creative process) that is most important to you?

I’m okay with it being a little hit or miss. And maybe I value your and my posts about French toast more than Nelson does.

So it’s about balance, then?

What ISN’T about balance?

Ciao.

Apron strings


If there is something to sew on backwards, I’ll sew it on backwards. For this simple project, I lined one of the many woven rectangles lying around the studio to serve as an apron pocket and then stitched the waistband on the wrong side of the opening.

I thought I was so clever to simultaneously stitch the pocket to the apron and stitch the pocket turn-opening, thus making one line of machine stitching unnecessary.

Dismayed and generally averse to ripping out, I sewed the damn pocket shut and called it a day.  So much for feeling clever!

After a pause (the all important pause), I realized It wouldn’t be so bad to fix since I’d only have to rip out the length of the waistband. So I did. Opened up the pocket. Added some hand quilting.

For waistband Round Two, I used a contrasting geometric print instead of the same seer sucker as the apron. I like it a LOT better. The same yellow print lines the pocket.

To my mind, there is only one essential feature of an apron — it must have ties long enough to wrap around the waist and tie in front. That way, I can tuck the essential hand towel into the ties. A dish towel over-the-shoulder is a distant second for convenience.

Prefer 100% cotton, of course.

Pockets and bibs are features I don’t much mind but don’t seem to need, either.

Maybe the recipient of this apron will find good use for a roomy centered pocket. If not, it looks nice!

In case you’re wondering, I am also baking cookies, mailing packages, walking the dog, watching election results, emailing commissioners at the FCC, helping to plot my younger son’s next steps, and WRITING.

PS. Ninety inches (for this waist) affords enough length to tie the apron strings in front.

Friable cloth

Curtains I made 25 years ago did not survive the wash today. Hot water and bleach were perhaps a mistake. These were upstairs hall curtains and filtered a lot of morning sun in a quarter century. The muslin was friable! Some had shredded in the wash and some disintegrated as I pegged the cloth to the line.

For some reason, their ruination did not bother me — quite the opposite, in fact. It nearly felt as though something sacred was taking place as the fabric fell apart in my hands.

What the ragged cloth did with light was extraordinary.

Hanging laundry on a line satisfies a person in a way that most chores do not. Cannot. Is it because it hearkens back to our mothers in the same way that certain recipes do?


Support

Obvious supports in my world: down spout, lattice, spouse.

img_5038-1Quiet is a form of support. Also: refuge and sanctuary.
img_4837“Do you hear that, K?” I asked a few times this weekend. “That’s quiet. We’re listening to QUIET!”

img_0743Getting organized is support. I forget that.

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Calendars are fickle forms of support — fierce task masters in one mood and stalwart and reliable friends in the next. But, if you think about it, a grid is neutral really. Maybe time is, too.

I cannot live without a paper calendar — electronic won’t do. I prefer a teacher’s big-sized version (though no more academic years for me! too confusing!). These are wire bound, with views of both the months and the weeks. I need both.

Life without this form of support is unimaginable to me. Three people in my immediate circle do not use them. Two of them are millenials and before you assume they simply have a generational aversion to paper, let me say — they don’t really seem to use the calendars on their phones, either. Huh?

Technology is support, except when it isn’t. When technology isn’t a support (or a form of education and entertainment), then it is a Medusa-like fiend.

My laptop froze twice over the weekend — big time scary event when the last save of the manuscript was three weeks ago. More frequent saves to the external hard drive are in order! That’d be routine forming a safety-net. Support.

Having dog walker, Rafi, help out (especially when K is away) is an expensive but welcome support and since it’s the only time our Finny gets to be social, it has additional value.

Getting groceries delivered is a decadent support that I’ll sheepishly admit to enjoying. It adds minimal expense and subtracts a fair bit of selection pleasure and skill, but eliminating grocery runs, sometimes for three weeks running? That’s support. And there’s my Peapod truck now — so bye!

Where do you find support in your life?