Category Archives: Home & Garden

A catch up ramble

So much has happened. And now the fall is really here.

Son #1 completed his degree. Thought he did back in May? Well, surprise, surprise (it was to us) — he didn’t. But now he has. Maybe we’ll get around to celebrating, but right now there’s just this saggy relief. Son #2, in spite of a well-anchored plan to take a year off, changed his mind the night before classes started and we all jump-shifted.

The very same week, my sister’s Personal Care Assistant of eight months walked out saying, “I don’t need this.” My sister seems relieved, but I’m a little worried — after all, she’s essentially been bed-ridden since April.

I. Will not. Be. Picking up. The slack.

Thankfully, today she announced that in fact she would look for another person (last week is was a different story).

We had the tree work done, which is the good news. It’ll prolong the life of the roof and be safer when the snow comes. The bad news? My neighbor leaned over the fence and got the crew’s info and the very next day they showed up at her house and cut down two very tall, healthy oak trees right at the back lot line. I was sick for days. Talk about ‘unintended consequences’.

We lost a lot of natural screening. It was an icky feeling of not having any control. The noise was the least of it.

This picture is before the trees came down. I think it may be time to finally take down the play structure. Now that there is a lot of sun back there, we could plant some pines and they might actually thrive. Finn continues to keep me sane. We go to the lake and I wear him out as best I can. The watery play makes his coat so soft!   July was the hottest on record in Boston. August was both the hottest AND the driest on record in Boston. I still have an annoying rash to prove it. And we will have the water bill to prove it. I’ve watered most beds religiously, but the ferns have crisped up. We’ve never given a shit about our lawn. But those are minor matters in the face of climate change.

We’re watching “Transparent” (that’s Allie, above)(and yes, it’s as good as everyone says). I got tired of all the blood baths — lately, “Justified,” “Peaky Blinders” and “Game of Thrones”. Finally got back into reading, last week finishing Anne Enright’s “The Green Road”. It was really, really good. (I’ve read two others of hers: “The Wig My Father Wore” and “What Are You Like”). The mother figure in “The Green Road” — a real martyr-type that possibly could warrant a diagnosis in this day and age — was so, so familiar. It’s a type, I guess.

Happy September. Hope to be around more. I actually have some cloth pieces to show and tell!

 

 

Friday in June

Morning face.
Done with wind and overall tacking down, plus I added white stitches to lighten house. It disappears a little too much. Maybe for this week, the house ought to take on the shape of England? I mean, WTF?

Later on, it was nice to start the weekend with another bday celebration. Out on the deck. Beautiful light. Perfect temps. QUIET. School is out for the year.

 This barley salad was soooo good. Made several modifications. Very tasty with salmon done on the grill.
I modified the salad both because of available ingredients and taste preferences. I didn’t have any black beans, so none went in. I only used red peppers, not both green and red. I skipped the called-for carrots because I thought they’d be overly crunchy. And, instead of canned corn, I cooked up a fresh ear.

Probably the most important modification flavor-wise was substituting about a quarter teaspoon of Truvia in lieu of corn syrup and adding quite a bit more oil. Recipe calls for scant amount of canola. I added at least 3 more tablespoons of olive oil. This, from someone who likes a very acidic dressing.

Surprisingly, my pantry did contain a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. That, along with the cilantro, cumin, and citrus juices were essential to the slightly smoky, but bright taste of the salad. Also surprising (to me): no garlic.

The next day I used the same dressing on a mix of chopped cherry tomatoes, red onion, and avocado and it was equally delicious.

Have a nice weekend all!

P.S. One of the nice benefits of a grain salad is how they keep overnight. And since the barley salad didn’t feature the olive oil very centrally, I could eat it straight out of the fridge. So good!

P.P.S. Brexit fucking floored me and made the realization that the xenophobia highlighted by Trump is not limited to our side of the Atlantic. I spent a fair amount of time on Twitter first thing that morning. Last night, K. and I re-watched “Children of Men” and all the ways that movie is scarily prescient were doubly so… the vans full of refugees being carted off to detention centers, shocking lack of resources, the vast poor and scant people of means, plots and counterplots, police working counter to the public’s interests, the human species on the brink of extinction. So much rubble, despair, and violence! I hope the Brits re-do the vote. What a stupid risk Cameron took with England’s future.

If you’re interested (I took twitter feed off side bar of the blog), my moniker is deeamallon: stream is here.

Stitching the wind


Another landscape in progress on the right.


I am surviving a basement being excavated across the street, a patio being installed by back neighbor and the usual round of yard crews and year end celebrations over at the school (accompanied by booming music out in the field). By 5 yesterday, I was fried. Today will be better because kitty-corner neighbor’s hedges are now trimmed (two hours yesterday, electric trimmer).


These headphones were the best gift ever!

White coral bells

Saturday I dug up some lilies of the valley for my sister, happy as anything to be working among their fragrant flowers.  Today was too cold to work outside. It was basement vacuuming and garage sorting for me. And some sewing.

Somewhere along the line, the decision was made to name all the congregants who were in the Emanual AME church the night of the mass killing. Liz Ackert (“I’m Going to Texas“) stitched these names and created the lovely hands. I struggled with placement when they were white rectangles. But once I decided to reverse appliqué them with some reproduction Civil War fabric, they found their spots. The hearts were too big. Circles seemed just right. The only label left is the one naming the ten makers. The one saying these blocks were stitched with love, in grief and outrage and with hopes for peace.

Frost and fiddle heads 

Woke to frost but – oh happy day – many of the ostrich ferns are showing signs of life. I love their dramatic unfolding: first a hint of green; then clear curls showing themselves;  and finally, the swift, miraculous reach for the sky. I am particularly grateful for their emergence because I wasn’t sure any of them survived our first year with Finn.

Thanks to Home Depot and my husband, they will be protected this season (thank you for the gardening tips, Mo!). By the way, does anyone know what you call the fern’s brown husky base? A ‘brown husky base’?

A slightly more decorative fence for the bottle tree-bed, below.Meanwhile there is still a lot of mud to deal with.   Last night, I couched black satin cording for the Sanders/Jackson label and embroidered the barber stripes. I’m finding it discordant with the other labels. Will look at it for a bit. We are off to Montreal soon in any case. Packing up Son Number One. The end of another era.

Chores and light

Every season there are surprises that I’m not sure should be surprises — things that make me ask, did this happen last year? Or ever before? This spring I am astonished by how many dried catalpa pods littered the yard. Were they ever this plentiful before, requiring five or six large barrels? Perhaps I forget year to year.

And, in other Aprils, I don’t remember the late afternoon sun being so glorious in what we call “the new room” (it remains “the new room” even as it ages through its second decade). Lately, the light has honeyed the walls and furniture in a way that gladdens me so much you’d think I’d remember. But I don’t. It seems novel and remarkable.

 

I don’t perform an itemized spring cleaning, but I do find myself taking toothbrush and Comet to windowsills and slate on a more regular basis than I might during the winter. Since C is graduating in a few weeks (with a BS in Chem, in case you want to be impressed), I want his room to be nice. Or at least, clean. The old windows in our house collect dirt and insect husks and paint chips in a way that require some real elbow grease. It is kind of gross how much of the filth comes off, but ever so satisfying to watch it go. And yes, the photo is an ‘after’ shot – you should have seen it before.

Now, do you see the black form under the yew bush below? Left side? There’s Finn sniffing along the fence. His insatiable joyful need for ‘fetch’ has a lot to do with the state of our backyard.   We are considering a combination approach: rolls of sod, pea stone, and slate. Using what we had on hand, K and I got a pretty good start on a patio at the garage end. The midsection would get the sod (too much shade to grow grass from seed) and the back third, the pea stone. We’ll see. Right now, half of our dog training goes to getting Finn to sit and then stand while we wipe his paws at the back sliders (he’s pretty good about it). I’m waiting to see if any of the trampled ostrich ferns come back. Fingers crossed.