Tuesday, September 27, 2016


It is obvious from the last few posts that I am filling some of my time with creative writing. Actually, I signed up for an adult ed class at the local community college. I was missing homework! All those years of school have really left a mark. Anyway, the class is fun, as well as challenging... like, I do not usually write poetry.  My little rhyming Goldenrod poem was well received at class and I was also tickled that I could format the type into a butterfly shape. That little picture interpretation simply makes me smile.

I am still sewing possible bags ( http://dustoffurthinkin.blogspot.com/2016/06/possible-bags.html ) and I have about 100 completed for a knitting retreat craft table in St. Louis this weekend. My daughter is coming along to help set up. We have enjoyed planning out some of the details for this new undertaking. Since I am still only intermittently interviewing for jobs, I decided to create a micro-craft business for myself. It at least gives me working goals and structured activity during the week. If this jobless situation is a clue to retirement, I will need to have an interesting activity plan in place to cope.

I am not a person to sit down and wait, or play hours of computer games, and I got rid of my TV in 2008, so I keep busy doing useful stuff. Volunteering, reading and knitting are all on my schedule, along with walking the dogs. The garden is winding down now, so currently, I am painting one wall of my kitchen... when I get bored with sewing. A couple years ago, I had Handyman Todd install an orange pendant lamp near the stove. It was going to be my "little sun" in the winter months. I decided I loved the color idea, so now I am painting the "hob" area around the stove orange. I've only got the primer up and  a second coat is probably needed, but I like it lots, especially with the orange light reflecting on my copper strainer. It will look terrific once I get the Tangerine Dream color (see paint chip at right) painted on. I am painting the cabinet unit under the kettle as well, so the whole corner, including ceiling section will have the same glow. Moving forward one corner at a time!

Slant Rhyme


 Six feet of weed, whose yellow blooms sway
Amongst buzzing bees on a sunny day.
At night, moths flutter and dip
Around flowers, where bees have sipped.
Late summer perfume of nectar sweet
   Draws a melee of insects; bearing thousands of pollen-tipped feet.
Bugs frantic amidst flowers of gold,
To harvest sustenance before it is cold.
Autumn brings chill to the air
Hinting of death, so nature prepares
Cache of golden bounty, blessing the aware.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


Today is a day of remembrance, imbued with both sadness and loss. The beginning of fear, that we are not safe in the world, and that enemies can attack unenlisted citizens in the heart of our homeland.

My thoughts are with the survivors, as well as the families & friends of those who died.

My sewing basket

Aging forty years in my possession, my old sewing basket is a companionable resource. Its faded, nearly colorless stripes decorate an octagonal shape that has almost reverted to the natural browns and tans of the fine strands of grass from which it was woven. Its nubbly exterior draws my fingertips to rub along the channels of weaving, massaging my fingerprints into the grass. Small, and firm enough to be an offering bowl, it is comfortably held in one hand with thumb resting beneath the sturdy stalk of a knob; a feature which seems to gather together the entire geometry of the basket into a central point, allowing the snug lid to be removed.

Inside, the scent of bayberries and wood smoke mingle with the amber spiciness of the woven grasses. Shielded from sunlight, the basket interior shows the brilliant scarlet and green stripe circles erased from the outside. An edge of the lid is sewn with black thread, reattaching several rows of weaving separated by wear, but allows a few frayed bits of grass, loosened by breakage, to be folded underneath the rim of the basket lid.

This woven container holds the tools of repair for other weavings:  thread, needles, a tarnished thimble, scissors, and two darning eggs scratched by thousands of needle pricks. A few buttons, marking chalk, a bead bracelet, and a plastic blue owl Cracker Jack charm all nestle beneath larger items. A pale green huswife, an “Austen-esk” portable sewing kit, embroidered with silk ribbon flowers lays atop this assortment, accessible for rips and tears away from home.

The basket jingles with the sound of tools that affect the intimacy of repair; stitching whole those tiny damages from life. My sewing basket also holds memories, ephemeral bits, secrets and associations. It was the small basket purchased on an embarrassed retreat after grinding my knees into an icy sidewalk one winter in Boston. An unnecessary item, just an excuse to escape my public clumsiness, initially filled with useless junk before transforming into a cherished memento and a regularly used tool. Bits of my history mingle with needles and thread, lingering inside an ageless interior, brightly colored and protected.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Harvest yum

Well, the oldest spaghetti squash has been harvested and eaten. It was a tasty vegetarian meal until I topped it with Parmesan cheese. I never combine this squash with pasta sauce simply because it does not replace the deliciousness of pasta. On its own, spaghetti squash has a unique flavor and texture and pretending it is pasta-like does this vegetable a disservice, often causing dislike of this squash among the deceived. So be honest and own the fact spaghetti squash is good just as it is!

I had been put off by being served this lied about squash myself, but decided to give it another try when I found out it could be cooked in the microwave. Hard-skinned squashes are always a pain to hack open and then bake in the oven, so I was game to try the microwave option. Basic instructions: wash the squash, poke the squash all over with a knife, then microwave 8-12 minutes. My squash was smaller than the ones usually found in the grocery store, so I only cooked it for 7 minutes. Then let it cool for 10-15 minutes, so you can handle it while cutting it in half lengthwise. It gets very HOT!

While I am microwaving and then cooling the squash, I am cooking the rest of the vegetables I will add the spaghetti squash into... Like sauteed onions, zucchini, eggplant, carrot and peppers. It is really personal choice from here, although keeping textures similar might be a palatability consideration. I don't happen to enjoy hard lumps, nor mush so do what you want. A point of pride though is that 50% of the veg came from our garden, squash, peppers and eggplant. I leave the salt & peppering to individual taste at the table and just shred up some Parmesan for topping. Again, any topping or no topping works too. This is a free-form recipe as well, eyeball amounts or use what you have, creativity is a plus.

Here's a Trixie update: I have trained her to a carpet square while we eat and to an old knitted shawl at the foot my bed. Of course in her mind any knitted, crocheted or woolen item on the bed is fair game. Too cute! While I am not thrilled that her foot is on my pillow, it is a legitimate mistake on her part and I am letting it slide. Oh, and her sleepy, little face is making my heart explode from the cuteness! Awww...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Autumn approaches

Oh, bliss... we had a couple of days that were cooler with nighttime temperatures around 62F/17C. I used the attic fan to draw that fresh, chilled air into the house. While AC is a valued necessity in the Midwest, the scent of "real" air is something to be appreciated. Autumn is slowly creeping in, the yard has a settled, and established look, although my garden design skills verge on simply random growth containment. For whatever reason every plant I add to the garden grows well beyond the size parameters given on the tag, even my weeds. I have a few weeds in the lilac border that are 10' tall! I left them thinking they were bee friendly Goldenrod, but they aren't and now I am fascinated with their incredible diameters. Anyway, with the cool weather and the changing angle of the sun, a few maple leaves have fallen and some of the vegetable foliage is dying back.

The squash and gourds are fully ripened. Here are a pair of spaghetti squash ready to be picked, and I have a couple of fist-sized ones I hope will mature before the first frost. We made an arbor for them as well, so the vines wouldn't grow onto the lawn. We planted two seedlings, one at each end of the arbor, so the plants grew over the top, met in the middle and grew down the other side. I didn't have to lift a single vine off the lawn
to mow!

The bees are going nuts gathering nectar and these few cool nights have seemingly made them frantic workers. My Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) is mostly done blooming, both the Veronica (Speedwell) and Blue Agastache are fading, but the Blue Mist Spirea (Caryopteris)is bursting with blooms! My plan to have a seasonal cycling of favorite bee flowers is actually working! I am thrilled to see a few more European Honeybees, but this year they are definitely in the minority. I have had tons of local Missouri bees, carpenter bees, Mason bees and even Squash bees among the other buzzing pollinators. The bee hum is audible walking by this plant! Of course, this spirea was only supposed to be 24-36" tall and 24" wide, this is it's second year in the garden and it is easily 5' x 5'. I was told it wasn't going to get big and that it wasn't reliably winter hardy, so I planted it next to a big rock for winter warmth and hoped for the best. Currently, this woody shrub is overgrowing my roses! I am thinking it will be easier to move the roses next Spring.

I am also excited about the several Monarch Butterfly caterpillars I have found on the multiple clumps of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) growing throughout the garden. Right above the caterpillar is a seed pod which dries and opens up to loose "milkweed-like" floating seeds. In a few years my garden will be probably be overrun, but I am pleased that a few Monarchs have found them to be a useful substitute for actual milkweed plants. The brilliant orange flowers are gone, but the pods and the bushy, 2-3' dark green foliage are striking and the seed fluff is attractive point of interest in the garden.

The marigolds, zinnias and St. John's Wort are still blooming so shall get some late season pix for the next post. I am feeling energized about the season change and am looking forward to a productive Fall.