Tuesday, March 29, 2016

We Are Grateful for Electricity

Image from Pixabay
Have you ever planned a candlelit dinner for two dozen athletic boys?  We didn't plan it, either.  It just happened that way.
Scoot is playing goalie for his school's JV soccer team again this year.  The team has a tradition of meeting for dinner the night before each home game.  Dandelionslayer set up the sign-ups, and put us down to host yesterday.  I did some fretting about space and menu and cleaning and such, but felt I had things pretty much under control by one o'clock.  I'd borrowed an extra rice cooker, the meat was seasoned, and the oven had preheated for a nice slow roast.
Then the power went out.
It was a calm, sunny day.  What happened?  A telephone pole down the road broke in half.  I'm not sure why.  Repairmen arrived soon, but couldn't fix the problem immediately.  I prayed, made some calls, and took the meat to a friend's house to bake.  And kept praying.  Later I checked the meat and plugged the rice cookers in at the same house.  Dandelionslayer came home, and we tried to think of alternative plans.  And we kept preparing.  But the lights stayed off.
The food was ready in time, and the other contributions arrived ready to go, no heating necessary.  Dandelionslayer set up a serving table in the yard, hoping to inspire some of the team to stay outside in the dwindling sunshine.  But they filled their plates and came inside.  Only one dozen actually arrived, so they crowded around our table-for-six.  We set out candles and camping lanterns.  The boys joked about the atmosphere and ate their food, never noticing the unvacuumed carpet or the dust on the piano.  No one could see it.  
Nearly twelve hours after the power went out, I woke to the flashing of the alarm clock and the chugging of the washer, resuming its work.  And I was grateful for electricity and candles, for sunshine and helpful friends and family members.

Monday, March 28, 2016


Did you have a happy Easter?  We did.  Our choir song went well at church, we took some nice naps afterward, and we had plenty of time for hunting eggs before dinner.
After thinking about it for several years, I finally tried a couple of natural egg-dying methods.  We cooked a few eggs with onion skins, and threw in some carrot peels for good measure.  We tied the eggs up in nylon pieces to secure leaves for resist patterns.
This resulted in the beige color you see in the center here.
The blue color is from purple cabbage, and it worked better than any tablet dye I've ever used.  There are plenty of recipes available for both onion skins and cabbage, but I used the ones from here.
We also used some red and green food coloring, and crayon, and various combinations. 
A sudden downpour kept the egg hunt indoors this year.  It was still quite challenging, but all eggs were found, and a quarter of them were soon given the Angelic treatment, and devoured.

Did you color eggs this year?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Shoreline to Snow Line

On a beautiful day, we dropped the Caterpillar off for a Scout activity at this camp along the Hood Canal.
We had to stop and play at the beach a while.  D2 found a staff and a shell that fit together perfectly.
Scoot searched for flat stones, skipping some and stacking others.
The sun shone on the smooth shells,
and on the madronas, with their papery, peeling bark.  It was a lovely spring morning.
Then we drove another hour to the top of a mountain, where it was still winter.
There we met Rollo, who was already there for another Scout activity.
We brought sleds and foam swords, without which, apparently, no campout is complete. 
There was more stacking to do.
How deep the snow,
how tall the trees
among whose tops we trod? 
How many waves
have washed the stones
that lie along the shore?
From sea level
to snow level,
the gulls and ferns and more--
He paints the canvas
where we walk,
a bounteous artist, God.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Last Shall Be First

The birds are singing, the weeds are blooming, and it finally stopped raining, briefly, after some significant downpours.  It is time for the gardener to start gardening. 

Before applying my handy tiller to the beds in the southeast corner, I paused to pluck the remaining carrot tops.  And actual carrots came with them.  I keep planting carrots, because I still have seeds.  But they never amount to much in one summer.  These seem to have overwintered well.  In fact, these are the largest carrots I have ever grown. 

So I have brought them in, the last of last year's harvest, and hopefully harbingers of a good harvest to come this year.

What is in your garden?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Welt Pockets

Every January I see lists of sewing resolutions, in which people choose skills and techniques they'd like to master in the new year.  If you are that organized, good for you!  Keep it up!  I like to learn new things, too, but my approach is more project-driven. 
Take welt pockets, for example.  I thought they were complicated, scary, and unappealing, so I never would have put them on a to-do list.  But then, I received a commission to sew some trousers for a special occasion.  The client is a Gentleman of Unusual Size, so the first part of the adventure was drafting a pattern from pants he provided.  Once I had a pattern I was in pretty familiar territory.  I can do inset pockets for the front, and I consulted the instructions for another pattern when constructing the fly.  But I had no instructions for the welt pockets in the back.  So I found and carefully followed this excellent tutorial from Oliver + S.  And look!  A buttoned welt pocket.  The one on the other side looks good, too.
In the middle of the white trousers project, I took a break to sew a birthday present for Dandelionslayer.  Once a year or so, we like to attend Scottish Highland Games to celebrate my family's heritage.  We enjoy the music, and I like the dancing, and it's fun to watch big guys throw heavy things around while wearing kilts.  Tartans are so cool, in fact, that apparently some have been registered for families from Ireland and Wales.  Last year, Dandelionslayer picked up this tie in the Welsh Jones pattern.  And if you give a Welshman a tie, pretty soon he'll want a waistcoat to go with it.  I ordered the fabric from The Scottish Weaver, and it matched, thank goodness.  I used my old familiar men's accessories pattern, Simplicity 9345.  The pattern includes appliquéd welts, but I knew Dandelionslayer would want real pockets.  So I followed the tutorial again, and sewed these nice diagonal welt pockets.  He's very happy with the vest.
After those two projects, I was ready to sew for myself again.  I chose McCall's 2401 for a nice basic sheath.  As I laid out the pattern, I mourned a little that not only did the pattern not include pockets, but that the side-seam pockets I like to sneak into dresses would probably not be appropriate.  And then I had a vision: slanted welt pockets, right in front, with bows covering the welts.  I considered this crazy idea as I cut.  Feeling empowered by the trousers and waistcoat, I decided to go for it.  I reviewed the tutorial, but didn't need to check it for every step anymore.  The hard part was getting the knot part of the bow to not be too bulky, but I solved that problem.  The bow-welt pockets turned out just the way I had envisioned them, and added an elegant detail to a very plain dress. 

I don't have any more welt pockets planned right now, but if they come up again, I will sew them without fear.

What skill have you learned lately?