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Sunday, January 31, 2010

I told you so

Do you see it? Right in the middle of this drawer, the blue and silver thing next to the light bulb. That's it. Yes, just as I said. I knew that if I sent for a new bead reamer, after having looked for mine for days, after having spring cleaned as a result, every nook and cranny, I would finally find mine. Now, I have looked in this drawer how many times? Why didn't I see it! Because it wasn't there. Someone, I don't know who, has a key to my apartment. They came in, borrowed it, then brought it back after a few weeks. Because I swear it wasn't there. I mean, I looked in this drawer at least a dozen hundred times. And this person is not new to me. This person has been following me around for decades, because this is not the first time this has happened to me. This person has "borrowed" things from me before. I wish he wasn't such a coward. I wish he would let me know who he is so I cold just call him when I can't find something. Save me a lot of grief. But noooo. He has to be a secret. So now I have two damn bead reamers.

Anyone want a bead reamer?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Better bread

I have come home from work. Eighteen hours have past since the dough went from flour water and yeast. I turned the dough out from the bowl and let it rest covered by cloth for 15 minutes. Now I have shaped it into the round and have placed it on the heavily floured and branned cloth where it will rise for another two hours. After an hour, I will start the oven and place in it the Lodge Dutch Oven which will heat up for the last hour.

This is it after being baked in the covered dutch oven for 35 minutes. I am sitting here typing, watching the Iron Chef and above all this I can hear the loaf in the kitchen crackling. It is speaking to me. How I love making bread. I am anxious to hear how D~ likes it. She is my barometer.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Daddy and Me

I love this picture. I feel so comfortable in his arms. I could stare at this picture for hours. This is one of those pictures you would frame and have for all of your life. Out of all the family photographs I have been seeing lately, this is my absolute favorite. I might say that about another, but this is my absolute favorite.

Better Bread

Last week I made a loaf of bread and it just came out awful. It didn't rise like this. There was no dome of wrap over it. It rose a bit and then it collapsed and never did rise after that. After the 18 hours of rising, it never recovered it's lightness. I thought if I baked it off, it might still rise up and be good. It certainly looked good when it came out of the oven. But D~ ended up coming to get it and told me that it was heavy, pasty and salty. Just bad. I have no idea what happened to it. All I know is, what you see here is fantastic dough. This is it after a two hour rise. It fills about half the bowl. Just what it should be doing. You can see the air pockets. The dome is high and tight. It is exciting just looking at it.

It is now over six hours into the rise, twelve more hours to go. The dough is now one inch from the top of the bowl. It probably won't get any higher. The dome is as high as it will get. See the air pockets? Perfect. Everything is perfect. I put the bowl on a towel to add to the warmth, better than on a cold counter. This will be good bread. D~ is coming this Sunday and I am sure she will have great bread.

Bread is very important to me. I used to bake bread several times a week. It is what I used to give to people as a comfort to those with hectic, turmoiled lives. Holding a loaf of homemade bread in your hands is a really healing thing. How often I used to get calls from my customers when they got home saying "You know, I couldn't resist. I started breaking off pieces as soon as I got into the car. Thank you so much!" No one ever said - that was awlful - the worst thing you could ever have given me! There is something about fresh bread, real bread, that wraps the soul in a comfort not even a blanket can achieve. I used to be a bread baker. Maybe I will become one again. After all, it is soothing to my very being as well, bringing the dough together, watching the rise, handling the dough, the smell as it cooks, and when it emerges from the bake, it speaks. It speaks for quite some time in crackles as it cools. I think more people should bake bread. The experience is wonderful

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Look! New Hair!

In December, I posted a picture of the Self with my typical long hair worn pulled back for years. I have accumulated quite a collection of beautiful hair ties all made by the Self. Ribbon flowers, beautiful buttons on elastics, bejeweled barrettes, some covered with old kimono silk, wonderful ways of holding the hair. So, a month ago I began to think short. When I first came to Oregon, my hair was 1/4 inch long. Shaved. I was extremely depressed and it showed. I looked extreme. I don't think there was anything soft about me. But I have recovered and I have found comfortable stockings to wear and my compassionate heart once again sleeps on a silk pillow.

I actually wanted my hair to be a little longer than this but I had a difficult time explaining to Angela, the wonderful hair stylist, what it was that I wanted. But this is close. It will grow in a couple of months. Or less. My hair grows fast. I am hoping not to have to take a brush to this. Wash and scrunch. Let as little fall out as possible.

The past year I feel like I am going bald. Can I stop that? Am I being paranoid? I used to have a lot of hair. I know medication and anemia can cause hair loss. But I refuse to go bald. Can you imagine having to live in a wig? Oh my god! A Sofia Loren wig. There is a salon just down the road that advertises them and every time I go by there I just recoil. Or, remember that spray they came out with that you spray on your bald spot and it colors the hair you have left there and it makes it look fuller? I can just see myself getting up every day and spraying my hair before going to work and then layering my face with paste and my lips with gunk trying to look young, only ending up looking like Nellie Costello on a good day.

So, I took a chance and I love it. We should do this more often. Change is good. I am sitting here feeling rather smug. Content actually. The sun was out when I got up. I had about an hour to get ready to leave. Therapy first then off the the salon. I didn't bring an umbrella. While I was waiting for the bus, I was thinking I should have brought one. It felt like rain. The weatherman said it was going to be a dry day. But the air felt like rain. I took a chance and didn't bring one. The day was good and I din't need one. However, five minutes after returning home, the skies opened up and the rain descended. I have rather good weather controlling angels, eh!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Parents

I always loved this picture of my parents. It is how I have always wanted to see them. For me, this is how life should have always been. Avery marriage, every pair of lovers, should have a photo like this. It is peaceful somehow.

My mother has always loved shoes and clothes. This skirt is a little short for the 40's, do you think? But, paired with those shoes, she can carry it off. Those shoes---- do they not look like they came right out of a 2010 fashion magazine!! It is always sad to me that she was always throwing out the old and getting the new. These shoes whould have worked today.

All of my life, I can't remember a time when I saw my mother in the water. She had been abused in the water by her teasing brothers and subsequently became filled with dread. So it was always understood that you might as well throw in live electricity the moment she steps into water, that is how much she always hated it. That is what it felt like to be in it. And now I see this picture and I don't see that fear and loathing on her face. So, now what am I supposed to believe?

If I am correct, I was once told that Mom's dress was made from parachute silk. Her mother was, at that time, working in the mill yard for a manufacturer making parachutes which were at the time constructed from a tightly woven silk similar to Habotai silk which is still used today in making kites. I wonder if Mom still has the dress in that mysterious cedar chest she has in her bedroom~~~

This is my mother's oldest brother, Arthur. Uncle Arthur was the one who was killed in the war. After his death, Pepe just shut down and never really recovered from the impact. He stopped playing his fiddle, stopped participating in life. If you remember, by the time we knew him, he pretty much just sat in his rocking chair and spit in in his spittoon.

Next to Uncle Arthur is Mon Oncle Treffle. Uncle Tom. The cab driver. Don't they look like gangsters!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Self Image

We are constantly bombarded with these commercials of women and losing weight. It makes me sick how they dress after they have lost 30, 40, 80 pounds. They look like sluts. You can't tell me that that is what women are looking for in their goals to lose weight!

In this picture, I have lost 180 pounds. I am the one standing next to my Dad. Do I look like a hooker? Should I be trying to look like one? Have I missed the boat? Is that the goal for all women? Are we supposed to strive to wear skin tight clothing, big hair, spiked heels, and huge red lips?

Because if it is, I'm going underground.

My sister and I

This is Christmas 1951 which means I am 2 and Denise is One year old. We have two older brothers, Phil who is 3 and Dicky who is 4. It looks like we are supposed to be enjoying a tea party. I don't think I am having a good time and Denise looks like a doll propped up on a chair with red cheeks and a red nose. It looks like I got a baby carriage for Christmas there, off to the right. Although I didn't have a lot of dolls, I loved playing with the dolls I had. What a simple tree we had back then. We were still living on the West Side of Manchester at this point, on Notre Dame Ave? Because we didn't move to Brown Ave till I was three. So this was an apartment. I still sit with my hands on my knees like this a lot.

What a day. I baked bread and began a batch for Denise. The one I baked today didn't have the 18 hour rise time. It only had 14 hours and I tested the baking time. I wanted to see if bread that didn't have the long rise time still tasted good. It does but I feel is lacking in the taste of age, that sour dough taste.

I also made four chicken pot pies that came out fantastic, if I say so myself. The first batch I made my sister, she said, were rather dry. So I altered the recipe and I do think this will be a big success. And I used puff pastry for the crust. Once they are cooled, I will freeze them individually so she can come get them when she wants. She lives on a boat and does not have the storage space in her freezer like I do. I will be anxious to hear what she thinks.

I also bundled up 2009 in bills and put together figures for taxes and organized all my files. More throwing out stuff that is totally space-hogging. Old catalogs from four years ago. Imagine.

I wrote to my doctor about the past year and my health and my recent B12 experience. Now she is going to want to see me, but she is in her office the same days I work and I hate to rearrange my schedule to see her only to have to insist that I will not add any more drugs to what I already take. You know how doctors are. Always wanting to have you take more pills. I hate that. I have spent the past year changing so much. Even the way I walk. I even smoke half the cigarettes I used to and I don't smoke much. I think that the cholesterol thing has to do with the anti-depressants I take. I have heard that. I have read that. I never had high cholesterol until now. But then, I never took this medication either.

So it is nearly one in the morning and now I will settle down and work on my embroidery. It is quite the project, and I will blog it when it is done. But for now, tiny stitches and patience. I have had to open the window in my livingroom. With all the cooking, it has gotten warm in here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dad and the beach

We didn't live far from Hampton Beach, the only coast of New Hampshire. The coast of NH is 17 miles long and unless my sisters correct me, I believe it consists of Hampton Beach and Rye Beach. I have been corrected. The coast consists of Seabrook, Hampton Falls, Hampton, North Hampton, Rye, New Castle and Portsmouth. It is the shortest ocean coastline of any US coastal state. I have to give it to my parents for getting us there so much when we were kids. How I loved the water. You just couldn't keep me out of the water. We spent a lot of our childhood around water. The beach. Massabesic Lake where Dad had his sail boat at the Massabesic Yacht Club. And then there was Pine Island Pond, right in our back yard, up the hill, and down the other side. Two minutes and we were there, swimming in the summer and skating in the winter. I still love the water, but it is very very rare that I get to indulge in its soothing robe. I haven't worn a bathing suit in 45 years? If I go in the water, it is with a swimming dress, and usually when I am alone. Or, when I am with people who don't mind that I am in a dress.

My sister Suzanne and her husband John had a beautiful home in Essex New York that had a beautiful little in-ground pool surrounded by a garden, an apple orchard to the left, and Lake Champlain off in the distance. Occasionally I would travel up to take care of their home and their peaceful creatures while they traveled. I spent a lot of time in their pool. I loved cleaning it. Their little dog, Louis, would just lay there and I would skim for bugs and leaves for what seemed like hours. A beautiful place. Wonderful memories. Then I'd jump in, splashing him. Bark bark bark bark bark....... Louis was always by my side. I would sit for hours and knit or do some handwork and he would sit on the back of the sofa right near my shoulder and sleep, every once in awhile sighing. Then I'd shout out "squirrel!!" and off he'd be, through his doggie door, looking for the damn thing, running around the front lawn, frustrated that he couldn't find it.

I always thought my father was the handsomest man I ever knew~~~~~

And to end, today, pictures are all about color setting, focus, pixels (whatever they are) everything being just so. But we grew up with black and white. And to me---they speak volumes.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


It is such a small vitamin, but it sure creates large problems. For a month and a half it has been reeking havoc on my body, my left leg. Only I thought it was just work, or the shoes I was wearing. It has been years since I have felt this kind of pain. It's not the bones. It's in the muscles. I haven't been able to stand, walk, sit, nor lay down. It has just been there. I get up in the morning and it is gone. Then within an half hour or so, it's back. God, it is annoying.

I should have analyzed this pain. I could have come to a solution sooner. But I just lived with it while it got worse and worse. Then before Christmas it dawned on me that maybe it had to do with this B12 deficiency that I have had for 25 years. So I did a push. For three weeks I took a shot each Sunday. I wore different shoes. I carried as little weight on my shoulders as possible. I have been totally pain free now for 5 days. Total freedom. I can walk like a normal person. I am back to working on my posture. I have run out of the stuff and I have no refills of course. So the pharmacy had to get ahold of my doctor to get more. Then the doctor's office had to call me to find out what I was taking, like they didn't know what B12 was. So rediculous. I have to send an email off to my doctor to let her know what has been happening. Maybe she can up my dosage. If my B12 level is low, then what I am taking is a waste because obviously it is not enough.

Doctors. But it really is my fault. I have to take the initiative to address this with her. She is not going to break down my door. I have to break down hers. So~~~~

Tomorrow, I will do this. Vitamins. Pain in the arse.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Isn't it just loathsome when you can't find something? And I just used it within the recent past. So I know I have it. I even remember saying to myself that I should put it with my craft tools. But did I listen? All of yesterday I searched for this bead reamer. I looked through everything. Everything. And what did I do when I got up today? I continued the search. But I had to leave for work. I'm home now and still looking for it. I am now re-checking everything. I just can't let it go. Spring cleaning is also taking place. Things that no longer serve a purpose. Scraps of fabric I have saved from what - three years ago~~~~ Bits of this and bits of that. I go to the bathroom and I am looking in the cupboard. What are the chances? Where could this little thing possibly be? I just checked the freezer.

You know what is going to happen? I am going to get a new one. Yes. It happens to us all. And the original will appear. How often does this happen to us. Now I have to clear my mind and just let it go. I am becomming obsessed.

The bread is on the rise. I began a loaf yesterday. I broke it down for its second rise when I got home tonight. It is now in its third rise. It will be going in the oven in an hour and a half. Denise tells me the recipe calls for too much salt. I agree. I have never put two teaspoons of salt in a batch even when there were two loaves. And this is just one loaf. So, I have only put in one teaspoon. And I feel the dough is too wet, so I added a little more flour. It is looking good. We'll see. It is a quarter to 11. This bread should be coming out of the oven around 12:15 in the morning. I will cut off a small piece to see how it tastes. Hopefully it will be better.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Film Quilt

So, once again, I am given a bolt of fabric that we have an abundance of in the warehouse. Can I do something with this. It's film! It's not like I can create a pair of pajamas or a dress, or a pillow. It's film. It's an accent fabric, not a focus fabric. I have to transform this into a focal point. And it can be terribly flat if not positioned properly.

So I was traveling from Home Decorating back to my sewing room when I decided to stop and quickly check out the quilt patterns in the craft department. This one just about jumped into my hands. I thought I could do a take-off on this.

What do you think? It won't appeal to just everyone. But what does? But it is a looker for what I had to work with. And I did manage to make the film fabric the focal fabric.

I think it is a winner. And my quilting skills are improving.

After Christmas Snow

I saw this snow coming when it began with just a few flakes. I have wonderful windows that expose me to a wonderful range of the universe. It began slowly, then denser and denser and then it fell hard. We got a good inch. An inch!!!!~~~~~~~

The city closed down. Yes, I think the city bought a second plow. Where do I live? Portland Oregon, population around 350,000 people. Should we have more than 2 plows? Why?

So many accidents as drivers think there is no reason to slow down when they are turning corners, changing lanes, or going down hills. It's just snow!!!!

And people still wear sandals and shorts! What???

I miss New England. I miss pot roast. Baked beans. Sitting with friends around the dinner table. Bundling up under blankets on the sofa during a snow storm watching movies. Boots.

Shorts and sandals~~~~


I thought I might share a needlepoint I did a few years ago. I love this piece. Jody posted this really wonderful piece that she did that her sister transformed into a stool and I drooled. Is there no end to what our fingers can do with a bit of thread! I haven't worked with needlepoint in a few years. I used to design my own. I even have some silk gazar to create some silk thread needlepoint. And now I am thinking, if I start now, I could have my ornaments done using the gazar for the year 2012. This year I am going to make shoes for Christmas. But if I start now, I could needlepoint for next year. More to come on this I think.....

Fabric Depot Quilters

These are some of the most important women who guide me along in my quilting endeavors for the displays I create at the store. They are multi-leveled in their quilting abilities. Each one of them has their own vision when it comes to color choices and design. But their techniques are shared as they have been working together for years. Great friends. They are harmonious. Cheerful. Funny. Just great to be around whether they are quilting together in the classroom on Friday or Saturday nights or working in the store during the week. I love them all. I try really hard to be in my sewing room when they are quilting so I can listen in to their conversations and sometimes, if I have hand work to do, I will sit with them and do this work. Just to be around them is a form of meditation for me. They make me peaceful and happy. I would love to belong to such a group of women. I have never had the opportunity to join a group of women.

Once, many years ago, I tried. But on the first night, the women found out I did not have any children and I was "banished" from the group. I will never forget that evening. How humilitating. And this was in the mid eighties!

I may not earn a lot of money at Fabric Depot, but the benenfits of just walking into the store every day are tremendous. The people are simply grand. Simply grand!


This is my sister. She is an artist. This is a self portrait in acrylics I believe that she did while living in Alaska studying art. I made her the white artist cloak she is wearing in this. Denise is a beautiful woman and her talent in life is boundless. I have never known anyone like her. She can build a shower in a bathroom that has only a claw foot tub, while making delicate fanned buns in the oven. She can draw a horse so you can see every hair on its body and repair, herself, the sails on her boat. She speaks Parisian french and makes fun of my inability to roll my R's properly and is incredibly well-read. I love he to death.

And yet, she brings me a glue gun that doesn't seem to work, and really, I have looked at it, and I think the problem is, it has the wrong glue stick in it and when I go to work tomorrow I will get the right ones, and there won't be a problem. I am laughing. She is so frustrated about this little glue gun, and I really don't think there is a problem at all.

My sister is so precious. Oh, that we should all have such a gem as my sister Denise.

Friday, January 1, 2010


My sisters, Denise on the left, Suzanne in the middle. Easter dresses I am sure. Maybe I was ten?

The new year is here. Imagine. What took so long! I have been writing this evening and I came across this little piece that began with a wonderful sentence that made so much sense.

"Fear is what happens when reality collides with our personal fiction." We are sometimes so filled with expectations that no life could live up to them and of course, we become filled with fear because ~~~~ where can we possibly go not being able to meet our expectations. Our moments become so complicated that there is no longer any direction to which we can run and we end up standing in one spot becoming filled with fear because we become saturated with the uncertainty of disintegration. "I am going to perish" And we begin to create hell on earth. No way out? Way out.

Stop thinking. Take up a paint brush, a needle and thread, a vegetable and a knife, and ply a craft. Absorb yourself in the beauty of the craft. Think only about the paint. Forget the self. The self will live whether you worry about it or not. Create something beautiful. Where does this beauty come from? What a luscious quilt! Where does the beauty come from? What a stunning painting! Where does the beauty come from? This soup is so rich and comforting. Where does the beauty come from?

We are each of us filled with a wealth of beauty, a fountain of talent, creativity, and in the end, we have at our service the knowledge of a vocabulary abundant of all the words necessary to describe greatness.

So what do we do? We complain. We become so negative that no one wants to be with us. We don't even want to be with ourselves. We make excuses why we don't communicate with our friends and those we love. The air around us becomes black.
They are our own
I know fear. I have been intimate with it. Leaving the house to go to work has been an issue. Dealing with it was not easy and is not easy. And living without fear at times seems inhuman. Unnatural.

Living without fear or as much as we can without fear, frees us to be more present for everyone around us. It allows us to more enjoy the textures of people. I love that. "The textures of people". And we do have feelings. And it is OK to have these feelings flow out of us freely. We can appreciate them as being a part of ourselves, our own texture. Our own present moments.

Fear is what happens when reality collides with our personal fiction. This really speaks volumes.