Tuesday, April 28, 2020

What I've Been Up To ... And It's Not Covid

Hi, friends. It's been a busy week or two! As our stay-homeness has progressed, I've found myself adjusting to it and getting on with life. Most of my mental time in the past month has been dedicated to my very sick husband. He has two viruses (neither of which is Covid-19, thankfully!). He has Mononucleosis, and he has Pharyngoconjuntival Fever. The first is in his throat; the second is in his eyes. After a visit to his eye doctor and one last visit to the pharmacy, he is on the mend!

So ... no, I have not been obsessed with Covid-19, as some friends assume. I've been much more worried about what's wrong with Adam.

Have I been hunkered in front of my laptop, consuming scary virus news? (I ask this only because some people have assumed I am.) No! I've been doing these things:

Cleaning out the garage. (This has been a many-days, exhausting job.)
 It doesn't look like it's been cleaned out, but believe me ....
Part of the garage trash:

Then cleaning out the back of the garage to turn it into my new potting shed!
 This area was chest-high with junk. You could not walk into it. I wanted it for a potting shed, so all the stuff had to go into the garage ... hence the garage clean-out.
Potting area:
 Storage area:
 Those tubs and tool boxes are Adam's but are too heavy for me to move. 
More junk:
 This contraption held all the nails/screws/nuts/bolts the elderly previous-owner had accumulated for decades. I cleaned it up too. Adam doesn't want it. I think it's cool but have no idea what to do with it. Ideas, you clever friends?

Working in the garden. (I found sprouted potatoes in the garage that we'd forgotten were there! They were planted.) The peas are all blooming, the lettuce and spinach are perfect, and the strawberries are amazing this year!
asparagus, strawberries, and a volunteer elderberry plant I dug up


Digging around in my flower beds.

Weeding out my herb beds. I made a video about the herb beds, but it was awful.
 I sent off watercolors to three different friends last week!

Sewing. I'm now making a perfect pattern from which I can make Adam all the swanky vests he could ever want.

I bought this pattern at a German lady's Etsy shop and downloaded it. Then I printed it off, taped it all together at the little x's, and cut the pattern pieces out. I'll make at least one mock-up vest for Adam from fabric I have in my stash. I think the pattern will need adjusting to fit him perfectly. Then I'll order some nice wool and satiny liner to make a fine vest. After that, we won't have to order vests online anymore that don't fit correctly; I can make him all the vests he likes!

This has ended up being a productive time. For about a week sometime in March, I was a slug and lay around discouraged at the changes in the world. But here in rural N.C., life hasn't really altered all that much for folks like us who stay at home a lot anyway. The biggest struggle has been Adam's illness(es), not the Covid Virus. 

We all cope with this event differently, but I think it's so, so important not to criticize others for how they handle it, or presume to think we know their attitudes or feelings. We don't. Depending on people's temperaments, health, family members, locations, and occupations, their responses to Covid-19 will vary. It is unkind to state an assumption about how someone is responding to it, much less to criticize their response. I'm keeping track of Covid much as I keep track of hurricanes in the autumn, staying glued to Mike's Weather Page - because it interests me. That's all.

But Covid is out there, and this is a fascinating, bizarre time to live in, right? I find it interesting to read about and stay abreast of, in the middle of all the other things I'm doing. I hope you do too! One day when our grandchildren ask us what it was like to live in 2020, I want to be able to give an informed, interesting answer.

Stay well out there!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Happy Birthday, Hubby!

Even though he's sick with Mono, Adam still needed a cake for his birthday. This is my mother's recipe, "Abby's Fabulous Chocolate Cake." Only I didn't make that cake. I bought a box mix. But the delicious sea-foam icing I did make myself!

I made the cake last night to let it cool.
 Sea-foam icing is so fun. It's shimmery and a little sticky.
Then, on top of the icing I wanted to drizzle some chocolate syrup ... Nope! I did not do this!
 I melted a square of semi-sweet chocolate and a tablespoon of butter and drizzled it on top.
Happy birthday, sweetheart!

 I painted Adam a sweet card. "I love you more ..."
 "... Than Bunny Poop!" I wrote that because our dogs love love love to eat bunny poop in the yard. Ick.

Not the best birthday of his life, being sick, but we are praying him better every day.

Post-Isolation Fantasy Choices

This post responds to Kezzie's similar post, over in England. Thanks, Kezzie! If you want to do a post like this, go tell Kezzie.

1. Restaurant you would go out to: I've been pondering this for weeks, and I know I would go to Mucho Bueno, our favorite Mexican restaurant across the Neuse River in Havelock. They serve Mexican "street food" too. They have a creamy chicken dish that causes me to close my eyes above its wafting aromas and say, "Yummm," every time it comes to the table.

2. Friend you would meet up with first: Well, this implies a local friend. I have other friends who live far away who I would dearly love to have a day-or-three with. But near me, I have a painting/lunching friend whose company I miss very much. We've seen each other a little, from afar, but it's not the same. And my Bible Study ladies, especially our hostess, who I haven't seen in many weeks now. And my farmer's market friends too.

3. Place you would go: I think to the beach. I don't visit the beach (only 1 hour 20 minutes away) often. I can go for a year or more without visiting there, although I think I want to, and I hope to do it. But I put it off, waiting for a "better time" or "better day." I want to relax on the sand, close my eyes, hear the heavy surf and the lapping waves, and rest. I also miss going to church, for just a regular Sunday, seeing our church family and worshiping and eating together. I've missed that very much.

4. Shop you would go to: Our local thrift store! I also miss the 2 craft stores, Michael's and Hobby Lobby, in the big town near me.

5. Food item you would buy/eat: I can't think of anything, really. I have been grocery shopping each week, so we aren't low on any food supplies. We've been able to buy everything we need. Adam, however, has been sick (not with Covid though), so I've been cooking, so what I really want is his cooking back! I think I'd like his fried shrimp.

6. Cake you would eat: Cake? This must be a British thing, Kezzie. I made a chocolate cake last night for Adam's birthday (today!!!), but generally we don't eat cake often at all. Does "cake" really mean "bakery item"? Our bakery down the street, Sweet Annie's, has remained open (for take-out) so I have not been deprived! I enjoyed a chocolate-iced Boston Cream-filled doughnut just yesterday!

7. Show you would go to see/Concert you will go watch: We don't go see live shows or concerts often at all. They are generally quite pricey. I would love to see the concert on the grounds of Tryon Palace again like we did one summer. It was lovely with picnics and fabulous symphony music and fire flies. Except for Adam's leg being in a big brace and my having to tote all the picnic stuff from blocks away, it was a perfect evening.

8. Relative you will hug first: I want to hug all my children and grandbaby Isaac, but they live far away. I would also like to hug Adam. He's got a fierce case of Mononucleosis and is contagious, so although I do hug him, I don't kiss him. It would be nice to have a kiss again.

9. Holiday you would go on: I want to return to Williamsburg. I miss it. I miss wandering in the garden of the governor's palace, drifting in and out of the shops and smelling the scented soaps, hearing the horses clop-clop by, and sitting in the quiet, old church. I want to go in the fall or spring. It's too crowded in the summer and too cold in winter.

10. Other activity? I'm not a spa kind of girl, but I'm thinking about getting a facial, pedicure, and decent haircut when this is all over. My hair is appalling. I just bought a slightly-better shampoo, hoping to soften it up. It's been dry with split ends. I think the salons of all types will be crazy-busy when The Horrid Covid goes away!

11. Thing you would do at work: Well, I'm still painting, but I am looking forward to going back to the farmer's market and selling my lotions/soaps/etc. It's funny how the activities you thought you were rather tired of before, are now things you miss. Oh, how I wanted to give up some of my commitments and just stay home. Ha! The Horrid Covid changes one's mind on such things.

12. Item you would buy: Hmm. I'm not a shopper. I do need a new pair of farm boots. Mine have a huge split in the heel. There are a few books I'd like to order. But I could buy those right now online. I put off buying things for as long as possible, but I can't blame that on The Horrid Covid. (That's Kezzie's phrase, and I like it a lot!)

That's it! Because we live in a rural area, we are not "closed in" at home as much as some folks are. I mostly miss eating at favorite restaurants. How about you? Do tell us what you will do when The Horrid Covid goes away!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

One Day at a Time

One day at a time ... and all the days feel the same, don't they? I'm trying not to push myself at all. Some days are busy; some days are pure nap! Today, after a long time of not touching a paint brush, I decided to paint again. I watched this lady's youtube video and felt inspired. I painted three 6" x 9" floral pieces.

Here's #1:
 I decided more pen lines would help it:
 Here is #2. No pen on this one.
 I was tempted to lay some pen on that, but didn't. I did add more/longer pale petals because it needed ... something.
 More pen again on #3:
Making face masks also got me sewing again.
Yesterday I used some fabric I'd forgotten about, to make a long apron:

I wanted to make it look like the bunny was peeking his head up out of the pocket :)
All the fabric I have is thin, and I'm about out of elastic, so I think I'm done making masks.

Did I mention that Adam has Mono? Pretty bad case too. Four types of antibiotics didn't do much to relieve his horrible sore throat or infected eyes. Poor fella. It will be a long recovery. But he tries to be up and about during the day, between naps. Here are a couple of things he cooked for us lately.
Chicken tenders, potatoes, green beans and our asparagus, in a wonderful gravy
Meatloaf, broiled tomato with Parmesan, asparagus patties

Cherry pie -- that didn't last long
I've also been cooking dinner and grocery shopping. Our eating is suffering a bit, I will say!

A good friend brought me some flowers to cheer me up! Aren't they lovely?

Now it's pouring down rain, which I don't mind because the garden needs a regular watering. I pulled both vehicles out into the yard to get washed during the downpour from the Lord too, because they were filthy with pollen. In fact, the pollen is so bad now, and the pecan trees are all leafing out and flowering out on the farm, I wonder if that's what's wrong with Adam's eyes -- allergies.

Oh dear - I don't mean to be a downer! We are doing just fine! All of this will pass, and we will remember the spring of 2020 as one of those "interesting" times of life, won't we? The key is to stay calm, be wise, don't fear, don't believe everything you hear, and extend patience and grace to those around you. Love to all of you out there in the big, wide world!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Doggy Gets His Day

Remember Doggy? Doggy who escaped the prison of my clothing trunk? I decided to bite the bullet and attempt a stuffed-animal repair. This hole on his back seemed the real problem.
I had to stop sleeping with Doggy about 35+ years ago because his stuffing was leaking out of that hole you see above. The stuffing was grainy, like sand.
I opened up the seam along his back. My plan was to remove the stuffing in his torso, make an enclosed fabric pouch and insert it in that part of him, filling it with batting, and leaving his head and legs alone.
He used to be furry. Hardly any fur left!
I quickly realized that wouldn't work. All the stuffing had to come out. It was nasty. The lady who had made Doggy for me when I was a baby had used some sort of brown foam. It had degraded over the years, and some of it actually was just like dirt or sand.

I did everything in the wrong order. Before removing all the stuffing I planned to give the frayed part of his back some support by ironing a little piece of fusible interfacing on its under side, sticking the nose of the iron through the seam opening. The stuffing interfered and made a mess. But worse, after removing all the stuffing, here's what that white interfacing already looked like! It was filthy!
I remembered what the ladies on The Repair Shop did. They always removed all the stuffing. Then they always gently washed the animal. I gingerly picked off that interfacing, and gave Doggy's empty body a wash.

One side of his tale is not salvageable. 
There's nothing left of his ear linings.
And I decided I needed to do something about his eyes. What did they used to look like? 
I removed him from his bath. What a pitiful old friend he now was!
You can tell from all the stitching that he was handmade.

The next morning Doggy was dry. 
Here's a photo of the stuffing pouch
 I constructed for his torso.

I had a good bit of white batting that I put into his head and legs. Then I inserted the empty pouch, positioned it, and filled it with batting too. 
I had just enough!
Then a crisis occurred. It was time to stitch up the opening in his back. But when I started, the fabric was simply too fragile to sustain any tension for sewing it closed. It began to split, even though I'd ironed on a fresh piece of interfacing to support it.

I was discouraged and gave it up for the day.

This morning I returned to Doggy and his surgery. I pondered. The thing is -- I don't really care much about how Doggy looks. He's supposed to look old. I care more about being able to hold him again, to sleep with him snuggled up to me again. I'd already removed the offending stuffing, so that was taken care of. But how to close up his back? I knew I did not want a brand new panel of stuffed-animal-fur on half of his body; that wouldn't be Doggy. In the end, I opted for an unattractive but supportive solution. I used needle and thread to stitch the seam closed, also going into the fabric further down on both sides, to spread out the tension.
Poor Doggy! I couldn't leave his back exposed like that. I pondered putting something over his back: a saddle? He's not a horse. A little coat? A vest? I draped some of this polka-dotted fabric over his back, and immediately I knew what Doggy needed. He needed a cape! After all, he's my super-hero for surviving all these years!
This is the same fabric I chose for his new ear liners, and to cover the side of his tail.
I also removed his eyes and used some felt to make new ones.
That's how they looked long ago!
 He's supposed to look like he's snoozy
and his eye lids are drooping down.
It does help to have things on hand, 
as a long-time crafter, to find solutions like this.
Doggy is looking quite dapper, I think! He loves his cape. I may make him a better one that fits smoother, but for now, this will do just fine!

One thing the ladies on The Repair Shop always do is to keep any little damaged parts of the animal, put them into a little cloth pouch, and put them inside the animal before they close him up, so that no part of the animal is lost. Isn't that sweet? So I took Doggy's old eyes and slipped them inside one of his ears under the liner -- just where I used to keep secret notes 50 years ago. 
Welcome back, sweet Doggy! You can sleep with me again from now on.
 (provided Adam doesn't mind!)