Sunday, May 10, 2015

I finally dyed, which started the whole world ... laughing

I bought these belly dance pantaloons thinking they were ivory with that little black pattern on them. Moral: Always get more pictures!

I know the vendor, so I didn't B too much.
Then I thought, shucks, I could dye them!
Here's my kettle. Nice kettle e'n't it?

Be warned. Many gallons of water take (takes?) a long time to boil!
After reading a lot of negative reviews about how Rit dye is crap, and good advice from artists and artisans about how you can get better dyes (but always a lot of dye) and get better results, I was waffling pretty badly.

Then this violet and purple Rit dye, generously donated by Carol from Troupe Sicora in Lincoln won out by pure tightwaddery.

Thanks Carol!
I boiled the water, added the pants, and stirred them and boiled and stirred and ... well ... my arm got tired for sure!

But the color was lovely!
After many rinses (oy, many rinses!), the color was still lovely!

Yes, I quit before the water ran clear. I did. I was tired. I was bored. I was over it.
It was October or something, I'm not sure, but it was cold enough that the pants froze on the line. But more importantly, the color was GREAT! (Don't pay attention to those goobers from my camera.)

So: A mistake on my part + donations + long hours of fiddling = a lovely end to an amateur project.

And I haven't worn them dancing yet, either.

Genealogy with pets

Thanks to the presence of the Evil Queen, I always have company in the front porch, where I try to be a genealogist-like person. I don't know how other genealogists do it, but I just go with whatever piques my interest at the time. I'm rarely too focused.

Last week I realized how my grandmother's grandparents moved with the family to the new part of the state when my grandmother was six. I was glad to hear that she and her siblings had familiar faces besides their dad in the new place.

I don't know how people organize their material. I just have a lot (a lot!) of tabs in a 21/2 inch notebook. I have a separate book for random notes and another separate book for the obits I'm trying to track down. Who has emailed back, who hasn't, what library is helping, how much I owe a researcher, etc.


This is Zi's response to genealogy.

She keeps me from staying focused too much by requiring ear and belly scratches from time to time. She thinks the rabbit hole under the outbuilding is more interesting research, as the clots of dirt on her chest testify.

I did meet a cousin over the weekend. I did a cold call and it turned out well. Whew!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Not exactly a new obsession ...

Genealogy, what a time sink!

This is a picture of a woman (far left) who is an ancestress, and I'm glad to say that the one woman who is smiling is the one in my family. This is the Ulry family, and you can see they have their predecessors with them, making a three-generation photo, maybe four, I don't know.

Every decade or so, I get all enthused about genealogy, and each time I add a bunch of information about the fam. Since I have a relative who researches my mom's side, I go in for research regarding my dad's side.

At right is the second page of a ship's manifest. Some of this material is available online for free, other stuff is accessible through paid sites like ancestry dot com. I'm told you can find most of it for free, if you know where to look. On the other hand, some material is only located at the site nearest where it happened.

So my present includes short trips to museums and libraries in nearby counties, and my future involves longer trips to the same institutions, but further away.

Small towns have hinky hours, often Friday through Sunday and the like, so I'm doing some queries through the mail. Lots of online small-town museum and historical society sites have like one person in charge of answering emails, and some never do answer.

And your ancestors will make you curious about unusual topics. I'm curious about what life was like for a person in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War I. I'm curious about what the job of a fireman-slash-engineer on the railroad in the 1920s was like. What was the WPA (Works Progress Administration) all about?

... and my interest in tightwaddery has a new angle. I researched the previous owners of my home (to be found at the local courthouse), and found that at various times, there have been 10 and 11 people living here. This gives lie to my internal claim that I "don't have enough space." How much space is necessary? Do I just have too much crap? "Need" is a relative term.

This is a form that becomes familiar to any genealogist who can go to a library who has a subscription to ancestry dot com. It's a page from the 1910 census.

If you know where your relatives lived in a year that's divisible by 10, you can find out a little bit more about them. After awhile, you learn to peruse them carefully for the minutest detail; those details can be important.

And it gets to be interesting about people's penmanship. Sometimes you need to read over the page to get familiar with the enumerator's (census-taker's) handwriting.

But maybe it takes a special kind of nerd to care. I suppose I'm saying I'm a special kind of nerd! Fortunately for me, there are some folks out there who are better nerds than I am, and when I get stuck, I can ask them for help.

One person in particular, whom I knew in the 80s, was a huge help, and I didn't even appreciate it at the time. She gave me information back then that I'm only just now appreciating. Thanks Claire! You rock!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Obsession hopping

I have been a bit of a sewing fiend in the past few months. Friends roll their eyes when we have conversations and anyone says "So what have you been doing?" My favorite project of the uber-patched jeans? There are now 11 patches. Heh.

At times, however, sewing and herbalism go together, just ask my Christmas gift recipients. Five or six or seven of them received custom-made dream pillows. Now there's nothing difficult about making a dream pillow, but some folks have not heard of them.

If *you* have not heard of them, they are like sachets (well, they are sachets, yeah?), filled with herbs. You can put herbs you like, herbs you need, any combination you like ... just so it's not explosive. Then you put it inside your regular pillow, lay your head on/near it, and the heat from your body releases the essential oils of the herbs inside. That's it. The aroma and the essential oils in your personal space are therapeutic and work in various ways.

This here herbal thing is something I did in ... October? It's called Fire Cider. Look it up. Especially the stuff by Rosemary Gladstar.

Have yaself a big jar, quality apple cider vinegar, onion, fresh horseradish, garlic, ginger.

There's a thing about digging horseradish that I didn't know. The thing is that you do not know where the roots are. There's the plant, and it comes up in the same place every year, and yes, the roots are underground, but that's all. Be carefulcarefulcareful when you dig it, it's easy to assume where those things are. They literally head off in all kinds of wacky directions. And being careful is a pain in the buns. Arduous. But the result is awesome.

 You can add herbs you think will be useful to ward off flu, in case you did/did not look up fire cider. Here is some thyme.
We had garden onions, despite not having taken care of the garden. Sometimes gardens do that for you. They are generous that way.
I added lemon balm. (The recipe calls for lemons or lemon zest, I can't remember which.) This is the last of the stuff aboveground. I also added yarrow, since it is persistent and beautiful and stunningly useful.

And I had three sinus events, and each time I had a few spoons full of this stuff. It's great-smelling and awful tasting. OMG. But I am telling you that it WORKS.

It works. My sinuses have a friend. Wow. I went from impending several-day events of drippy and runny nose, to breathing *through my nose* and clear. I'm not kidding. In hours. I was better in hours and went to work. And I was fine.

Herbalism obsessions can be useful!


So anyway, back to my sewing obsession. I have a '56 Singer sewing machine, the carrying case kind. I love Etta. I've sewed and sewed with her for ... ahhhhmmm ... a lotta years. But there are some things she can't do.

Zig zag stitches. ... She says no.

Going through thick material. ... She says no.

Sewing stretch material. Well. ... I can trick her into it, but it's a pain in the buns.

Sewing in small places. Well, it depends, but it's limited. And it kinda depends on how many hands you have.

So I got a new sewing machine, a Janome 2012. Very basic. And armed with all kinds of hope and a zigzag stitch and some serious torque on Ethel, I can do harder work in more difficult places.


So on this thick Carhartt coat, I was able to put a jeans patch on a twill coat, sewing through the whole coat on the important places. Then I had to hand sew across the top of the patch so that ... you know ... I didn't sew it shut. I also sewed around the hole in the actual coat to allow the guy to use the coat and not make the hole bigger from the inside.

So while it does not look good, it is SOLID and functional. And you can see the rest of the jacket, it's not pretty. Its pretty days are long gone. It's one of those jackets you lie on the mud driveway to take a drive shaft out with.

And it will probably last another several years. I love this shit!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Corn, jeans, bleaching, bugs, and the very entertaining Opiliones

I didn't plant corn this year. I have a ton of seed corn from last year and never used it. Even though it was a successful planting and it was fascinating and beautiful, it was a lot of work even doing everything the laziest way possible.

Say, if you need seed corn, just let me know!

This past winter, I finally got some heat installed in the front porch. Another thing that happened is that I found out that to patch the knees of jeans, one must open the leg at the non-flat-felled seam.

(By the way, this is a cicada killer wasp. I'd sing you their praises, but you can look them up. They are big and scary-looking, but they seem to only be a threat to cicadas! Woohoo! Seriously, they are wicked-looking but they remain a wonderful addition to your yard.)

WELL! The heat and the information opened up a whole new world and I started patching every pair of jeans in sight, with varying degrees of success. I started with using jeans fabric, but the fact is that most jeans fabric, by the time you're wearing a hole in it, is thin and soft and not at all like even worn jeans material.

So the jeans patches I made just created stress on the surrounding fabric and poof, more holes. I'm gradually changing how I deal with knees and other worn spots, depending on the fabric remaining and the wearer. This pair? This tropical tree is the 8th patch on these jeans. The addition of so many patches seems to make these winter-weight jeans, but ... well ... it's August and I can't really tell at this point.

This Baptisia australis, the wild blue indigo, is being used for clothes drying. Or clothes bleaching. I needed to put this garment in the sun, but also somewhere that the cat and the dog would not lay on them. Everything of mine gets flooped, flopped, rolled and laid upon by EQ and Zi.
I'm trying to get rust stains out with lemon, salt and sunshine.
This very plush and fuzzy beetle was hanging around the Chinese lantern/Physalis. I think it is VERY good-looking. When it flies, it flies smooth like a wasp. But it doesn't look like either a moth or a beetle. I never did find out what it was, besides attractive.

It has been a stellar year for Opiliones, or harvesters, or daddy longlegs. One morning, the backsplash in my kitchen sported EIGHTEEN of them! Last year the high number was twelve. Several have died in the sink. Several roam other parts of the house, but mostly, there seems to be ideal Opie conditions in the kitchen. OR! Maybe that's where the portal is. You know, kinda like the Stargate.

I try to leave water on the counter, since they sometimes drown getting to water. Yesterday I saw one carrying a flake of meatloaf. I busted out laughing and he/she dropped it. Hm. And when I work at the sink, there's just one. Like a scout. (I call it Opie Terminator; for a daddy long-legs, he's very forward!) He or she charges me! I don't want to hurt him or her, so I drum my fingers on the counter. (If I hit one with spray or food or oil or batter, who knows? I might drown them.) And it's funny. They will go away at the drumming, but there's a delayed response. Hmmm.

Life is interesting. Pay attention! Woohoo!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Anatomy of whatever kind of sinus cold this is

I caught a cold, which started with night-time mouth breathing and passages so dry you could ... well, they were very dry.

On the third day, I had a very low voice in the morning, but sneezed four times and otherwise felt fine. On the fourth, I sniffed some a few times. Each of these nights,  I was mouth-breathing and getting nasty dry all night. I took some echinacea and elderberry tinctures in water, but I was distracted by something else going on that day. On the fifth day, my nose turned into a faucet. I continued with the tinctures and the occasional Vitamin C tablets and used a lot of facial tissue. I made hot honey-lemon tea. Later I had just honey in water.

And then I did a thyme steam bath for my head.

I took about a cup or more of water, heated it in a small saucepan, and when it was simmering, I added about 2 teaspoons of thyme. Then I used a beach towel to make a tent so I got all the thyme steam from that pan. For about 10 minutes. I was bored. But it did feel good! Later in the day I took the thyme out of the water, heated the water again, and added that herb back in. Later in the day I did it again, but added another couple teaspoons of thyme. The sneezing has gone away. The phlegm is looser. The headache is milder. The nose-faucet has been GREATLY REDUCED.

That thyme is great stuff. Look it up. It could help you!

Monday, January 13, 2014

"and time passes ..."

That's what my mom would say when the leading lady and man would embrace very very closely and the screen faded to black.

Well, I have no excuse for  not talking to y'all. I hung my corn after I harvested it onto my tailgate, and for lo these many weeks it has dried in my front porch. Last week I took 30 or more cobs of corn off the cob. I carefully segregated deep, steely blue corn and deep winey-red corn, and got about a quart of each. The rest I just call "calico." They're all in big bulky wonderful quart canning jars to keep the mice from harvesting them. Damned mice.

I never thought that you could sort corn by color and be useful about it, since the mammal phenotypes [physical characteristics] can't be sorted that way. But when people I trusted said they "just threw out the yellow kernels," of their Indian corn, I had to know more.

Corn ain't mammals. If you do some research on how corn is pollinated, it makes sense. The short way to tell it is that pollen grains from the tassel of the corn fall onto individual corn silks. Each piece of silk leads to a place on the cob where a kernel can develop. One grain of pollen + one corn silk = one individual kernel. And when you think about all the successful pollination that has to take place to make ONE cob of corn, well that's just pretty cool. All the time I was shelling my corn, I kept thinking of that.

Of course there are drawbacks. One half block away is a field of what we used to call "field corn," and I now call "GMO corn." All the yellow kernels in my corn can be directly attributed the the pollen from that field getting to my corn's silk.

Where I live there are hundreds of thousands of acres of fields of corn. Where there isn't corn, they grow soybeans, and in the small percentage of fields where there isn't either, there may be alfalfa, wheat, or cattle grazing. So where do you plant your corn? It's a question. For anyone trying to raise a particular strain of corn, it's a BIG question.

Am I replanting my "blue" and "red" corn? Yessiree. I'm learning a lot.

Did I eat any of it this year? Well. The season for processing it got away from me and it dried on the stalk. This means I could use it for corn, but it won't be as good as cooked and dried corn will be. I haven't had the guts to try it in food or try to make cornmeal from it. Besides, I had helped a friend pick HER corn and SHE processed it and shared with me. So. Like. I kinda don't need to! Ha!