Working Wednesday, April 15, 2020

It’s April 15 but taxes aren’t due. So much for the whole death-and-taxes rule. I have been throwing things out with a vengeance (not yarn or dogs of course) and scrubbing with less enthusiasm, and my yard is starting to not look so much like a blasted heath, so, hey, progress. Also more work on Nita (see proof below) and Lily, this time on the collage (more about that after the jump).

First, what did you do this week?

Now about that collage. Every time I do one for a book, I’m amazed at how much stuff comes to the surface: the Girls are fluent in Collage. This time I didn’t mean to go back to the general story collage, I just needed a placeholder for Sebastian that worked. I’d chosen an actor I didn’t like for Seb previously, and that obviously was not going to work: you have to like something about each of your characters or you’ll never get inside. So if found a different picture of somebody I didn’t know, and he was handsome and looked charming and I thought, “Okay, Lily might have fallen for that.” And then I tried to stick him in the collage and I realize the collage was all wrong.

First of all, the placeholder was too bland. Second, she was too small. Lily has to own that story so she had to own the collage, too. So I swapped out Lily’s placeholder and made her the biggest thing in the collage (which she should have been from the beginning) and that shifted everything else, and I started to put other things in and a lot more became clear. One of my favorite discoveries: if Fin meant “Viking” to Lily, there had to be some kind of image for that, so I went back to find Thor-as-Viking pictures and found the perfect one: a Thor action figure. I love that. Not quite real, but very lifelike. (And expensive; that sucker was several hundred bucks. No, I did not buy it.)

The collage is still a work in progress and will be until I abandon this story, and there are some troubling things in there, like why is the Thor figure trying to ax Cheryl in the head? So I went back in and divided what I had into logical groupings, and ended up with six: Lily and Fin, Cheryl and her not-behind-the-counter sign, Van and her we-are-not-open-24-hours sign, Bjorn (needs a hamburger image), the reincarnation/Nadia stuff at the top which weirdly includes Sebastian, and the title/axes/cat at the bottom. So that also is food for discovery.

At least now I know who Seb is. Progress.

And now back to the regularly scheduled post: So what did you work on this week?

54 thoughts on “Working Wednesday, April 15, 2020

  1. I have been swatching for a couple of upcoming knitting projects. One of them will be a large shawl knitted in an amazing and ingenious stitch pattern designed by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, which has a 3D texture and a late 60s vibe. I wrote about the swatch and included photos in this post: I am loving it so much. I am also working on a number of swatches for a fair isle vest for my husband, but those just aren’t coming together yet.

    I’ve also been doing some baking. I made a carrot cake over Easter weekend, and yesterday made a banana bread with dark chocolate. Today I plan to make corn bread with chillies, cumin, and sharp cheddar cheese. I have coeliac’s disease, so I only bake with non-gluten flours.

    Love the collage!

  2. We made apple crisps (thin slices of apple, dehydrated in the oven until crispy. AMAZING).

    We’re three weeks into lockdown here. The school term started today, so we’ve been homeschooling. That’s enough work for anyone for one day!

    One of my lockdown coping strategies is that at the end of each day, I’ve been taking moments that were average, and looking at them through a different light, & sharing with friends and family. Here is Day 22. Is my COVID lockdown experience international?

    Day 22
    10 Random thoughts on things I’ve learnt…
    1. Teatowels. Oh my God we go through so many clean teatowels. Why?!
    2. When your 10yo starts a 4 week lockdown needing a haircut he will regret that by week 3 (and decide that a sparkly hairclip is a lesser evil than mum weilding scissors, except during the class zoom).
    3. If you play Bach’s Cello Suites by Yo Yo Ma just loudly enough, you can work while the kids take the ‘battle’ in ‘Battleship’ seriously.
    4. A home office is a blessing without compare.
    5. At some point (let’s call that point week 3.6), the way a loved one loads the dishwasher/wears a t-shirt inside out/doesn’t butter the corners of toast/leaves the hairbrush on the table is going to mean one of you needs a timeout (see point 4). (The excellent lockdown game ‘Why are you doing it that way?’ There are no winners).
    6. The iPad is both the best and the worst thing ever invented.
    7. I am intensely grateful to have food, a garden, love, health, wifi, school resources, friends, safety, household equality, work, sunshine, apples, freedom…
    8. Regularly staying up til midnight watching international news is really stupid.
    9. Every brand of frozen raspberries comes from Serbia or Chile.
    10. Sarah Scott was correct. Chocolate brownies for pudding. 🤦 (Almost as good as the apples).

      1. I cut them thinly crossways (ie horizontal slices if the apple is the usual way up) with a mandoline (your can core or not core as you wish, but remove the pips). Put them on oven trays in a single layer, bake at 120°c. When they’re firm enough, turn them over (if you do this too soon, they’re too soft and disintegrate, too late and they stick, just perfect and they kind of peel off the trays – I’m sorry I came remember how long it took). Then bake until crispy. Apparently they don’t stay crispy, but we ate them all too quickly to verify that. Good luck!

        1. I’m sorry I came! Ha, hopefully said no woman ever. Unless they’re an introvert and the party they turned up to sucked and I just need to get my mind out of the gutter.

          I’m sorry I can’t remember I meant to say.

  3. I’m working on brewing the perfect cup of tea, for me! I’ve got these dragon pearl tea (commonly referred to as dragonball T by me) and I’m getting a better setup at work to do it.

    I’m still going to work. I’m the unnatural parent going, “there’s not enough money or space to get me to work at home with my husband and both kids. Nope.” Work is providing masks for us because we share space with 911 Dispatchers. We had to delay their ‘love your telecommunications personnel week’ so remember to remember the 911 Dispatchers in your prayers/thoughts/good wishes/whatever, they can use the love.

  4. I finished my edit, and invoiced for it (yay). Now deep into proofs. Glad I took three days off for Easter. Still enjoying the apple pie I made, and my new batch of seeds is starting to sprout. It’s warm and sunny again, and I’ve just decided to take tomorrow as a gardening day, before three more long days finishing these proofs in cooler, cloudier weather (because I won’t be able to post them before Monday, however I arrange my working week).

    I’m more gung-ho than usual about work, because I’m worried it may be thin on the ground at some point. As ever, finding it hard not to be doing the creative stuff I really want to do. Thank goodness for spring and sunshine.

  5. I’ve now made two new to me recipes, one for macaroons and one for kaiserschmarm. The macaroons were insanely easy. Kaiserschmarm requires technique apparently. I also have eliminated spring weeks from probably 80% of the garden. I was all calm when we got the official stay at home order until my garden store closed and then I panicked and went online and ordered from three companies. I still need more weeks and plants and tbere is a rumor that my store may be selling for curbside pickup. To be investigated.

    And then I have been making masks. My sister in law is a child life specialist—the person in medical settings who explains things to kids and keeps them calm and playing and generally makes it possible for the doctors and nurses to focus on medical stuff without traumatizing kids for life. She was working at a Yale hospital satellite office but tbey have closed them and now she is in the hospital and since they aren’t taking pediatric patients (I don’t know what happened to the seriously ill kids, maybe she just isn’t being assigned to them) she is now working in palliative care. She tells me they get one surgical mask per day but can wear homemade masks over them to extend their protection. Meanwhile my brother the pediatrician is mostly doing telehealth but also could use homemade. So….I can’t find my (small) fabric stash but my local fabric store is fulfilling mail orders and I ordered some quilt fabric and will be sending them about 12 (one per day of work week for each of them plus one for each boy.)

  6. My dad requested a mask, so I made two and sent them on. They are really quite easy, but it took a lot of time and thought to motivate myself to do it. Love my dad though!

    I have been fitfully working on the second of the two baby blankets. I’m in the long rows of the corner to corner, so it’s slow going. It’s not really a race – I have until August to get finished, so I’m not pressing myself.

    My quilt guild has a yearly challenge. This year it was to take a strip of a particular fabric and use it up in a quilted setting. I chose an interlocking pattern – the challenge fabric is the multi-colored bits in the background. It’s looking pretty good so far.

    Finally, still working from home. Yesterday I had to laugh because one cat was yelling that it was his time to go outside. I commented on the company chat that one of my furry co-workers was really loud. The immediate reply was that I tell my husband to hush. (It’s funnier if you know that we work for the same company.)

    I’ve got a couple of pictures – Stanley the former stray, napping while I’m working, the challenge top and Dad’s masks.

  7. I seem to be sitting on the periphery, mentally, this week. There’s been quite a few didn’ts: walk much, sign and send one stupid paper I need to, enroll in the summer classes.
    The “dids”are harder to enumerate beyond signing in for work, doing training modules and making dinner. I have made some progress in German, and I have some other mental things mulling in the background, so maybe I’ve been ruminating? I did plant some garlic cloves just to see if I can get a crop of spring garlic, and I did get some tiger-lilies from a neighbor in the ground. I need a tactile project, I think. Sorting through my uncle’s stuff, and collage may be in order.
    Thanks for asking! 🙂

    1. This is definitely a ‘didn’t’ week for me too. Trying to work up the gumption to clear the garden and dig a potato trench.

  8. In Allanah’s Random Thoughts I picked #5 as a sticking point. Just because you (fill in the blank) while I scratch my head in wonder at the absurdity of it all. It’s going to be 24/7 togetherness for a while and keep the evil thoughts only in my head.

    Surprise Lily #4 made me think of puzzles. I wish that I had kept at least one of my puzzles but I gave them away a few years ago to make room (old house not too much storage or closet space). I did go online and saw one that I really liked Ravensburger’s ‘Cozy Retreat’ but Yankee Frugal Syndrome stopped me from paying $8 S+H for a $20 puzzle. I can wait till I see it in a craft or book store.

    1. Hate to mention Amazon for various reasons, but maybe you could check to see if they have it, then order a couple of items (such as an Aargh author book?) and then get free shipping?

      I’m torn between whether it’s a bad idea to order relatively frivolous stuff and then expose employees/delivery people to the virus, or whether its a good idea because by doing so I am doing my part to keep the economy afloat. Or both? Thus, I’ve been hesitating over my book orders lately. What do y’all think?

    2. There’s a site called JigPlanet that offers a wonderful online alternative to physical puzzles, if you don’t have the ones you used to, or the space to spread one out. You can change the number of pieces for any puzzle, change the shape of pieces, and so on. I highly recommend trying it at least once. If you don’t like the ones you see when you pull the site up, you can click ‘explore’ in the upper left, select “popular searches” and see what else is on the site.

  9. I’ve been waking up later than I prefer. So yesterday I overcorrected and woke up at 3am. After lollygagging in bed till about 4.15. And then I did almost ALL the things!!!

    There’s quite a few foodie bits and pieces on Instagram today. The best is taking leftovers and putting them in puff pastry in a muffin pan. It was only two “pies” but it was fabulously successful. Is it a pie in the US if it is savoury?

    The next best pics are the doggo pics. He’s sho cuuuute! 😍

    1. Forgot to add, in South Africa we have pies and tarts. Pies – chicken and mushroom, cheese and spinach, steak and kidney etc. Tarts – milk tart, peppermint crisp tart. We seem to have imported a few sweet pies, but not many.

      1. Ah. My expectation of a tart is that it will be pie-shaped but not have a crust. The strength of its filling (can it have filing? maybe its substance) will hold the shape. Language is such fun.

        1. Huh. My expectation of a tart is that it has a crust, but not the flaky kind, but a “short” crust, made rich by the addition of butter, egg yolks, or ground nuts or nut flours.

          1. As a former professional baker my interpretation is that what differentiates a tart from a pie here in The States is size. Tarts can be either sweet or savory , one or two crust. If baked without a pie tin, we call them a gallette. If it is a sweet , open faced , dessert, baked in a shallow tin with a removable bottom, we call that a tart, too, and generally use a French style dough containing butter, egg yolk and a little sugar. The crusts for a traditional American pie crust usually contain either vegetable shortening or lard (although many pastry chefs now use a combination of butter and shortening).
            The traditional British savory pies with the dough wrapped around the filling we call hand pies, if they are individually sized. And the Australian style pies with the mashed potatoes, peas and gravy on top, we do not, in general, make at all.Have I succeeded in confusing everyone yet? The trouble is that American bakery is a hodgepodge of other nation’s specialties and so we have very little standardized terminology.

        2. A tart is a female who is attractive and has the air of being promiscuous, even if she isn’t.

          A tart is a girl likely to get disapproving looks from old people.

          In short, a tart is more of a tease and a flirt than, say, a whore, skank, or slut. All of those words imply putting out, whereas a tart may or may not have a lot of random sex.

          Grandma: “Jeff, your new girlfriend Millie is a little tart!”
          Jeff: “Whatever, grandma. You’re only saying that because she doesn’t dress like a Puritan.”

          Does it matter how crusty she is?

        3. I bow to the expertise of aunt snack.
          I am surprised to hear that pastry chefs have only recently been combining butter and lard. My ancestors were doing that before the Civil War, according to recipes handed down.

      2. Interesting question re: savory pies. There is chicken pot pie but it generally only has a top crust. My mom also made one of beef and mushrooms and one of pork and vegetables. We have quiches but they are called quiches not pies. Fisherman’s pie and shepards pie are generally made in my part of the country with mashed potatoes on top, not a pie crust. There are pasties but very few people make them and they aren’t common. Off hand, I cannot think of a two-crust savory pie. That may just be my ignorance.

        1. Our Chicken pot pies alwasy had two crusts. My mom is from Indiana, so maybe that’s why? We lived all over though and I can’t remember where we were when we were eating pot pies.

          1. I will put mashed potatoes on the bottom layer, bake for a bit; then dump my pot pie mixture on top of them and put a pie crust over the top. I think I’m the only one in the house that really likes it this way though.

            If I have no mashed potatoes or I’m taking my family into consideration, I’ll either do a crust on the bottom; pot pie mixture and then the top crust. Or no bottom crust, pot pie mixture and top crust. My daughter LOVES the top crust part best. My husband likes having a top and bottom crust. I use a gluten free/dairy free frozen pie crust. It’s mostly made from rice flour. My son loathes it any way I make it but dutifully eats his small amount and then moves on to eat something else.

      3. I always think of a peie as having one or two crusts and a tart as a ‘fancier’ pie.

    2. US has both sweet and savory pies. I’ve picked up a very tasty chicken pie at the grocery store. But in my experience, if you’re having pie, it is probably a sweet desert.

      1. But then again – maybe that’s just me, and my family’s preferences. At the height of my mother’s entertaining, she hosted a dessert party at Christmas time. She served 25 different homemade cakes, and 25 different homemade pies. For some of the popular (apple, French silk) she made two, to make sure she had enough for everyone who wanted some.

      1. In the US a sweetened hand pie is called a turnover, in the UK a meat hand pie is called a pasty. Correct me if I’m wrong.

        1. Pasties are very specific on filings and shape. Small wars continue to be fought on this subject.

          1. The “small war” like the one over whether the jam goes on the scone first or the cream?

        2. Ooh. I forgot about the pasty! We have those too but call ’em pies and they are definitely savoury.

        3. If you come from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan meat (or veg or other non-sweet filling) pasties are a specialty — brought in by the (Cornish?) miners because they fit inside a shirt to stay warm while you worked underground.

          And they are indeed called pasties, not „hand pies“ (that was a totally new expression for me!)..

          1. Yep. Pasties are the same definition here in Milwaukee. At least in the parts I’m in. 🙂 My dad enjoys them every couple of months I think. I did buy him some for Father’s Day a few years back from someone at the Farmer’s Market. He wasn’t impressed.

      2. After all this talk of pie I had my husband make pie crust (I do a good pie crust. He does an excellent pie crust with butter by hand) and I currently have an apple pie in the oven.

  10. I amfinding work stressful and not able to focus on any of my art right now. So I started a 100 day project: meditating for 25 minues every day. Today will be day 6. It’s the only thing that helps me stay on an even keel.

    1. Hang in there. When my Mom was dying, meditation was the only thing that helped me sleep. And it gets easier with practice!

  11. I am doing a Baby Yoda cross stitch. I finished the adorable logo (on imgur for free) and now I feel like I need to come up with a sampler slogan. Probably something about “personal bubble” since he’s in his floating crib thing in the image. I am also pondering doing a “distraction is a girl’s best friend” sampler.

  12. Am moving fluidly from GoToMeeting to Zoom to Microsoft Teams to Skype. So far have avoided showing the world me in my boxer shorts.

  13. Not my best. Week. It’s hard to be motivated.

    I signed up for Audible Escape. Thanks for that. Just right for my usage and my budget. My first book was Strange Bedpersons, which was great fun. My library only has the Cinderella Deal on audio, so it was a delightful addition.

    And I have two Etsy shops which I am putting in some much needed maintenance on. One is vintage resale, which usually does very well. The other one is my own work, which usually only sucks time and money. Much to my surprise, they have flip flopped. Vintage is down, but multiple people have made art purchases. It’s really lovely. I just wish that I could be more creative right now.

  14. WFH for the college and freelance. Made myself a chart (I love charts) as one would for a child, with requisite daily tasks, to keep myself from going nuts, b/c even an introvert goes nuts with too much solitude. My writing buddy and I are doing a poem a week. My book group (made up of 5 former coworkers at a publishing design house) has decided to do weekly check-ins (all but one of us is 65+) even if we don’t talk about books. Waiting for the weather to break so I can walk regularly. Enjoying some online resources, but not really wired to stare at a computer screen all day.

  15. I am off today (thank you work!) I have been taking these paid days off to work on my Spring cleaning. Today I cleaned both bathrooms, and if I feel motivated, I will also sweep and mop the kitchen floor. After cleaning the bathrooms, I went for a short walk at a local park (short because 1. It’s cold 2. It started snowing and 3. I had to use the bathroom! lol)

    I was going to say that all I have left of the spring cleaning is to clean the fridge and oven, and then wash windows. But…then I remembered the garage needs some reorganization and the basement needs work done too…sigh. Does it ever end?

  16. Have been wrestling with Adobe Acrobat for more than a week, and not done yet. Thinking of making ginger apricot muffins and ignoring the pants-are-feeling-tighter part. We got SNOW in Michigan and it is sticking! And more scheduled!!! ARGH!

    Going back to contemplating muffins. Wish I could send ya’all some.

    1. Me,too, but they sound like an excellent response to the cold and snow we will also be having this week.

  17. I’ve been working on not losing my health insurance while the State offices are on shutdown. I had left a frantic message at my state senator’s office asking how I was supposed to get copies of my qualifying documents in on time when all the offices are closed. This is not a time I want to risk a gap in coverage and I don’t have access to a scanner. I had left messages on the office answering machine, but I didn’t know if anyone was hearing them. After a few I weeks I got a call from the office manager giving me a phone number for where they were working remotely. She told me that since I usually provide such detail on all my paperwork, if I would just email her the totals of my receipts, she would insure that they were input. Hooray! I will now have coverage until the end of September and that is an enormous relief.

    The other thing I have been working on is my postcard list. Last week I mailed out 11 cards and this week I will mail another 13. I haven’t located any long lost friends this week, but after dinner I think I will try.

  18. My sleep patterns are all messed up. Last night I woke up with what I thought was a Meatloaf song in my head. After listening to Alexa for an hour and not finding it I gave up. Thankfully, all those other songs blew it out of my head.

    I wonder when I will start sleeping through the night again.

    Besides my regular stuff (WFH and Writing) I took a free online course from Penn State about beekeeping. Very interesting but now I’m wondering if it’s too time-intensive for me. Also, I would have to erect a bear fence. I’m sure I must have told you that the bears have been stealing the garbage cans from my garage and rolling them down the hill…

    1. Kate, be gentle with yourself. My sleep and wake rhythms are all over the place. I’m slowly getting them back by setting something fun that I want to wake up for. In my case, it might be an Instagram live from someone interesting in a different time zone, or yoga class. Or baking biscuits aka cookies for you ‘Mericans.

  19. I’m just keeping to schedule with cleaning and small, happy things such as the daily dog-walk.

    I picked up some onion red leaf lettuce plants and stuck the onions in the ground and the lettuce in a planter. My favorite farm store is closed but they have some things out on an honor system. I hope they keep that up so that I can get some herbs, tomatoes and flowers next month.

    I’m also making masks for my sisters, brother-in-law, and a friend. I mailed off one of the pleated type for each of them yesterday and will make some more, this time a ‘duck-bill’ type. They can let me know what they prefer and I’ll get them a couple more.

    And, I need to make more dog treats-somethng with bananas and peanut butter this time, I think.

  20. I have mostly been working on fitness this week. We are still allowed outside for exercise so I have gone running twice this week (had to let my ankles recover in between) and will go again tomorrow. I have also been spamming my family with a daily step count to keep myself accountable to the 10,000 step goal. I used to do that at work without having to try, so sitting around has not been good for me.

    Making slow progress on the shawl. Still no sign of my new wool order, but at least my fruit trees have finally been posted! So there will be gardening too.

  21. Real work has been stressful so my own work hasn’t been as fruitful. Little bits here and there to the tune of about 1000 wds/day.

    I did 3 hours in the garden on Sunday, though. The weeds are still winning but the corpses of their comrades make them wary.

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