Working Wednesday, September 23, 2020

I worked: I got this post up on time. Also asked Mollie to fix the commenting problem, which I hope is working now. Also finished the other half of the revising example post on HWSWA. Also threw out half my kitchen (I’m a slut for kitchen gadgets). And, of course, worked on Nita. Planning on doing the last scheduled chat with Bob later today; after that, I think we’re just going to talk about what we’re working on, give up any pretense of teaching. Or as Bob said, “Let’s just do the weeds.” We end up there anyway. Expect talking about new ideas, what we’re watching on TV (which Bob will drop in as non-sequiturs), what we’re reading, what we’re revising, and as always, what Gus is doing (he’s serving as an excuse to get Bob out of the chat).

So what did you do this week?

56 thoughts on “Working Wednesday, September 23, 2020

  1. Other than regular work, I got some of the houseplants repotted and moved inside ahead of the chillier weather we’ve had these past few days. I’m hoping the others are hardy enough to have survived. I’ll get to them this coming weekend I hope.

    I put together a quilt top. My group had started the project back in March, cutting enough pieces for six quilt tops and working to make the basic building blocks. We got together again a few weeks ago and sewed the next step, leaving the final block creation and putting things together for each individual member. One of my friends was going to use her quilt to give to the children across the street, so I gave her mine to do as well. That way, two matching quilts go to the two girls.

    And, my excitement of starting a new project. Thanks to the person who turned me on to this crochet along (CAL)! I’ve started the project in mosaic crochet and I’m loving how it is turning out. I’m already thinking about other projects I could do with the same technique. It does take a little longer than my usual baby blanket, but part of that is because I’m not used to it and not familiar with the pattern. So, I expect I’ll speed up as I go along. Here’s a snippet of what I’ve done so far.

    Mosaic crochet is basically single and double crochets over top of each other, resulting in a thicker blanket. It is also a one-sided design. The other side is basically alternating rows of color. Anyway. . new! exciting! making something pretty!!

  2. Mostly just keeping on keeping on here. I finally got my new Italian textbook and workbook, so I foresee some homework in my future.
    I *think* my son’s teacher finally understands that trying to get him to focus in an online classroom setting is not a good use of his time (or hers) so he finally has some homework too. That way we can do independent work in short bursts that make sense for him. I’m still documenting everything that’s not going well (lack of adequate supports, classroom work well above what is appropriate for him) just in case. Hate to say it, but this ain’t my first rodeo. . .

    1. One of my best friends had a handicapped son, and she got a license plate that said, “SqukyWheel” because she said she wanted the school to see her coming at them.

  3. I really admire all the crafters and projects that are made and shown in this blog. From sweaters to quilts to gardens, you guys are just great. My accomplishment this week was a pie and not an artistically designed pie but just a pie. I got the urge to bake one earlier in the week and didn’t have a package of crust in the freezer. So I made one from scratch. I haven’t made a pie crust since Pillsbury came out with ready made in the dairy case just roll it out crust. Another recipe to look up. But honestly all it was was flour, salt, shortening and ice water and apples. Next time I’ll remember the cinnamon for the apples.

      1. I’ve started back teaching online, using Zoom now instead of Adobe Connect. I think it’s more user friendly but there is still a steep learning curve especially when I lose students as I move them in and out of breakout rooms.

        Also was asked to proofread a novel by a friend and found it hadn’t been edited. Awkward.

        My garden needs some heavy work to be put to bed for the winter. The cold snap three nights ago stopped my tomatoes in their tracks.Plenty of green tomatoes. Anyone have a good recipe for fried green tomatoes?

    1. Great minds think alike. My husband made an apple pie last weekend. He does his crust with either the pastry cutter or two forks to cut the butter in and turns out the tastiest flaky crust. He also says that the warnings about using too much water are irrelevant .

      I use the cuisinant when I can bring myself to make a crust and the texture is sandy rather than flaky. But it tastes good. But since I am them subject to the “Why don’t you just ask me?” routine, it is easier to ask and get the superior crust and no scolding.

      1. Practice is the answer to flaky crusts. My sister’s husband prefers pie to cake, so she has had plenty of practice over the last 49 years. Since she is so much better at piecrust than I am, I stick to French style tarts and leave the American style pies to her. One year her middle daughter was in the hospital over Thanksgiving and I had to make the pies while she went to Minnesota to help care for her daughter. I can assure you that by the fourth pie, my crust had improved immeasurably.
        I like to cut the fat into the flour with my fingers and stir in the liquid with a fork. We also use orange juice instead of water because the acid helps keep the crust tender.

    2. Cooks Illustrated published a memorable recipe for piecrust in, I think, 2009 or so. The liquid is 2/3 ice water and 1/3 vodka. The vodka allows for making the crust malleable enough to roll out easily and make it into the pan easily, but doesn’t develop the gluten so the crust is flaky.

      I never had any trouble with piecrust, but my home ec teacher taught us to make it and either she was a good teacher or she just showed us how to bypass the usual problems people have.

      You could add a touch of fresh-ground ginger to your spices, too.

  4. Beth, I don’t have a recipe per se, but try using cornmeal instead of flour, maybe experiment with sour cream or plain yogurt as the base to hold it together.

    Not doing a lot, but have walked three times in three days. This morning I cleaned off the dining room table to find a bunch of coupons, which of course were on a small table in the living room, under books. But I put a fresh tablecloth on the dining room table, in recognition of changing seasons. Working on a poem, per the one-a-week goal my writing partner and I have. Going to bake bread later, and get back to the freelance work. Also bringing the kittens in one at a time for a combing, which doubles as therapy.

  5. Spent literally hours with local cable company, trying to handle a “one tv in the house not working” problem for my boss. Between us, this included three trips to the store and three times getting cut off with no call back. They finally sent a tech out to figure out the problem. It took him 30 seconds to properly program the remote. So apparently not working productively.

    Also feeling jealous of people who keep telling me they have lost weight during covid. SERIOUSLY??????

    In a related story, I am eating ancient yogurt for lunch (it’s way expired and absolutely fine). Again, none of this sounds productive, so enjoying hearing about others’ achievements.

    1. I think making your own meals and having stretches of time which people are filling with walking and moving around instead of sitting at a desk are making a difference. Also, sometimes I forget to eat, so that has to have an impact. (No, I have not lost weight.). Also evidently some people have embraced all forms of exercising and weight training just from boredom. I am not these people.

      1. I am not one of those “losing weight during covid” people either. I have weekly trips to the local bakery to help keep them solvent rather than exercising and weight training. When my office finally opens up for in-person work, that might turn out to be a problem, though the bakery is still in business so there’s that.

        I never thought I’d miss being able to go to the gym and work out, but after 180+ days at home I definitely do.

      2. Yeah, I started exercising more during COVID times because it turns out that “fresh air and movement is good for mental health!” is not just something that smug exercise people say. It appears to be true. And my mental health needs more shoring up these days than it used to.

    2. I just visited a friend who said she gained 10lbs while her husband lost 30 working at home. Evidently he had a huge stash of junk food at his office.
      I have a huge stash of junk food everywhere! Sigh.

      1. I started intermittent fasting in early March before our lockdown started (Bay Area CA USA). I have been eating healthy (not super strict or diet-y, plenty of healthy fats and carbs, but very little added sugar), only between the hours of about noon-2:00pm and 6:00pm-8:00pm. I lost 10 pounds the first month, 10 more in the next two months, and 10 more in the next three months. For maybe the first time in my life, I now weigh less than what it says on my drivers license. LOL It’s no hardship to eat this way, so I’m just going to keep going and see what happens. It’s the only thing I’m not totally failing at during the pandemic. (Besides avoiding reality, procrastinating on my regular work, and reading romance novels like it’s my job.) I definitely need to exercise more though. That’s next.

  6. I’m trying to keep my holiday on track. Did think today I might go and stay with a friend for a few days next week, to end it more sociably. But am afraid that’d be an anti-social move, given the rising infection rate in the UK. Will see how my friend (who’s facing redundancy) is doing.

    Otherwise, am planning to focus on creative stuff as it gets cold and rainy. Might process some photographs, and post a few on Instagram.

  7. No real achievements but I have a clean bathroom. And the dog goes to the groomer tomorrow.
    I am also a kitchen gadget slut but haven’t been able to get the energy to clean out a couple of drawers and a cabinet. Someday.
    What I could be doing is getting the air conditioners out of the windows and stored. Maybe if I do one a day…

  8. I finished up my flannel cowl/mask-making at about 35, I think, and divided them up to mail/deliver in October. And I sent a quilt (made years ago, and I love the colors but couldn’t find anyone who used those colors in their homes until now, so it languished) to my niece as a house-warming gift. A picture of her living room suggested that rust/brown were accent colors against gray/blue-gray, which this quilt has in the paisley border.

    You can see it (with cat-model Todd) here:

    Also got my flu shot, the first time I was given the high-dose variety, and it knocked me for a loop (body aches, headache, exhaustion) for about 24 hours. But I’m glad I did it. The flu is bad enough; not knowing whether I’ve got that or CV19 would be worse.

    1. I think it’s really nice of you to make stuff. But I thought there was still some serious concern about the efficacy of cowls (as opposed to masks). Hope you don’t mind me inquiring…

      1. I don’t mind at all. The initial study was hugely flawed w/ respect to the cowl/gaiter option. For one thing, a later study suggested that what was read as droplets was actually fibers coming from the weird poly fabric. For another, it was just one layer instead of two. Later studies basically said if it’s two layers and cotton, it’s fine, and that the original single-layer one was probably better than nothing (unlike the flawed study that said it was somehow worse than nothing), because the theory about breaking the droplets into smaller bits couldn’t actually happen (although the explanation was beyond my science understanding). Mine are two layers and flannel, not the weird poly fabric. No reason why mine would be any different from the two layers of cotton fabric in the usual pleated masks. I only created my design after the follow-up studies showed the initial study’s flaws.

  9. Cleaned out 6 kitchen drawers yesterday. Put closet organizers in 2 closets. Mowed my yard with overlapping circles and a diamond patttern. I gave up my garden in June. Made some sourdough bread. I found my mom’s wedding rings. Until I read this post I thought nothing. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to change perspective. Now I need to finish my will. I may be becoming a Covid cliche.

  10. I am not a kitchen gadget slut. I NEED 3 different sizes of paté pans, 34 copper molds, a coeur à la creme mold, a fish puddling mold, a pudding steamer, 3 different stock pots, @ 10 different sauté pans in copper, stainless, aluminum and non-stick, 5 pie pans, 4 funnels, about 8 different sizes of sheet pans, and a huge assortment of utensils. Just because most of them haven’t been used in decades doesn’t mean a thing. IF I need them, they are there. Sort of like a security blanket.

    P.S. I am perhaps a slut for weird silverware pieces. In Victoria’s day they were the Franklin Mint of weird silver pieces. In my defense I have never bought the terrapin forks or the strawberry forks or the asparagus tongs. So I have some control.

    1. I not only have strawberry forks but also mango forks (in a Christmas pattern when mangoes were out of season and the idea of stabbing a mango in its pit and then eating it sort of like corn-on-the-cob seems HIGHLY unlikely at a formally set Christmas table). Somewhere we have Grandmother’s grape scissors with the sterling handles and one of the cousins must have the bonbon spoons — though Grandmother told me, when I helped her polish her silver, that even when she was married in 1908 their friends ate bonbons with their fingers!

      I need to do that 6-drawer cleanout . . .

      Instead, I finished composing a yearbook for my ladies’ organization (it’s been delayed because 1) National hasn’t put anything on its published calendar except holidays, 2) We don’t know whether anything we would normally plan to do, including work with schools, with museums, or Wreaths Across America, is likely to actually happen; and 3) my PDF software decided that instead of being permanently purchased, it was really on trial. Twice. It’s currently functioning after two separate appeals to customer service: the customer service is great, but I’m terrified that I’ll move the computer home, where I have no Internet, and then have to move it back again to connect online to a help service. It’s heavy and fragile, and I’m not twenty any longer.

      Anyhow, Elder Shopping this morning produced Fancy Feast with gravy, several flavors, and Yeast, so my brother is very happy. One kitten curled up above my keyboard, so HE’s happy.

  11. I had a collection of favorite photos, all in small pewter frames, and bought a large frame in white that had slots for ten pictures.
    It looks great. Most are sepia tones, or black and white, and are of the kids, their grandparents, and a couple of myself.
    I glance at it often as I watch TV or listen to the news. It makes me feel all warm inside. The old frames will go into my next box of items that will be delivered to my favorite charity when it reopens.

  12. I spent a few days with my sister and her family helping pack up for today’s move. I challenge anybody here to buy more useless kitchen gadgets than my BIL. We all have a weakness for listening to the hucksters at the State Fair trying to sell plastic gadgets, but Dan is the only one who has to buy them more than once. And they are all things that have only one use. My tongue has grooves in it from being bitten all week. I heard him helping his grandson choose what to move and what to donate yesterday and it was very sensible and practically based on the amount of space that will be available in the new place. I guess that it is a lot easier to weed out someone else,s clutter than our own.

    I’m not sure that I got all that much accomplished in the packing, but as my sister kept reminding me, every box I packed was one less that they had to do.

  13. Kitchen gadget sluttiness (autocorrupt says that’s not a word) is like alcoholism. You can go long periods without adding a new gadget, but that doesn’t mean you’re cured. I only have two drawers… and some baskets… and shelves in the cupboard, It gets away from me so fast!

    And most of it is under the drawers, in the base cupboard. A bullet style blender that has yet to blend anything. A cuisinart-type choppy/mixy thing. Still virgin. At least the George Foreman and electric skillet see use. The gadget that sees the most use (besides the microwave) is Walmart’s Cheapest Toaster Oven. For dinner at work, I just broiled two boneless pork chops and baked a handful of jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon*. I think they’ll all end up smothered in Unca Ben’s brown rice. Add some diet beverages and I’m good to go.

    Work? (Remember Maynard G. Krebs?) Substitute Shopping at Amazon. I got a charging station earlier this month. I just got another. And five mousepads. And other stuff. That works for me.

    * Jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon is a recurring menu item in Casa Mancave.

    1. According to Amazon, I’ve bought twenty kitchen gadgets since June. I can only plead that one of them was an Instant Pot, for which accessories are essential. Naturally those included a steam diverter in the shape of a dragon and a decal that says “Pot of Magical Concoctions.” It doesn’t include cookbooks nor ingredients — I found Better than Bouillon in flavors I didn’t know it came in, like sauteed onion and roasted garlic and mushroom, not just chicken and beef.

      None of this is likely to be conducive to losing weight while quarantined . . .

  14. I’m stuck at work with a report due at the end of the week and making very slow progress, but at least it’s progress.
    Apart from that we spent the weekend with my mom which was very nice. I also attended two classes at the Munich college of further education with my son. The first one – drawing – was so incredibly boring that we left at lunch break: too nice a day to be stuck inside with something that seemed to suck out joy instead of being fun (or nice at least). A shame because my intention had been to show my son that drawing and sketching follows a set of rules and can – to a degree – be learnt like handiwork. It came across as being a chore and bore, sigh.
    The second class (I told him if it were as boring as the other one we would bunk off again) was much nicer: since our orthopedic doc had advised us both to get acquainted quailed with the Alexander technique, and I didn’t like the thought of just reading it up, I tried to do so by immersing ourselves with a one-day-workshop.
    Well, *I* had a lot of fun and learnt a lot. The lecturer and our group of women was great, the class very lively and down to earth.

    But I also made up my mind never to drag poor son with me again to any such seminar. Ever.

    Those classes seem to be frequented by mostly women (my language classes aren’t). And at 15, he just doesn’t seem to be able go feel comfortable surrounded by women folk.

    But he’s been a good lad to come along anyway (even though his wounded puppy eyes made me feel like an abuser of puppies, sigh). Why didn’t he say no from the start? Hmpf.
    Yep, I should have known better myself…
    To my excuse: the original plan had been for my husband (who has more posture problems than me) to attend the class with our son, so male companionship would have been there. And dear hubby has already enrolled in the longer 5-evenings-seminar to start soon. But alas…

    For my English Conversation class today I also had to prepare a short presentation on the language/communication of meerkats, elephants and gorillas (don’t ask why those three). Fascinating creatures all of them. Researching I found a cute clip on youtube with the Kalahari meerkats – after many years of being filmed and researched – so used to having those strange thingies laying around in the desert (i.e. the film makers), that they used them as welcome features of the landscape – providing a bit of shade or a good vantage point for the meerkat guard animal to observe the surroundings. Lovely!!

  15. Work-work is challenging; all my clients are stressed. And videoconference calls so rarely include a bit of chat, which eases the pressure. I need to help clients feel good about their projects while not soaking up their stress.

    I finished the painting for our son but stalled on the frame: measured six times, cut once and still screwed up. Fortunately, I’m going for the rustic look.

    Started using the lightbox (one day so far–that’s a start, right?), which gives me 10-15 minutes to play with paint. That’ll help with stress.

  16. Today was cut the grass day and spray any stray weeds day as we may get hit by more rain in the next few days.

    And this week was time to part with some money to support candidates opposing some politicians that I loathe with a burning fierceness. And time to send money to support Planned Parenthood as a tribute to RBG and to honor her work for equality for all people.

    1. I donated to Emily’s List and signed Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham up for yearlong memberships so they get info sent to their office for the next year. B/c I’m petty that way. . .

  17. Have I complained here about joylessness? Lots of people I know are struggling with this, so I worked on finding and sharing joy. In other words, I took an afternoon off and convinced a friend to come for a walk with me.

    The Bridle Path was the original route that colonial settlers took to get over the hill from Lyttleton Port to the new town of Christchurch. It took us an hour on a well formed path, but it’s not possible to do that walk without imagining doing it in long dresses, accompanied by all your belongings, with only uncertainty, hard work and the hope for better things ahead. Pics at

    Also, this New Statesman interview with Judith Butler 🤩

  18. Work has started back in earnest and I’ve discovered my paychecks are $200 less a pay period than last year. That sent me into a spiral of me telling myself all the ways in which I have failed. I have failed in many, many ways. If it weren’t for my sparkling personality I’d have no redeming value at all.

    Then my well pump bit the dust and the money I had set aside to put a roof over my “front” door is all gone. This hurts. So the snow will continue to rot out the wood between the side lites and the door, which I will not replace because money. And what’s the point because – no roof to protect them. Good thing it’s not Happyness Sunday, yeah?

    Why “front” door? I was raised on the West Coast where the front door is actually used. Here no one comes to the front of the house. It’s in through the porch to the kitchen door. It’s just the way it’s done. I once went to a front door when I first moved to Vermont and the farmer looked at me like I had three heads or something. “No one’s ever come to that door,” he said.

    1. Kate, would a tarp help or hinder, my neighbor put a tarp over his roof after a particularly bad rain storm. It helped until he could put a new roof on.

  19. Accomplishments this week:

    1. Found ball of yarn
    2. Found crochet hooks
    3. Found online tutorial to remind me of how to crochet (it’s been decades)
    4. Made this ear saver/mask extender. It doesn’t have any holes from dropped stitches and works great!
    (sorry for the long link)

    Oh, yeah – I also hit publish on my eighth book, which is up for pre order and goes live Monday.

  20. I have had horrendous (like, scream when you try to pull on your socks) pain in my left arm for days. Saw my doc today and was diagnosed with tennis elbow. Damn, there goes that tennis career. No, I don’t play tennis. I did, however, pull out a large chunk of the garden on Saturday. So apparently I have garden elbow. Which also has no treatment or cure and will likely take months to go away.

    Then I had to take my 15 year old cat Angus to the vet, because he hasn’t been eating. Mind you, he was there less than a month ago for his regular yearly physical and seemed fine. Now, not so much. Blood tests have gone out, he was given fluids and an anti-nausea med, and ate a bit of dinner. Now he’s hiding behind the bed (which he never does) and freaking me out.

    Have I mentioned that 2020 can bite me?

    1. I got tennis elbow after playing a vigorous game of air hockey and I can indeed attest that the pain is excruciating. It took about 3 weeks to calm down and for a large part of it I was walking around with a pillow under my elbow to keep it comfortable. It looked odd but it worked. Meanwhile, I did a lot of one handed typing. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    2. I have chronic hand/wrist/elbow tendinitis that flares if I even think the wrong way so I feel your pain. I overwork at least once a garden season. I’m getting smarter because it used to be many, many more times a season.

  21. Haven’t actually done tons today or this week, but it feels like stuff is coming together. I’m guesting on an upcoming episode of my friend’s podcast Romcom Killjoys ( to promote the first book my other friend’s and my publishing company is putting out soon. And I’ve started helping out a young community political leader with their personal social media, which is actually what I went to college to do. And the political group I volunteer with, Women for the Win, just hit 1,000 followers on instagram which was fun.

    I know in a second or two it will go back to feeling exhausting and like there’s not enough time or money and everything is crashing down on me. But right now it feels like I’m getting to work with all of these passionate, smart, engaged women when we’re at the tipping point between “I’m in my twenties and have no idea what I’m doing” and “I’m now good enough at what I do that I can take that big leap.”

    So yeah. Trying to savor the feeling of accomplishment while it lasts, before gravity catches up with us.

  22. I helped make the very unhappy decision to cancel the festival I normally help organise, figured out wording to communicate that to the festival’s community, and then helped deal with the angry reaction on facebook of the handful who think it was the wrong decision. I’ve had better weeks but it was certainly work!

    Other than that, I went for a decent walk on Sunday. That was a much more pleasant achievement.

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