Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Summer in the City

We're in the middle of a proper heatwave (107 F/42 C) that will probably stick around until for a few days. It is terribly humid, which just adds to the suffocating feeling. Our neighbours are moving today and we were joking that at least it isn't raining. What else can be said? I feel bad for them, and they're moving to the deep south where summers are even worse. I'll miss them though-they were a nice family to have next door. 

I've been making sure to splash some water on the plant leaves for the various insects and caterpillars needing a drink. This hungry caterpillar (it munched through several stalks of parsley) will eventually be a swallowtail butterfly. 
This one is invasive and destructive though-and definitely not welcome in the garden. They're beautiful, but bad news.

Our ceiling is scheduled for plastering/painting the second week of August, which is fine. Hopefully the heatwave will be but a memory and we'll be able to open the windows as the anti-mould treatment they need to use is definitely not something you want to breathe in a closed room. I'm looking forward to getting things put away, but I've also been using the chaos as an opportunity to go through and get rid of some stuff I no longer need. I also had time to dust the perfume trays which took hours. I've cleared out several bottles of that as well knowing I won't miss most of it. These days I've more or less settled into wearing the same few fragrances though obviously as the seasons change I'll want different stuff. Right now I've been enjoying wearing Coriandre as it plays well with high heat and humidity. 

I've been stuck in bed for the past few days (just more of the same being same, but annoying as hell) but on the days when I do need to get dressed beyond a pair of shorts and tee shirt, I'm struggling to put things together. Nothing really fits right after a thirty pound weight loss, and I'm not going to go out and buy new clothes knowing this is going to be temporary (sooner or later my body goes back where it belongs, and I stopped trying to interfere with that years ago). I don't mind wearing oversized clothing, but I do mind wearing ill fitting clothing, so that's been bugging me a bit. In cooler weather I can rely on sweaters instead of dresses with gaping arm holes. I'd settle for a cardigan that didn't slide off my shoulders when worn open. 
See that bagginess at the back of the top? That drives me mad. Then, I put a cardigan over it and forget about it until the cardigan starts sliding around. As for something bugging me I could actually do something about-I packed away the winter coats hanging in the hallway. I'll guess it is finally safe to do so, though as a friend pointed out, we're only about a month away from September and it could, in theory, snow. Midwest living is never dull. 

There's a new thrift store that opened nearby. They're a bit more expensive than the typical thrift shop (though they are also a true charity and the money goes directly to the cause) but they also have better-than-typical stuff. If I required attire for an office or upscale event I might turn to them for clothing, but my life being what it is, that's not the sort of stuff I would wear. The accessories however, are very, very, good. This vintage copper and enamel set were sold separately in different parts of the shop (I wonder if they even knew it was a set when pricing it) and ended up being quite the bargain. I adore copper, and this set has already been worn a few times since being purchased. I can see it becoming a summer staple with the shiny white enamel. Anyway, that was a pleasant surprise and as the shop is across the street from the post office, it is in a spot I frequently need to go by anyway. 

Sometimes, I find incredible things in unlikely places. Dan wanted to call in at the antique mall to look for some baseball cards, so I went along not expecting to find anything interesting for myself. Well! What I found were decidedly not antique, but worth the ten dollars I splashed out for a brand new, unworn pair of Irregular Choice shoes. 

They're a bit large, but nothing a few holes punched in the strap can't solve. I've never owned a pair of magenta shoes. Aren't they absolutely beautiful? Dan found some good baseball cards as well making the trip successful for all concerned. 
The yellow 70s pantsuit from Sears made an appearance. Hideous, sure but that's half the fun.
Let's have a better look at those flares. That's 1976 for you right there. The blue shell top is also vintage and has the obligatory zipper in the back so you don't disturb your hair getting dressed. 
Vintage Walborg raffia bag to complete the look. I'm happy the summer bags are getting a bit more wear than last year, even if I'm not going out all that much. Given the recent resurgence of the virus (thanks, Covidiots!) I'm limiting my trips out again . I never stopped wearing a mask, and it turns out that was a good decision. I'm having a hard time feeling sympathy for people that had access to the vaccine and didn't take it, and I'm going to be seriously angry if I (a person taking immune suppressive drugs) get a breakthrough case because of some ________( fill in the blank with the expletive of your choice). Anyway, crowded stores are going to be a firm, "No" for me and I'll go back to shopping early in the mornings or late at night. I'm worried about what will happen when school re-opens and offices go back to full capacity, but other than doing what I've been doing for the last year, there isn't much more to be done. Sorry-what was I taking about? Oh that's right, summer handbags. Sorry if I got a bit off topic there. 
This is a super-lightweight cotton dress originally from a fast fashion house (Forever 21) that ended up in the window at Hand Me Ups, and for a dollar I really couldn't refuse. I'm not exactly built for strapless dresses but I'm also not built for 107 degree F heat so we're all getting out of our comfort zones these days! When my weight eventually restores I'll likely turn this into a maxi skirt, but for this summer it is just about perfect. 
Looking forward to a haircut when the weather cools off. No point trying to do anything with it in summer as it will just frizz up the minute I step outside. I've been giving it conditioning treatments because it seems like the thing to do. The lovely young woman working at the Sally's took the time to help me check the ingredient list on the various hair masques as I'm allergic to mangoes and avocadoes (both in the latex family) and they're popular ingredients in products for curly hair. Even with new specs it is near impossible for me to read the tiny print of cosmetic packaging. It was very kind of her to help. I'm long past being embarrassed by getting old.
This dress is very old-I bought it new in the early 90s (I think. It might have been late 80s). It has a bit of stretch in the fabric and as a result can accommodate a wide range of dress sizes without looking too big or too small. I mean, there's a limit-I couldn't wear it over a size 14 without looking like I'd been squeezed into a sausage casing, but otherwise it is quite wearable. So I wore it😀 
Here's the dress back in November of 2013!
and 2014
and 2018...
Anyway, you get the idea-I wear it a lot.

Grabbed the opportunity to wear another summer bag and an arm full of bangles (Only the large brown one is Bakelite, but the imposters do play the part well). 
Our postman brought a package all the way from the UK containing this beautiful bag (and a bracelet I forgot to photograph) from the lovely Mim of Crinoline Robot. To say I adore it wouldn't quite capture the delighted scream I let out when I opened the package. I have very little snakeskin(must pronounce it "SNEK") in my collection although I love it. This is going to be my autumn go-to handbag as I wear so much brown and black. The beautiful bracelet will I promise get photographed for the next post. Thank you Mim for being such a good friend and knowing my taste so perfectly. I might not have any clothes that fit, but I have the best handbag in Omaha (if not Nebraska). 

That's about it from here for now. I hope summer is going well where you are. Stay well. Don't let anyone breathe on you. 



Monday, July 19, 2021

Side A-Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head/Side B-The Wichita Lineman

...just like the woman sleeping with a bucket in her bed

Oh no,

Crying's not for me cause

I've got insurance

and a pile of plastic buckets

Because that's meeeeee.

The weather station clocked a 90 mph wind before the power went out. Don't know if you can see it well in the photo but that tree branch is actually wrapped around the weather station. 

A week ago Friday, Omaha experienced straight line winds in excess of 100 mph. If it had been rotating we'd call it a tornado, but the impact on the city was more or less the same. We were without power for 48 hours, but some people were stuck for an entire week without electricity in the heat of summer. That large maple tree in back of the house? Yeah, the one the squirrels and birds live in. A good chunk of it came through the roof around midnight on Friday but the real excitement came the next day when the torrential rain started pouring through the ceiling. Drip, drip, drip, is not how I like to be awakened in the middle of the night. After a panicked 2 AM rush to get everything out of the water's path, the one thing I couldn't move was a king sized sleigh bed-so we employed the plastic buckets formerly housing my vintage clothing. The clothes are now in bin bags away from falling plaster and water. The dining room on the first floor leaked too-that was extreme and there's a giant hole in the ceiling now. The roofers came on Wednesday to remove the crashed part of the tree and patch the hole, just in time too as we had buckets of rain falling. So far it is staying dry, and now we wait for it to dry out completely and get re-plastered. The carpet in the dining room was cleaned on Thursday, and treated with an anti-microbial agent to prevent any nastiness from the water. It was quite the adventure. 
This is part of a tree that landed on our patio. 
Around the corner...
and down the street. It was amazing no one was hurt across the city. The warnings came in loud and early, with the sirens were going off just as Danny was calling in the last storm-spotter report to the weather service before the power blew. Power transformers were exploding one after another creating blue flashes in the sky that you could tell at a glance weren't lightning. It was frightening. I came downstairs (it hit around midnight and I was already in bed) because it was so loud as the gust front came trough I thought the roof might lift off. Fortunately, that didn't happen. 

My garden is on the south side of the house and was largely untouched by the storm, with delicate cherry tomatoes still clinging to plants. Go figure. Weather can be so strange. The next morning everyone was out picking up and our stronger neighbours cleared the heavy branches. After that it was just days of chainsaws cutting logs, sitting in our cars charging up telephones, eating the food in the fridge before it all spoiled (most of it had to be binned), and just trying to stay cool in the July heat. I really feel for the people that had to deal with power being out for a week. That happened to us during the tornado (I think it was 10 days if I recall) and that's not much fun, particularly if you have children. 
Look at that survivor! 
The sourdough starters had been languishing in the fridge, but I'm happy to report that all three survived. They've been fed a couple times now and I even baked a rye bread the other day. The starters are 12 years old and it would have been a pity to lose them. I lost a good starter in the 2008 tornado. 
This is the lemongrass plant. Still thriving but the stalks aren't thick enough to harvest. No idea how long that takes, but it is a beautiful plant to have in the garden. 
These tomatoes were hanging on for dear life in the storm, but they made it. 
And an abundance of chard, Nothing kills chard. Even 100 mph winds. 
As bad as it was for us, it was worse in other parts of  the city and it will be a long process of getting it put back together. We had line workers coming from all over the country (probably a few from Wichita) to help get the power back on, which is no easy task when power poles are snapped like toothpicks. The parks suffered horribly too and it might be next year before some of them have their trails useable again. There's piles of branches and logs at curbs across the city waiting to be picked up and turned into mulch, and one helpful local has offered to take oak logs for his mushroom growing operation. He's willing to  provide spores and teach people how to grow their own mushrooms ("When life gives you a shitstorm, grow shitakes!") which is a bit of a silver lining in all of this, I guess. 

So does this make me a veteran of two tornadoes if it wasn't rotating? In terms of damage it sure as hell looked and behaved like one. I'm so, so, glad there wasn't any loss of life or anyone seriously hurt-that feels almost miraculous. 

The city and county have asked the governor to declare a disaster so we can get some emergency federal money down here and FEMA help. Unfortunately, he hasn't done it because I guess Republicans aren't keen to ask for help from a Democratic president. This nonsense has got to stop. In years past getting a disaster declaration was a completely non-partisan issue. It isn't a partisan issue. So the city is stuck relying on the generosity of our neighbours but really, it isn't enough and it is short sighted. People left without power for a week are going to remember that when they go to the polls. I can't imagine too many people are happy to be sitting in the dark so the governor can look tough. After our tornado in 2008 there wasn't any hesitation for our then governor (a republican) to get on the line to Washington and get the ball rolling. It freed up a lot of money to start paying other power districts to come in and help out. This rubbish benefits no one and they really need to knock it off. 

The handyman cut a square out of the ceiling to re-direct the rainwater. It worked, so we had a central place to put the buckets. He also helped us move the giant, heavy, china cabinet out of the rain's path. We're climbing around out of place furniture and buckets at the moment but that's better than having it ruined. The china cabinet still has plaster that melted off the ceiling during the last tornado forever jammed into the crevices.
The lion looks worried. He stayed dry though. 
Roland the Snowman's head survived in the freezer. He's basically a block of ice, so 40 hours without power didn't even begin to touch him. He also kept my Italian ices slushy enough to consume the next day which I was grateful for because I was sick. I mean, SICK. I mean, worse than that time I had dysentery sick. Trying to use the bathroom in the dark, one hand holding the torch the other grasping my stomach. In the dark. Praying for death. Or power, whichever came first. Those Italian ices and Gatorade probably kept me out of the hospital. I won't elaborate-we've all experienced similar at one time or another though that was a godawful time to have it happen. Anyhoo-Roland survived. 
Shitake happens, eh? 
I haven't been getting dressed much beyond shorts and tee shirts because it is hot here and my clothes are all in plastic bags in various dry parts of the house. It was such a rush getting things out of harm's way that I wasn't terribly careful about keeping things accessible. My shoe closet (yeah, I have a dedicated shoe closet) is now housing everything that was on my dresser as well as handbags (and the shoes). Until the plastering is done (scheduled for the second week of August) there's no point trying to find anything or put it back, so I'm wearing whatever I can grab easily from the dry closet and things packed in the basement. I also had to remove everything from the dining room cabinets so we could move them and I'm climbing around buckets of dishes, glasses, etc. That's a long way of saying, "Here's a dress you've never seen on the blog" because it hasn't been worn in forever. No time like the present though! 
I like 80s does 50s dresses because you get the easy care fabrics of the 80s with the look of the 50s-and without the requirement for girdles or bullet bras. Teal and brown is an under-appreciated combination, but simple enough to accessorise. Brown shoes I can manage. 
The vintage handbag is something I've had for years, but the belt is recently thrifted. It is a beautiful two piece buckle that can be worn with other belts. I've been very selective with my thrifting after a year of not shopping, so unless it is quite special, it isn't coming home with me. If anything, the storm reminded me that I have much too much stuff as it is, even if I can't get access to any of it at the moment. 
I'll leave you with the fantastic bath mat I purchased from the creator of Pterrible Dinosaur Drawings. Link to redbubble shop is in their profile. I'm saving up for the matching shower curtain. It makes me smile every morning when I go to take a shower and anything that starts your day smiling is worth it. I also get to support an independent artist, which has been something I try to do when possible. I grew up spending a lot of time at the Art Institute of Chicago looking at the original pointillist masterpiece and I have to say, I prefer the dinosaur version😁

Hopefully, next time I post we'll have the plastering completed and I can start putting my wardrobe back together. 

See you later. 


Friday, July 09, 2021

On the Edge of Seventeen

 It began with some recipes I wanted to remember. Seventeen years ago I already had a personal blog but thought I needed a place to record what I was cooking. Over the years it has gone through a series of changes but for one reason or another I never abandoned it. Even now, as blogs are rapidly being replaced with photo sharing and video sites it still feels relevant to keep a blog. If nothing else the blog provides concrete evidence to myself that I haven't been idle for the last seventeen years. Not that there would have been anything wrong with being idle. I'm too old, and too conditioned to do otherwise. Thanks, Mum. 

If I didn't have a blog I'd have forgotten about this. It wasn't Dan's birthday, I just thought blowing bubbles deserved party hats. This was during a rather bad heatwave when we were looking for anything to keep a toddler happy indoors. Blowing bubbles indoors always seemed fine to me-it is soap after all. 
Or going "fishing" for a toy bunny with a carrot as bait. I know myself-that carrot probably ended up in dinner!
Trick or Treating for the first time. It must have been warm as we're not wearing coats. In the Midwest you can almost predict what sort of a winter it will be by how cold it is at Halloween. Some years there's a foot of snow. 
The botanical gardens. We had a membership when Dan was small and we'd go as often as possible. It was definitely beyond our budget, but we figured it would be so easy to spend money on other things here and there a bit at a time without noticing, that we went ahead and splashed out. Here we're looking into a pond/tank for the koi that inhabit it. 

The blog turned into much more than recipes, and honestly I almost never revisit things I made for the blog. Tastes change, diets change, and hopefully over the last seventeen years I became a better cook. I don't really enjoy cooking/baking anymore and meals are more of a chore than a pleasure, but it is all here if Dan ever feels motivated to cook something. 

Before smartphones 😀
A coat I still regret giving away. I foolishly thought it wouldn't be appropriate for someone over 40. What on earth was I thinking?! 
Remember how bad digital cameras were in 2004? We've definitely progressed but then this photo wouldn't be as fun if it weren't making me look like a ghoul getting a roller set. 
The "classroom" was our dining room table during the day. Nine years of officially homeschooling, but really I was teaching him from the day he was born. I could have done some things better, and I'd do them differently if I could go back, but generally speaking it turned out okay. I always had Dan get dressed for school even though he wasn't leaving the house. He didn't always wear a sport coat though! These days he's more of a jeans and tee shirt guy. 
I was the mother that packed sandwiches to go out with. I'd shop while the boys sat in the dining area of the store (I think this was Target) eating. If I was alone with Dan we'd eat lunch first and that usually gave him enough energy to get through the chore. I wouldn't do this if the place was busy because it would be wrong to take a seat from paying customers, but I rarely shopped during busy times, and not with a child in tow. On very rare occasions though...
...we let him get something to eat at the store. This was his fourth birthday (they even gave us the #4 to put on the table) and Dan wanted one of each type of doughnut they sold at Hy-Vee. As I recall he took a bite or two out of each one and we ended up binning most of it, but he was so excited and it wasn't terribly expensive. He's not much of a doughnut person now (unless they're homemade) but at least he can say he's tried all the doughnuts at the local store. It felt more extravagant than it was.
Not to brag but my homemade potato doughnuts are better. 

Without a blog I'd have forgotten that I used to make a strawberry pie every spring, but that I haven't made one since 2011. I wonder why it fell out of favour? 

This year I baked a cake from almond meal and served cut up strawberries atop it. I have to say, it was much easier. They ate it, so I'll take that as having found it acceptable. I didn't take photos. 

Back to the present
I'm...not good. Part of that's post surgical adventures (I think adventures sounds better than complications) but a good deal of it is chronic stuff that picked a rather lousy time to be, well, chronic. But that's how it goes, and on days when I bother to wear proper clothes I photograph them because it cheers me up. So here's something I wore earlier this week-a vintage barkcloth Hawaiian dress. The waistline is high enough that it doesn't press on my stomach or incisions and it is just a delight to wear. 
I even have matching shoes
And bracelets
and earrings too. You can see the hyper-pigmentation on my face in this photo despite the heavy use of concealer and heavy coverage foundation. I'm not going to worry about it. At some point it will either fade or I'll see a dermatologist but for the moment it is a low priority. But look at the crab earrings! Aren't they fab?

This gorgeous, heavy cotton embroidered dress is by Ivy City a woman owned company specialising in what I'd describe as,  modest dresses. Okay, that's not typically something I'm concerned with but when I found the dress, brand new with the $150.00 price tag still on, I wasn't going to leave it for $5.00. It is a bit big, and there's a LOT of fabric in the skirt, but this is a beautifully made garment. I suspect it will give me years of use. I don't make a habit of buying things retail, but if I needed a special occasion dress for something like a wedding, I'd absolutely buy a dress from them new. For now I'm very happy with this dress because it would be an understatement to say I'm not feeling terribly pretty at the moment, but a beautiful dress definitely helps. 

Ignore my expression-I'm really quite happy with the dress. 

This is a very thin, lightweight dress I bought from the sale section at Hey Viv Retro last year. I need a better strapless bra for it, but it was still cute and comfortable to wear in the horrible heat. If you don't already know Viv (or follow her on Instagram) let me introduce you! She has fun reproduction pieces that won't break the bank, and the BEST accessories. I have so many fun earrings from her. If you want to find cool stuff and support a lovely person running a small business (for decades now) go have a look around Viv's site. 
Halter dresses are easy enough to dress up as well. 

My running days are over for now. I try to get in a 1 mile walk each evening but that's been a struggle too. To go from distance running to struggling to walk a mile is sort of frustrating, but it likely isn't forever, though running might not be something in my future. I have a pile of stuff like these bike shorts that don't get worn for anything except exercise, but I thought I'd give them a go with a vintage swim cover-up after seeing people doing similar outfits on Instagram. I like it! The shape of the cover-up worn with the slim shorts looks vintage and modern at the same time. I probably need some vintage "boy shorts" or swim trunks for a more authentic look. The cover-up has a long zip in the back that goes all the way down. I guess if you didn't mess your hair up swimming, the 60s woman wouldn't want to be pulling a shirt over her bouffant hairdo. Makes sense to me! 

The garden is abloom with beautiful flowers

I harvested the last of the kale today, and now I have loads of chard, tomatoes, basil, other assorted herbs, and lettuce to keep us through summer. I harvested quite a lot of the chamomile and dried it for tea this winter, and I will have enough oregano for years to come. For whatever reason it is growing really well this year. The sage has been slow and steady, the thyme slow but finally getting settled, and my rosemary is alive but doing nothing. Oh well, perhaps it will do better once things cool down a bit. The lemongrass is also growing well though the stalks aren't thick enough to harvest yet. I'm very excited for it. We are expecting some severe weather this evening, but hopefully the garden won't get clobbered with hail or high winds. Rain, we could definitely use. It feels so strange to be talking about tornadoes in July, but it isn't unheard of and we've had such a strange year of weather anyway. 
I'm still cooking every night, but nothing new that you haven't seen before. Plenty of salads in this heat, and I pickled some blueberries and cherries to make things a bit more interesting. If you've never tried pickled fruit, you're in for a real surprise. In the past I've pickled peaches, nectarines, plums, grapes, cherries, and even melon. There's nothing better than pulling out a jar of home preserved summer fruit in the dead of winter, and pickled fruit goes so nicely with everything from meat to a cheese plate. 
So that's about it from here. Seventeen years is a long time to maintain a blog, and even longer to keep reading one (and I know some of you have been around here almost from the start). I appreciate each and every one of you taking the time to visit-well that's not true. Whoever keeps searching for "Granny Tits" to find my blog, I don't appreciate you. And why on earth don't you just bookmark it if you're really so interested?! But everyone else, including the visitor who found my blog by searching for "Therapy to finally get over Watergate", I hope it has been as entertaining for you as it has been for me, and I hope Watergate Reader has found what they needed. 

Stay well.