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Quiet Knitting on a Noisy Day

July 4, 2016

July Journeys 1: Thomas Edison National Historical Park

July 2, 2016

The directory outside my office door is outdated too, but in less of a historic preservation sort of way.

Walking through the same space where all of that thinking happened was powerful. Whether the work was original, derived, or a bit of both, there’s no denying that the inventions attributed to Edison changed the world.

If you have a chance to visit, definitely take the time. 

Coats and Hats of the Thinky Men

On the Back Path

June 25, 2016


The back path burst into bloom this week.











Summer Kitchen Adventures

June 1, 2016

My standard dinner rotation has been feeling stale. I enjoy being in the kitchen, I don’t enjoy being bored.  An infusion of new flavors and new skills  is long overdue.

Lima Bean’s birthday dinner out reminded me that we all enjoy Indian food. I was sure I had at least one cookbook to start with, so off I went!


I am using Indian: deliciously authentic dishes by Shehzad Husain and Rafi Fernandez, published by Hermes House. I cannot speak to the authenticity at all, just the fact that most of the recipes look good to me. When I flipped through, almost all of them were already starred, proof of my long-ago intentions to start cooking.

My first step was to beef up my pantry. I made a list of spices, flours, and seeds and purchased a few to get started. I imagine I’ll be adding all summer long. No need to buy it all at once.

I also don’t need to cook it all at once. The Kettle Slayer gently informed me he wasn’t sure how much Indian food he could comfortably eat. No worries. My goal in June is to try five new recipes. About once a week I’ll dive into this world and see what I can learn.
Tonight we made Onion Bhajias. From the recipe, these seemed similar to the pakoras we live so much at the restaurant. The internet tells me they are essentially the same snack, named differently in different regions.

It took less than ten minutes to mix them up and about twenty minutes to fry them all. I already know I’ll be using this recipe again, adding fish, shrimp, cheese, and more. (Not all at once!)

I was nervous about the besan (chickpea flour) as I am not a fan of the musty, bean-y taste I often end up with from the grocery store variety available to me. For my summer adventure I ordered Deep brand online. This was a completely different experience – light, not bean-y, and just delicious!

Now I need to learn how to make some chutneys to go with these! Condiments are next on my list. Who’s coming to dinner?


April 17, 2016


I’ve had my eye out for a sewing machine cabinet for some time now. Yesterday, I found this lovely one at a tag sale down the street. It came with a machine that didn’t work.

No worries. I figured I’d take this one out and put my machine right in. My machine is at the shop for its annual tune-up, so I thought I’d just poke around a little and see if I could solve this puzzle.



I peeked inside and underneath.  A little rust, but nothing obviously wrong.

Then I took off a faceplate and found this:


That took a bit of cleaning!


Still the needle didn’t move. The hand wheel turned, but no other action. The belt looked great. I took all of that off and found a washer inside the handwheel was on upside down. The projections meant to engage the next piece were facing the wrong way!

I reassembled the wheel and it worked!

The feed dogs are rusty.


I soaked them overnight in cola and scrubbed them well today. They look much better, but I’ll still probably try to replace this piece.

A new lightbulb went in and that worked too!

The next mystery was why the presser foot lever would not bring the presser foot down. I tightened a screw, tapped on the shaft from below, polished off some rusty bits and still no luck. Eventually I used my screwdriver to gently force a piece above the lever up and back down again several times. Suddenly the lever engaged and the foot came down!


There are more bits to figure out. The next two tasks are to learn how to move the feed dog height lever and how to make the stitch width lever work. It has a knee control instead of a foot pedal and that will take some getting used to.

What a fun puzzle to play with!


The Tafty Bits

April 14, 2016


My dear friend, the Anne-girl, gave me the best advice today. We were discussing my latest ambitious read and how I wasn’t sure I’d get through the nearly 900 pages of early twentieth-century US politics even though the people were so interesting.

Can you just focus on the Tafty bits?, she asked. And we dissolved into giggles at the dinner table.

I love it. I’ve been in a funk lately. Not answering letters, general blah, post-house-buying overwhelmedness. What if, instead of drowning in the details, I just focused on the Tafty bits?

Tafty is so close to tasty that I think we can declare them synonymous. I can imagine it in colonial script when the f symbol was written without the crossbar, making it look like a giant flowy ess.

Today’s Tafty bits:
Two walks in the bright spring sun
Dinner made by The Kettle Slayer
Both bears home safely
Rhyming words for no reason
Finishing a quilt back
Learning to use my new weights
Warm milk with honey
Having a few minutes to read

This is a good plan.


A Year in Faith: Close, but…

February 7, 2016


On our way to service this morning, I asked the bears if they knew where we were in the church year.

Lady Bug yelled from the back seat, “FLINT!”

Lima Bean pulled her best older sister eye roll. “Not flint. And I know for sure it’s not Ash Wednesday.”

“Are you sure?”

Lady Bug tried again, “LINT! It’s LINT!”


“It’s not lint. That’s in your pocket. Or maybe your belly button.”

“And maybe your ears,” I contributed. “Not flint. Not lint. Listen today andsee if you can figure it out.

One last shout from the back, “LENT!”

Third time’s the charm.


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