Apr 25, 2022

April Showers . . .

The coming of April heralds the time to plant seeds of magic and fill the heart and home with the joy of light and life.
— Lotuswulf Satyrhorn

April showers could bring a cold winter mood when it poured. Then when it was gone, it wasn't warm or cold, but stayed in a residual flavor of both.
— R. Lupi

April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.
— T. S. Eliot

April showers may indeed bring May flowers, but I decided that until I got my indoor gardening done, I shouldn’t start my outdoor gardening. Plus, not only has Walmart been offering a tempting selection of plants, but it’s not even safe for me to go to Foodland these days.

This is my latest acquisition from Foodland. It’s a goldfish plant:

It’s just starting to bloom, but you can see a single goldfish on the upper left. And no, it did not come in the macrame hanger, but it fits it well. I’ve got it hanging in my office over my reading chair.

It’s not the only plant I’ve got in my office, of course, they’re also all along the top of my bookcase:

From left to right we have an orchid with a dead bloom stalk, a blooming orchid I just repotted, a little purple thing that was also repotted and I lost the name of, a kalanchoe that was given to me by a friend and that I’ve actually kept alive for over a year, another non-blooming orchid that just got repotted, and a fishbone cactus. Not shown is a spindly little hearts-on-a-string.

I was a little reluctant to repot the blooming orchid, I don’t like messing with them when they have blooms, but this one’s leaves were drying out and it was listing to the side. The larger, non-blooming orchid on the bookcase came from behind the vertical blind in the dining room. It was there for several years and the last time it bloomed it had two bloom stalks, but that was more than a year ago. I’m hoping some more direct sunlight might perk it up a bit.

I have two more orchids on the kitchen window sill. The one on the left just started blooming again, but it really needed to be repotted. And the one on the right hasn’t stopped blooming since I got it a year ago. Normally if the bloom stalk doesn’t dry out when the blooms drop off, it will re-bloom. But this one started at new bloom stalk instead.

And what’s that purple thing photo bombing the left of the picture? That’s my wandering jew, which is wandering all over the kitchen counter.

I’m really hesitant about doing anything but watering it, because most of my wandering jews tend to start drying out. They’re easy to propagate, just break off a piece and stick it in the dirt, or stick it in water to root first, but for me they’ll only do well for so long and then start dying and I have to start a fresh one. Might have something to do with not getting watered regularly. ;-)

I had one in my office that I should have taken a picture of before I repotted it. This time I stuck the pieces into a pot that already had a philodendron in it, just to see what happens. The philodendron also came from my office, but it wasn’t happy either – I think it was getting too much sun.

Moving along to the dining room, I found I had to repurpose my dropleaf table into a plant stand because four of my new plants, which I’d thought to put in the southern facing window of my office, turned out not to like such bright light.

In the green pot at the front we have a ribbon fern. Behind it, hard to see, is a trio of unknown tropicals, but because all three of them were only called tropical, I figured I could safely plant them together in my oblong pot. Even harder to see is the nanouk plant behind them, also fairly new. Above them is the Swedish ivy I’ve had for years. It used to be in the office where my goldfish plant is, but it was getting a little too big to be over my chair. And yes, that is a trellis in the pot to help keep it contained.

I also have a trellis in the pot with my 45 year old philodendron.

And just because they’re there, I might as well show you the rest of the plants in the dining room:

Starting at the bookcase, we have a spider plant and a philodendron started from clippings from the other one. On the much smaller plant stand there’s a sansevieria, an aloe plant, a spindly tropical thing that I think is related to the tall tree beside the dropleaf table, and in behind those three is an African violet that’s actually blooming and a pineapple plant that I’ve been growing hydroponically for over a year.

Is it any wonder it took me two days to catch up on my indoor gardening?

Apr 18, 2022

Labour of Love

When you put a tremendous amount of love into your work, as in any relationship, you can't know - you can only hope - that what you're offering will in some way be received. You shape your love to artistic demands, to the rigors of your genre. But still, it's a labor of love, and it's the nature of love that you must give it freely.
— Anne Michaels

A labor of love is exalted because it provides joy and self-expression to those who perform it.
— Dennis Kimbro

Patience; accomplish thy labor; accomplish thy work of affection!
Sorrow and silence are strong, and patient endurance is godlike.
Therefore accomplish thy labor of love, till the heart is made godlike,
Purified, strengthened, perfected, and rendered more worthy of heaven.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Earlier in the year, the daughter gave me a dress she’d bought for the granddaughter and requested I embellish it with some embroidery, the idea vaguely being that I’d have it done for Easter (which I’d done once before, a few years ago).

Okay. That’s fine. What kind of design did she want? Something old fashioned to go with the style of the dress. An ambiguous mention of wildflowers. All righty then.

I did periodic searches, came up with a few vague ideas, ordered a crap ton of embroidery transfers, none of which were quite right, and tried to pin the daughter down to something more precise because I didn’t want to mess up the dress by doing the wrong thing to it.

Embroidery is like getting a tattoo, it’s possible to remove it, but the surface it’s removed from is never quite the same.

So a couple of weeks ago I cornered the daughter and showed her a variety of old and new embroidery transfers. Most were rejected, but enough were acceptable that I could start to work. The clock was ticking.

One of the transfers she liked was really too big for what we wanted, but I was able to shrink it down with my printer, trace it onto tracing paper, and go over the lines with a transfer pencil. The problem with this was, the section was somewhat large and the transfer lines faded rapidly. So I worked from the edges inwards because the outer edges were more complicated and I didn’t need as strong a line at the center. Even so, this one section took me two and a half days of steady work.

Next I did the pocket, because it was on the opposite side of the dress. I figured if I only got these two sections done, the dress would still have a balanced look to it and no one but me would have to know it was supposed to have more.

This was especially tricky because the pocket was already attached to the dress. I was able to get the entire design into an embroidery hoop, and then I cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside the pocket to protect the dress from my needle. This was a really fiddly piece to do and took me another couple of days.

Then I came to the space below the pocket. We’d picked a few miscellaneous transfers for it, but when I laid them out they just didn’t have a flow to them. So I dug through my transfers again, found a cluster that looked good but was a little large, played around with the copier on my printer until I got them down to the right size, traced them onto tracing paper, and outlined the back with the transfer pencil. Then I found another cluster that fit with it and traced it as well, adding the flowers and butterflies after. There are six different transfers in total in this section, but I added them one at a time so as not to smudge the lines too much..

It only took about three extra late nights and a week of doing pretty much nothing else but sew, but I had it done by Saturday.

And here’s a picture of my granddaughter wearing it on Easter Sunday.

Truly, a labour of love.

Apr 4, 2022

Hat's Off to You

For no matter what the world, men who deal in headwear are men to be trusted above any other.
— Frank Beddor

People, when they buy a hat, they can't explain why they want to buy it or why they want it, but they do. It's like chocolate.
— Philip Treacy

Some hats can only be worn if you're willing to be jaunty, to set them at an angle and to walk beneath them with a spring in your stride as if you're only a step away from dancing. They demand a lot of you.
— Neil Gaiman

I love hats. I don’t know when my love affair with hats began, but I suspect it dates back to my childhood, and Easter. Easters were usually spent in Owen Sound with my aunt and uncle so we could all go to the service at Knox United Church.

This required dressing up for church, and part of the ensemble was a hat, made by my aunt who had training as a milliner. To be honest, I don’t recall wearing a hat at any other time (barring ski hats in the winter), but Easter and hats always went together.

I’ve had many hats over the years, and endured much ribbing over them – cloth hats, felt hats, leather hats, straw hats. My current favorites right now are my black fedora, and my leather Australian outback walker, which I have been known to wear in my office when the sun is shining through my southern facing window.

A sun hat in the summer is a must for me, as I don’t fair well in direct sunlight. For this I have a couple of straw sunhats with wide brims, although I’ll wear my leather one in a pinch.

Sadly, for the last few years I haven’t been able to wear my hats outside as much as I’d like. Why? Two words - global warming. Because global warming it’s been getting increasingly windy here. We live on the north shore of Lake Ontario, and while we can usually count on a light breeze, the last few years it’s been seriously windy. And we all know what happens to a hat in a stiff wind.

This is becoming a serious problem for me. It’s rare that I can wear my fedora or any other felt hat outside. They don’t have a lot of weight to them so even a medium breeze can send them sailing. But if that wasn’t bad enough, the wind has become strong enough on a regular basis that I can’t even wear my leather hat.

While I did break down and poke holes in one of my straw hats to thread a scarf through it so I could do my gardening, even I have to admit it looks kind of silly. And there is no way I’m going to deface one of my good hats in such a manner. If I want to spend time outside this summer, there’s only one solution.

It’s time to invest in a Tilley Hat.

And just because it's close to Easter, here's another video.