Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Figs are the most sensual fruit I know.  Plucking a sun-warmed, perfectly ripe fig, so tender, pliant, and swollen with sweetness, and devouring it on the spot is a taste of heaven for me.  I love the flavor, the textures, the colors, . . .

Our fig tree has produced abundantly this year.  when the figs first started to ripen, I was eating one or two of the ripest each day.  Then I was eating ALL the ripe figs.  Then there were more ripe figs than I could eat while standing out in the yard, with my hands and mouth smeared with sugary syrup.  I will not abandon my lovely figs to the birds of the air and the squirrels of the street, so as fruit ripens, I pick them, eat them, and bring in the surplus to eat later.

There are consequences to gorging on ripe figs.  I am now prepared to share my excess figs.  Unless someone knows of a good way to preserve them?  I should look up fig jam. Maybe I can make my own fig Newtons.

May your Sunday be as supple, sensual and sweet as ripe figs.  With no consequences.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

MORE backyard

This red machine is called a dingo.  ("Dingoes ate my baby!")  It's a tiny baby tractor with a front scoop.

This young man is T. W.   We hired him to help with a little
excavation project.  We had a section of back yard about, oh, 12 feet square, that had been over-run by blackberries.  There was, roughly 12 cubic feet of blackberry vines to deal with.  T.W.took his mighty machete and made the blackberry vines feel desperately unwelcome.  Then, using the dingo, he scraped the roots out and leveled the space.  We discovered a cement pad under all that verdure.  Now we have a lovely, shady, 12 more square feet in our backyard and a cement pad on which to place lawn furniture and sip iced tea.  Life is good in Chez Matthieu.

Friday, July 28, 2017

tea in the backyard

Imagine, my children, that you made some dear friends back in college.  Life took you in many different directions, but 40 years later, you still have connections.  This is my friend Linda M. who has been serving overseas in various missions for the past four decades.  Now, of an age to retire, she is looking to for a place to land.

After working in a refugee camp in Vietnam, in Bangladesh, in Pakistan, in Jordan, and other dangerous and exotic places, she is thinking about maybe settling in Portland.

She and another friend (Lucinda as she is known on Facebook) joined me for curried chicken salad, iced tea, and a plum tart in our backyard.  Shady, breezy, peaceful, easy.  We renewed old friendships and shared our varied histories.  I NEVER expected to get this old, and when I think about it, I have at least another 20 years to go.  What surprises do I still have in store?

Binge-watching the Greatest British Baking Show has inspired me to try short-crust tart shells and frangipane (ground almonds, butter, and eggs) filling with fresh fruit on top.  Oh my!  I can DO this.  Tarts are in my future.  Maybe I'll try a Bakewell tart next.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I am among the most fortunate of women!

Twenty three years ago, Kyle and I got married in our backyard.  This has been the happiest twenty three years of my life! Better than a third of my life with my wonderful, kind, smart, funny man.  Every morning I wake up and thank God for KYLE.

OK, you don't want to listen to me praise the guy all day (I could.  With praise enough to be continued on several subsequent days.)  But falling in love with Kyle was the best thing thing I ever did.  Thank you, Darling!!

The wedding was a real group effort.  Paul's mother made my pink silk wedding dress, Tamara made the cake (Delicious!!) Jason and Cynthia did the photography, Dennis and Lynn got us a deal on the champagne.  The day was the hottest day of the year, and our backyard was an oasis of shade and pink balloons.  It was glorious!  Paul was Kyle's best man.  Lynn was my matron of Honor.  Everett, who introduced Kyle and me, was the Man of Honor.  The guys were heroic enough to wear navy wool blazers for the ceremony. They looked SO sharp!!  Friends and familymade it such a splendid party.  And for days afterwards, I was spotting runaway balloon nestled in tree branches around the neighborhood.

Yesterday, we went on a Volkswalk in the local timber town of Estacada on the serene Clackamas river.  We did a leisurely walk along the river, into town, through the street festivities, admiring the plethora of murals, with a brief stop at the AW root beer stand for hydration, then back along the river to the park again.  Six K total.  I am so out of shape, but Kyle was kind enough to go slow and I enjoyed the whole thing thoroughly!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sales are dangerous

I went to Joanne's yesterday for three skeins of red embroidery floss.  Came out with $31 worth of stuff.  I saved $16 on it, and it's all stuff I WILL use, but geeze . . . the biggest chunk was the canvas tote bags -- Medium and large sized tote bags.  A three pack missing one -instead of 3 for $11, I got 2 for $2.49  If I bought just a single one, it would have cost $3.99  (SCORE!!)  So that was $4.99  for four sturdy, heavy canvas tote bags.  How can I pass that up?

And a box of brightly colored blank cards, 40% off, because I like to send cards and haven't done so for too long.  Also, because we will be camped for the 'clips for almost a week with teens and tweens, and embellishing brightly colored cards is a reasonable craft project for those 90 degree afternoons.  Hence the bottle of rubber cement as well.  We will be staying with my niece, Cheryl, who has loads of crafty supplies, so these cards will be noteworthy!  Hmm, and with three teen girls in the house, I bet we could use some old nail polish to paint awesome designs . . .  Where did I put that old polish? (I use old nail polish to mark MY scissors for group sews, or OUR hammers when Kyle helps friends, or . . you know. Old eyes - this is the On position for the headset power button.)

I also bought some dye, because people have given me stained white sheets that need to be dyed and cut up for quilting.  Another great 'clips project.  We can spread the sheets out on the lawn, splotch and spritz to our heart's content, roll the artworks up in garbage bags, and let them cook in the afore-mentioned 90 degree sunshine for the remainder of the afternoon.  The next day, when things heat up, we can unwrap, hose down, and admire our creativity.  (I plan on doing the blues and greens together, and the pinks and purples together.  I will try to avoid the green and magenta cross-dyes.)

Also some iron-on transfers because I am taking a load of estate-sale napkins on the trip with intention to embroider and teach others to do the same.  Also, embroidery floss (The original intent.)

Also . . .Well, it was all an awesome good sale.  And I had such a lovely time, poking through the deals!  Joanne's is a toy store for me.  Or a candy shop.

I was strong.  I did NOT buy more yarn or fabric, though there were great bargains.  I stayed strictly away from the baking aisles.  And the beading.  I did, at the last minute, succumb to a beach tote with a big pink flamingo on it.  My sister-in-law loves flamingoes.  I don't know what I'm getting her for Christmas, but I know what I will wrap it in.

SO, next month, I have loads of fun stuff to do for the almost a week that we will be camped.  I still have to think about what knitting to take, though.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday check-in

On Thursdays I get together with MJ and we sew comforters.  It is a deeply satisfying sew hours when we talk about anything while we arrange, pin and stitch pretty colors into new patterns.  Yesterday we were ready to start a new comforter, but the fabric stash was in such a tumble . . . I'm so glad MJ didn't mind, because I just dropped down on my knees and began pulling everything out so we could sort and re-organize. It took a couple of hours, and a garbage bag for the stuff that honestly was just too small.  Why is it so much more fun to organize someone else's things?  I had the best time, and we wound up with the sprawl neatly organized and tucked away.  And we got a start on the next comforter.  MJ has a son who is renting a house with some friends.  Just moved in.  MJ has some lovely wool suits that her husband had made in HongKong 30 years ago.  Unfortunately, the suits have been mauled by moths.  So we filleted the suits, cutting around the bigger holes, and will construct a comforter with lovely fine wool patches, and a backing perhaps of flannel.  It's nice to have a plan.

Meanwhile, back at home, I am going to wade through my sewing room and tidy up somehow.  There is the material for knitting projects in bags on the floor.  There is a pile of nylon net in case I ever actually DO get around to making myself a tutu.  There is a pile of ironing pouting sullenly in a corner.  There is a fibrous film of threads and dust over everything.  Actually, I have developed a sort of blindness about the chaos.  I can focus on the cubbyhole where the filing gets stuffed until the day when I'm feeling alphabetical.  Or I can focus on the stack of fat quarters MJ bought for me when she was in Hawaii (I adore those asian prints!)n  Or I can focus on specific knitting projects, but the whole room - - Lordy, when I die, whoever has to clean that place out will be chipping away at it for days.

I have, in fact, a sort of smug satisfaction with the fecund disorder.  it's a nest of possibilities and there's no telling what might hatch in there.  Hmmmm -- Kinda like the inside of my head . . .

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I gotta get the flock out of here.

Sometimes you just have to start writing to find out what you're going to write about.  There are all these ideas penned up in my head like a flock of hungry sheep in a barn.  Occasionally, when you open the door, they get themselves jammed in the doorway because they all try to squeeze out at once.  Then, I don't know, one pushes harder or one backs up  and suddenly they explode out into the sunny meadow and immediately start to graze.

Ha!   Here they come.  First thing I have to do is make a list of the things I have to do.  1.Cat to vet?  A. Look up cystitis. B.Wash bedspread. I.Use laundromat big washer and dryers. a. round up quarters for Laundromat washers and dryers.  2. Get dressed 3. Unload dishwasher. 4. Breakfast dishes into dishwasher. 5.Fold laundry and put it away. 6. Start another load of laundry (it never ends.  Never,never,never!) 7. Make bed. 8. Start clean-up in work room.  No,  8.Make vet appointment.  Probably ought to do that before folding laundry.  Then Laundromat, but the laundromat will take hours.  Prep entertainment for Laundromat. Damn - writer's group today.  and sewing with MJ tomorrow . . tea with Maggie at ten on Friday . . People who have jobs need to use the laundromat on the weekends sooo it looks like the bedspread will get washed next Tuesday.  Start a list for Tuesday.

The lambs and ewes are scampering in and out of the barn, trying to find one another.  Lots of bleating and jostling and the thunder of little hooves in the dust.

And my eyes keep rolling closed.  Kyle has been waking at 3 in the morning and getting up, which wakes me.  Then the cats decide that if he's up, it must be time for them to eat, so I spend the next two hours trying to sleep while fuzzy faces stand on my chest, squeaking their starvation at me.  Oh, yes, they are clearly starving.  They're down to nothing but skin and fat. Their solid little bodies stomp over my full bladder and my boobs like . . .like fourteen pounds of annoying cats.

And I'd better throw something over the bed or the cat might pee on the mattress.

1.  Look up cystitis!

Today's blog post has been brought to you by distraction, mental clutter, and the wrong side of the bed.    These sheep are not going to settle down and graze today.  I'd better go deal with them.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Quirks are us

I recently finished writing a story about grace, redemption, Lucifer and salamanders (The fiery ones) in Renaissance Italy.  Leonardo DaVinci builds them a steam-powered motorcycle.

I am currently working on a story about mutant ducks from outer space.  I don't know who wins, yet.

Publishers want something new and fresh but just like something that is a proven success.  They are, after all, in the business of making money.  And the publishing industry is struggling.  People don't read anymore, and they definitely don't read entire books.  Unless they are worthy factual tomes or full color art books which don't actually get read so much as gazed at.

People read Facebook posts and tweets and maybe, occasionally, a whole blog post (thank you!) but, for the most part, our attention span has been curtailed to, "Bites." National Geographic has turned into USA Today on a global scale. (I'm going to let my subscription expire) And how many magazines carry stories anymore?  It used to be that almost every magazine featured regular columnists who wrote graceful essays.  And there was usually a short story or two included to showcase new authors.  Most of our great authors got their start this way

Independent publishing is an option, but without an editor's guiding hand, writers are not learning how to polish their prose. Successful authors are sticking with the formulas that sell, and no one is cultivating the upcoming stars.    I had a dream of being on every airport bookstand in the country.  I have not won that lottery.

So why do I write?  Because I need to.  Because it is good for me.  Because I am vastly entertained by the things I come up with.  My subconscious is much smarter than my conscious mind, and when I let it out to play, it's wonderfully, whimsically creative.  (Ok, sometimes it makes little animals out of my own poop, metaphorically speaking, but not much anymore. And the more I write, the less likely that is to happen.)

I write so I know what I'm thinking.  I write because It allows me to get emotions down on paper so I can own them.  Clearly, I am not writing for the mass market.  I will never make a living on my wordsmithing.

And yet - - and yet - - I have spent the money to keep all four of my novels current with the publisher.  Hope is a thing that lingers when logic gives up and goes somewhere else.

Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice
Sanna and the Dragons
Sanna Meets Dauntless Swiftsure
Sanna and the Empress

 by Roxanna Matthews

Available  on Amazon or from Inkwater Press in paperback or Kindle.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sewing, writing, and God, I love being retired.

It's 9AM and I'm still in my jammies.  I've been awake since 5, but just plugged into the web, then doing some writing.  Breakfast was oatmeal and tea, as usual.  With applesauce today. ( I'm out of fruit.  We need to go shopping.)

We have no plans.  After this, I may get dressed and sew some more.  Slapping these quilts together is so satisfying!  Second-hand sheets give me basic colors, Estate sale remnants and gifts provide accent colors.  I am working through a ten pound box of six-inch Laura Ashley fabric sample squares(Thank you, Benita).  Ten pound of fabric goes a LONG way!  There is something rather meditative about feeding little squares through the machine to make bigger squares, to make something bright and pretty that someone can cuddle up with.  And I have an audio book running, so my left brain can be entertained while my right brain plays with the colors.

I have no deadlines, no schedules, no commitments that I don't look forward to.  A friend asked me, "What do you want to accomplish the year?"  Umm . . . inhale, exhale, repeat. Smile, laugh when possible.  Umm,  - - - Accomplish?

Lazy Sunday morning, and my eyes keep rolling closed.  And there's no reason on earth why I shouldn't take a little nap.  Oh, how I love my idle life!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Three days in a row

I am paying more attention to life around me, looking for things to post about.  I ate lunch on the porch yesterday and counted 8 spiderwebs hanging between the bushes, glinting in sunlight.  I kept discovering more as I let my field of focus drift in and out.  I had my bare feet sheltered behind the calla lilies, and my un-tanned face screened behind a big hat, and the temperature was just perfect for lounging in the sun.  Amazing how that mellows me out.  There is SO much to be said for mindless, serene basking.  I am channeling my inner iguana again.

Anyone want some dried rose petals?  I am getting bushels of them.  We have this one old rose bush that is hardy as can be and produces lovely fragrant red roses.  They are good for about a day after being cut, even with all the tricks to extend vase life, but the petals retain their scent when dried.  And it's going gangbusters this year.  Make your own sachets for Christmas gifts?  God knows I'm going to.

On the knitting front, I am turning out some little cotton bags for my niece who makes soap.  I got some of that, "Scrubby" acrylic at JoAnnes and am making bags big enough to hold a bar of soap, so you just wet them and scrub yourself down.

For the eclipse, Kyle and I will be visiting with another niece who lives dead center of the  totality.  Her community of about 5 thousand is expecting 50 thousand visitors.  Kyle and I are bringing the RV and setting up four days early, then staying two days after to miss the worst of the mobs.  Since we will be there for days, with family and children, I am thinking of bringing some crafty projects I can teach.  Embroidery, perhaps.  Maybe how to plait a paper basket.  Do I have any yarn or fabric I need to dye?  Oh, maybe I can use some of that mohair to make balloon lanterns.    That could be fun.  I'd better pick up a big bottle of glue.  Any other suggestions for crafty stuff to entertain tweens and teens on long, hot afternoons?

Friday, July 14, 2017

A post about mostly nothing

Wow, two days in a row!  I rock!  Not that I have anything to write about, really, but that's never stopped me.

 I see that a truckload of live slime eels, destined for the fish markets of Korea, overturned on the Oregon coast highway yesterday, blocking traffic for several hours.  The fire department had to hose the mess off the highway, since the eels, when stressed, emit a thick, viscous slime which made the road too slippery to drive on.  The attending police officer said, "It definitely has a marine - a sea life, smell."  One of the firemen said, "It wasn't too bad at first, but as the afternoon went along and the hot sun got everything . . . It's pretty rank by now."  when I start feeling sorry for myself, I will remember that I do not have a truckload of slime eels overturned in my driveway, festering in the July sun.

I have been binge watching "The Great British Baking Show."  It makes me hungry, and it inspires me to attempt things which I am in no way capable of producing.  These expert amateurs make it all look so easy.  "Maybe," I think, "I should try chou paste.  Cream puffs would be lovely for the next tea party."  Then I remember that my piping skills are nill, and I realize that you can't just slap random-sized blobs of paste down on the cookie sheet with a spoon and expect to get uniform, airy, crispy pastry shells.  "Well, maybe a Victoria cake," I think.  I look it up, and discover that all the recipes are in grams and liters, they even weigh the flour and sugar, and ". . .the cake should have a light, even crumb."   ??? What does that mean???     Oh, and what's a moderate hot oven in degrees Fahrenheit?  I might just stick with Betty Crocker box mix.  That way, I can be sure of turning out a perfectly acceptable if pedestrian cake, rather than attempting something awesome, and producing a magnificent failure.  Still, my friends are kind enough to eat just about everything I serve.  I figure, if I serve enough things, one of them is bound to work out.  Three cookies, a cake, a fruit and a savory.  If nothing else, the tea goes over well.

The tea parties are a joy for me.  I get to use my collection of china and linens.  I get to try new recipes.  I am motivated to clean the house at least once a month, and I just revel in the music of many happy women having a good time together.  The house gets filled with good vibes, people I love have a good time.  The only down side is that Kyle feels obliged to flee the premises.  What could  be so scary about twelve to twenty women of a certain age, gathered to chat and nibble?

I have been sewing, knitting and . um . well, . that's pretty much it.  I finished my story about Lucifer and the Salamanders, have had it edited (God bless you, Lynn) and am bracing myself to go for the revisions.  It might just be quirky enough to actually sell, if I can drive myself to start submitting again. Groan - the query letters, the rejection slips, the synopsizing and pitch crafting and all the intensive labor of of finding a publisher.  Still, it is a pretty good story.  Grace, redemption, and salamanders. Who wouldn't want to buy the book?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The next new start

Blogging is good for me.  That may be why I have avoided it for so long.  Like exercise, Kale, and an in-depth study and analysis of our current political situation, I know I should,  . . . I SHOULD, . . .Tomorrow.

But I am at least mature enough to do those annual medical things.  Like the mammogram.  The radiologist didn't like one of the pictures and asked me to come back. (It was sort of like finding a footprint in the snow that might have been left by a polar bear.  Polar bears are dangerous things.  Let's check this out more carefully.) so I made my appointment and went in again. The nice nurse pressed and flattened and squeezed my breast from every possible angle.  I was waiting for her to  say, "Now for this next one, you'll need to stand on your head . . ."  Then she left me in my stylish paper gown and took my pictures in to the radiologist.  At least they keep the waiting area nice and warm.  I've been in clinics that are as chill as a vegetable crisper.  I figured there would be a wait.  I brought my knitting.

Finally she returned.  The picture was clearer, but still not definitive (This is a footprint, but we can't say for sure what animal made it.) so I was sent on to the ultra-sound lab, where I was again mauled, squeezed and compressed until the nice lab tech got a clear enough picture of things.  I have dense breasts (stupid boobs) which make it difficult to see things clearly.  Rather like looking for a polar bear in a blizzard.  After all but shoving the wand between two of my ribs, the ultrasound tech and the radiologist agreed that they couldn't find that polar bear, but that didn't mean it wasn't out there, because something left that track.  Please come back in six months to repeat the process.

So I got in my car and headed home(feeling rather bruised and sorry for myself, and worrying a bit about that damn polar bear) but before I got out of the parking lot, another car  turned left across the flow of traffic right in front of me and I hit it.  No injuries.  No citations.  My air bag didn't even deploy.  My brave little habanero orange Prius nobly sacrificed itself to protect me.  It was the other driver's fault.  My car was totaled.

I spent two weeks without a car, relying on Kyle's kindness to take me where I needed to go.  I got a fair amount of sewing done, finished knitting an afghan, and started binge-watching "The Great British Baking Show."  And before you know it, the check had cleared the bank and we were  shopping for another car for me.  Kyle was on line and searching all over the US.  I wanted another orange Prius.  There were three available, one in New Jersey, one in Georgia, and one in LA. Not worth the shipping. Then he asked, "Would you like a yellow car?"  I could find the orange Prius in any parking lot I used.  Yellow might be equally visible so I agreed to try one on for size.  I am now the proud possessor of a 2014 Prius C, colored like a school bus.  HIGH visibility.  I'm calling her The Lemon Shark.

Yesterday, at 7:30 AM I took her in to get a few things adjusted.  As I was cruising down the freeway, (with an 18 wheeler on my tail), I saw a young man in the breakdown lane , crouched over and staggering.  He braced both hands against the jersey barrier and seemed to convulse.  I couldn't stomp on the brakes, but as I was looking for a place to pull over, I passed a young skunk trying to climb the barrier.  And I realized that this was a good deed which had not gone unpunished.  The poor boy had tried to rescue the skunk, and the skunk had defended itself.  What is the standard first aid for skunk spray?  I don't know.  Since it didn't appear to be life threatening, I drove on.