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Book review -- as promised

This is the most beautifully written book I have read in eons. It is a vivid picture of wartime London from 1939 on, of the battlefield, and the interpersonal relationships -- on both a deeply personal and cultural/historical level. Best of all, the characters are so strong and well developed that I really cared about them. Poignant, heartbreaking, and wryly funny at points. Couldn't put it down: read it in two nights. This is a can't miss book and I highly recommend it.

Full disclosure: this was a review copy and it will be released May 3, 2016. I have read a lot of pre-release review copies -- many of them, uncorrected galleys, over the last couple of years. Some were so badly written or inane that I couldn't even finish them. Others were quite good. But this is by far, the most outstanding on every level.

On a more banal note - I spent the morning paying bills and the afternoon trying to book a flight. Don't ask! Right now, I have it on hold for three days and am breathing a sigh of relief. I also cleaned off my kitchen island, except for the cutting mat.

Tomorrow, I expect to actually SEW. How exciting! 


Never say "never!"

Ok, I take it back. I said I would never teach online, but there are so many people who have emailed me to ask whether I gave online classes that I began to think about it. And then I stopped thinking about it --until The Fiber Art Connection  approached me with their teaching model.  

I found it so exciting that I said "yes."  It's not cookie-cutter (if you know me, you understand I don't follow rules very happily - LOL).  There are eight different fiber artists, all teaching something different -- each of us in our own style.  So you get to take eight classes for ten weeks, and along the way, discoveries, interactive sessions, community, connections, and personal interactions.  It'll be the closest thing to being in the classroom and we are all very pumped about this different way of teaching! 

 Once you enroll, you'll be notified when each teacher's class begins and the classrooms are open  to you indefinitely. If you don't have time just then, you can take the classes when it's convenient -- and go back as many times as you want to.  All the class materials - handouts, recordings, videos -- stay there so you can always access them.  

So...I've been sewing, making videos, taking pictures, and generally making as much of an embarrassing mess here in the Fla apt as I do at home. I was going to do a video tour, but decided to take pictures instead.

The kitchen island

dining room floor
 dining room table (yes, this is another sewing machine)
 living room chair
 living room floor

And we haven't gotten to the guest room yet!  But that's for another day.  Now I am going to sit down and read more of the most wonderful book I have read in eons.  More about that another day, too. bb


soup weather - even in south Florida

Yeah, yeah - I know it's warm here.  But it is also raining, and to me, rain means soup weather, no matter what the temps.  It's a comfort thing - like ironing.

After I spent an hour browsing through the NY Times cooking app's 1,421 soup recipes, i decided I wasn't in the mood to follow a recipe.  So I grabbed the soup bones in my freezer, got out my pressure cooker, and cleaned out the rather sad looking vegetable drawer.
The bagged spinach was past its sell-by date; the rice was leftover from last night's stir-fry, those cute little peppers were on their way out; the tiny zucchini was dimpled, and there is a lone carrot there somewhere behind the spinach.  That was it!  I grabbed a new onion from the counter, an open bag of lentils, a can each of chickpeas & tomato paste, some garlic, spices, and a hunk of good parmesean cheese to add to the rescued veggies. (I did not use the Chinese eggplant, scallions, broccoli and the baby bok choi I bought yesterday...)

Into the pressure cooker with six cups of water, 

And after 20 minutes in the pressure cooker...done!

Too late for lunch, but I will taste later and adjust the seasonings.  Now it's time to go and iron some fabric.

* Later: tasted it, added some bacon, more spices and salt and simmered it for an hour. Had it for dinner and it was divine.  Whether you're cooking without a recipe or making a quilt without a recipe, you're pretty much assured of getting something at least, interesting - and often, really good!   Best of all, it's never the same twice.

Cheers! R.

weather report

If you saw my Facebook post a couple of weeks ago during a storm that had a funnel cloud hurtling toward West Palm Beach, you saw this photo and can skip this part.  I had never seen a tornado and wasn't planning to, but since we were warned to find an inside room and stay there till the tornado passed, I followed instructions.  Of course, the only inside room here is the guest bathroom, so I settled in with my gin and chips and Phil's transistor radio from the 1950's which still works like a charm. We listened to the reports  while the wind and rain raged outside.

Then all of a sudden it was over.  The sunset was particularly beautiful that night.

Over the past few weeks I have been sewing at the dining room table, which is also where we eat. I have two crappy sewing machines down here and one good one which is great for piecing but I don't really want to quilt on it. NOT that anything is ready to be quilted. Hahahaha. And every meal, I have to smush all the fabric over to one side and clear two little spaces for eating.

I have been doing some "what if?" experiments, which are always learning experiences.  Nothing I can really post because I have two pieces in various stages of -- well, in various stages. Who knows where they will end or what they will be?

Speaking of learning experiences -- I'm going to do some online teaching -- which I have resisted until now.  But this platform will give me the freedom to make an idiot of myself on my own terms :-)) instead of adhering to somebody else's formula. I'm really excited about this - and it should be fun.    More when I have details.   

My cousin Nancy from L.A. was in Boca for a week, staying with my cousin Mimi. Nancy comes every year when I am here so the three of us can be together.  I didn't have much time to spend with her this time around, but when we get together, there is nonstop laughing.  Nancy on the left, Mimi in the center.  We don't look like first cousins but we all have the same sense of humor. It's in the genes.

I finally made a decision on the backsplash tile for my white kitchen.  Hope it will get done before I leave for home.

Today I took my phone when Phil and I went out for a walk.  Did you ever see such an ugly duck?? They are all over the place, hordes of them. Most of them are not quite this ugly, though.
That's all the news for today. Nothing exciting -- just plain old STUFF. Laundry, bills, supermarket -- but in relatively warm weather.  


A work in progress...

 This blog post has taken forever.  I started it about five days ago, was interrupted, and that was that.  I am finally getting back to it and even if I have to stop mid-sentence, it gets published! 

Cold air, at least for Florida.  It is a brisk but sunny 57 degrees here today, but expected to warm up later this week.  Nonetheless, no complaints from this northerner!

The visitors continued through mid-January, with my dear friend Marlene Cohen from London spending a week with me.  We sewed and generally relaxed -- with nonstop talking, lots of wonderful meals, and some nice walks. 

We visited the Norton Museum in West Palm; I love their collection of American art and always find something new there. I can't remember whether I have noticed this Stuart Davis before, but it made me smile this time around.

There was one particularly warm and beautiful day when Marlene and I went into Palm Beach because she wanted to see the ocean.

There was a troop of young women sunbathing and they were all wearing bikinis that were blue and yellow.  We could only assume they were all members of a sunbathing team.  Can't think what else it would have been.

At any rate, it costs $5/hour to park on the street next to the beach and you can only use a credit card in the machine. We couldn't figure out whether it had taken Marlene's card or not, since it did not give receipts.  We felt a bit uneasy about it, so as soon as we saw a police car, we asked for help, explaining that we couldn't be sure whether we had paid or not.  He asked our parking spot number and then said "oh, I just left you a $60 ticket." 

This was our next stop, as we went in search of the Parking Chief to tell our tale of woe.
It was truly a lovely experience.  Alice, the elegant woman who was a volunteer in the parking department, was as charming as could be.  She provided us with two
bottles of water while we waited for the chief of Parking Police to finish dealing with a person who had to go to court because he had been driving an unregistered vehicle. 

To make the story short, I must give the Palm Beach police kudos for pleasantness, politeness, and a real effort to help. Without going into detail, suffice it to say that we left with the water, a packet of tissues, and a voided ticket.  The next day, we went to a different beach, where the parking was free. Thank you, Ms. Brown.  You are truly a gift who went out of your way for me. 

Here is a photo of Marlene and me at the bus station, the day she left.

I am not mid-sentence but I am signing off, nonetheless.  Otherwise this post will become as long as Beowulf.

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