Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Wednesday - Day in the Life

Useless day. I'm sure you'll be glad to hear I have days like this. The kids spent too much time on the computer. The day seemed to trickle away down the drain. I'm not sure what happened to it.

I woke up at 7:30. I'm pre-reading "The Ruby and the Smoke" by Philip Pullman for Erin. I love it; I'm not sure she will, because it's a mystery. But maybe, since she loved the "His Dark Materials" trilogy so dearly, she'll cut Phil some slack and give this one a go. I think she'd have to read with more attention to detail to keep track of the characters and the plot, which would probably be good for her.

Got out of bed at 8:15, with a chipper Fiona in tow. Erin of course had been up for a while. Noah and Sophie got up about the same time. Chuck had meetings this morning so he'd been off early.

I folded and sorted laundry for what seemed like forever. Erin played one-on-one with Fiona in a lovely way for about an hour.

Fiona and I took the dog to the vet for a well-puppy visit. She's doubled her weight in the month since her first visit. I thought so!

I went out to the garden and harvested the madder I've been growing for 3 years. Sophie and I washed it and chopped it and set it to steep. I set up an alum mordant bath for some unbleached hemp/silk fabric I've had in reserve for a year or two. Sophie and I talked about mordants and what they do.

Noah and Erin spent a good part of the morning writing on two different computers. Noah's building some sort of calendar in his journal, so he wanted to know how many days in each month. I taught him the "knuckle trick" for figuring out which months have 31 days. [Put your two fists together so that the eight knuckles line up in a row. The knuckles are the long months (with 31 days), the "valleys" between knuckles are the short months (with 30 or 28 days).] Erin seemed to be making a long list of descriptive opposites but I would never confess that I peeked.

I looked for gluten-free muffin recipes for a friend. I responded to some e-mails. I think the kids fended for themselves for breakfast and lunch. Sophie and Noah played some Blokus.

I did a little more drywall mudding. I put the fabric into the madder dyebath. Sophie and Fiona stirred for a while. It started to go a nice dark red. Put another bit of fabric in the mordant.

The kids asked to go to the beach. I told them to forget it, because I had asked them repeatedly to do some housecleaning to help prepare for our holidays and our house-sitter/locum, and no one had yet lifted a finger. I felt lousy about saying that, but I can see a last-minute housecleaning marathon settling onto my shoulders and I'm already feeling resentful about it.

I folded more laundry and cleaned out the fridge. Wiped the kitchen counters more often than was strictly necessary. Have I mentioned how much I love my almost-complete new kitchen?

Erin's friend called to invite her to a birthday party on Saturday/Sunday (tube-floating down the river, then sleepover). Erin decided to sew a little carry-bag for hair fixings or jewelry for her friend as a gift. She chose a funky print from the fabric scrap bin and a contrasting aqua colour. I cut the circles out because we couldn't find the good lefty fabric scissors. I walked Erin through the construction (she'd helped with one of these before, but it had been a long time). She did almost all the sewing, all the pinning and ironing. She even used a protractor to divide the circle into eighths for the pocket seams. It took about 90 minutes from start to finish and looked really nice. Basically it's a circular drawstring bag which when opened reveals a largish central compartment and eight small pockets arranged around the sides. Very simple to make but quite elegant to look at.

I went into Noah's room, looking for more fabric in his closet, and found him lying on his bed. Asked him if he was tired, planning a nap. "Nope, just having a think," he replied. He's so sociable these days that it's easy to forget he's an introvert.

We played Pre-Rummy Roots and Rummy Roots 1 & 2. Erin and Sophie went off to their bedroom to play more games.

Chuck came home and we had supper. The kids played outside for a long time. I had to remind them about practising, which they all did without protest, all except Sophie, who whined "No, I don't want to." I responded without missing a beat by asking "Are you saying you're not going to practice, or are you pretending you're not going to, because you're having trouble getting started right now?" She looked at me, grinned, and said "Pretending." Fifteen minutes later she began practicing happily with me and did some good work on her bow arm and on the nasty fingering passage in "Gavotte from Mignon."

I pulled the first fabric out of the madder dyebath and put the other one in. The first is a lovely variegated but deep red. Well, pretty deep for a natural dye. The next will be a pale salmon or peach, I think. I acidified the bath to make it a little yellower. I've been saving vegetable-dyed fabric for a while: now I have a greyish-tinged pink made from rhubarb root, a medium yellow made from onion skins, a pale blue made from woad, and my red and light orange from the madder. I feel a quilt coming on. What I'd like to do is get the kids to make mandala-like print blocks that we'd use to create repeating images in black fabric paint on various squares of vegetable-dyed fabric. We'll see what evolves. This is a project I began almost 3 years ago when Erin and I dyed the first fabric with onion skins.

More drywall sanding and mudding before bed. Then the obligatory 30-40 pages of "The Star of Kazan".

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