Archive for April, 2020

A Covid Weekend

Yesterday morning Andy went to pick up our order from the Farmers Market. The entire event took about eight minutes and went  perfectly smoothly. And I was thrilled with the food I bought from Smyrna Mediterranean Morsels! The red pepper spread is not quite like ajvar (and different ajvars, red pepper and eggplant spreads are quite variable) but similar. It had red peppers and tomatoes, bread crumbs and tiny bits of walnuts for crunch. And garlic, I think. Maybe no eggplant. But delicious. Their tabouleh salad was the best I remember. That’s a parsley and cracked wheat salad. Very special and delicious treats.

I did a somewhat monochromatic watercolor later

corona wc 4 26 2020

and then Emily and my granddaughters came over later and cleaned up the deck so that when it is warmer we may be able to have lunch together there and sit far enough apart.

Alice was on a walk with a friend in the valley and saw more Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia) which is beginning to open more and will soon be a gorgeous river of sky blue.

coronna 4 25 2020 Alices bluebells

In my yard the pear tree is blooming and the dark purple lilac by the garage has many buds. Andy took some pictures of a few other things blooming.

corona 4 25 hellebores

This hellebore is much darker than it looks here.

corona 4 25 2020 primrose and hellebores and sweet cecily

This photo has some of my primroses which always revert to these yellow and red flowers. To the right and a bit to the left you can see some of my European Sweet Cecily coming up. I love this  plant so much. All of it is edible and has a sweet anise flavor. The leaves look like little ferns and I have used them on all the wedding cakes I baked and decorated for my nephews and daughters.

My bridal veil bush is also in bloom. But the photograph I took has too many reflections on it to share.

Today has been very quiet but Andy and I took a ride through the National Park in the late afternoon and enjoyed seeing all the signs of spring.It’s the second time I have left the house since mid-March! Hallelujah!

I’m reading The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh, one of her mysteries continuing D.L. Sayers hero, Lord (now Duke) Peter Wimsey.


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First, the little group of friends from my DEStevenson book group which has been meeting at Chautauqua for several years had a zoom meeting today. We tried last week with Google Hangouts but it was not that successful. This was. Andy helped me get my IPad set up to do it. It’s lovely to see friends from Maine, Washington State, Tennessee, Virginia, Toronto and Ohio. It is extremely doubtful that we will be able to actually meet this August as we had planned…But someday, again, I hope!

Day before yesterday Andy and I played Chicaneuse (Russian Bank) and I won! I didn’t think it would happen again. But there you are.

Also the day before yesterday I was able to place another order with the National Park Farmers Market. They have added a Middle Eastern vendor selling Tabouleh and Red Pepper Dip (which I hope is like Ajvar, as Trader Joe’s red pepper dip is) and I have ordered those.

The day is overcast but fairly bright and I tried  some watercolor again. On the 20th I did an exercise with doodling.

corona excerxise 4 20

This is supposed to get your creative self re-energized…But the next day was a terrible failure. I did learn something from it. I know from the first minute that it would not work and that I should begin again, at once. But I ignored that….Bah. I will not do that again!

Today I did something I liked somewhat. And then wanted to experiment with something else on it. The experiment is not yet finished, I think. But I am glad to be doing it.

corona wc r 23 1st try

corona wc 4 23 stil a wip

This continuation is still a WIP, work-in-progress, but I ran out of steam. Will go back later on.

I am reading J.R, Ellis’s The Quartet Murders and enjoying them so far, in a quiet way. I just realized it is the second book in the series and have now acquired the first. It is a quiet day, but a happy one for the world of self-isolation.

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The sun just popped behind a cloud but it is still warmer than yesterday.The daffodils have revived after all the snow which has vanished.

I’m still doing water color. Today I did a dot-dash-circle challenge somewhat similar to the one I did on the 13th when people thought I was painting corona viruses. This is a bit different and I have new paper to play with. Still haven’t used my really best Arches paper. Painting is always peaceful and watching watercolor videos is also soothing.

corona wc 4 19 2020

Some new Japanese paints arrived today but not the other metallic colors I’m waiting for. I like to paint during the daylight hours with my back to the windows, my north windows. I tried hard to catch the metallic paint in this one, but really can only see it in two of the four places and I suspect that is partly because I know it is there.

I was very tired yesterday and also today and it is not from lack of sleep. I’m off to take a nap now. This morning I read the part of All Of A Kind Family by Sydney Taylor where the family is quarantined for Scarlet Fever. I don’t feel like reading any of the serious books about plagues and epidemics which some of my friends find interesting just now, but this book, a gentle children’s story of a Jewish family in New York around the turn of the 19th to 20th century is not alarming. It’s comforting.

I just finished Harriet Steele’s latest Nuala book, Taken in Nuala. I am always charmed by the good characters in her books and the time and place no one else I know of is writing about – Ceylon in the 1930s when it was still governed by the British.  More seriously I am going through Emily Bernard’s Black is the Body  book of memoir/essays and finding it very good, but not something to rush through. Also just finished John Healey’s astonishing Samurai’s Daughter. Set in the 1600s about the daughter of a Spanish noblewoman and a Samurai lord, it is quite surprising and perhaps somewhat of a big stretch of that willing suspension of disbelief. But entertaining…Oh, my. And now just at the beginning of Death by Malice, the tenth of Abigail Keam’s Josiah Reynolds beekeeper mysteries.

Andy has been watching a lot of dystopian movies. But this evening we are going to play Chicaneuse at 8pm. Since we began doing this again, I have not won one single time! But one lives in hope!


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Here we are, Friday, April 17th, 2020 and I haven’t yet talked much about our Easter celebrations…And it’s been snowing all day. I think there was only one day this week without any snow….

blog 4 17 more snow

This photo is from earlier this morning. Actually there is more snow now but the photo from upstairs shows the screen more than anything else. Anyway, you get the idea. Amazingly, the tough daffodils spring back after every thaw. I am hoping the weekend brings something warmer!

I have to share this because it made me laugh, yes, laugh out loud. So many interesting things coming out of this corona time.

corona Scotland silly photo

I do think my mind is jumping around more than usual…But to return to what I wanted to write about….

Easter was a nice celebration with no snow…It was not a full meal which we would normally have had in pre-corona times, but a very replete set of desserts. Alice shared her Easter bread, brownies, a lovely orange Italian cake and something else. Ingmar and my granddaughters made a thin cake of something like cheese cake as a base. The top was beautifully decorated in stripes of different fruit to look like an Easter egg. And there was another dessert from the Rauschert family which I cannot remember. Plus we drank some champagne together to toast Emily’s achieving Tenure! But I am hoping we have a better celebration next year and I can hug everyone! We each had a table set up in a corner of Alice and Mike’s new garage and the desserts and drinks were mostly already in place. And it was really lovely to see us all together and sweet Pepper, too. And I cannot find my photographs from the afternoon. When we went to sit down at our table I recognized the tablecloth (One of two) underneath as one Paul and I had bought at the Central Market in Budapest on our last trip there together in the fall of 2005. This also made me think of our local Farmers Market which is having orders picked up tomorrow. I pray for some good weather for them…Here are some photos of the Budapest Market. It is huge with a basement and two floors. In the basement and downstairs are lots of food vendors…Upstairs is a restaurant and lots of people selling handicrafts and souvenirs. Here are some photos from there. I wonder what is happening there these days…..

blgo central market budapest 2

blog central market budapest

blog central market budapest 4

blog central market budapest 5

These photos are falling into the long ago and far away category! I have been back to Hungary in the spring of 2012 when Emily was there as a Fulbright Scholar. I wrote more about the market in this post:  https://thickethouse.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/a-few-more-memories-of-museums-and-restaurants/

And now I am off to do some more watercolor. My happy time.





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The Ides of April

Probably the best good news is that Andy’s back is having significantly less pain the past few days. He saw his physical therapists and they think it is going well. Tomorrow he gets an x-ray.

Tuesday we were able to place our orders for Saturday’s Farmers Market. I am very pleased with what I got this week.

The weather is silly. We had snow this afternoon, again.

Alice and Mike had their stimulus check and I had mine. Haven’t had a chance to ask Emily yet.

I am going to buy gift cards for our local independent Thai restaurant, Rice Paper, for my daughters. It’s probably my favorite local independent restaurant with delicious food.

Still doing water color though today I didn’t…I made a big soup, though.

Two days ago I did a circle and dot challenge which Alice and a few other people thought was supposed to be a painting about coronavirus! If so, it was unintentional. Yesterday I went back to playing with very simple florals.

wc 4 13 corona

Really, it was just a circle and dot challenge! But who knows what was in my unconscious!

wc 4 14 2020

Tomorrow I hope to post something about our Easter celebrations…

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The Countryside Curbside was a GREAT success this morning. Alice went to pick up both of our orders and she said it took FOUR MINUTES! Everything is now in my fridge, my freezer or on the counter.There is a new-to-me green, Mizuma. I am eager to see what it is like….If I like it I will include it in the crustless quiche I am making for Andy for Easter.

Alice also said that all the farmers were there to thank everyone for coming out and ordering. I am so happy that this worked so well. Of course, it helped that today is a gorgeous sunny day.

Alice always buys organic free range eggs but yesterday she had to get white eggs from a local grocer. (I remember when all the eggs one could buy were white and then brown eggs became fashionable and that is nearly all one can find now.) Alice was complaining this morning that the shells of the white eggs were much thinner and when they boiled eggs for Easter Egg dying six of them broke in the water. I forget to ask whether she began them in cold water or boiling.

I decided to give up on abstract paintings for a while and returned to sort of florals this morning.

wc 4 11 2020

Hmm. I see several more things I want to do…Do I dare?

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Tuesday Alice and I had an email from our Farmers Market which had such a difficult time recently. They have made some changes and are trying again. We both ordered. Here is their update:

“Yesterday, we quietly relaunched Countryside Curbside.

We worked with a small selection of produce and livestock farmers, and bread bakers. We offered a limited number of orders to the patient and supportive customers from the first round. Both limited vendors and limited orders are a necessary measure to help us develop and refine the order delivery process – and hopefully temporary. When we know that we can provide smooth order delivery, we will be able to expand to more vendors and customers.

We appreciate your patience and we are eager to support more local food producers and connect more customers with them. We hope to see you all very soon!💚”

Alice will pick up our orders on Saturday morning. Cross your fingers!

You can read about their first attempt here:https://thickethouse.wordpress.com/2020/03/29/another-week-is-about-to-begin/

Our weather is its usual self, that is to say – crazy. We had lots of sunny warm days. This morning we had first slush, then heavier snow, then hail! And not much warmth!

corona hail on alice's roof 4 9

Hail on Alice’s roof….

And this morning, Alice showed up with a present for me, a very cheerful mask she had made for me which she suggests I never use since I am not going anywhere. Then she changed her mind and said I might wear it for our Easter dessert on her deck Sunday.

corona mask from Alice 4 9

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Last night we had a terrific storm with scary winds and lots of noise…I later found out we had had a tornado warning and one actually touched down about twenty miles south of us in Barberton.But otherwise our weather has been great with sunny days. We are hoping for the good weather predicted for Easter Sunday to actually show up. Alice has invited us over for dinner. They have a huge deck and she plans to have three tables (or four if my sil Alice and her husband are able to come) and each family will sit at a table quite distant from each other and shout at one another. My youngest grandson Stephen is still quite expecting the Easter Bunny to visit during the night. So I do hope the weather is fine!

This morning I did another painting I don’t like much! But I will keep on trying!

wc 4 8 2020 holy week 2

There always seem to be sections I would like to cause to vanish back to white paper so I could begin again…Doesn’t happen with watercolor!

Emily, Sofia and Clara went on a hike to our beloved Daffodil Trail. It adjoins Furnace Run Park and we could walk to it in about an hour from our first home, bought in 1975. At this time of year the daffodils are all beginning but if one goes down to the creek there are thousands of ramps and the Virginia Bluebells are just beginning, among other  wildflowers. We live in a beautiful place.

corona 4 6 20 bluebells

The bluebells are just beginning. When they open they are true sky blue and like a river down there on the flood plain.

(Here is another photo of them when open. They are Mertensia virginica/)

Virginia bluebells

corona 4 6 20 blood root

Blood root which lost a few petals…These are Emily’s photos, btw.

corona 4 6 20 spring beauty

Spring Beauty…One of the first wildflowers I knew as a very small child.There is also a lot of toothwort around and soon will be many sorts of trilliums, violets, hepaticas, and dog tooth violets…And later mayapple….Spring is so beautiful in this part of Ohio! Andy took some photos of the tiny lovely wild veronica in the grass in this early spring. It always makes me want to not have the grass cut.

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Everyday I see something else in the yard….My Cornus Mas tree just in front of the kitchen window is in bloom.

tree cornus mas

This is also known as Cornelian Cherry but it’s a relative of the dogwood tree that used to live in that spot. When it died I bought the Cornus Mas after seeing one in the gardens at Cornell University. It shares the space with a Korean dogwood which has white flowers. The Cornus Mas has red fruit in the fall, about the size of an olive. It’s not especially delicious but is edible. I have lots of blood root and some hellebores. Many different daffodils. I wish I could walk around less painfully and enjoy them! But I can see a lot from the windows.

When the white dogwood died I let a seedling grow between the Pin Oak and the Red Maple which has never been too healthy but is still living 40 years later. The seedling is low and spreading and lots of snowdrops and crocuses live beneath it.

I am still doing watercolor every day. I am never happy with my results but I am happy with the process…When I’m doing this I think of nothing else. And that is a blessing!

I tried a landscape and an abstract with some connection to Holy Week….But I think in the fullness of time I may paint something that pleases me.

wc 4 05 2020

wc holy week abstract 4 7 2020 tuesday

I’m a bit embarrassed to share these. But I want the record for myself, I guess. Some shapes which are meant to suggest water look more like eels to me now….Ah, well…I should try this idea again tomorrow……

I also read. I read non-fiction and mysteries for the most part. I’m going back and forth between Heather Lende’s Find the Good, the thoughts of an obituary writer from a small town in Alaska, the Betsy Tacy treasury  which is for a book discussion which is temporarily on hold because the University which hosts this list has recently changed its programs and is not working at all well at the moment, some Patricia Wentworth, Miss Silver mysteries, The Baker’s Daughter for another book discussion group, Anne Bogel’s, I’d Rather Be Reading,  and Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward. In between I finished Ilene Schneider’s Chanukah Guilt and Yom Killer and some of Bernard Knight’s Crowner John mysteries.

I’m trying to fit in some Hazel Holt’s mysteries, too. The fiction I’m reading now more than ever is set in places where I would like to be or find interesting in a peaceful way. Reading is always a way to go someplace else when you have to stay at home.


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Beautiful Days…

We are having several days of glorious sunshine, several in a row. That always lifts my spirits even in these strange times!

All my orchids are in bloom inside.

blog april 2020 orchids

Here are a few of them with some of the pussy willows Emily picked for me beside them. But I am more excited these days with what is happening outside.

blog april 2020 pussy willow pollen

The pussy willow is past its catkin stage and full of pollen now.

blog april 2020 daffodils

Lots of daffodils are beginning…They always remind me of the paper daffodils we made in Kindergarten and first grade, so long ago. I was so proud of them! I’m still waiting to see flowers on my red bud tree, though the magnolia blossoms are ready to burst open. Blood root is in bloom too, and other things I can’t see as well as I would like. The chives are up quite a bit, six or seven inches…Ready for schnidling sauce which I see I blogged about in 2009. https://thickethouse.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/easter-celbrations/

I am still trying to do some watercolor everyday for my sanity.

blog april 2020

And some cooking, too. Today I made a quite large crustless quiche with onion, mushrooms, some potato and lovely baby collard greens. My mood varies as does that of most of my friends and fellow bloggers. But we will get through this. And I see lots of help locally for people who are in far more dire straits. May we all be safe and well…


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