work in progress

The last few weeks have been packed with activity. (Personal. Professional. Political.) I’ve been pulled in lots of directions with a variety of projects, and a few things haven’t quite gotten finished.

When my mother visited for Thanksgiving, one of our planned activities was to make gingerbread houses. We are not ones to buy a kit with a pre-baked house. We make the dough from scratch, and each design our house. (Or structure, which is not necessarily a house. Last year I made my town’s Town Hall building. This year my mother made a Japanese gate.) In any case, the way we do things, it’s a multi-day process.

gingerbread1-ingredientsHere we put together the ingredients for the dough. My photo library tells me this was November 30th. I then mixed each batch up to let it chill overnight. (Possibly a few overnights.)

gingerbread2-modelWe all designed prototypes for our structures using cardboard. I used a stack of leftover political mailers.

gingerbread3-cutThe cardboard/cardstock cutouts then served as the stencil for cutting out the baked dough.

gingerbread4-hardeningThe cut pieces then needed to dry out some more before assembly. They smelled amazing, but the particular gluten-free blend of flours I used was a bit fragile and persnickety.

gingerbread5-part-builtMy house took a while to assemble, as there were some breakages that needed repairing.

gingerbread6-undecoratedAlso, the thickness of the baked pieces meant that my walls and roof didn’t quite fit together as intended. I improvise by making a tower to cover for a gap between the walls. I was quite pleased with the new shape. All that was left was to decorate and embellish (and cover my messy seams), and my gingerbread house would be ready to display.

The trouble is, this project isn’t exactly the only one that I’ve been working on. The big “distraction” was a conference deadline, and three of the research groups I am involved with were planning to submit. The deadline for a 4-page paper was December 21st. (The deadline was then somewhat extended such that an abstract, title and author info could be submitted on the 21st, but the full paper could be edited until January 3rd before being sent out to reviewers.)

The loosening of the deadline left a bit more breathing room for things like holiday shopping and political protests. But in spite of getting our tree up and decorated right  after Thanksgiving, I haven’t managed to put up many other decorations. We are the one house on our little street without festive lights and/or other outdoor decorations. I find it amusing that my little gingerbread house is leading a parallel existence.

gingerbread7-with-candy-pile

Tonight I hope to do some decorating. Of the gingerbread house, not the real house. (The bulk of our Christmas decorations are staying in bins this year.) Phoebe still had plans for landscaping her gingerbread house that she didn’t have time for, so I am using that as an excuse to make up a batch of the appropriate icing so we can get to work. (But I’m also  prepping for Christmas dinner, need to excavate our dining room table, and need to wrap a big pile of gifts…So we’ll see.)

Darling buds of December

The buds of May are many moons away, but I have been appreciating the promise held in the buds I see on the trees and shrubs now. I am especially drawn to their little budding forms when they are encased in ice and/or dusted in snow. buds7

buds1

buds2

buds3

buds5

buds8

rhododendron-bud-snow

Most of these were taken on various morning walks with the dog this month. (The combination of morning light and post-ice-storm sparkle can be totally mesmerizing. I’ve been caught in its particular snares before.)

Impeachment afterglow

impeach-banner

Last night I went to one of hundreds of events that were held all across the US in support of the impeachment and removal from office of the current occupant of the White House. Most rallies were set for 5:30 p.m., as the one I attended. Being up quite far north, and it being almost at the solstice, the sun sets a little after 4:00 here. So by 5:30, it’s oh-so-dark. Preparing for this, I wanted my sign to be visible.

I stopped by a dollar store Monday night, and got myself a black poster board and a bunch of glow sticks. (The cashier commented “kids just love these.” “Right,” I thought. “For the kids.”)

glow-sticks

Tuesday dawned dark and dreary and covered in ice. Schools were closed. Government offices closed. Meetings were cancelled. But I heard that the rally was still on.

Seeing as glow sticks only glow for so long, I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, and waited until after 4 to get cracking. I cracked open the packages, and cracked the sticks to start the glow.

impeach-in-progress

Then I used packing tape to secure my glowstick letters. (This turned out to be a bit of a pain, just because I was trying to hurry. And packing tape will not be rushed. It will wrap itself back around the roll, and your fingers, and whatever else is around just to show its contempt for your hurry.) I’d planned out how I’d make the letters, and counted out how many glowsticks I’d need for each letter. I’d thought about “impeach and remove,” but the sign wasn’t really big enough.

impeach-sign-supplies

I was quite pleased with the glowing results. My sign was bright and visible in the dark. And my heart was warmed by the enthusiastic turnout at the rally, in spite of the ongoing ice storm.

impeach-square

After the protest, I brought my sign back home to share its glow. And I made my Christmas wish. (Today I got at least part of my wish.)

all-i-want-for-christmas

(And know that my merriment is only a coping mechanism in these dark times. The next few months and the coming election next year are very uncertain. Meanwhile,  I am thankful for my right to protest, and don’t take it for granted.)

Faux leaves, real shadows

I do love leaves, and shadows. So naturally I love shadows *of* leaves. Even if they aren’t real leaves.

These metal leaves are a decoration I recently got at a thrift store. (My daughter and I have discovered a mutual enthusiasm for going to thrift stores. Possibly too much enthusiasm.) Anyhow, the leaves cast some fun shadows in the low afternoon light. I enjoyed seeing how they changed (sharp above, doubled below) with the changing light.

It seems I’m still inclined to post daily. I think I need to settle on an approximate frequency for posting. For those of you who post regularly, what’s your strategy? Do you have goals for quantity or frequency of posts, or do you just post when moved to do so?

changing shadows, unchanged leaf

unicorn

A little over a week ago, a single leaf caught my eye out on the deck. It was caught between the boards, and casting a long dramatic shadow in the morning light.

Yesterday, a similar-looking leaf caught my eye casting a shadow, this time in the afternoon light. Looking at the two photos, I’ve decided that it was actually the same leaf. It’s moved a bit, and flipped around, but it appears to have all the same markings. It seems to have blown out of the spot where it was trapped, only to get caught again.

leaf-shadow2-afternoon

It seems I’m not quite ready to leave November behind. Both the leaves, and the daily posting. I’m hoping to settle into some sort of moderate frequency for posting, perhaps something like once or twice a week. Somehow, though, if I’m not all in, I tend to be all out. Here’s hoping I can break that trend.

if a blogger falls in the forest

forest
Trees that fell in the forest, many years ago. It is not clear whether they made a sound. Now they make for a pretty scene.

Amazingly, after last year’s November goals shortfall, I was able to get back up again and post daily this month. This is my 30th daily post in November, and so successfully wraps up my NaBloPoMo goals. Somehow, it wasn’t even particularly hard this time. Was it as easy as falling off a log? It was certainly less painful than falling off a log.

I’ve enjoyed regrouping (grouping again) and reflecting (flecting again?) and putting together photos and thoughts. I might even be able to keep on keeping on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 disconnected photos

Today was a largely mellow day involving continued cleaning up from yesterday’s dinner. I spent some time putting together some ingredients for rather elaborate (and decidedly silly) blog post that is still only half-baked. Since I don’t want to stay up too much later, I foraged through my photo collections for a few morsels I’d been saving. I came across this set. Well, that’s not exactly true. I came across a similar set of photos: 1) the three little tomatoes in a blue bowl, 2) the 6 red potatoes in a colander and 3) 2 photos of cranberries in a little white bowl. One had 3 cranberries, which went nicely with the 3 tomatoes. But since I took the potato picture last December, I couldn’t go back and only put in 3 potatoes. (And I didn’t think to take any new photos of potatoes as I was prepping them yesterday.) The other photo of cranberries in the bowl had 7 cranberries. And it bothered me that it gave me a set of 3, 6 and 7. So then I realized that I still had half a bag of fresh cranberries in the fridge, and a little while bowl sitting empty on the table. So, yes, I staged the 3rd photo to have the bowl contain 9 cranberries so I could have the photos contain 3, 6 and 9 oval-shaped red produce objects. A much more satisfying number sequence.