Achievement (nearly) Unlocked: Back Porch Cleared

Okay, so there are still a few things to deal with. Expired emergency food, two bags of shredded paper, But other than that, I have cleared off the porch, hung the bike mount for Matt’s bike, fashioned a makeshift lock situation that I will fix eventually, and now it’s much easier to sweep off the porch.

Updating the Emergency Food

I bought new water storage cubes. Previously we’d bought three-gallon containers of drinking water at the grocery store which would inevitably swell and burst when temperatures got below freezing. Our storage shed has an exterior wall and is not insulated.

These containers are empty, which means I can empty and refill them myself. It also means that can fill them to a point where even when they do freeze, they will not burst. I also appreciated the sense of humor as displayed by item three of suggested uses.

To manage the expiring food, I have made a spreadsheet. I’ve got one column that has the expiration date and one column that is a month before the expiration date. My plan is to print this sheet, attach it to our wall calendar on the month with the next expiration date. When the calendar turns, I can pull the food and incorporate it into the menu, or put it out in one of the neighborhood food pantry.

By doing this I will hopefully avoid another incident where I only realize the food is expired because of ants attempting to colonize the food storage area.

I Build Some Shelves For Above-Washer Storage

Et voila! Shelves. I cut a leftover piece of wood from the dryer platform in half (with a handsaw balanced on top of my recycling bins because I was too lazy to get everything out that was needed for the circular saw), installed four of those handy braces I’ve been using forever, did some drilling, and now there are shelves where there once were none.

Here’s a close-up view.

In keeping with my laziness, I’m not going to paint them. The bare wood fits with the utilitarian nature of the laundry area.

Garden Update September 2020

The thing about living in Portland is that by the time my garden really gets going, it’s September and thoughts of autumn have taken over. September is when the tomatoes really produce, which was always inconvenient when I worked for a school.

My garden in September is often neglected, poor thing. Regardless!

Here you can see the tomatoes going gangbusters. I think next year I will trim them back so I get fewer and bigger tomatoes. You can see a healthy collard plant to the right of the tomatoes and some other greenery that I have forgotten since I am writing this post in the far future. I also picked up a cat litter box with a cover from the street. My plan is to clean it and put it on the catio to give another litter box option to the cats. [Update from the future. I did this, and Antares showed some interest, but when the rains came, they flooded the box and I ended up throwing out a large chunk of soggy cat litter, scrubbing the litter box once again, and putting it back out on the street for someone to grab.]

From a different angle, you can see the orange 5-gallon bucket that I haven’t put away for week. Plus that the tree collards (back center) need better support. One of them has been flopped on the ground for weeks, poor thing. The raspberries are still spitting out a few gems, and between them and the tree collards are some spinach, kale and lettuce I started late in the summer.

Over in Leo’s yard you can see the squash doing its late-summer thing where it tries to grow a lot and gets powdery mildew. I didn’t get much zucchini from my three plans this summer (maybe I need to attract more pollinators?) but the delacata squash managed to put off a small squash for each plant, which wasn’t bad considering how old those seeds were. I staggered planting the green beans because I love green beans, but then I didn’t go out and pick much of the later plantings.

On the other side of the green beans you can see the Oregon Sweet Meat squash that I direct seeded. Steve Soloman seems to think this is a better way to go, but by the time the soil warms up enough for direct seeding, it’s too late in the season. Plus, I never bought another soaker hose so the poor thing had to grow on its own, without additional water. I got one very small squash out of this deal.

Books Read in August 2020

Young Adult Fiction

Who’s That Girl
Blair Thornburgh

Nattie has a crush on a boy, but no real relationship with him. Then he writes a song about her and the song becomes a hit. Nattie feels both weird and flattered.

This was a predictable novel, but with an interesting angle on feelings about being an object.

Our Wayward Fate
Gloria Cho

What a great main character! What a great collection of microaggressions! What a great parent-child disconnect! What a great swoony romance! What a great plot conundrum!

Unscripted
Nicole Kronzer
Read for Librarian Book Group

I read this fast because Kronzer did such a good job illustrating sexual harassment and sexual assault (complete with gaslighting!)

This makes this book sound heavy, and it was in places, but it’s also about a girl who loves improv and who is thrilled to attend a famous improv camp. Books where we get to sink into what the main character loves are always wonderful.

I had a few questions about where the adults were, but Kronzer made it work.

I’ve only seen mixed-gender improv groups and this book really opened my eyes to potential bro-y issues with that form of comedy.

Far from Normal
Becky Wallace

High schooler interning in the city for the summer. Great Chicago vibes and fun romance.

My Eyes Are Up Here
Laura Zimmerman
Read for Librarian Book Group

A thorough examination of the perils of having very large breasts as a teenager. It’s also a very funny book.

Public service announcement: A properly fitted bra will change everything! Find your nearest fitting expert and experience the wonder that is a well-fitting bra!

Burn
Patrick Ness
Read for Librarian Book Group

There was a distinct Story of Owen vibe in this book (though it lacked the Canadian details) where dragons are hired out to do work like clearing fields.

It’s 1957 and most of the action takes place on a farm in Washington state But Patrick Ness likes to throw a monkey wrench into his plot, so don’t settle in too early.

Not So Pure & Simple
Lamar Giles
Read for Librarian Book Group

Del has a longstanding crush on Kiera and that crush combined with daydreaming during church leads him to take a Purity Pledge. This book is funny while also doing a deep dive into emerging male sexuality.

Freshmen
Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison
Little Free Library Insomnia Read

A duel-narrator novel about freshman year from the perspective of two students who went to the same high school. Or whatever the equivalent of high school is called in Britain.

I was confused about some things because I’m not familiar with the British secondary education system. For example, there seemed to be pressure to find a place to live off campus second year, but there also seemed to be second year people living in the dorms?

This book also disabused me of my notion that British undergrads drink less than those the in the US because the drinking age is younger.

Overall, I loved how much this book felt like a true freshman year experience.

You Should See Me in a Crown
Leah Johnson
Read for Librarian Book Group

I didn’t buy the world that was created here, one of a cutthroat world of Prom King and Queen backed by a $10K scholarship for the winners. I also wasn’t really clear on the town. It seemed to be a small town, and a wealthy town, and a town very close to Chicago?

But the world did its job setting up the impossible scenario for our hero as she stepped out of her comfort zone to chase that scholarship.

It was also a good book to show how race and LGBTQIA+ issues affect life, even if they aren’t the forefront of the story.

Grownup Fiction

Searching For Caleb
Anne Tyler
A Little Free Library Insomnia Read.

Read in the wee hours of the night whilst waiting to fall back asleep and provided to me by the magic of the Little Free Libraries.

Justine and her grandfather are on the search for Caleb, her grandfather’s lost brother.

While depictions of the Black servants are representative of the 1970s publication date (read: cringe-y) this is otherwise a book full of Anne Tyler things: interesting families, rich characterization, odd situations, and a kind of sad ending that maybe passes for happy.

I read a lot of Anne Tyler in the 90s and wasn’t sure if I had read this novel. It wasn’t sounding familiar until I got to the part with a character who always whistled the song “St. James Infirmary.” And I had read it! In the 90s I would have had to track down that song at the library or a record store. But now I’m listening to a version on YouTube.

Manhattan Beach
Jennifer Egan

What a full picture of life in the 1930s and 1940s! I loved the different characters we followed through eight or so years. This was a book that took me a long time to read because I liked to read it in bits and put it down.

Young Nonfiction

The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh
Candace Fleming
Read for Librarian Book Group

Fleming uses her usual engaging manner to take us through Lindbergh’s life. While Americans are given the basics about his ocean crossing, sometimes taught about his son’s kidnapping, and might be taught about his America First proclivities, there are so many other things you didn’t know about Charles Lindbergh.

Mostly, those things are disturbing.

Grownup Nonfiction

The 12-week Year
Moran & Lennington

Toss out your annual goals and change over to a twelve-week year to get more focus and get more done. The authors lay out a plan for your success.

Second LittleDear Embroidery

Here’s my second Mini Mandala pattern from LitteDear. I like how it turned out, though looking at the example in Aimee’s shop, I’m amused at our different approaches.

For instance, I viewed that center part as an open circle, whereas she has made it the center of a flower. My initial satin stiches were horizontal, while hers were vertical

Still, I’m pleased with this, though I need to find something to do with it.

Stiches I enjoy: French knots, chain stitch, daisy stitch, straight stitch.

Stitch that needs work: satin.

Washer and Dryer Project: Completed

I have replaced the vent in the door (which was harder than most steps in this project due to screws not wanting to line up correctly) and found a curtain to go in front of the litter boxes.

Aside from the general awesomeness of this project, I think it’s the curtain that gives me the most pleasure. I found it at SCRAP in the material section. I couldn’t find a price, but I liked the look, so into my basket it went. At the register, I discovered it was $20, and when I hesitated, the clerk said, “How about ten?” I happily agreed.

When I got home, I checked to see if I could drape it over the rod, rather than sewing it into a curtain. It fit perfectly. I think the pattern is top-notch. Yet another big win from SCRAP.

Vintage Postcards found at SCRAP

At SCRAP, I poked through their postcards and grabbed two that had been sent long ago. Let’s have a look.

This is Athens in the 1960s, as you will find out from the next picture. It’s not super visible, but there’s a tiny pinprick near the top of the card and my bet is that this card was tacked up for a period of time.

Things we can surmise from this post card: Smitty is in the Air Force; Athens in February is not Smitty’s favorite thing (so far); he would rather be back in the states; Sidnee, according to Smitty, is still his girl, though he can’t tell her himself, even though the postcard is partially addressed to her.

I like this FDR postage, plus I have the full address, which I have redacted.

Do you want to see a picture of the house this card was sent to?

Yes?

It’s here:

It’s a great looking house. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,126 square feet, according to Zillow. Also, the site’s “Zestimate” is $786,651. That had me scrolling out on the Google Map to figure out where Heyward, California is. It’s south of Oakland in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The next postcard is Noordwijk, a town in the Netherlands.

It’s two years later, and this postcard is addressed just to Dee, from Bailey.

From this card, we know that Bailey is optimistic about international mail. Christmas is three days from when they wrote the date. We also know that December is a a very cold time to visit the Netherlands.

I love this oil rig stamp. Also, props to Bailey for clear handwriting.

Given that I had so much to go on, I did a search (thanks NewsBank) to see if Dee was still with us. Unfortunately, she died in 2012. Here is her obituary, which is full of great details.

From: Daily Review, The (Hayward, CA) – January 15, 2012

Delores Del Rio Gaymon Snell 1934 – 2012 Resident of Hayward, CA

Delores ‘Dee’ Del Rio Gaymon Snell passed away unexpectedly on January 4, 2012.

She was born on April 17, 1934 in Winston Salem, NC to the late Betty Gaymon and Frank Greene and was raised by her aunt and uncle, Lula Mae Burgess and William Burgess, Sr.

She married William Snell II in 1955 and from this union Sidnee and William III (Tre’) were born. She moved to Hayward, California in the summer of 1963 arriving in a green Volkswagen Beetle.

She was preceded in death by her mother and father, her aunt and uncle, her son, and her brother, William Burgess, Jr.

Delores graduated from Chabot Community College (Associate in Arts Degree), California State University East Bay (Bachelor of Arts Degree and Teaching Credential), and the College of Saint Thomas (Masters of Fine Arts). Delores was employed as an art teacher by the Long Beach Unified School District. She also sold insurance through Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. In addition, she created a line of artistic products and marketed them through her company, Wee B Nappi.

She was a devoted teacher, artist, freelance model, and philanthropist. She loved travel, books, theater, humanitarian causes, fund-raising, and her little dog, Brandy. She was a member of Grant AME Church in Los Angeles, Brookins AME Church in Oakland (where she was instrumental in starting the food program), and attended South Bay Community Church in Fremont. She was a dedicated member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., the Queen Jean Book Club, the Hayward Arts Council, the Aids Ministry of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, and the annual Hayward Martin Luther King Celebration Committee. She participated in weekly sewing and knitting groups in Hayward.

Delores leaves to cherish her memory a daughter, Sidnee Snell ; son-in-law, Alan Petersen; grandson, Marshall Petersen; granddaughter, Alex Snell ; sister-in-law, Delores Burgess; nephews, William and Michael Burgess and a host of caring friends and neighbors.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, January 24th at 11:00 am at Brookins AME Church (Rev. Mark Smith), 2201 73rd Ave., Oakand. (At 10:30 am, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc will perform the Delta Omega Omega Ceremony at the same location.) In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the AIDS Ministry, Allen Temple Baptist Church (Att. Gloria Cox Cowell), 8501 International Blvd., Oakland, CA 94621.

And here’s a picture. Wouldn’t you have liked to know her well enough to write her a postcard on your international travels?

The question remained. How did these postcards make their way to Portland?

I think the answer lies in her daughter who is also an artist and lives in Portland. She makes very striking fiber art. You can see a video of her if you follow this link. I recommend it.

Thanks to the Snell family for donating two postcards that let me peek into their lives.

Little Free Library: Recommending a Book

As part of my morning walks that have replaced morning swims, I’ve been making the rounds of the Little Free Libraries near me. There are about six that are easy to swing by regularly. I drop off books, see if anything has appeared I want to read, and tidy the shelves.

This book has been in this Little Free Library since March. I’ve read it, it’s the second of a multi-book series about a family living in California that begins with the San Francisco earthquake. I read the series in the 90s and really enjoyed it. The last book is memorable because there was a major typo near the end that had a character dying three weeks before the book killed her off.

Clearly the book’s presentation wasn’t turning any heads, so I wrote up a recommendation, added it to the book, and set the book front and center when I tidied.

Reporting from the future, I can tell you that even with my recommendation this book sat around for a few more months before it disappeared.

If you are interested in reading the series, the first book is called The Immigrants. I’ve just looked at the original cover of that book, and it has a similar style of cover, but with a half-naked woman among the mix. Apparently (and perhaps because of that?) The Immigrants was adapted into a miniseries in 1978.