Moving on

Everything I need . . .

I sent my Ichthy bog coat off today to the NW Quilting Expo.  I was going to drive it down but the drop off locations were both on the south end of Portland.  It just wasn’t worth it.  With insurance the shipping was $14.  I can’t drive there for that.

I swung through WalMart and got 4 lengths of inexpensive yardage for two quickie bog coats, one in pinks and greens and the other in fall colors.  I’m working on a technique by which the bog coat sandwich can be held in place in the longarm frame for quilting and can be easily assembled when the quilting is complete.  The resulting bog coat should be completely reversible.  We’ll see how well I do.

When I got the Ichthy bog coat back after the quilting I spent quite a bit of time picking quilting out of the seam allowances, then trimming out batting, basting down the seam allowances and appliquéing a strip of lining to cover the seam allowances.  My poor planning really bit me in the butt.  Yuck.  The finished coat is very smooth and a pro job, but I know I can make the quilting easier for Karen and the assembly easier for me by spending a small amount of time preparing ahead.  I want people who examine the construction to scratch their heads about how it was done.  <evil grin>

The picture shows the pink and green paisley and matching camo.  Also shown are the batting (rayon), water soluble stabilizer and water soluble thread.  I’m hoping the rayon batting will provide a better drape than my normal Warm and Natural quilt fav.  Warm and Natural softens with washing and use, but I’m hoping the rayon provides that softness right from the start.

And, in case you didn’t know, WalMart has batting in bolts.  Our local store has 45″ wide Warm and Natural as well as the 45″ wide rayon.  For this app, 45″ wide is perfect and being able to buy off a bolt lets me get only what I need.

The construction technique I’ve got floating around in my mind is a little complicated, so I’ll take pictures as I go and write a good description.

Salad, hydroton and trimming

I’ve gotten four meals of lettuce out of my growbed so far.  I don’t have a lot of lettuce in the bed . . . I should have a lot more.  I’m supplementing with store bought lettuce.

I found a place to get hydroton in Olympia.  It was max expensive, $40 a bag when the going rate is closer to $28.  I bought two bags.  That should be enough to fill both growbeds with a bit left over.

I pulled the gravel out of the wall gutter and replaced it with hydroton.  I also trimmed the heck out of a bunch of plants in the grow wall to allow some slower growing things a little bit of daylight.  I put some of the trimmings in the gutter along with a couple of sprouting grapefruit seeds.

The orchid in the wall is not doing well.  I don’t know if it will recover or not.  Time will tell.  I should have moved it ages ago.

I long ago faced my addiction to plants and decided it was not a bad thing.

Reconfiguring the plant wall

Wall in profile with ricinifolia Immense on display.

I was forced to shuffle plants around in the plant wall.  Terry couldn’t feed his fish without having to fight through the ricinifolia Immense, and the plant was happily increasing in size.  The largest leaf is over 18″ long on a 2′ long stalk.  As the leaves matured the situation was going to get much worse, so decisions had to be made.

To reconfigure the wall I pulled a areca palm on the left side of the wall and increased the opening and installed one of the begonias.  Then I cut another opening in a blank spot and installed the other, removing the majority of the large leaves at the base of the plants.

Orchid is the stick at the very right of the wall half-way up, the Immense begonia is on the left and the new philodendron is center right.

I pulled the orchid and put it in a new spot against the right side of the wall next to the window and put a split leaf philodendron in the spot where the largest begonia was removed.  This fills in the spot and gets the orchid out to where it’s not so crowded.

I was amazed when I pulled the ricinifolia Immense how little root it had added since being installed in the wall.  It had not much more root than when I put it in the wall, but the leaves were getting . . . well . . . IMMENSE.

Now Wadly can get to his tank to feed his fish without  having to do it by braille.

Air Conditioning

Overworked yellow jacket

The pump house has a temporary roof which just begs for critters to build their nests therein.  It’s a fav spot for yellow jackets, though the space is tight.

The yellow jackets started their nest under the metal in much more temperate weather.  Though it’s barely 9 a.m., it’s already promising to be in excess of 80º.  The yellow jackets have already got the air conditioning going full blast.  This little guy is working his wings off to get the air moving up the channel to cool the nest.  It’s a bit difficult to see in the picture but he’s got his body canted in such a way as to direct the flow of air up the channel.

Water lillies and aphids

I went out to water a couple mornings ago to discover what I had thought were seeds on the water lily pads weren’t.  Everything in the pond was covered with hundreds of aphids.  Ugh.  I guess I need to wear my glasses when I check things out.  Wadly missed it too but he’s been working long hours for National.

I hosed the aphids off the leaves, swished the lone water lily in the water until the aphids were washed off and overfilled the pond washing the floating aphids off onto the ground.  There are benefits to an above ground pond.

The second wash off  was yesterday.  I’ll keep an eye on this.  Jill at JMH sent me a recipe for a fish safe aphid killer.  It is my sincere hope I don’t need it.

Shoe lasts

I still have a tremendous frustration with getting lasts that match my feet.  Winter’s coming and all I have to wear is a poorly fitted pair of expensive custom boots.  Honestly, the 10th century shoes I made are more comfortable, though they rub the ends of my toes, have zero support and are worthless in the wet.  If I can get lasts made I can remake the boots into something that will work for me and be worth close to what I paid for them.  I can also make shoes for everyday wear that are comfortable.

Not my foot, cast in RTV Silicone

So, I’ve been doing more research.  I found a  guy who made shoe lasts out of A20 RTV silicone rubber.  Hmm.  To make a mold to accurately reflect the shape and size of the foot, the foot should be weight bearing during the casting phase but that’s the only issue I have with his method.

I want to make a clay base to stand on, then pour the alginate around my foot while standing on the clay pad.  I don’t need to come up my leg as far as he did.  Using clay for the bottom should give me a reusable 2 part mold, though alginate is  not a product I expect to hold up for long.  There’s a potter on Main in Chehalis.  I’ll stop in and see if I can buy a couple pounds of worked clay.  If not I can stop and dig some out of a bank somewhere.  It’ll take longer to get it ready but it will work as well.  It’s been decades since I’ve wedged clay but I haven’t forgotten how.  I have Plaster of Paris for a wedging table and enough scrap lumber to knock one together.

Once the casting is done I’ll add material around the toes until I have models I can make molds from whenever I need to.  I can get 2 part fiberglass resin for permanent molds.  Lorr says he’s got a casting material that mimics spruce.  That’ll be a good test material for lasts.

I occasionally toy with the idea of carving my own lasts.  I’d need more chisels and gouges than I’ve got.  I wouldn’t start from scratch.  I’ve got 5 pair of women’s lasts I can cut apart and scab material to to get the right width.  With the models of my feet to work from I think I can get really close to what I need.  It’s a lot of unnecessary work if I can get molds made and find the right casting material.

The beauty of Karen

Click to see the detail

I love Karen’s quilting.  She is so creative.  I never would have thought to add a quilted in fish for the appliquéd fish to chase.  That creativity is one of the things I love about Karen.

Update: LouAnn tells me my coat got a blue ribbon and an Honorable Mention, which I take to mean it’s the runner up for best of class.  That’s nice!  It wouldn’t have happened without Karen’s quilting.

The traveling fish

The traveling fish

My bog coat is off and traveling.  Karen did a beautiful job on the quilting giving a quite spectacular result.  The coat is being judged at the local fair today and slated <fingers crossed> to go to the NW Quilt Expo next.

I learned a lot building this bog coat. I will construct the next one differently.  It won’t effect the look, just the ease of final construction.  The goal on the next is to be able to put the seams together with a slip stitch.  In this one I sewed the seams, picked out the quilting in the seam allowance, clipped away the batting, fastened the seam allowance open/flat with a basting stitch and covered the open seam with a strip of the coat lining.  It was tidy, but very work intensive.  I am WAY too lazy to go that route again.

No closure, but the binding's done

I wanted to make this one with no binding on the center front so there was no disturbance of the row of pinwheels. I didn’t make that happen. I will next time.

I need to purchase two things before starting the next bog coat.  I need soluble thread and wash away stabilizer.  I will pre-assemble the sandwich with exposed grippers of soluble stabilizer so Karen can quilt right to the edge of the front and the yoke and underarm seams.  I think I can make this happen . . .

Savory Baked Salmon

Ready to pop in the oven

My dad was a commercial fisherman, so we ate fresh fish a lot.  In all the time I was growing up we never had fish cooked like this.  We always had it broiled with lots of butter, which is truly delicious, but only for the true salmon lover.

The concept for this recipe came from Greg Landwehr.  He made something like this at a barbecue at a horse event.

And you know what comes next . . . I couldn’t leave the recipe the way it originally came to me.

If you’re going to buy salmon, there are two tests for freshness.  If it’s in a package and you can smell it through the plastic, it’s not fresh.  If it’s in a fresh meat case, when the slab is picked up, the meat side shouldn’t break or split when it’s picked up.  It also shouldn’t have a strong fishy odor.

Fresh from the oven

If you live in an inland state, your best bet is to buy frozen salmon.  It was probably processed and flash frozen within hours of the catch reaching shore.  Most of that salmon is farm raised.  The freshest wild salmon is trawled (hook and line), immediately gutted, dipped in sugar water and frozen until the boat came in to dump its load.  From there it would be hauled in a refrigerated truck to the plant where it was processed.  I’ve seen frozen salmon in packages of 4 or 6 individual servings at Costco and Safeway.

If you’re really lucky, you buy it from a fisherman right at the dock.  Few of us will ever have the opportunity to do that.  If you do, the smell and integrity tests are very valid.

So here’s how you make this culinary star.

Chop onions.  Chop peppers (I use red and green).  Stir in dressing.  I’ve used mayo and it’s excellent.  Last night I used Litehouse Ranch and it was spectacular.  Put the salmon in a shallow pan with the skin down.  Smear the mix on and pop it in the over at 300° for about 20 min.  Don’t overcook.  If it flakes and is no longer pink, it’s done.

The skin will stick to the aluminum foil.  Cut the fish into serving sized pieces and lift the pieces off the skin.  We had ours with fresh corn on the cob.  Delish!

Bead Lanyard

Bead lanyard

I got a replacement cell phone yesterday. The new one is beauteous! It has a slide out qwerty keyboard, which is nice for the 6 or 7 text messages I send a year <rolls eyes>.

I got my bead lanyard switched over this morning. I like the bead lanyard because it does a few important things. It helps me correctly orient my phone without looking, allows me to keep hold of the slippery little sucker, identifies my phone at a glance and hangs out of my pants pocket so I can easily and quickly retrieve it. That’s a pretty good list for a length of Kevlar fishing line and a miscellaneous collection of beads.

Oh, and can you tell I like blue?

Plant wall snapshot

Current state of the wall

With the surrounding plants pulled away to sweep and clean, it’s time to take a picture.  Yes, the Hawaiian begonia really is that big.  The leaf showing fully to the camera is 17″ long.  The stem it is on is 23″ long.  The largest leaf is over 18″ long.  It is immense.  Click the picture for more detail.

Everything is filling in nicely.  I’ll use this time to put one more plant in the wall and clean up dead foliage.

When the new house is up (years in the future) I’ll have a plant wall whose system spans two rooms.  I’ll put the aquarium in the tv room where it can shine.  The plant wall will be on the other side of the wall in the living room where it can get lots of natural light and act as an art piece on the wall.