Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rambling: Meh.


Something's wrong.

I don't really have a name for it. Waning interest? Hobby fade? Flat creativity?

See, once in a while I look at all of the things I do, and my eyes glaze over and I wonder why I do them, and I suspect that they're all an utter waste of time. But not a waste of talent, because part of the experience is the belief that I have no talent and that aspiring to demonstrate any is amusing. Funny. Ha.

I assume that it's a form of depression, but I don't know where it comes from. Last time, I theorized that it was a result of eliminating online perfume shopping--not on the theory that online perfume shopping is an urgently important thing, but instead on the theory that shopping, even when it doesn't often lead to buying, produces dopamine.

But last time wasn't as bad as this time threatens to be. Then, I was, I think, adequately confident that there was talent in there, and I just lamented that I was too disinterested to do anything with it. This time? Meh. Why bother? I'll never produce anything worthwhile anyway, at work or in my hobbies.

Yes, there is a part of my brain still saying, "Stop that! Of course you have talent, you're just wallowing! You just have to put some work into...something. Remember that ten thousand hours thing?" Then another part of my brain is replaying Danny DeVito in Matilda saying "Some will only be really good at making Jell-O salad," and telling me that I'm not even good at making Jell-O salad and I'm probably fooling myself about the fried chicken.

Writing? Feh. Flat burblings; a waste of time.

Gardening? Meh. I prepped too much ground and I can't even take care of it. And all those flowers in the yard at home come from other people's work.

Sewing? Pfft. I don't even press the clothes that I sew. Everybody else is doing Me-Made May, and look at what I'm wearing--some no-press white shirt that I bought from Eddie Bauer.

Perfume? Eh. I've fallen behind. I have nothing original to say. I know nothing.

Meh. Feh. Bleah. Pfft.

Maybe I need to eat a great deal of chicken.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Rambling: Grown up, not so much

A little while ago, a cool, well-dressed girl--well, woman--complimented the brooch that I was wearing. My instinctive reaction was to feel wary, as if I'd been complimented in junior high gym class, but I managed to thank her properly.

A few minutes after that, another cool, well-dressed woman smiled at me when we happened to make eye contact as I was driving. My first thought was, "Why is she smiling at me? I'm not cool."


Apparently I'm still in junior high, at least when it comes to self-esteem with female peers. I even look nervously at that word "peers", because I don't feel like the peer of a cool, well-dressed girl.

This is the kind of thing that I would normally burble about for a dozen more paragraphs, but it seems that I'm just going to leave the thought right here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sewing: Getting what I want

So, one of the advantages of sewing is that I can make whatever clothes I want. Sometimes I forget that.

Now, "whatever clothes I want" has limits. It doesn't include, say, a strapless silk taffeta ball gown. But even my current moderate skill level gives me a fair bit of control.

For example, the other day in the garden, I realized that I would really like to be wearing:
  • A fairly loose-fitting woven shirt
  • in a color or pattern that won't emphasize stains
  • made of a coarse-woven linen or cotton 
  • with three-quarter length drop-shoulder sleeves
  • with long tails
  • and velcro-closable pockets
  • that are lined with light-colored China silk or fine-woven cotton.
Why? Well, I guess loose-fitting and concealing stains doesn't need explanation for gardening. Coarse-woven fabrics let air in and are therefore cooler. That sleeve length will save me from perpetually rolling my sleeves up while still mostly keeping my arms from sunburning. The drop sleeves give me maximum arm movement, and the long tails will keep me from wondering if I'm showing an inappropriate amount of back skin when I bend over. The velcroable pockets will hold seed packets or even naked seeds and keep the seeds from falling all over when I bend. The tightly-woven China silk will keep the seeds from falling right through the loose weave of the rest of the shirt.

See? What are the odds that I could go to a store and demand that? Oh, and I'll stitch down every facing and seam so that nothing flaps around in the wash and I can wear the shirt without having to press it. Because pressing a garden shirt is just silly.

Then there's pajamas. I don't really have any fancy demands for pajamas, other than insisting that they not have those annoying loose lapel-style facings that flap out. For pajamas, I mainly want silliness. I think I want a simple round neckline with a faced band in a contrasting color. And similar outside-facing contrasting cuffs. In circus colors. Imagine Easter-egg blue with a yellow neck facing and cherry red cuffs. Or maybe polka dots should be involved.

And I already made that cooking coat. It's working just dandy, but I need a least one more so I have something to wear tonight while the chicken-scented coat that I wore last night is in the wash.

That is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Gardening: Dryfarming Tomatoes

This is supposed to be a bad water year. The reservoirs are at...er...sixty percent? Sixty percent of normal for this time of year? Somewhere low. The snowpack is lousy. It's gonna be dry. So this seems like the perfect year to try dryfarming techniques--dryfarming being the growing of crops without any added water.

So I'm going to plant a few tomatoes tomorrow according to the following plan:
  • I'll space them at least four feet apart. Each tomato will "own" the entire width of its four-foot-wide wide row, and will be at least four feet from the next tomato down the row. The paths between those four-foot rows are two feet wide, so that means that they'll technically be six feet apart in that direction, though path footage doesn't quite count.
  • I'll put them in rows that march toward increasing afternoon shade--at least, I will if I get around to tilling a little more land; the shadier area probably won't get planted until next weekend. This isn't necessarily a dryfarming practice, but it'll be interesting to see how the plants fare with more shade versus less.
  • I'll plant them deep, with foliage along much of the stem snipped off and the stem buried up to the last big tuft of foliage at the top. When I Google dryfarming tomatoes, this is recommended, I assume so that you can get those deep roots started from the very beginning. (And maybe having minimal foliage during transplant-shock time is also good?)
  • I'll plant them into weed barrier/landscape fabric. The soil has already been amended with some manure and fertilizer and tilled. I don't know if tilling is good for dryfarming, but it's done.
An aside: The landscape fabric is not actually a dryfarming practice--I think. Dryfarming recommendations are that you prevent absolutely all competing plants--no weeds, no cover crop, no nothing. But the usual method of doing this is to grow in bare frequently-hoed dirt, and in fact a few inches of "dust mulch" to break the capillary barrier between the deeper soil and the surface, so that water doesn't wick up and evaporate into the air.

I was a little concerned that landscape fabric would keep that whole capillary thing going. However, there are studies that dispute the dust mulch theory, and nobody seems to dispute the idea that weeds will steal water from the crop. And I know my slack weeding habits. So weed barrier it is. We'll see how that works out.
  • I'll stake... OK, I'm not sure what my plan should be here. I don't have to decide before tomorrow; tomorrow I'll just pound a tall stake in the ground near each plant. But does dryfarming care whether you do the one-stem thing, pruning off extra branches? Or does it prefer a bushy plant? Or does it prefer that they just flop on the ground? More research is called for.
  • I'll water deeeeeeeep the day that I plant. That seems vaguely counter to the dryfarming thing, but nobody seems to be suggesting that you don't water when planting, and I don't want a shallow layer of damp soil encouraging shallow roots, and I'd guess that the longer that dose of water lasts, the better for the plant trying to recover from transplant shock. Now, in theory I should discover that there's retained winter water a few inches down, so I shouldn't have to add that much water. We'll see. I'm also thinking maybe I want to water at each plant's spot, maybe with a bubbler running low for a good long time, rather than watering deep and wide and covering each tomato's whole four-by-four space.
  • After planting, I'll have to restrain the urge to keep dosing the seedlings with water. If they do look on the verge of death and I decide that I must water, I'm thinking that I want to water deeeeeeeep again, after as long a wait as possible, to keep them from getting addicted to regular fixes of water.
  • According to my reading, I should have started with early tomatoes, like Early Girl. I didn't. Oh, well.
  • I'm hoping for at least one more good rain, while the tomatoes are settling in.
One thing that will reduce the validity of this as an experiment is that the tomatoes will start just a few feet from where the strawberries end, and the strawberries are going to be given a decent amount of water, some of which will no doubt drift toward the tomatoes. For tomato survival, it's probably good that the tomatoes with more sun will be closest to this stolen water, and the ones with more shade will be further. For scientific purposes, there are too many tangled factors to make this a decent experiment.

That is all. Please wish my tomatoes luck. They're eyeing me suspiciously from their pots on the deck.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sewing: Sewing

I should be sewing.

Well, maybe not right this minute, because right this minute I'm writing, and I approve of writing, even when I'm just babbling. But during a lot of those times when I'm idly clicking through online forums and watching TV, I could be sewing. It's after dark, after all, so I can't be gardening. And, well, looking around I can see that I could certainly be doing a little housecleaning, but that wouldn't take that much time if I actually did a little of it reliably, and then we'd be back to should-be-sewing.

I was just reading one of those "use your stash because someday we all die!" threads. That's what made me think of it. Plus, I really want to wear the key-lime-pie-green Liberty Shirt that I cut months ago.

I did more babbling on this subject, but I read it over and found it really boring, so I'm going to find a nice cat picture and click Publish.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Perfume: Resolutions. And, by the way, Youth Dew.

So I've been declaring perfume acquisition resolutions.

Rule 1: Buy the smallest available bottle.

I have no need for 100ml of perfume. Or 30ml. Heck, I have samples of things that I love that I haven't used up. I would have said before that there's no reason to own more than 15ml; now I'm concluding that for most fragrances, there's no need for me to own more than 5ml.

Rule 2: Spend my money where it counts, in terms of encouraging the market to produce the perfumes that I want.

Right now, I've decided that "where it counts" for me is small and indie and artisan perfumers. (What's the difference between those three? I dunno. A number of houses seem to qualify on all three grounds.) Perfumers that rebel against annoying regulations--for example, participants in the Outlaw Perfume Project--get bonus points.

Why am I telling you all this? Because, for once, I've actually followed some of my resolutions. My perfume purchases of the nearish past are;
  • Aftelier Honey Blossom in the itty bitty "Barbie fifth" 2ml bottle.
  • Providence Perfume Co Moss Gown in the small 7.5ml size.
Yay resolutions!

Today, on the other hand, I wore Estee Lauder Youth Dew. The perfume, not the bath oil. New. (Ish; I bought it a few months ago.) My first thought, when I sprayed it, was "hairspray." Except, I can't actually identify any hairsprayish note in Youth Dew's fog of spicy, er, spiciness. My theory is that every beauty parlor that I entered as a child was filled with women wearing Youth Dew.

That is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.