rayna gillman's blog         improv quilts & an improv life

Updated: Aug 9, 2020

Finally have my new Mac book pro set up but it's a bit of a learning curve with their new operating system. Nonetheless, here I am, feet up in the living room, looking at the temporary setup for what will become actual online courses (if I live long enough).

Phil has gone to New Jersey for the month so I won't have any distractions from my work. Some of my time will be in the studio, but probably most of the video for the classes will be done at home. The studio has a very loud air conditioner and when it is on, you can't hear me speaking. When it's off, the place is 90 degrees: this is Florida! The apartment where I live has central air, so I will be working at home doing most of the filming and on Zoom, when we do the intro part, as I always do in the classroom. But I am getting ahead of myself...

In the studio I have been picking out stitches and restitching the purportedly straight but lopsided lines. And I've been experimenting with improv log cabin blocks. To be continued.

At home I have been taking care of my plants on the kitchen windowsill.

Ignore the pot on the left. I have already transplanted the green onions and the rest are cilantro seedlings. Next one is cabbage. Really!

I planted the bottom of a cabbage some months ago and it is sprouting. I don't even love cabbage, but it is just so cool to see how far it gets. In the middle, my sweetheart of a curry leaf plant. It has taken a year to get to this point and I love the fragrant leaves which I use in my South Indian dishes. If I want to feel happy, I go talk to my little curry tree. On the end, mint and basil.

The good news is that the hurricane, which was heading right to West Palm Beach, changed its mind and all we got was a tropical storm. When it was over, there were four avocados on the ground. Still small and with some teeth marks from the squirrels (see them?) but we will let them ripen. We gave two to our neighbors. These are Florida avocados, which are not nearly as wonderful as the Haas avocados. But they are free. My mother and her friend planted a pit in the 1980's and it is now a big tree right outside my window. But there are poachers around, so I have to keep my eye on it.

Have, of course, been cooking as always. Monday I made fish for dinner. Last night I made chowder with the leftover fish and a couple of shrimp and scallops from my freezer.


This chowder is a no-recipe recipe from Sam Sifton, editor of the NYTimes cooking app. I l love no-recipe recipes because that's mostly the way I cook, anyway. You need this one for when you don't feel like cooking. It makes itself!

Finally, today I made another semolina bread -- different from the one I made last month. Just out of the oven and I will let you know how it turned out. It looks good, but the test is in the taste. The apartment smells SO wonderful.

Between all of this fiddling around I am managing to work on the preliminaries for one class. I'm doing some for the guilds who have postponed (optimistically) for 2021 but I will probably offer some of them to the public. If you have any of my books, let me know what you'd love to see as part of my online teaching schedule in the future.

I miss you. Sending my love - stay safe!

Glitches galore and I spent two hours on the phone with Wix tech support this morning. Some problems solved, others still quirky. But if you get this one, let me know by email

r.gillman@studio78.net or text 973-454-8930, or do some skywriting. I think the comments box is back sort of where it belongs, but you have to scroll down a bit to find it and leave a comment so I know it is working.

The day was pretty much a waste because I was going to work on my e-classes - but that didn't happen because I was on the phone for several hours.

To distract myself from this nonsense I baked another semolina bread. Yesterday's looked beautiful but tasted blah. Bad recipe. Today's was a repeat of the first recipe I had made. Tasted great but didn't rise much because against my better judgement, I followed the directions.. Today, made that original recipe and ignored the instructions, letting it rise twice and doing some stretches and folds (on the dough, not my body). Came out looking lovely and I will have a slice with dinner (soup?). Not in the mood to cook.

The hurricane missed us and went north. My daughter Hilary still doesn't have power - the whole of Northern NJ is out.

I am boring myself to death writing this, so I can imagine how bored you must be reading it (if it arrived).

More tomorrow, I hope.



Updated: Aug 9, 2020

Dear All,

I am trying to move my blog from its current host to another platform and start again. This is because WIX requires posting only from a computer; it is not set up to allow posting from iPad or iPhone; you can only read there. I am away so much that it has become increasingly difficult and inconvenient for me to post -- which is why I have been silent in larger chunks. BUT I need to post on the go from my iPad and can't unless I migrate my blog elsewhere (which is another long story). For the time being, my website stays where it is.

So, I am still alive and very frustrated. I also cannot migrate my subscriber list - WIX doesn't allow that, so I will have to figure that out once I switch to another host and another platform. I am in the process of a learning curve. If I can add you manually, I will (there are more than 500 of you!). Otherwise I will post a link in this space to have you come and sign up again. Still not close yet; I am waiting for my new domain to migrate.

www.raynagillman.com not up and running yet.

Please don't give up on me. It has been a frustrating couple of months. Meantime, I hope you are all behaving yourselves - staying in, staying busy, and most of all - staying healthy.

On the plus side, I have been in the studio almost every day. Finally, yesterday, my tile genie finished the backsplash and I am immeasurably cheered. Here, the before and after. I am still missing a cabinet because they sent the wrong one and now every non-essential business is closed. Ha - the least of my worries.

I finally have a garbage disposal and a dishwasher, which were the reasons for this in the first place.

View from the studio part of the apartment. Oh, joy.

Meantime, at home I have been baking sourdough bread and making ice cream. Trying not to eat too much of either...

And since the restaurants are all closed, we can't get to our favorite Indian spots. Fortunately, I have a number of Indian cookbooks and last night I made this fabulous, easy, quick Garlic Shrimp recipes from Meera Sodha's cookbook, Made in India: her mother's home cooking. To die for!

5Whenever I get my new blog up and running (learning curve!!) I hope to have a recipe section, since over the years I have blogged about food and have so many to share that I think it deserves its separate section. We'll see.

I started a blog with Blogspot.com in 2005 -- a very early adopter. Some posts from 2017 are still there, but I can't find the earlier ones. studio78notes.blogspot.com. Oh, well - onward.

Will keep you posted - and promise to blog soon! Leave a comment and tell me what you are doing to stay sane during this terrible time.



 all text & images ©rayna gillman 2019