Day to day

Every day, hubby and I take a walk. We aim for 4 miles and enjoy walking outdoors when the weather allows. If it is rainy, we do have a 1/9th mile track in the local gym, but 36 laps gets boring quickly. Generally, we walk one of several sections of the Huckleberry Trail, a rails to trails paved path that covers about 15 miles in the county adjacent to ours. One of our walks takes us through part of the Virginia Tech campus and through the Hahn Gardens on campus. The gardens have been beautiful with flowers, shrubs, trees, and art displays that can be voted on, some sculptures, some hanging banners in the trees. When there isn’t an event going on in the gardens, the Pavilion is open with restrooms and a water fountain.

Today while crossing the creek in the gardens, this display of mushrooms was found beneath a tree.

And just on the other side of the creek, a display of ceramic mushrooms.

The bees are being fed 2:1 syrup to help them prepare for the upcoming winter. Two quart jar feeders were placed in each hive about a week ago and today a gallon of syrup was carried down to refill the jars. Three of the jars were mostly empty, one still had a few ounces. The bees were very active around the feeders, but these are the most gentle bees ever. I did wear my veil and gloves, but didn’t remember to put on my boots with my pants tucked in, yet there was no aggression.

While refilling the syrup feeders, I added the sugar trays which give the jars a little extra room, they are the narrow box just below the top boxes under the lids. When it gets too cold for the syrup, sugar bricks will be placed on the sugar trays on top of the top box of frames to give them more help through the winter. If we end up with a week of single digit weather with sub zero temperatures like last Christmas, I may take a couple of kid size sleeping bags we have stored and wrap the hives. So far they are successful this year and it would be nice to keep it that way.

This evening, I had the opportunity to teach a hand’s on soap making class at the museum where I volunteer. Five folks worked to learn to make traditional Lye soap, of course with a bit of history on Colonial soap making and we even melted the lard in a cast iron spider pot on a small fire in the yard.

Fun, a new skill, and great folks enjoyed the evening.

Olio – September 1, 2023

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

The garden is a mess, the two pumpkins vines have taken over and what isn’t under their leaves are weeds. The zucchini finally quit, the cucumbers are scarce, but there are many pickled in the refrigerator. The tomatoes have produced well but many were lost with a period of rain and then being away for 4 days. A bucket full is awaiting attention on the kitchen counter. It will be turned into sauce this afternoon and what isn’t used for dinner will be frozen in quart freezer bags as I still haven’t the drive to can this year. The Tomatillos are producing fruit but it is rotting on the vine or getting eaten so only 1 have been brought in. The peppers are still not doing much.

I did get away last weekend for an annual fiber retreat in beautiful Black Mountain, NC. The group was on the smaller side due to some folks that had to drop out at the last minute, but I did meet some new people and look forward to seeing them again maybe at Hawk’s Nest in February or next year at Black Mountain.

A morning walk while there an encounter with a very tolerant hen Turkey and her three poults.

Once home, the Mama Hen has started making her 5ish week old chicks get up on the roost at night. The two orphans spend the night hiding behind the feeder and waterer and the day roaming the coop. They have only ventured out twice and both times have been attacked by the flock of hens. Today we purchased a wire dog cage and I put them in it where they will be seen, but protected. On nice days, I will pull it out and put it in a shady spot in the yard and hopefully eventually they will be accepted or will at least be big enough to defend themselves.

Not much else happening.

Startled Awake

At 3 a.m., we were startled awake by the smoke alarm blaring and screaming “FIRE, FIRE.” It stopped very quickly, like someone had pushed the test button, but no one was here but hubby and me and we were both soundly asleep. Needless to say, I bolted from bed, I didn’t see flames, didn’t smell smoke, but still went into every room, touched every outlet, checked the utility area of the finished basement, and the circuit breaker boxes, peered into the garage, even stepped out on the rear deck to look at the heat pump and to determine if I smelled smoke as many of the folks up here heat with wood, some indoors, some in the outdoor wood furnaces. There was no indication of fire, no smoke visible or by smell, so back into bed with the adrenalin pumping. The detector in our bedroom was flashing a red light every 10 seconds.

After a few hours of restless tossing and turning, I finally dozed back off, the alarms silent, the red light flashing.

A google search of the manual indicated the flashing light was a low battery indicator, but there was no accompanying chirp, so I guess it triggered the alarm. The alarms themselves are only about a year old. Son 1 when he was here one weekend replaced all the 16 year old alarms with new ones, but the batteries hadn’t been changed since then. Most of the alarms are easy for me to reach with or without a low stool, but the two in the loft and our bedroom are very high. The 8 foot ladder is a challenge for my senior body with achy shoulders, but changing those batteries was a necessity so hauling it upstairs had to be done. It requires negotiating it around the stair railing and not knocking the wall, avoiding ceiling fans and hanging light fixtures once it is upstairs to climb up.

During the restless early morning hours of tossing and turning, wondering what we would do if there really was a fire and could my anxious brain remember everything for the insurance company. I know there are some very, very old photos from prior houses with some of the furniture in them stashed in the safe as an inventory, but this morning as soon as I was up and dressed, I created an album in my Google photos of pictures taken at various times of the rooms in this house and filling in with photos this morning of areas not found and uploaded them to the cloud. To accompany the photos, a Goggle Doc written inventory by room is in the works. These could be accessed by us on any computer at any time should we ever have to prove what was in the house.

With the batteries changed, the light quit flashing. With the morning efforts underway, my mind is more settled. We do have fire extinguishers throughout the house, in easy reach, but hope never to have to use them.

This is third time I have been startled awake by smoke alarms. The first was in my single days when my Dad and I bought a duplex that I lived in the upper half and we rented out the lower half. My tenants were less than stellar, playing loud music all night, and it turned out doing hard drugs down there, setting a chair on fire with a lit cigarette (before laws that prohibited smoking in rentals) after falling into a drug induced stupor and setting off the alarm. I had never heard one before, they were a new invention then. The second time woke us and our three children and it turned out to be a carbon monoxide alarm had failed. We ended up going to the all night pharmacy and buying a new one to make sure we didn’t actually have a carbon monoxide issue.

Hopefully, this will not happen again, but I was one battery short of replacing all six so tomorrow one more will be acquired and that one is a bit more challenging to change, but not as bad as the upstairs two.