A Weekly Missive

I have been a lax blogger of late. We have had another round of doctors and imaging, and most of it has been at least in the right direction. More to come in the following week.

My physical trainer and I decided that since I wanted to continue working with her, the best thing to do was come up with 4 workouts to add to the walks. Two whole body, 1 upper body, and 1 lower body. We finished the series this week and will now work to increase reps and weights as tolerated by my shoulder and other achy joints. My strength and flexibility have improved, even in the shoulder with bursitis and torn bicep. On nice days (above 50, not too windy, and dry), we walk a local trail. On cooler days, rainy days, we have been walking a small indoor mall, 6 laps to a mile. Yesterday and today, we both went back to the gym. While hubby walks the indoor track, 9 laps to a mile, I hop on a treadmill. I have been working on increasing my speed while still keeping my heart rate in a “safe” for a 76 year old zone. Today I did 2 miles at 4 mph, then walked a few laps of the track with hubby to cool down some and did my lower body workout. Per Nietzsche, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”

It has been too cool to do much in the garden. We even had 3 days of snow flurries this week. And the wind for the past couple of weeks has been brutal. The peas are up, except a 2 foot strip where two of the hens got in the garden and decided to dig there. The asparagus are beginning to show. Soon there will be plenty to enjoy and share with daughter. On one of the only warm sunny days last week, something got in the bin of tomato and pepper starts and took off with a pepper plant. I guess I will have to figure out how to protect them when they are on the deck and replant that pot (again).

Two of my houseplants that summer on the front porch were looking ragged in the corner they occupy during the winter. One is a Dracena fragrans, the other a large Jade plant. Today, the Dracena was cut back and repotted in fresh soil and the Jade was pruned. I purchased a fig that can grow in a container and it came yesterday. It was potted up as well and all three of the pots on floor protecting rolling trays were put in a sunnier location on the south side of the house until they can be put outdoors.

Today was moving day for the chicks. The Calico Princesses are huge, the Buff Orpington, and the little black pullet catching up in size, were moved to the coop. After our walk, workout, and grocery run, the coop was divided in half with a baby gate and pieces of plastic erosion fencing with the hens having their food on the pop door side and access to 3 nesting boxes. The chicks having their food and water on the door side with 3 nesting boxes and perching room. A few weeks of cohabitation safely divided and a little more size on the pullets, they will be set free in the coop with the divider down. There will be some settling of pecking order, but that is inevitable.

When I went out to snap this photo, there was a dog I have never seen before nosing around the chicken run. The hens had the sense to go in the coop as you can see through the barricade. When I ran it off, it took off not toward known neighbors. I hope I don’t have another predator to have to deal with.

We loaned our scaffolding to a young couple to build their house. Most of it was returned a very long time ago, but we let them hold on to a few sections for additional tasks they had. They volunteered their help on anything I needed in exchange. Once I figure out the configuration and make a materials list, they are going to help me rebuild the chicken run, well made, and covered with chicken wire, hopefully tall enough or nearly tall enough for me to work inside and to keep the hawks out from above and the dogs and coyotes out from the sides. The gate will need to be secured better than the rock that leans up against the outside of it now.

On the craft front, I purchased some fabric, mostly Kaffe Fassett prints, made strips of 4 patterns sewn together with a layer of flannel between the top and the back and I’m making a Kantha quilt lap blanket to use on my new recliner on cool nights. In a week, I have managed about 1/4 of the running stitches that hold the layers together.

It isn’t quite as large as I hoped, but large enough for a first attempt. The fiber hubby gave me for Christmas and spun on my spindles is being knit into a Reyna scarf for me. There is a little bit of spinning going on, but it is not a current priority.

The week is supposed to warm back up, so the peas will be replanted, any additional weeding needed will be done. And Wednesday will be the first of 4 class sessions at the Museum over the next 3 weeks. I do enjoy doing them, most are 4th and 6th graders, but one group will be 2nd graders. I’m going to have to think about how to present to them. I need to make sure my costume is clean and pressed.

Olio-March 3, 2024

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things or thought.

Yesterday was not a great day. When we were out for breakfast and the Farmer’s Market, we stopped by Lowes to pick up hardwood floor cleaner and restorer. Once home, we put the German Shephard outdoors and I moved the dining room furniture, bench and antique sewing machine from the hall, swept, vacuumed, and set to work. The floors were thoroughly cleaned with hardwood cleaner and when dry, the restorer was applied. It takes an hour to dry, so a short break was taken. Once it was dry, the living room furniture was moved, the old worn out rug was rolled up, but too heavy for me to remove it to the porch for disposal. Help has been requested to get rid of it. That floor was then thoroughly cleaned and the restorer applied. The floors look so much better now.

Since the dog’s nails were well past time to be clipped and since she was still outdoors, I tried to tie her to the front porch rail to do her nails. She really hates the process and usually we either take her to the vet or work together to get it done. I failed to put the mesh muzzle on her and when she totally freaked out, she managed to bite through my fleece and tee shirt and break the skin on the back of my upper arm. I won’t post the picture of that. It was cleaned up, treated, and covered. I still haven’t forgiven her, but I didn’t harm her. From now on, she will be muzzled to do her nails or brush her, which she also hates.

As I was preparing the dough for our pizza, I noticed that none of the chickens were visible in the front or back of the house, nor could I see them under the coop when I looked out through the garage. That sent me out on a quest and as soon as I opened the side garage door, the Cooper Hawk flew out from under the Forsythia bushes and my last Buff Orpington had been killed under there. It was such a fresh kill that the only damage was the kill injury. I finally rounded up the remaining 5 hens from around the property and secured them in their run. Since the beginning of winter, 4 of my hens have died or been killed.

This afternoon, we went by Rural King and I purchased 2 Calico Princesses, 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 2 Black chicks which are now in the wire dog cage in the garage with a heat table, food, water, and a perch.

The Calico’s already have wing feathers, so they may be a week older than the other 4. It wasn’t really my plan to raise chicks again, but I was losing hens too fast.

A few days ago, the tomato and pepper seed were started in small pots. They haven’t sprouted yet. Tomorrow is supposed to be another warm day followed my mild rainy days. The spinach, some onion sets, and strawberry plants are going to be interplanted in one of the boxes. Today the huge cardboard box from my recliner was cut open and placed in an area or the garden that had too many weeds and no desired plants and covered with some of the old hay. The garden is beginning. And the workbench in the garage cleaned up and organized yet again, and the garage and workbench swept down. A fair amount of work done for one day.

Olio – 2/25/2024

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things (thoughts)

It has been almost a week since hubby was released from the hospital for the second time in 3 weeks. Diagnosis has been all over the map, from Covid related, to pneumonia, to autoimmune disease. The tests mostly ruled out pneumonia and tilt toward autoimmune issues likely caused by immunotherapy treatments. We see our primary tomorrow with lots of questions as the various test results come in.

The hospitalization required me to miss a week of personal trainer, but a return this week to a serious kick butt lower body workout. I found muscles that walking and stair climbing miss, but hide in the thighs and hips.

The stress is causing the shoulder with bursitis and a torn bicep tendon to tighten up. This happened last year at the fiber retreat and my yoga teaching friend did a Vulcan Death grip on that area and it magically released. I will have to ask Megan, my PT for a stretch that isn’t already in my workouts that might help with it as my friend lives more than 3 hours away.

The sit and wait times last weekend and this week sent me back to a Sashiko panel I started over a year ago. Some time ago, I had the idea to make the panel into a Turkish Spindle case. Night before last, the stitching was finished and yesterday, a case was made using pre-quilted white fabric as the interior. Pockets were stitched and each shaft for a spindle has the thin end protected by a length of rigid soda straw.

Often, I am dissatisfied with project like this, but this time, I am very pleased.

Also while sitting in the hospital room with hubby, and in my spare time at home, I finished spinning the wool blend he gave me for Christmas. The entire amount was spun on the tiny Jenkins Finch spindle he gave me for our 45th anniversary last year.

The finished skein with the tiny spindle now working on a different fiber. The spindle lives in my bag with some wool. In the spindle photos, you can see the soda straw that protect the fragile end of the shaft when it is removed for travel. There are other spindles that get pulled out for use, but I seem to migrate to this one most often.

I have one more 6 block Sashiko panel that I finished long ago and plenty of the white quilted fabric, I need to figure out a project to use them, maybe a case for my fixed circular knitting needles or crochet hooks. And the skein of yarn to be knit into something requiring about 400 yards of lace weight yarn.

The two beautiful roosters no longer reside at this address. Between their noise, and the fact that one was aggressive toward me and the other young rooster encouraged me to send them on their way. A Craigslist ad brought a Ukranian refugee living with his daughter and her sons to pick them up. Whether they became part of a flock or part of a meal worries me not at all. The hens seem happier not to be ganged up on and eggs are back in good supply even though the youngest Marans was recently killed by some predator. The remaining 6 provide 2 to 5 eggs daily, enough for us and for daughter’s household.

Four of the hens are now 3 years old, I guess they will have to be replaced soon. Only one of them is providing more than 1 or 2 eggs a week. The carton for daughter has many more blue and green eggs than brown, though there are as many brown layers as colored layers. I don’t want 6 more chicks, only about 4, but you are required to purchase at least 6 chicks at a time. If I can find a local that wants a couple of pullets, I will buy 6 and raise them to coop introduction size and give away the extras. I guess if a hen goes broody on me this summer, I can let her sit false eggs for 3 weeks and introduce day old chicks under her and let her raise them for me. She will protect them and teach them if she thinks they are her own.

Yesterday, they predicted snow after a week of spring like temperatures. We got mostly rain with a little slushy bit added in, but nothing on the ground. The temperatures are again climbing to spring like weather after a night in the low 20’s. Another 3 or 4 weeks, it will be time to start the tomatoes and peppers seedlings. The Aerogarden was planted this week with mixed Romaine lettuces and a window seed starter has deer tongue lettuce and spinach starts. Soon they will go in pots to be nurtured until I can plant them out under some sort of cover. Since my little garden green house blew off and was destroyed by the wind, I need to improvise. I keep seeing an idea on social media to use plastic milk cartons, but I don’t buy milk in plastic, so maybe a mini hoop house can be created with plastic sheeting and later row cover.

Enough meanderings of my mind. Have a great week.