Olio May 20, 2020

Olio: a miscellaneous collection

Ruminations of a housebound mind: Do you ever hear a voice on the radio or a podcast and “see” that person in your mind’s eye, even if you have never seen that person before? I do that all the time and am usually so far off base when I see that person’s picture. One of the podcasts that I enjoy is “The Way I Heard It” by Mike Rowe, a face everyone has seen and I see his face when I listen to the podcast. Another one I like is “99%invisible.” Now this is where my mind’s eye played serious tricks on me. After listening to the podcasts for a couple of years off and on, I googled Roman Mars, the host and let me tell you, he doesn’t look anything at all like I envisioned. Funny now when I listen, I see the picture I googled, but it just doesn’t fit. If you have never listened to this podcast, do, but start with some of the very early ones that were short with less advertising.

Today is Day 2 of ugly weather, not drizzle, but downright miserable. It is cool, blowing from the northeast and cold, heavy rain.

Critter chores left me soaked in minutes even in rain boots and rain jacket. They are getting lots of use, last night about the time I was going to get ready for bed, the time the pups get their last potty run for the day, I smelled skunk smell. I was inside the house, so went down with a flashlight to see if I saw the critter in the front yard. The smell was really overwhelming on the front porch. There was no way those dogs were going out there unrestrained to have a meet and greet, so again, the rain boots and jacket were donned and the pups taken out in the cold blowing rain one at a time on leash to do their nightly business. The odor was gone by this morning, fortunately, I had feared the skunk had taken refuge under our front porch.

I had been reading a book that clearly is or will be a series. It was a free selection from Amazon Prime and the story was one of those that you were supposed to accept as believable, but no way could the actions in that book have gone unnoticed by law enforcement or be forgiven by law enforcement and the ending let you know that there is more to come. No thanks. A friend posted on Instagram that our public library is doing curbside delivery of books you put on hold. I will soon run out of re-reads here at home, so I may have to browse and hold a couple from the library.

This is my May, social distance spinning. Everything below the rainbow fiesta is spun on those three spindles. The red, orange, and yellow of the rainbow were also spun on the larger one, but I quickly tired of it and spun the green, blue, and purple on the wheel, then plied it on the wheel. I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought those 4 punis (rolags), nor do I know what I will do with 2 ounces of chain plied fingering weight rainbow. It is only 132 yards, maybe enough for a cowl or skinny scarf. It is not sturdy enough wool for socks, enough for fingerless mitts if I want to cut each color apart, then divide in half so they are more or less matching stripes. It is drying now, will be skeined and set aside until it becomes a plan.

Yesterday was fresh bread day. Two loaves started first thing yesterday morning and baked by noon of half whole wheat yeast bread for sandwiches. I love my cast iron bread pan that hubby gave me for Christmas and since I always make bread two loaves at a time, I ordered a second one which should be here before next week’s bake.

Before the pandemic, bread baking here had all but disappeared except for pizza dough and occasional biscuits. It was a staple in our house when the kids were growing. It is a pleasant activity to have returned to now that we are eating all meals in, and there is nothing better than the smell of fresh bread baking.

Stay safe out there as the world begins to reopen. We will continue to stay at home with a few curbside delivery outings as required, wearing our masks for your protection (and ours if you are wearing yours.)

Olio – April 16, 2020

After the rain and wind of several days ago, we returned to late winter/early spring like weather, freezing or near freezing at night, maybe up to 50f daytimes but the wind has howled constantly. Plants have been brought in or covered and taken out or uncovered. The wind has blown so hard the seedlings have been kept indoors. We are still about 3 weeks maybe a tad more from the average last frost.

The chickens have gone back to penned during the day, free range in the late afternoons until they go to coop on their own. Last night when I went out to shut them in, they were all gathered around and on the coop because the gate had blown shut and they couldn’t get in. As soon as I opened it, they all hurriedly trotted right up the ramp to bed. They lost their run around the garden when I found several in the garden three times. That would be okay if they would just scratch the paths, but they scratch the beds too and tender shoots don’t tolerate that well. When the wind calms and the daytime warms some, I will again try to figure out how they are getting in and hopefully give them their run back. Mama Carolina Wren is still tucked down on the ground in the corner of the box on her nest. She has 4 eggs. She has been hailed on, and snowed on twice, gully washing rain for 10 hours. What a good little Mama. I hope she successfully raises those littles. She doesn’t like me in the garden and since it has been chilly, I have stayed out so she won’t leave the nest. The other Wren in the Barberry bush is more protected. The bush is tucked back in the set back where the utility room connects the house and garage, so not as windy, though still unshielded from the rain, hail, and snow. She had 3 eggs the day I checked and I haven’t disturbed her to look again.

The riding mower was finally returned from the shop yesterday and in spite of the cold wind, everything that can be mowed with it was mowed. The grass was so tall and thick that it nearly choked it out even set on the tallest setting. It will have to be mowed again soon to bring it down to normal mowing height and to break up the drying clots of heavy grass that are about the yard.

This morning we had 3 “visitors.” First was the turkey hunter and our contact with him only a text message that he said it was too cold and he quit today. The second, a friend came by and picked up a dozen eggs from the front porch with a shouted hello across the front yard. The third, our daughter, who kindly brought us some supplies from the grocer, including TP which we didn’t need yet, but since they had it, she bought a package for us. She also picked up our utility trailer for use this weekend putting some stuff in a storage unit for a bit until some house repairs are finished. We actually got to talk with her, wearing masks and keeping at least 6 feet social distancing. Groceries were wiped down and put away and we are set again for a while. We certainly appreciate her doing that for us. The social isolation is difficult when you don’t know when it will end. Since pleasure rides aren’t essential travel, we are pretty much stuck at home, though when we take our garbage and recycling down to the drop off center, we take the “long” way home, an additional mile or two of scenic road through rural farmland.

The lilacs are blooming, but this is the least scented one I have ever been around. The bearded iris are beginning to bud, soon there will be bearded iris and then Dutch iris blooms for the table. The wild dogwoods are starting to bloom, but the one planted in the yard hasn’t. The wild plum is full of blooms, maybe this will be a year for fruit. It has produced only once in the 14 years we have been here.

Many friends are posting morel mushroom pictures harvested so I went wandering the woods yesterday where the oak leaves fall and the May apples bloom looking, but I didn’t find a single one.

The slowing of life with social isolation has me spinning more on the spindles. I ended up doing a trade of one with a gal in N. Dakota and ended up with a beautiful new one to play with. It is made of Marblewood.

This tiny one has been fun to spin and it’s diminutive 2″ size still spun 38 yards of fine yarn.

When I was in college, grad school and a new teacher, I wrote entirely with a fountain pen. The staying at home and cleaning up the house, I found both of my fountain pens and renewed my interest in using them instead of non refillable rollerballs.

Life is slow and deliberate right now. It is nice, but at times emotional not being able to visit with our families.

A Typical Saturday

Most Saturday’s are started with breakfast out, followed by the Farmer’s Market. Yesterday, we debated whether that would be a good idea as it snowed lightly all day, mostly horizontally as the wind howled, then enough after the sun went down to wreck havoc on some of our local roadways as they weren’t expecting it and the roads weren’t pretreated. When we got up this morning, there was barely a dusting in the grass and on the cars, the gravel drive was clear and we headed out. Any snowfall that slickened the steep roads last night was gone and it looked like the salt truck had been through even on our mountain road. After a fresh bagel at our local shop, a brisk stop at the Farmer’s Market for some weekly goodies we headed home. Just in time to meet up with our local blacksmith friend who has done some work for us lately.

I have previously described our Rumford style fireplace. It has a floor vent size hole that goes from the front of the firebox to the outdoors. We immediately put hardware cloth at the outer opening to prevent it from becoming a mouse freeway, but the air still had free movement. For all the years we have lived here, a piece of 1 x 6 board has sat on that opening when no fire was burning, and it has been replaced numerous times when someone tossed it in the fire as kindling. There is also another rectangular hole, not quite as large that had a hinged flap so that ashes could be scooped down it, but that made an awful mess when they fell a whole floor down and didn’t hit the bucket at the bottom. More than a decade ago, at a local craft fair, we bought a 3 piece hand forged fireplace tool set that lacked tongs.

This is where our local blacksmith friend enters the picture. First, he made us a metal cover for the floor vent sized hole and put a handle on it to make it easy to remove from the vent when we are going to light a fire. Last time we had the chimney cleaned, the sweep glued the door on the ash dump shut, but the fireplace heat broke it free again and so Josh welded it shut for us. About a week or so ago, we had a fire going and a log rolled over the vent hole which allowed smoke to start entering the living room and I wrestled with the log with a poker and the ash shovel, prompting a message to Josh about making us some tongs. He met us with us today because he finished them.

He made the tongs to match the older tools. And he makes both hammer in and screw in hooks, hanging hooks, shawl and hair pins, and other metal work as well as teaching blacksmithing locally. If you need anything, you can seek him out on his Facebook page JJL Forge.

Most of the morning chores are done and I am working on spinning the alpaca/merino and Cormo rolags I blended yesterday morning on my blending board. I have about 2/3 of them spun so far. I didn’t weigh it first, but I think it was close to 4 ounces of fiber.

I don’t know what it will become, but whatever it is will be soft.