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 – 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.

Winter Life

My love gave me 4 sessions with a Physical Trainer for Christmas. My first session was last Thursday and I was very pleased with the trainer assigned to me. My second session was scheduled for this morning, but as she has a 2nd grader and a 4 year old, with the 2 hour school delay, we had to reschedule. It turned out, she found an alternate for the 4 year old, whose preschool is just 3 hours, so the 2 hour delay eliminated a place for her to go. We met at 11:30 and she is an awesome trainer. I wanted to work on upper body strength and flexibility as the left shoulder bursitis and ruptured left bicep tendon, had really taken a toll on what I could do. This gal believes in slow, repetitive, and stretching with weights no more than 15 pounds, and everything she has taught me can be done at home with our 5, 10, and 15 pound free weights, plus a 30 pound resistance band that I did have to purchase. She also believes in using the whole body, so squats with weight, and Romanian deadlifts, along with certain floor exercises are working my lower body as well. This has allowed me to work out at home. Today’s session offered some different exercises and stretches so the first two plans can be rotated. I have two more sessions with her with the option of continuing with more afterward. If an exercise causes pain in my shoulder, she modifies or switches it to a different one. So far, so good as far as not exacerbating the bursitis, though there are two exercises we had to modify or eliminate.

Today was supposed to be warmer, reaching the low 40’s, so on my way to meet her at the gym, I stopped for chicken supplies and pine shavings to clean the coop. The weather prognosticator got it wrong again. It is only at freezing and the litter in the floor of the coop was a solid mass. Much scraping with a flat hoe, hay rake, and square nosed shovel got most of the litter out. There is an area in the center of the floor that nothing would remove it. It is better than it was and an entire bale of fine pine shavings was added to the coop. Since they have changed our forecast to now predict 3-4″ of snow over night with 1/10″ of ice on top, the birds will at least have a dry coop. The water was removed and the black tub in the run was filled, so they can’t dump a partial bucket of water onto the floor again.

When I started the chores in the coop, my entire body was cold, even with the barn coat, boots, and gloves. By the time I finished, only my toes were cold. Rubber barn boots just aren’t warm in the snow. But I did get quite a workout added to my prescribed workout earlier.

It is good that I have added this structure to my winter days as dealing with feeding and watering the chickens, dog, and wild birds, just doesn’t provide enough workout that I get during garden season. The garden needs some time, but it is going to have to warm up some to allow me to finish cutting down the asparagus fronds, and moving a garden box over them with some additional soil. The compost pile is under several inches of snow and probably frozen, so adding it to the asparagus bed won’t happen until the snow melts and the temperatures warm some. I haven’t even started looking at seeds or thinking about what is to be planted this spring. Since last year was such a failure and being able to get so much good locally grown food at the Farmer’s Market, my incentive to garden has waned some. I do want to grow tomatoes, beans, peas, and peppers, but beyond that, I have no plan. I guess soon the seed catalogs will fill the mailbox and I can dream of flowers and vegetables.

Stay warm.