How I came to be here on the blog, Part 1

A few of you may have followed my blog from the very beginning, however, I changed blog platforms and lost many of the earliest posts, then did an adjustment to Son 1’s server and we lost another chunk.  So, some of this may be familiar to some of you, to others, brand new.

For at least a decade before we relocated to our farm in the mountains of southwest Virginia, and we still lived on the east coast of Virginia where I grew up and where we raised our three children, DH would ask me what I wanted for various gift giving times, and I always answered, “A cabin in the woods.”  Several “cabins” entered as a result, a cabin similar to but smaller than ours on the edge of a lake under a mountain as a painting, a log cabin bird house with pine cone trees, a wood pile and a tiny axe with a sign in the front that says “A cabin in the woods.” 

We talked about mountain property, but were still both working and were not in the tax bracket that would allow a vacation second home.  Then I retired from the school system, totally burned out, but too young to get Medicare by a decade, so I went to work part time for an educational non profit to keep us with health insurance. 

Around that time, DH had inherited from his father’s estate and we had begun looking for land or a house in the mountains, much farther south and west of where we had originally thought we might retire, and after two trips to meet with two different realtors, we found our farm, no house and three times more acreage than we had thought about buying.  With the second realtor, who took the time to research and locate properties, emailing us links to look at, we had a list of about 10 to look at one mid December weekend in 2004.  This property was the third of the day and we almost didn’t look further, but he had gone to so much trouble that we continued looking (all the while listening to an interminable stream of Christmas music from his car radio).  We never found some of the properties, one, we liked was being leased out to a cattle raiser that didn’t want to lose his pasture, so he kept taking down the signs, but we came back to this land, made an offer, returned to Virginia Beach, and a week later, left for Florida to see our daughter for Christmas.  The offer was accepted and the following month we returned to close on our new farm, giving the prior owner a couple months use to prepare to move her herd of miniature horses to new pasture.  We decided if we liked the property in dead of winter, we would love it in spring and summer and we were right.

We now had land with no well, no electricity, no house and a house with a mortgage we were living in. At that time FSBO (for sale by owner) was a big thing and there was a small company in Virginia Beach that would put your listing on MLS and published in a FSBO biweekly magazine for a relatively small flat fee.  We did some painting, some serious clean up of lawn, beds, and listed it for more than we hoped to get, and it sold the first weekend.  Now we had no house on the farm, jobs in Virginia Beach, no house in that area and started looking for a rental.  We found a small 3 bedroom house to rent and moved in.  It was during that year we made monthly trips to meet with well drillers, figure out how to get the power easement, decide where the house placement would be, meet with the design team for the log home company, buy the logs, have them delivered, and construction begun, and I found out that to keep working, it would have to be full time.  An idea was tossed around that if I was going to have to work full time, I should go back in education and applied for a position here in the mountains, for which I was hired.  Son 1 and his family had relocated to this area to supervise construction of our log home and do all the stone work and finish carpentry after the shell was erected.  During the time they were waiting for it to be at a point they could begin the stone work, they worked on the land, dug trenches for buried electric lines, and water pipes from the well, and made the garden, much larger than I ended up using.

Logs delivered almost a year to the day from the purchase of the land. DIL and me hanging out while Son 1 tallied everything off the trucks (4 flatbed semis) that took a toll on the driveway and nearly put one of the in the newly poured basement foundation.

To be continued …

“Reading” and spinning

I blog when something pops in my head or when I have progress on a project to report. Right now, because of a text conversation with a friend, two very different ideas are bouncing around, so I will address one and refine the other off line until I am ready to put it out in the world.

Many of the books I read are because of recommendation of friends and family. When my Dad was alive, we had a weekly phone call, usually on Sunday evening, and part of our conversation was about what we were reading, and many, many books I have read and enjoyed were his suggestions. Once in a while there would be one I just couldn’t get into. I miss those conversations and suggestions. When we last had a socially distanced meet up with Son 1 and Grandson 1, two weeks ago yesterday, Son 1 told me he was reading a book that he thought I might like, though he wasn’t too far into it. During that week, I checked the electronic library app for our public library, and it was available, but only in an audio book. I have several friends who swear by audio books, especially when travelling, but I do most of my reading at night before bed and I like holding a book, either paper or electronic, immersing myself in the story, and creating the voices of the characters in my head, so I had never listened to an audio book before. I checked it out on my tablet that lives by my bed and began listening to 30 minutes or so each night. The loan for was 14 days, the book just over 5 hours of narration. The book, “The Housekeeper and the Professor” by Yoko Ogawa, translated into English and narrated is a wonderful story, beautifully written and the narrator had a very soothing voice. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, but I still prefer to read not listen. Some of the names in the book would have given me trouble, but so did some of the names in Tolkien and that never stopped me, but the math references would have been easier if I could have seen them instead of hearing them. At any rate, if you have the chance to read or listen to this story, it is worth the time.

Yesterday, while hubby was watching play off games of football, I sat with headphones on listening to a knitting podcast and working on the last block of my January challenge for the Breed Blanket Project. I finished knitting it and proceeded to make such an amateur mistake I was kicking myself. To save time, I chose not to bind off the block on the side that had to be attached to the cast on edge of the adjacent block and to use the live stitches to graft to the cast on edge. Somehow I managed to twist or fold or some foolish mistake and since it was bunched up in my lap, I didn’t notice until I was done. The yarn is a longwool with lots of halo and trying to pick it out without losing the live stitches was a challenge and once done required that I bind off and sew it on like I should have done in the first place, tripling the time it took me to do the finish.

That puts the January portion of the challenge in the books. The 4 quadrants this month included the one from last year’s yarn that was the test knit and became the base, two quadrants of the dyed BFL soft fiber that DH gave me for Christmas, and one quadrant of the light gray Masham longwool. Not every month will have 4 squares, but to use 24 breeds, there will be at least two squares added each month. I am hoping for a blanket that is large enough to be useful but not so heavy that it just stays folded on the bed.

To give me something to spin for the rest of the month as I can’t begin my new breed until February 1, I am spinning a Coopworth/Alpaca blend that can be knit into something for the shop when it is finished. Today, I await the mail as I sold a spindle to a new spinner and bought a spindle at the last update, so one is flying north and my new one is out for delivery by our rural carrier.

As I took the one I sold to the local village post office and pulled in next to a man with a hand full of mail, he got out with no mask, entered the post office to be greeted by the attendant who also had no mask. I didn’t even go in. As we had to deliver a form in town, we went to the larger USPS there where everyone inside was properly distanced and masked. It is such a simple solution. Our little county is only about 15000 people, many older as is the case in many rural areas, and we are approaching 1000 cases. So much resistance to something so simple to save a few lives. Generally when I have a package to mail, I print the postage at home and don’t have to enter the post office, however, our printer quit over the weekend and the new one ordered won’t arrive until tomorrow or the next day. And I still await a call to get my first vaccine and hubby awaits a call to schedule his second.

Another Week Closes

It was a glorious winter day, bright sunshine, no clouds, and temperatures that remind you that it is winter. We have some cold rain, maybe a real winter storm being threatened for mid week. As that forecast firms, plans to be ready for snow, ice, and potential power failure will be made. A couple of meals prepared that can be reheated on the wood stove, a bathtub filled with water for dogs and toilets, the big 5 gallon water jug we used when camping filled for cooking and drinking water, loads of wood brought in to the basement and garage for heat. These plans are usually in vain, but we did have an ice storm a number of years ago that took our power out for a week and those preparations were necessary.

We ventured in to town today to pick up our curbside grocery order and as usual, a few items not available and substitutions that were not acceptable offered, but not items that were vital.

The second fiber I was spinning for the month was finished today and more knitted on the square that I pulled off of the blanket when it had been knit as a strip.

I think that I will aim for a 24 breed blanket so that each month there will be an official breed and an unofficial. This month, the official breed was BFL, a very soft wool, the unofficial one is the gray Masham, a longwool that is drapey but to me not next to the skin soft.

Each day this week, there have been two Houdini hens, two of the Oliver eggers. Usually by the time I went out to try to lock them back up each day, it was either time to prep dinner or it was too dark to figure out where they were getting out. This morning before I let them out, I walked the perimeter of the run and discovered that they had tunneled out near the far end of the run. I large blocky rock was wedged in the hole and today they were foiled. They are finally providing enough eggs for the household each week.

So far it is just the Olive Eggers, the pinkish ones are the oddball Olive Egger that doesn’t lay Olive eggs. The lighter green ones are still fairly rare, but the dark Olive and pink ones are coming with regularity. The Welsumers and the reds aren’t back in production yet.

Today marked 4 weeks since I set up my Christmas hydroponic herb garden. Time to rinse the reservoir, refill and feed the young plants. They are all growing, not enough for cooking with yet, except the dill, but they are large enough to pinch off bits and taste them.

I think the dill is going to need a pruning, so a recipe that calls for it needs to be planned. My favorite recipe other than making dill pickles is to use dill in sauteed carrot coins.

To add to the household goods and car that have failed this week, the Epson Ecotank printer that was still printing black but not color decided tonight to not print black either. I have looked for repair around here, but there is no one that works on household printers. We still have the laser jet, but it isn’t networked, it has to be plugged in to the computer, prints only black, and doesn’t copy. I thought the Ecotank would save us money in the long run and I haven’t had to buy cartridges in two years, so that may have paid for the printer, but now it is a paperweight.

We have begun the process of researching cars, not something I wanted to have to take on at our ages, but necessary. Still no call on the vaccine for me, an email was received, asking for patience and letting me know that they were working through the current groups but focusing on 75 year old and up and essential workers, so I wait.