Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

We are seeing and feeling very mild symptoms of other’s woes. The smoke from wildfires of the west has extended beyond the east coast, I have read, all the way to Europe. We are a few hundred miles west of the east coast, but this was our sun yesterday early evening.

That is not light cloud cover, it is smoke in the upper atmosphere. We can’t smell it and I don’t think it has affected our air quality but it is devastating to think of the infernos that can produce enough smoke to haze the skies of the east coast and beyond. Today we are getting the very outer bands of what was Hurricane Sally that deluged and flooded the Gulf Coast. We have no wind and mostly light rain which is welcome. After a very wet summer, it turned dry and it hasn’t rained in a couple of weeks, crisping the falling leaves, those ones that drift down before the Autumn colors begin, still a month or so off.

The recommendation is not to leave houseplants out when the temperatures fall below about 45f. It hasn’t gotten there yet, but the next few nights dip into the low 40’s to upper 30’s. The larger plants will be gathered near the door and covered with a sheet or large plastic bag, the succulents have been returned to their winter locations in front of the south facing French doors and the kitchen window sill. They will probably go back outside in a week or so when this hint of fall passes. There are two large hanging planters of Spider Plant. I may cut the babies and root them to restart those pots next year and let the winter cold kill off the parent plants. They are awkward to bring in to the house for the winter and look pretty scraggly now anyway. There is no threat of frost, which would be record breakingly early, so I’m not concerned about the vegetable garden, it should have another month or more of growing time. For our Anniversary last February, hubby gave me a thimble sized rose in a little Lady Bug holder. When it finished blooming, I repotted it into an 8″ ceramic pot and it has lived on the back deck steps all summer and has produced two or three blooms repeatedly. I need to plant it in a garden bed so it has time to produce a good root system before the first frost. I fear if I bring it back in for the winter, I will lose it. The grape vine that was stripped of all of it’s leaves is fighting back and not ready to settle in for the winter.

There are new leaves coming out all over the vines. I’m sure as soon as they get any size on them, the midnight marauders will find them again and strip it bare. It wouldn’t be difficult to run the hot wire out around the plum and grape vines, but would make mowing that area more difficult and I would have to develop a new habit to change my path to the chicken coop and then be careful not to back into it when gathering eggs. Maybe I could use step in posts and turn off the solar battery when I need to mow and just move the wire temporarily, that is if we ever get our mowers back from the repair shop.

After thinking that the winter had killed my fig planted last year, it has grown vigorously and is now about 4 feet tall and full. Before frost, I will shelter it better than last year. Last year I filled a wire ring around it with old hay, but that wasn’t enough. When it loses it’s leaves, I will hammer in 4 T-posts and use the translucent corrugated plastic that is on the failing chicken tractor to build a temporary greenhouse around it then fill that with hay and cover the top with burlap or an empty feed sack. I really want it to produce next year. On the driveway hill, we planted forsythia, lilacs, peonies, a dogwood, and a crepe myrtle at least a dozen years ago. The crepe myrtle has never done anything, looking like a foot tall mass of twigs, until this year. This year it actually grew to about 6 feet and bloomed. If the weather prognosticators are correct, we are going to have a wet, mild winter. If that is true, I should get figs next year, another sign of the climate change that so many deny is occurring. Maybe my grandchildren will be planting olives and citrus in the mountains of Virginia when they are my age.

When walking up to the mailbox yesterday, I saw my first “woolly bear” caterpillar on the driveway. As legend goes, the longer the black band, the colder and snowier the winter and if the tail end is black, the end of winter will be colder. He was less than a quarter black on the head end, so if I were to believe in his prediction, the weather prognosticators are correct.

When I posted yesterday about returning to my beginnings on spinning, I failed to post a photo I had taken.

The top skein is my very first spindle spun yarn. At two ply, it is a gnarly, knobby 2 or 3 wraps per inch. The red skein below is the most recent spindle spun skein I made, it is smooth, even, and 24 wraps per inch. I will never give up that first skein.

Yesterday’s Calm to today’s Chaos

Lately, I have been donating or listing for sale, items that are not used by us, but occupy space in the house. Yesterday, two different listings went online and immediately received response. Now, both listings show that the items are located in or near the village of our zip code. Arrangements were made for me to meet a buyer at 9 a.m. this morning for one item. I arrived 10 minutes early as I needed fuel for the car only to discover that the computer system that allows the use of credit cards was down, thus I couldn’t get fuel. I then sat for almost 20 minutes past the meeting time and no one showed. Frustration 1 of the day, though I had several other people interested in the item and they were contacted. Person #2 did show up at the designated time and place. The other item has had two people interested, but they want me to drive about 20 miles to meet them halfway and send them reminder notices. This is a $25 item, not a big item. I amended the ad to reiterate the location and where I am willing to meet.

Yesterday, I finished doing the yard trimming with the line trimmer so today I was going to mow. The riding mower had a low tire again so I pulled out the pump that runs on the car auxillary power plug and pumped it back up, got about 4 rounds of the front lawn area done and the mower deck belt broke for the second time this season. That meant a trip back to town and I picked up the belt that the store’s book said was the correct one as a replacement, based on the part number I had with me. I have a very kind neighbor that helps me put the belt on and it was so tight the engine wouldn’t turn over. Tomorrow, the belt will have to be returned and I have ordered one from a parts store, like the last replacement that I can pick up and the neighbor is going to put it on for me.

All of this shot a huge hole in the day and my plan to process the basket full of tomatoes drained away.

These are the ones picked this morning and the ones from the window sill. The basil is still thriving and that basket full was stripped from the stems and set out to dry to add to the jar that has already dried. I will try to get to the tomatoes tomorrow and try to get the belt returned, the new one picked up, and the lawn mowed.

While out in the yard, I noticed that something has eaten all of the leaves off of one end of the grape vines. At least it is the end of the season and the grapes have been harvested and made into jelly.

And this afternoon, I realized that we actually got a few ears of corn from the 3 plantings. These 5 ears are the only ones of about a dozen that developed decent kernels, so bed prep, three plantings, and only 5 ears of corn, not a good return.

Several days ago, I sowed spinach, radishes, and salad mix in a tray. I will transplant some of the spinach and salad mix to a bed, but am surprised that there are already seedlings under the grow light.

For the past few days, I have worked off and on knitting a pair of mittens from some of the yarn I spun last month. I started off knitting two at a time and once the cuffs were done, decided that the yarn was too thin to make decent mittens, so I ripped the stitches out and started again, holding two strands together. While that one was being knit, I spun more yarn that when plied would be heavy enough to use without two strands. Mitten 1 is done, mitten two cuff was done and I realized a dropped a stitch on about the 3rd row in ribbing, not worth trying to repair, so I ripped out the stitches again and started over. I am finally back up to the thumb gusset on that mitten, it should be finished tonight (I hope). Plain, simple, vanilla mittens, I should be able to knit half asleep.

Off to finish laundry, my least favorite household chore.

More Olio – July 28, 2020

Years go by faster as we age, but this year has flown by, locked in and frustrated that simple measures that would have slowed, possibly contained the virus are not being heeded by many. Frustrated that basic simple procedures are being pushed back on as “violations of my rights,” a false claim, when they don’t think twice about heeding the “No shirt, no shoes, no service” messages, or the wearing a seat belt when driving or helmet when riding a motorcycle laws.

It is so hot and humid that outdoor activities are not inviting. The pick your own berry patches are either not opening or hours are so limited that instead of spreading out the crowds, it concentrates them. The garden is supplying us with good nourishment, but the items that require my attention in the kitchen for more than a few minutes are still maturing, so there has been only one canning session. Cucumbers, other than the first batch, are being fermented or quick brined. A half gallon jar of dill wedges were started in a refrigerator quick brine a few days ago.

Mornings are still mostly pleasant enough to enjoy my breakfast and coffee on one of the porches. This morning it was the front covered porch where I watched the Hummingbirds and spotted the web in this photo, stretched from the spider plant to the porch post.

The hens production is up again finally. All three Olive eggers are laying again, so I’m getting blue, green, and pink eggs from them. One of New Hampshire Reds is laying very small rough shelled eggs. We are back to getting 5 or 6 eggs most days instead of 2 which is nice.

Because we still don’t have a brush hog, there is a section of the yard that has not been mowed all year. It winds through the evergreens that we have planted between the end of the lawn and the barn. When I walk to the mailbox, it is interesting to see the deer paths and deer lays that are in the tall grass.

I finally finished spinning the Sea Glass green fiber that I was spinning during the Tour de Fleece and the mini challenge the following week. It adds 96 more yards that I can include with the nearly 400 yard skein that I spun with it. Now I’m trying to decide which braid to spin beginning in August for that month’s challenge. One choice is BFL/Silk Redbud color, another is an unknown fiber that feels like Merino called Baltic. I ordered an Elderberry colored braid of Shetland and Silk that will be spun at some point. In the meantime, I’m spinning a Merino/Bamboo blend of yellow, blue, and white called Sky Flower.

The mobile vet made her visit and drew blood from the pups to check for heartworm and other parasitics and they both are ok, but the big guy is showing signs of his age. We will try some supplements recommended for his joints and his tummy upset. It is hard watching him slow down, he is such a big lovable gentle giant.

We see many of our friends doing some travels, hopefully safely and socially distancing. Maybe some day we will feel safe enough to do so. Stay safe everyone, wear your masks and lets get through this together.