Sunday Morning

A blogger friend challenged to begin Sunday morning with a 25 second video from the front porch/door to show the changing season from Autumn to Winter. Here is this morning, a mostly clear, sunny, but chilly 43 f (4.1 c), quite the change from the past few weeks. We aren’t getting the pretty fall colors this year, most of the trees are yellowing or browning and the leaves dropping already. Some are already bare or nearly so. I don’t seem to be able to link it as a video, this is just the opening shot. The video can be viewed on my Instagram if you follow me there at spn_knt.

The last time I mowed, I had hoped it would be for the last time this year. The mower needs an oil change and the blades sharpened or replaced. I picked up a chunk of erosion fence in the blade last time and it was quite the challenge to get to free from the blade it wrapped around. Day before yesterday in late afternoon, I brought the mower and line trimmer out again and though I didn’t do all the acreage I usually mow, I got around the house and coop and trimmed around the flower garden in the back. The chickens love when I mow and run into the area I have just passed, gorging on newly clipped grass and the insects it disturbs. I am always amused when the Perdue chicken commercial comes on TV and the actor tells the family what chickens from other breeders are fed and to go down to the Perdue booth, that Perdue chickens are given only clean grain feed. If you have ever watched chickens, they are Velociraptors, they will eat snakes, mice, frogs, bugs, grass, seeds, and just about anything, they are definitely not vegetarian and chickens fed that way are not healthy.

We have two aging pups, the younger of the two has never been a healthy dog and for the past three mornings, I have had major accidents to clean up while they are outdoors and before I can feed them. That is not the way I prefer to start my day and though I really dislike scented candles, I have had to use a wax warmer with a sliver of eucalyptus scented wax with a chunk of beeswax to clear the air.

Our daily schedule generally involves a walk after lunch, today we are headed out this morning, so hubby can watch a football game and I can prepare Sunday dinner for Daughter and her kiddos. I think this will be the first walk of the season where I don my jacket that hubby gave me for my birthday a few years ago, maybe a knit hat as well. At least it is sunny and not wet and windy.

When life throws you a curved ball!

Without a lot of details, this family has had it’s share in the past month. A grandson diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, one of our children involved in a very serious auto accident. Our daughter is okay, sore and without her own wheels.

A much anticipated retreat with friends I hadn’t seen in 2 years to sit and spin, knit, weave, and share social time was cut very short because my first day there, I ended up with an emergency medical situation. Without letting my family know and only limited revelation to the event coordinator, I foolishly slipped away after packing my spinning, clothes, and vending set up and drove 4 hours home, only to be hospitalized that afternoon. Five days in the hospital, 2 surgical procedures, and I’m home, hopefully without a recurrence.

This has caused stress to the family, caused Son 1 to temporarily leave his job, his family, and drive from his home to ours to be the unpaid Uber driver for hubby and daughter, to be emotional support for all of us, and to be cook when allowed. He has harvested my garden and frozen my tomatoes, taken care of my chooks and been as he always is, a generally good man.

It has been a tough few weeks. Not much to report on spinning and knitting. No canning for a while, but tomatoes in the freezer for when it can again be done. It is likely the end of the garden for this year, but there is always another year and we will rely more heavily on the Farmer’s Market until their season also ends. The hydroponic units will be started with herbs and salad greens to supplement what we can purchase and as a last resort, imported organic produce purchased from our local Natural Foods store.

Sometimes life gives you lemons and you have to make lemonade. My lemonade is knowing how much my family is a loving unit and how caring and concerned my friends are. I want those of you who knew and offered healing messages to me and my family, thank you, I love you all.

Life Moves On

The pile of tomatoes on the counter was more than I could mentally and physically deal with the other day, so I bagged them and tossed them in the freezer. There are at least that many out there again that I need to pick, but it was drizzly rain when I went to turn the chickens out this morning, so they are still there. I really like the paste variety I planted this year, the slicer is a nice meaty, low seed variety with decent flavor, but grows flat oval tomatoes with deep stem inset that weigh well over a pound each. I can’t eat one alone at a session and don’t like to refrigerate tomatoes, so I will have to do some research on a different variety for next year’s garden.

Sometime in the near future, I will haul the bags out of the freezer, slip the peels and make a big pot of pasta sauce for dinner and the remaining amount will be put in wide mouth pint jars and frozen instead of canning them. I reread the instructions on the reuseable lids to see that the band needs to not be too tight when they go in the waterbath and tightened 10 minutes after you remove the jars and still I am experiencing failure to seal, but not at the rate I was having. I now remember why I sold off the first couple dozen of them I tried a few years ago. I guess I will use them for freezing and try to get metal lids for next year. I also can’t/don’t want to put them on jars I am making for others in case I don’t get them back. We have a chest freezer, so filling it will jars and the bamboo fiber boxes I bought, of sauces, beans, soups, and stews isn’t a bad idea.

Last night, I taught soap making at a “It Takes a Village” session at Wilderness Road Regional Museum. Because I was on the teaching end and it was more instructional than hands on, I have no pictures except the finished product from cutting this morning. The participants took turns stirring the soap mixture until it looked like time would run out before it turned trace to be able to pour it into the mold, so we cheated and used the immersion blender I use at home to finish the stir process that can take up to an hour or more of hand stirring. I had made a batch a month ago, so they could each take home a cured bar of the same recipe.

Though the cutting box isn’t a necessary part of soap making, I love the ease of being able to uniformly cut 1″ bars with the bench scraper. The rack came in my microwave and never gets used there, so it makes a great curing rack. The wooden box mold is one of two that Son 1 made for me as a gift early on in my soap making. I line it with parchment or freezer paper, the other one I made a liner from a silicone baking mat, so the saponified soap comes out of the box easily. The silicone loaf molds are good too, but I have had the bottom of a batch break out like a cake or bread from a pan that wasn’t properly greased. It may be because it wasn’t as firm as it should have been when unmolded, but the wood boxes with a liner, hold the heat better and unmold nicer. I probably should have waited until this evening to unmold it, but it was firm enough to do. This is a simply Old Fashioned Lye soap with a lemon/mint scent. It can be used for body soap, a stain rub on clothing, or grated and used as laundry soap.

Today is hubby’s birthday, so he gets to guide the day culminating with a dinner of his choice, either prepared by me or out if the weather permits patio dining somewhere. He recently lost his summer version of the Greek fisherman’s hat he wears, so in addition to a new leather belt from the local Street Fair in Blacksburg a couple weeks ago, his hat was replaced. We joked about options to prevent losing it. He had “lost” the other one earlier this summer, but we remembered where it was likely left and it’s return happened. This loss is a mystery, unless he wore it in the restaurant where we had lunch after our long bike ride down the Virginia Creeper Trail and it is too far away to go back and retrieve it. Maybe this one needs his name and phone number put in it.

Tomorrow, I will dress in my Revolutionary War garb and set up as a spinner and vendor at the Montgomery Museum Heritage Day event in Christiansburg. Ever since I began vending at events and craft fairs, I have struggled with a method to haul the most stuff in the least trips. I have crated and carried, bought a RubberMaid flat cart that promptly had a wheel failure the second time I used it inspite of the advertised weight load. I don’t think it was the weight, but rather the terrain, plus my load wouldn’t stay on the flat unsided surface. Daughter owns a folding wagon that she loaned me to try. With is larger wheels, deep sides, I have managed to test load everything needed but part of my ladder rack that I think could be strapped on top and my spinning wheel.

Next week when I go to my fiber retreat, I don’t need the table or the chair, so it should hold everything for vending and spinning. I probably will only take spindles, as that is what I have used mostly for spinning the past year and a half, and knitting to it.

A friend from that group is getting into pattern designs as Mountain Legacy Designs. I am test knitting one of her patterns at the moment and since I can no longer force myself to spin worsted weight yarn needed for the pattern, I purchased a skein from another friend, Sunrise Valley Farm . They can be found on Etsy in the link or at the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market. The test knit is progressing nicely, though I am taking my time on it.

I hope that Gail from the farm who is also a member of the retreat group can attend with me next year as a participant and maybe a vendor. It would be nice to travel together and room together at the retreat.

The test knitting has slowed my spinning this week, but earlier in the week, I posted 84.34 g of spun singles, and 41.70 g of plied yarn for the prior 7 days.