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.

Olio – 12/16/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Yesterday was spent in recovery from the long, cold, wet day on Saturday, but wasn’t totally idle. The craft display stuff was returned to the guest room closet where it is stored, the inventory checked, sorted, and put away this morning.

The pop up tent is still slightly open in the garage drying, but will be packed up soon and tucked away in the garage with the weights and cart. My next two events are spinning demonstrations in Colonial costume on December 20 for the local elementary fourth graders, and at Wilderness Road Regional Museum on January 6 for old Christmas and the burning of the greens. Neither of those events are vending events.

I have written about “the chair” and “the chair II.” At some point, once all of our furniture was moved to this house and the basement had been finished (several years after the house was completed), we did some rearranging. We had a leather couch and club chair that had been our living room furniture for years that moved with me. A Lazy Boy couch that is leather on the seats and back and synthetic leather on the low wear areas that stayed in the apartment in Virginia Beach until hubby retired and it moved with him and was added to the living room here initially. We had an oak futon that was in an office/guest room when we sold our home in Virginia Beach and it moved with me as a guest bed in my apartment in Blacksburg and later into the loft of the house. When the basement was finished we moved the Lazy Boy couch and the futon to the basement rec room leaving a huge hole in the living room, so we went to a local furniture store and bought a reclining loveseat to fill the hole. It didn’t match the color of the leather couch very well, so we decided to move the loveseat to the loft, and get another love seat, just like the first one but a better color match. One of the loveseat purchases generated a Father’s Day Sale coupon that resulted in the disposal of “the chair” and the purchase of “the chair II.”

“The chair II” was heavily used and the phony leather deteriorated pretty quickly. The loveseats which we thought had leather on the sitting surfaces were gently use, but once our daughter and her family moved in with us for a couple of years while they sold their Florida house, saved for the down payment for their local house, the living room loveseat started getting lots of use and it didn’t take long for us to discover that the leather sitting parts were not leather.

It was soon cracked and shedding pleather so I bought a stretchy cover to try to slow down the progress. The upstairs one was doing fine, but again, it received little use until “the chair II” was discarded. It only took about two weeks use for it to begin breaking down as well.

The living room one is going to be discarded and is currently sitting on the front porch to make way for the Christmas tree. After Christmas, a second rocking chair will be added to the living room. The cover will be put on the second one to try to get more use out if once the new chair is delivered mid week. It seems almost like fraud to sell furniture that wasn’t inexpensive junk (we thought) that can’t hold up to basic wear over a couple of years.

This morning, I had another check up at the hearing clinic to raise the functionality closer to 100% effectiveness on my hearing aid. While we were out and about, we drove to Joe’s Christmas Tree Farm, about 10 miles from home, hoping to get lucky like last year and find a precut reasonably sized tree right near the store, but not this year. We didn’t want a huge tree this year, nor did we want to spend a long time walking the farm in the rain. They had some 7 foot trees near the store and as we were the only customers at the time, the young man working the yard brought out his chain saw and cut down our tree for us, drilled it for the stand, tied it and put it on our car while we shopped inside and paid for the tree. The tree was small enough for me to handle once home and it is up and decorated.

This gave me the incentive to finish decorating with my Santa collection and the snow village. This weekend, eldest son and eldest grandson will arrive to spend two days with us. I will prepare Christmas dinner with all the fixings on Saturday for them and daughter and her family.

This is an impromptu Christmas decoration. This begonia has bloomed better since I brought it in for the winter than it did outdoors all summer.

And to close today’s post, “Esplain to me Lucy,” why does a box of raw sugar need vegan and gluten free labels on it. My science background tells me that sugar is a plant product, not a gluten bearing plant.