Category Archives: Olio

Olio – June 20, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

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After a week away and much rain according to Jim, the gardens are both beautiful, full of day lilies and lavender, and full of weeds.

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The pepper plants are in there somewhere.

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and the tomatoes and basil in there.  Grandson and I arrived home on Sunday evening, giving him time with his Dad on Father’s Day with breakfast out and for us to take Jim out for Father’s Day dinner as well.

Yesterday we went out in the morning to get Grandson some shoes.  The ones he wore hiking were worn out and wet.  He wore flip flop here and promptly lost them in the house.  He had to wear my garden clogs to go buy shoes.  Once home, the overgrown grass that is too close to the house for the tractor was mowed with the gas mower and the weeding was begun on the garden, but early afternoon thunderstorms drove me back indoors for the rest of the day.

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On Sunday before we got home, Jim rode the BBH on a ride that had been one of the Rally rides that he couldn’t do because he was leading a ride elsewhere that day.  He missed a turn, saw bad weather ahead and aborted his ride on Sunday but wanted to see Smith Mountain Dam and lake, so today we took the car and with me navigating, drove over to the dam visitor center and took the path up to the lookout.

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There were a number of these little skinks up near the top, and a tiny fawn right at the visitor center, but it got where we couldn’t take a picture of it.

This evening, I weeded out the tomatoes and basil, the peppers, the beans, the peas, and cut the garlic scapes.  There are still small weeds that will need to be hoed out and the corn and pumpkins still need to be weeded, but the garden is looking better.  The tomatoes already need to be tied up. Because the weeds took over areas where tomatillo seed and flowers were planted and since the garlic, onions, and peas will soon be pulled, there will be spaces in the garden that should be planted with something.  More beans are definitely due, maybe another block of corn as the three sisters plot has holes in it and I still need to put in the pole beans there.  The cabbage worms have laced the kale. The chickens love them and I pick a handful every time I go out, but a garlic red pepper spray may be needed if we are going to get any kale.  It looked so good before I left.  The turnips didn’t get thinned enough before I left and it looks like a jungle, more tops than turnips.  A second planting of them will be made for the fall.  The tomatoes and peppers have fruit started, and some basil plants are flowering already, so pesto is soon in order.

Tomorrow is another nice day and more garden work may get done. We promised Grandson a trip to a pool this week while he is here and tomorrow may be the last good weather day to do it.

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I’ll leave with a picture of our barn cat Girly who spends most of her time on our front porch instead of hunting mice in the barn.  She was a spooky adult cat when she was given to us, but now she wants attention every time anyone goes outdoors.

 

 

 

 

5-12-2017 Olio

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Spring in the mountains brings 80ºf days with or without rain, followed by dull, gloomy 53º days with rain like today.  By the time the garden is dry enough to be worked, the unfilled beds will need major weeding.  This morning, another package of the heritage peas were purchased.  They are going to soak overnight in a bowl of water and be planted in all the empty spaces tomorrow with hopes that we will indeed have peas this year.  Perhaps a tunnel of plastic poultry net will be suspended over the top and sides in case it is critters getting them.

Before the threatened storms last night, I realized that the ten year old peonies finally decided to bloom this year.  The two open blooms were cut and brought inside in case we really got the threatened hail (we didn’t).

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One benefit of the cool wet weather is that the planters of herbs on deck are thriving.

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Some of these will go in the ground as a permanent herb garden if the bed ever gets prepared.  There are two more of the barrels with sage, flat leaf parsley, basil, and cilantro started from seed on another part of the deck.  I sure haven’t had to water this spring. The Iris blooms are beautiful.  Two of the ones added from our neighbor last year began to bloom this year, the third one, a reddish color didn’t come up.  I’m sure another start of it can be obtained once his are blooming and we can see which one to dig.  Most of mine and the daylilies  will need to be divided this summer.  Perhaps the divisions can be used to naturalize the driveway bank along with some more Forsythia rootings.

Yesterday was a delightful day.  Smithfield Plantation House had 3 classes of 4th graders scheduled for tour and I was asked to come spin if available.  As my location is in the summer kitchen/slave cottage, the opportunity to be part of the tour excited me.  With one of my antique wheels there, carders to demonstrate fiber prep, several different heritage wools to show off and pulling from the never dying teaching skills, the classes got a lesson in where the food came from, how it was prepared, where the fiber came from and how it was used.

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With a class at a time, sitting on the floor around me, engaged groups of 10 year olds were questioned, shown equipment, handled wool and yarn, saw two types of spinning wheels, the Appalachian Rocker Loom, old style shears, and a 150+ year old spinning wheel in use, and the iron pots and storage crockery of an 18th century summer kitchen.  A teacher may retire, but the desire to teach stays on.

A busy summer is approaching with fiber retreats for me, HOG rally for Jim, a music weekend for both of us, and ending with a cruise in the fall.  In the mean time, garden  work is scheduled if it will ever dry out.

The coop got cleaned out between storms, but straw hasn’t been purchased to put clean bedding down, and with the rain, the chicks are still crowding on the perches in Huck’s coop each night.  The double fence idea is still lurking if the weather will break to allow a better assessment of the situation.

The painful knee has behaved for the past couple of days.  Hopefully to stay calm and allow the hike with son’s family in mid June.

Olio – 4/4/17

Olio- a miscellaneous collection of things

We have had spring again for a few days, but winter is rearing it’s ugly head again, starting with heavy thunderstorms, wind, and possible hail tomorrow afternoon followed with near freezing nights for a couple of nights and even snow flurries on Friday.  The peas haven’t broken ground yet, but they will be covered.  The onions are up and they will be covered with spoiled hay.  The grass already needs to be mowed, almost a month before we usually have to mow.

The Asian pears are blooming, they are my favorite fruit so we are hopeful that the blooms don’t freeze.

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Taking advantage of the beautiful day, we went to Lowes and found flexible corrugated nearly transparent plastic sheets that were 8 feet long and 26 inches wide, the perfect size to enclose the sides of the broody coop.  A box of screws and thirty minutes work and the coop is enclosed on the sides.

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The baby chicks look like little dinosaurs and are nearly feathered.  If it wasn’t going to get cold, I would put them in the baby coop, but I guess they will have to wait another week before they move to bigger quarters.  While working outside, the netting over the chicken run got re-fastened to fences and long posts so it doesn’t catch in hair and flap in the wind.  Tomorrow is nice for about half a day so maybe at least part of the fencing will be installed.

My car went in for its annual inspection and she is 13 years old and just shy of 200,000 miles.  We knew going in that she needed some work.  We need new front brakes again, 4th time in 3 years, 4 new tires and an alignment, and a new starter, so this is an expensive inspection, but hopefully will keep her on the road for another 80,000 miles.

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The Bloodroot is blooming in profusion along our country road.  The trillium haven’t been spotted yet.

A couple of years ago, one of our vent stacks began to leak around the boot, ruining a section of our newly finished basement ceiling.  At Christmas that year, eldest son ripped the drywall off the soffit under most of the pipes in the basement and build a set of panels of wood siding and finished framing boards that can be removed by undoing a few screws once the leak was repaired.  About a  year later, we developed a leak at a different vent stack, ruining a different section.  He is going to do the same thing in that area now that the leak is repaired.  Yesterday in the torrential downpours, the original area began to leak again.  Quick work with the power driver, allowed the removal of part of that soffit so that a catch pan could be put in the ceiling until the roof can be repaired yet again.  It was nice to be able to get the soffit parts down without the being ruined.

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The old adage, “When it rains, it pours” is literal in this case and figuratively in accrued costs for the car and the roof repair.

Olio-Week’s end-March 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This bitter week is winding down.  Last night was hopefully the last night in the teens that we will experience this winter.  Spring on the calendar is but three days away.  The garden planner alert today was to plant the peas and onions under cover outside and start the peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos inside.  The cover fabric from prior years is gone so a trip to Harmony Organics in town is necessary to procure more for the two boxes.  The garlic looks like it suffered some damage from the cold, but hopefully it will perk back up with the milder weather.  The daffodils in town are all laying face down on the ground,  the forsythia, ornamental fruit trees in town are all browned, our peach tree lost it’s blooms.  Our forsythia had not bloomed yet, so we may see some of the sunny yellow soon. The weekend is to be milder and Tuesday actually making it into the low 60’s, so some garden time is in order this weekend and early next week.

For Christmas, daughter’s family gave us an Arbor Day membership which provides 10 young trees, plus an additional purchase for our windbreak and flowering shrubs for the driveway bank.  Yesterday, the first of those young trees arrived and they must be put in the ground within a couple of days of arrival.  The suggestion is to put them in a garden area for a year or two to let them begin to establish fibrous roots and gain some size before planting them in the location of choice.  I guess that is going to make part of the lower garden a tree nursery for now, a good use for that otherwise not in use area.  The tree planting helps reduce our carbon footprint and is helping to re establish some areas of woodlot on the farm, where we need a buffer or where it is too rocky to mow.

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The cold weather brought many birds to the feeder and to the deck to clean up the spilled seed.  Feeding the neighborhood birds and trying to foil the squirrels was an enjoyable pastime when we lived in the suburbs on the coast.  With bear in this area, a feeder has been absent for the past decade, but a small cage feeder was hung outside of the kitchen window this winter, high off the ground and it has been enjoyable to see the fearless little birds feasting.  Granddaughter observed this morning while watching them during breakfast, that the chicks in the brooder are the same size as the little finches, juncos, and titmice.

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The daylight saving time change last weekend has school bus delivery back in the early morning with the sun just peeking over the ridge while we wait.  Once home and on to do the chicken chores, it can be seen over the ridge, but not yet over the trees and with no leaf cover yet, it creates an interesting morning view.

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Shooting directly into the sunrise it looks like the sun is shining through the ridge.

The brooder chicks are thriving, growing little wing feathers and boldly hopping up on the heat table to check out the world.

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Fortunately, the screen on top should prevent any fly outs that are inevitable in another week or so.  The outside brooder coop needs a new layer of straw, the brooder nest boxes mounted inside, the sides covered for protection and the pen surrounding to have the new rabbit fencing installed to keep the littles in and the bigger critters out.  It will be time to move them outside in just a few short weeks.  Hopefully these littles will be grown enough for the big girl coop about the time brooder season starts and the great chicken shuffle begins.  The littles will become the layer flock with the Americauna and the half breed, the broodys will go to the brooder coop  and any remaining older hens and Mr. Croak will go to the cull coop where they will live for the summer and as this year’s chicks get large enough, they will be moved to the cull coop as well to provide our families with chicken for the winter.  One young cockerel will move in with the young pullets to be next year’s rooster.  This year’s brooder chicks will be out layers for the next couple of years before they are replaced with new young.

We love our little farm and the chores help keep us young.

Olio-March 10, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

March came in like a lion and the lion is roaring.  The wind is howling, the temperature has fallen 15 degrees since 6:45 a.m. and will fall into the teens tonight, for a total of more than 35ºf.  We have a very cold weekend and week ahead with 5 to 8 inches of snow predicted for Monday.

We were supposed to go to Waynesboro to pick up 16 young chicks on Monday.  Fortunately, they called today and said the chicks have all arrived and are healthy and can be picked up tomorrow instead.  Making a 2 + hour drive each way in snow is not appealing, plus it could result in a school closure or at least early release which would be difficult to deal with if we are on the road. Instead, we will do our usual Saturday morning breakfast out, Farmers Market run, and take off to get the babies.  Because it is to be so cold, the chicks will have to be in the house somewhere instead of the brooder box in the garage.  Keeping them indoors requires a secure enough box that daughter’s cats and all of the dogs can’t get to them.  It also means that the grands need a daily reminder that they are babies and are not to be handled at will.  Chicks and chickens are dirty and I don’t like brooding them in the house, but with nights in the teens, the garage will just be too cold even with the Brinsea mother table in their box.

A couple of weeks ago, my laptop began to sound like a rocket about to take off each time it was opened for use, and the battery hasn’t held a charge for months.  With a can of compressed air, the fan was cleaned out and with the help of Amazon, a factory battery was purchased.  For about 24 hours, it seemed like everything was going to be good, then day before yesterday, when it was opened to use it, it was kaput.  It wouldn’t turn on, black screen, no sounds.  Hoping that perhaps the new battery was faulty, the old one was reinstalled, and everything plugged in, but no go.  The 4 year old laptop was not going to come on.  The techie guy says that HPs that were originally loaded with Windows 7 or 8 and upgraded to 10 seemed to be dying at phenomenal rates.  The motherboard is dead, same thing happened to daughter’s right before Christmas.  That left me without a computer and my tablet doesn’t like the blog or my square up shop.  That sent us out to find a reasonably priced replacement.  We got me an Acer Spin 1.  It has a touchscreen, can be used as a tablet or laptop, and best of all was inexpensive.  It may not last forever, but the laptops seem to have a 2-4 year lifespan.  I had some folks recommend Mac books, but I had a very bad experience with an apple phone and just couldn’t go that route.  It is small enough to travel with, has a full sized keyboard, so I am set.  It seems that laptops come with a one month trial of Microsoft Office, but unlike the past, when you bought the program, it was good for the life of the computer, now it is an annual subscription.  What a racket!

The garden box purchased earlier this week was set yesterday.  The larger sized one came with 6 extra boards so that it could be set up three boards high, but 2 is high enough.  If one more 4 x 4 box is purchased, with the extra boards, it can be made as a 4 x 8 box using the extra boards.  It is too cold to plant even the onion sets for the next week, so garden will just have to wait.  It is almost time to start the pepper seed in the house.  In a couple more weeks, the tomatoes as well.  We aim for the second week of May for putting the plants in the ground.  Another month we can plant the peas.  The anticipation makes the wait hard, but we are always rewarded with the garden goodies later.

Maybe, the header will represent Monday, but we hope not. Five of the past 8 years, there has been measurable snow in March.

 

 

Olio-Week’s End, February 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This week has been an emotional wreck.  The grandson that lives with us is with his Mom, Sister, and “Dad.”  His biological father lived in Florida and without sharing details, passed away on Wednesday afternoon.  Grandson had been told about a week before that he wasn’t doing well and couldn’t talk on the phone on the scheduled day, but it was still very hard news for him to take and for daughter to have to deliver to him.  They are awaiting information on the service so they can go down and let the young man be there.  It is hard,  he is 10, and as my sister reminded me, children his age are still too young to fear death, though I’m sure he will have his share of tough moments over the next few weeks.  I still do over my Dad’s passing and it has been 14 months.

The week has been up and down with the weather as well, and the changes are causing allergy symptoms for some in the house, weather related headaches for others, and confusion for the animals as they go out to freezing wind one day and temperatures that invite playing in the creek the next.  Each day is a debate of what to wear, the uniform has become a short sleeve t shirt with a sweatshirt or fleece over it, a parka added if necessary.  Gloves stay in pockets when needed.  Some days, the layers stay on, some days peel down to the t shirt.

If we hadn’t had to cancel our ski trip, we would have arrived home late last night from a week in Colorado.  We missed not only the skiing, but also the company of our cousins who are wonderful hosts when we visit them.  Instead of sharing our anniversary dinner with them as we did 4 years ago, we just enjoyed each other’s company at one of the finer restaurants in town, a great 4 course meal that was delicious.

Last night, the cowl that was being knit from the silk that I had spun was finished.  It is beautiful and is blocked and drying.

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The weekend approaches, our usual breakfast and Farmers Market Saturday, tomorrow and more vendors are beginning to return with early greens, so good food will be had next week.

My spinning is improving on my little antique spinning wheel.

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Generally it doesn’t throw the drive band, but the upright nearest the spinner still moves some and causes the wheel to skew and throw the band.  The next time it jumps off, the upright is going to be wrapped in a few rounds of waxed hemp thread to see if that will tighten it enough to hold its position.  The peg under the table also needs to be forced in tighter to help.  The missing part for the new antique walking wheel is being made and when it returns, another learning curve for me as a spinner.  Also improvement is noted with the support spindle that we got last weekend.

Olio 2/13/17

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

And this is all over the place today.

Yesterday it was spring and the wind howled, taking out the power for a few hours before we got home. Last night it got very cold and the wind howled, rattling the dog run dormer on the back of the house and whistling through the edges of the metal roof.  This morning was crystal and the wind still howled.  Out to start the car to warm up for the grandson run to the bus stop and this was the view.

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The sun higher each day, rising above the ridges in the east and lighting the tops of the other ridges while our hollow was still in the dawn and the waning moon still high in the western sky.

As grandson was grabbing his coat and pulling or pushing on the bi-fold hall closet door, it sounded like someone dropping tinker toys (do you remember them, I do).  Most of the doors in the house are beautiful doors handmade by eldest son when he was finishing the inside of the house, but rather than make a door that opened out into the hall, we opted for a bi-fold on that closet.  This is what happened.

Door broke

 

The top separated from the side and the slates came tumbling down.  Thanks first to my Dad who taught me to tackle most repairs, from replacing the insides of a toilet or even a whole toilet, replacing garbage disposals when in the city and they were used, installing faucets, door locks and knobs, and on and on.  Next to  eldest son who will set me to work on a job with some instruction, then go off to do a different job himself, the door was taken down, the slats were carefully put back in the slots, lined up top and bottom and the door hammered back together with a new glue joint and a screw for good measure.  The pilot hole drilled, the screw set, the door rehung, good as new (hopefully).

Fixed

 

The day’s mail brought the parts to the first antique spinning wheel that was bought.  The repairs are wonderful and there is a second bobbin.  The wheel was put back together, the instructional video watched twice before attempting to put the double drive band on, and she was taken for a spin.

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The front near leg still splays out a bit too much.  When the wheel arrived, that leg had an adhesive spongy material on one side of it, a shim of sorts?  That repair is on me to resolve.  The wheel does spin and draws in the singles, but it has a tendency to throw the drive band after about a dozen rotations.  Some adjustments must still be made, but my knowledge is too novice to know what so it has been thrown out into the ether for answers.  It is a beauty, but it needs to be functional.

For as long as I can remember, each Valentine’s Day, my Dad sent each of his girls from wife to great granddaughters a kid’s type valentine card.  When he passed in December of 2015, I knew I wouldn’t get any more of them, but Valentine’s Day 2016 came and there was an envelope with a card for me, one each for daughter and granddaughter and the envelope looked like it could have been written by him.  I cried, daughter had to open it, my younger brother had decided that he was going to carry on the tradition.  Today the envelope arrived and this was inside, again with that oh so familiar handwriting.  His handwriting is eerily similar to Dad’s.

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Yes, it made me cry again, but tears of sweet memories.

Olio

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Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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Now that the silk is spun, plyed, and ready to knit, I have returned to spinning Priscilla. She is a Leicester Longwool sheep that belongs to a friend, owner of Sunrise Valley Farm, raised locally.  I stumbled upon her delightful wool at our Farmers Market one Saturday morning.  I purchased a small bag of 8 ounces of the roving and fell in love. At the time I didn’t know it came from Priscilla, but after I bought the second 8 ounces, I was told and I asked for more.  I have spun many ounces, dyed some with Annatto seed and with Country Classics wool dye.

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The yellow gold and the lavender are some of what I dyed and the white is the natural roving.  Initially, my plan was to knit a Fair Isle pull over sweater to wear on a ski trip to Colorado this winter.  Those plans have had to be aborted and the yoke of the sweater was so heavy that the yarn was pulled out, rewound, and is now being worked into a Fibonacci Infinity Scarf instead.  You see the beginning of it in the photo above and more of it below.

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I am working the third sequence at this point and will switch to lavender and natural at the end of this sequence.  I am much more likely to wear the scarf than a very heavy sweater.

That said, I have enough of Priscilla to still knit a sweater for me, but I will use a different pattern and larger needles to make the fabric lighter and more drapey.

I have hopes that this spring, once the lambs are born, that I may have the opportunity to drive to the farm and see the lambs and perhaps finally meet Priscilla.  I was invited last year and never made it over.

Night before last, another friend, a country neighbor that is the lead blacksmith at the Smithfield Plantation House where I sometime get to spin, came over with his wife and he was able to straighten the metal crank part of my antique spinning wheel so that the vertical part of the footman no longer walks off when I treadle it.

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It still requires a leather washer, but each repair gets the wheel closer to being a working wheel.  The parts that I had to ship to Bobbin Boy have been repaired and are in the mail back to me.  I had hoped that they would have arrived today, but not yet. The split in the upright that hold the wheel has been glued and if that doesn’t hold, I will try some lashing near the point where the shaft of the wheel hub rests.  The last resort will be to ship that off to Bobbin Boy to have a new piece manufactured by them.

Today is another day of mud and gloom.  The prognosticators indicate that it may partially clear off this afternoon, but expect heavy rain on Sunday and Monday.  The chicken pen is a muddy mess, the coop not much better.  I think a bale of straw is needed in the coop instead of the pine chips I had to use last time I cleaned it, and a heavy layer of spoiled hay around the outside of the coop to try to tame the mud and muck.  To walk into the pen is taking your life in your hands right now as it is sloped, slick, and soft enough to suck your boots clean off.  Most of the spoiled hay that was put down after the snow has been scratched into the mud.

No more mice have been caught in the car fortunately, but with the wet warm weather, they are trying to get into the house now.  The utility room trap has been busy of late. This morning, after dropping granddaughter off at preschool, I stopped to get the oil changed in my old lady.  I’m really trying to keep her going over 200,000 miles and we are getting close to that.  She will be a dozen years old in a couple of months.  The mini lube place that I took her always try to sell you more services and when the guy brought the cabin filter in for me to see, it was truly fowled between the dusty road and driveway (when we aren’t in monsoon season) and the contributions from the mouse that I caught earlier in the week in the car.  They did vacuum the cab and remove the last remnants of the little mouse’s nest that I had removed prior to setting the trap.

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The young Buffy roo is testing his voice. I don’t name the hens, but I do name the king of the coop.  He is replaced each year or so as his spurs get long and dangerous and he gets more aggressive.  There is always a new cockerel out of the hatchlings that can be put in with the girls after breeding season, and the old tough guy goes to the stew pot at son’s house.  We have had B’rooster, Cogburn, and a couple others.  This guy is Mr. Croak.  Maybe his voice will mature, but now he sounds like an adolescent male whose voice cracks.  He is about 7 months old, beginning to show spurs, has a nice plume of a tail and a funny voice.

Olio – 12/23/16

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

Very early this morning in the wee dark hours, eldest son and his family arrived for Christmas.  Yesterday was spent cleaning up as much dust and animal hair as possible with the vacuum and a lightly dampened mop to try and reduce the allergen level of the house.  The process was taken down to the basement as well, where there are no rugs, granddaughter helping by collecting various tiny lego pieces, parts of her “kitchen” and other random toys that were not put away.  The bed in the bedroom down there was made with fresh sheets, as was the futon in the sitting area for grandson.  The last of the gifts were wrapped and sorted to be put under the tree.

After fixing sausage gravy and biscuits this morning, we visited until Jim had finished his PT and daughter has finished teaching her class and we all met for lunch out and split up in the various cars for errands.  Jim taking grandson for a haircut, daughter bringing granddaughter home to finish their laundry and to pack and load the car to await son-in-law to arrive home for them to begin their drive to Florida where they will spend Christmas with his parents, pick up the grandson who has been with his bio Dad for the week, and then on to have a Christmas vacation for the kids.  Son and I made a few stops for items on his list.

When we arrived home, a footstool box pieced and taped together with enough foam sheeting to wrap the house and holding my new antique spinning wheel was sitting on the table.  This excited me and I carefully opened the box and found all of the disassembled pieces inside.  We pulled up a photo and began reassembling it to make sure it is all there.

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It is all there, with a few flaws that may have to be addressed, such as two of the whorls missing a chunk out of them, but I think I can still use them.  An arm of the flyer has been broken and reglued in the past.  The legs had been removed for shipping and need to be reglued for stability.  The parts are pegged together and the leather that holds the flyer on the mother of all is dry and too wide in one place, covering the orifice hole, so it hasn’t been used in a long time.  I suspect it has been mostly decorative.  It is a double drive wheel and the only twine that I had to test it with isn’t beefy enough to do the job and frayed very quickly.  The bobbin is so tiny, but the wheel is gorgeous.  It was made by a Canadian from St. Andre, a wheel with screw tensioning.  Paradis was born in the early 1800’s.

Daughter’s family is on the road.  Son’s family shared a pot roast dinner with us and now they are off to a movie with Jim.  I elected to have some quiet time at home with a cup of tea and bake the pies for our Christmas dinner.

We traditionally have our Christmas dinner on the eve with turkey, country ham, and all the trimmings.  Tomorrow, we will avoid the last minute madness, just enjoying each other’s company, sharing a festive meal in the evening and do our gift opening after a big Christmas breakfast on Sunday, before they leave for daughter-in-law’s parent’s home to have Christmas with them as well.

Our house will be very quiet after they leave for more than a week, just Jim, me and all the animals.

Have a very Merry Christmas to all of you who check in on us through my blog.

Olio – December 13, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Last year this time, I was with my failing Dad.  He passed before Christmas and I moved through the holidays last year in a fog.  This year I can’t get him off my mind and the tears are never far from the surface.  Apparently, I put the sympathy cards in with the Christmas cards and put the box of them away together.  Pulling them out started it, then every ornament or Santa that he and his wife gave me triggered it again.  I will get through.  The family, not me, but others close to me have struggled with some health issues in the past month and that has produced it own level of stress.  All will be fine in the long run, but not right now.

I did get the house decorated.  As our daughter was born right after Thanksgiving, she insisted that no decorations be put up until after her birthday when she was growing up. That rule still applies.  Sometimes it is the day after Thanksgiving, sometimes a week later.  With a late Thanksgiving this year, the decorating was late.  The Santas and snowmen are adorning the shelves, windowsills, and table tops.

Little tree mantle more santas Santas

They get tucked all over the great room and kitchen, this is only some of them. Saturday, Jim and I drove to the city and partied with his HOG group, staying the night in the hotel where the party was held and on Sunday, drove home to go out with the kids for lunch and off to buy a Christmas tree from one of the cut your own lots.  Last year, we let the grands pick the tree and came home with a 12-13 foot tree.  This year, I picked it and it is only about 8 feet tall.  Last night, daughter and her family decorated the tree with their family decorations.  We put one for our annual ornament, one that we have joked over annually that came from a good friend a couple of decades ago, the three little soft gnomes and daughter insisted that the tree be wrapped in the yarn candy cane rope from our box.

When I went down a couple of days ago to put an empty decoration box in the root cellar part of the basement, I saw a puddle of water.  This happened a few years ago and I did not know what was causing it until I talked with my son.  The air handler condensation tube drips into a floor drain.  The floor drain has a pipe that runs under the slab and out the back of the house, through a PVC pipe that goes 18.5 feet straight back off the stoop, then at a 45º angle off for another 10+ feet where it terminated in a shallow pit fill with gravel.  Twice the end of that pipe has gotten clogged with dirt, the gravel pit also filling up and the condensation backs up until the entire pipe is full and the puddle forms on the slab.  The first time it happened, I had no idea where the pipe was or how far out from the house it was laid.  I started at the back door slab and dug a shallow trench from where I could find the pipe until I found it’s terminus.  It was sleeting and snowing that time.  Today it was just a cold rain and I knew approximately where it was so instead of a trench, I only needed a series of shallow holes to follow the path to the terminus.

dig

When I found the end, I cleaned out the mud, left an open hole and drove a stake until I have a warmer, drier day to redig a pit and fill it with gravel.  I think I will mark the terminus spot with a larger flat rock so I can find it even faster next time.

One of my pullets began laying this week.  She is a half Buff Orpington, half Americauna.  She looks mostly like a Buff Orpington, just a bit smaller and only slightly darker.  I was curious what she would lay and her eggs are small and olive colored.

eggs

We are now getting about 10 eggs a week, half blue ones and half olive green ones.  The Buff Orpingtons which are generally winter layers, have not resumed from their molt.

Saturday is the second Holiday Market.  The forecast is abysmal with an 80% chance of precipitation starting as freezing rain.  It will be about 22 when I leave home to drive down.  It may reach the mid 40’s by the end.  It will probably not be the best Market, but I have the soaps, lotion bars, salves, knitwear, and yarn, so I should give it a go.  I will dress warmly, figure out how to put two sides on my tent and hope the wind is calm.