Category Archives: Uncategorized

Resilience

The mid March deep freeze has given way to a return of springlike weather.  Most days don’t even require a jacket and evenings only a light one or a sweatshirt.  Most of the daffodils that laid face down during the frigid days and nights have risen back up to the sun, the tulips buds are showing the beginning of color, about to split open into vivid shows.  All of the flowering almonds and pears burned, but the Japanese cherries are bursting with halos of light pink blooms. The forsythias at the school bus stop that were browned, found a few more buds and have a smattering of yellow showing.

Forsythia

 

Though we are less than a half mile from the bus stop, we reside in a hollow that everything blooms slightly later.  Our forsythia had not started to bloom before the freeze and is now beginning to burst forth with color, just as the lilac buds are forming adjacent to them.

Lilac

 

Soon,  the bank by our car park will be riotous with color and fragrance.

With the return of the springlike temperatures have come the waves of rain and thunderstorms.  A day of calm sun followed by a day of rain and sometimes wind. Yesterday was near 80ºf and bright sun, today it will be in the upper 60’s or low 70’s but thick and gray.

clouds

 

Between the time of this photo having just gotten back from the bus stop, and the time granddaughter and I left for preschool, the fog rolled in.

Fog

 

The 3 flags almost hidden by the fog, mark three of the tiny firs that we planted last weekend.  The every other day rain has been helpful in keeping them watered.  When we have a streak of dry weather, the tractor bucket will be filled with water and driven up the row while a garden bucket is used to pour a gallon or so on each little tree every couple of days.  We are toying with buying some of the 24″ mulch rings to put around them to help keep the grass and weeds down and away from the trunks and to help preserve the moisture around them.  The tiny trees are much too small to use the self watering sacs that can be used on a larger sapling, though the red maple may be large enough for one of them.

chicks

 

The chicks are now 2 1/2-3 weeks old and no longer the cute little fuzz balls they were.  They look like little dinosaurs and sound much like them too, no longer peeping, but squawking.  They can easily fly out of the big water trough that is their brooder, kept inside only by the window screen laid on top.  All have wing and tail feathers and were going through the quart size water and feeder in less than a day, so yesterday they graduated to a 7 lb feeder with a lid on top so they can’t accidentally fall inside and get trapped, soiling the food for the rest and they got a 5 quart water dispenser as there is no fear of one drowning in the edge where they drink.  They desperately need to be moved to the garage and thoroughly cleaned but the tub is too heavy for one person to carry and it is raining.  Maybe tomorrow when the sun is out, it can be dragged up the hill to the garage side of the house and moved into the garage.  With the coldest night expected in the mid 40’s with two mother tables in the bin and with feathers coming in, they should be fine.  Having them in the basement is a dirty, smelly idea, but was necessary with the nights in the teens.  If they were outside with a hen, she would have them out and running around, scratching and dust bathing by now regardless of the temperature.

As we approach Earth Day and with the emphasis by our current governing body to undo all of the regulations that have been put in place to protect our planet and environment, and as a former science teacher and still a proponent for science research and development, I have purchased another t shirt to wear during the auxiliary March for Science on the campus of the local University in town.  Now, I’m not sure which of my two I will wear that day, but they are going to be worn before and after as well.  We can’t be silent.  Science and our environment are too important to hide our heads in the sand and ignore what is going on.  Undoing regulations and removing the budgets to allow science research  is NOT going to make America better! (mini rant over)

shirt

Nice days

The beautiful weather has encouraged outdoor time. The peach tree that needed pruning was done.

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mess

But what a mess is there to clean up now.  This tree won’t produce this year, but when it does next year, we will be able to reach the fruit.

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The help

 

The help wasn’t too helpful, though they did seem to enjoy the supervised free range time, foraging for bugs and seeds around the outside of the gardens and under where branches were falling.

Yesterday again dawned a near summer day, laundry was started with the idea of hanging it out on the drying rack, but hubby suggested a day trip to recalculate the mileage on a circuit that he had submitted as a potential ride for the regional Harley Davidson rally in June.  He also wanted to check for restaurants at the near halfway point that would accommodate parking a dozen motorcycles and seating their riders plus some passengers.  Though the day was nice enough for a ride, this passenger is only in a closed vehicle on 4 wheels, so the day trip was taken in the car. Restaurants other than fast food were hard to come by, a local pizza place, a Mexican place, and a Chinese place.  The Mexican was a possibility, the Chinese place didn’t look like it could handle that many folks.  We tried the pizza place and ate their pizza and salad bar buffet.  It wasn’t great by any means and costs about $8 each, so for what we ate, was fairly expensive. The halfway point town is an example of how humanity can take a beautiful spot and make it ugly.  Generally, the old downtown areas of the small towns are nice, not so this one.  The focus of the ride is a road of steep switchbacks called the Back of the Dragon and even with the bare trees, or maybe because of them, the views were stunning, watching the ridge undulate ahead and behind us and looking down into the valley farms.  Though this is only 80 road miles from us, much closer as the crow flies, the contouring of the slopes is much different than here.  Perhaps due to heavier glacial activity?

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Dragon1

Needless to say, the laundry ended up in the dryer, but did get done before the sheets and quilt were needed last night.  The daytime temperatures have been in the upper 60’s, yesterday in the 70’s, but it is clear and cooling back to the 30’s at night.  Today is another beautiful day, the peach tree mess is still calling for attention.  The lopers and saw will be hauled back out and the branches cut into woodstove lengths to use for kindling next winter.

 

Olio – February 3, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

If Phil had come out today instead of yesterday, he would not have seen his shadow.  It is thick and gray.  It looks like it could snow, but there is none in the forecast.  Even the weekend storm threat has dissipated, so there should be no missed school next week.  It is cold, each day this week has been colder by 10 or more degrees than the day before.  It was near the upper 60’s on Tuesday and it won’t reach freezing today with a low in the shivering teens.  We have had wind this week too, though today is calm.  One day, the wind took out our power for nearly 7 hours before they found the tree on the line and did some major pruning about a mile down the road.

With the lengthening daylight hours, the hens are picking up egg production.  Yesterday there were 5 eggs out of the 7 hens.

eggs

It amuses me to see the variation on the size and color of the eggs from the Buffys.  The top two right and the bottom left are all Buff Orpington eggs.  The top left is the Americauna and the bottom right is the Americauna/Buff Orpington cross.  The seller of the Buff Orpington pullets that were to increase the flock must not really be interested in selling as they have not gotten back with me though they have email and phone number to arrange the sale and pick up.  Hopefully the girls will  be prolific this year and provide us with enough chicks to replenish the predator loss and still give us enough for the freezer.

The Fibonacci Infinity scarf is still growing.

scarf

There is a 13 row white repeat to go, then pick up the blue with the white and finally the blue with the merlot.  It is already as long as my legs and very heavy due to it being a tube.  It will definitely be a warm scarf.  The silk cowl at the top is growing, it is about 70% done, only getting attention when I am the car passenger instead of the driver.

The Leicester Longwood, a bit finer than the yarn for the scarf is on the wheel.  Hopefully, it will make a knitted fabric that is more sweater friendly after a swatch or two trying different needles.  This week, my Spanish Peacock drop spindle went to a new home as it caused too much strain and pain in my shoulders.  The proceeds from that sale bought a new supported spindle and bowl.  That is a learning process and some of the soft California Red roving is being used to learn. This still allows for portable spinning with less strain on the shoulders and elbows.

spindle

 

This is definitely a learning curve.  The spindle spins nicely, but my drafting of the fiber is still very inconsistent and trying to avoid the park and draft technique makes it more of a challenge.

Still loving life on our farm.

 

Six More Weeks

One of Jim’s favorite movies is Groundhog Day, fitting on February 2.

This morning on Gobbler’s Knob, Punxsutawney Phil  and his counterparts here abouts saw their shadows foretelling 6 more weeks of winter, but really, don’t we have 6 more weeks anyway. I don’t know about where you live, but our winter really begins in earnest in mid January most years and continues on until Mid to late March.  We are most likely to see snow and cold temperatures during that period.

I can’t complain about having a sunny day this time of year, even if it predicts 6 more weeks of winter.  As long as I awaken tomorrow and it is February 3, I can live with that.  Spring and summer will be along presently.

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Sissies

Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” ― Bette Davis

The housecleaning diet was imposed after Christmas and maybe some improvement was occurring, but oh that sour dough and homemade bagels from the Farmers Market, the mug of hot cocoa on a snowy day, maybe with a dash of Chambord, the local cheese and pizza, pasta…  It was difficult and sliding occurred, joints complained along with an increase of another symptom.

As the joints hurt, my mind wanders to my baby brother, 6 1/2 years my junior.  As a kid, he used to run into a room, launch into the air and skid across the carpet or floor on his knees.  Bet they pain him now.  Then as an adult, he had a slip on ice that resulted in neck surgery.  As we age, the old injuries, separated shoulder skiing, broken wrist roller blading with daughter return to haunt now with discomfort and stiffness.

The gluten must go.  The dairy is easier with alternative milk products for coffee (the current favorite is unsweetened Toasted Coconut/Almond milk), but oh the cheese, sob.  Hot cocoa can be made Mexican style with water, but it still has the sugar, not as much as commercial or even homemeade mixes, if you use real Mexican chocolate disks and grate them yourself, but still probably too much.  I have eliminated other sugar such as jam, honey, and sweets once the Christmas chocolate was gone.

chocolate

Perhaps the elimination process would be easier if only a category is eliminated at a time.  Peanuts were easy, just use Almond butter, eat whole almonds instead.  Peanuts are a huge trigger.  Wheat is next, a real tough one, but something must be done and it seems to be a major trigger as well.  Ibuprofen daily isn’t the solution.  Some of the damage is done and can’t be undone, but perhaps further damage can be slowed and some of the discomfort reduced.  Mountaingdad will never go for this type of cure, so I go it alone.  Lunch out is going to be a bear.

The snow is gone.  Now we wait for this weekend and the next round of winter liquid or solid as the case may be.

Flexibility

The best made plans sometimes go astray.  We had planned a week long trip to Colorado in early February to stay with cousins and ski.  Bought the airfare in October, reserved ski rentals, then a medical issue arose and the trip had to be cancelled.  The cancellation of the ski rentals was easy.  The airfare, not so much.  We had paid extra for the insurance that assured us that in case of a medical issue, the airfare would be refunded, after all, we are senior citizens. NOT! It can be refunded if the medical issue precludes travel at all, certified by the doctor, not just if the reason for the trip has been forbidden by the doctor.  We now have airfare for 2 that must be used before a year from the date of the original ticket purchase.

Okay, so we start looking for other options.  One option requires us to have current passports.  Ours are expired.  We were going off to get our photos retaken in a few days, the paperwork was all filled out, and the entire senior staff of the State Department walked out.  Guess that will delay things there for a while.

My spinning group meets on Thursdays.  Getting there was already a bit of a challenge for me because we pick up granddaughter at preschool at 12:15-12:30 window, she must be fed, and there is no way to get home and back to town again in time which means taking two cars to town, but one of the cars has been acting up of late.  Sometimes it just won’t start, not a grind, click, anything.  The dash lights come on, the radio works, the battery indicator is strong, it just won’t start, but not consistently and the dealer can’t duplicate it to repair so we have been hesitant to drive it much.  We were going to today anyway so I could go spin and socialize, but then we got a call that grandson had to be picked up at school and granddaughter is supposed to be napping.  Another plan foiled.

Instead, of socializing with the other spinners, I am sitting home spinning my Leicester Longwood and knitting a cowl from the silk that I spun a couple of weeks ago.  I just couldn’t put it in my shop, it called to me to make something luxurious just for me.

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Sometimes, we just have to be flexible.

Respect our Mother

“Only when the last tree has died,? the last river been poisoned,? and the last fish been caught? will we realize we cannot eat money.” —Cree Proverb

I tend to shy away from politics on my blog.  I have left social media at least for a while due to the same, but my heart hurts right now.  How many Deep Water Horizons,  how many people are going to lose their water due to contamination caused by fracking, how many pipeline accidents causing loss of life and property, how many valleys and streams must be ruined with mountain top removal for coal extraction,  how many coastal towns will be flooded and animal species become extinct due to polar ice melt/global warming will it take before we learn.  It hurts my heart that land will be taken and ruined from people by imminent domain to allow such projects.  It hurts my heart that the National Parks that we have come to love through decades of hard work and protection may be lost to or despoiled by logging and drilling.  All at the whim of the pen of a wealthy man and his party with an agenda that is not in the best interest of the people and certainly not the environment.  Is this desecration something we can live with for the increased wealth of a few?

pipeline mountain top removal

 

Tools of the Trade

In addition to keeping the household of 4 adults, 2 children, 3 big dogs, 3 cats running, raising chickens for our  eggs and some meat, making soap, balms, salves, and beard products for my online shop and craft shows, I love fiber arts.  I sew, knit, crochet, and spin fiber into yarn for my own use and for sale in the shop and shows.

A couple of years ago, we were flying on a vacation, I took knitting with me to help occupy the time and keep me settled on the plane (I’m not a huge fan of flying).  The project that I took was  socks for one of the grandson’s for Christmas, Batman socks.  I had black and gold yarns and I wanted to put the Batman emblem on the cuff of each sock.  I rummaged through my bag and could not find a piece of graph paper though I usually carried a small graph paper notebook and ended up drawing a grid on the back of a receipt and graphing out the emblem.  Several days into the vacation, we were shopping in one of the native markets and I spotted a small woven fabric covered notebook cover with a graph paper pad in it.  It was inexpensive and I purchased one.  The pad got used up over time and I discovered that it was a non standard size and unavailable in the USA or on any online store I could scare up.  It was larger than the pocket Moleskine or Fieldnotes books, smaller than the medium Moleskine variety and it had to be side bound with staples, not a spiral.  The cover sat idle and empty, but I liked it.  Recently, it occurred to me that I could use the woven part of the cover and repurpose it with some added fabric to make it fit a standard size. My very talented and crafty sister in law was called on with several questions, many ideas, and finally, bravely, I cut the notebook cover in half, removed the binding, made a new liner, spine, and binding that enlarged it enough to handle a standard notebook.

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This required setting up the sewing machine and pulling out the sewing box. They are in the dormer in our bedroom where I have a handmade walnut table, pottery lamp, and shelving to store my yarn and fabric.

Compared to many of my friends in the fiber arts, I am a lightweight. Most of them have multiple wheels, looms, sewing machines. I do have two wheels or I will once the antique one has all of its parts back. But the rest of my equipment will fit into a tote bag.

wheel

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The Louët has a built in Lazy Kate for plying, but I don’t like it, so I use the one my son made me for Christmas.

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A swift and two different sized Niddy Noddys for winding yarn into skeins from a bobbin.

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And two different sized Lucets for making cord.

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An assortment of various drop spindles for portable spinning.

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Hand carders for combing unprocessed clean wool.

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A backstrap loom, that I need an instructor to teach me to set it up for weaving.

With one set of interchangeable knitting needles, one set of double pointed knitting needles in various sizes, a few fixed circular knitting needles, and several crochet hooks, I have all I need for spinning, sewing, knitting or crocheting.

It will all fit nicely in a beautiful hand made tote from a friend.

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Though I don’t carry it all with me, I could.

 

 

Peeves

We all have pet peeves, right?  Some really get under our skin, some are almost amusing.  I am currently reading Jeffrey Deaver’s The Steel Kiss, the bad guy has learned to hack into controllers that allow consumers to turn lights on or off in their home while away, turn off the stove you forgot, change settings on other convenience items and thermostats remotely and thus using them to murder or attempt to murder “Shoppers.”  Reading this has made me more aware of some of these conveniences and also some of their issues and alerted me to one of my peeves.  Public restrooms.  You leave the stall and move to wash your hands, many public restrooms now have automatic soap dispensers, just hold you hand beneath it and it dispenses soap.   Sometimes, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it dispenses soap enough to wash your whole body or dispenses a second dollop on the counter or floor after you move your hand.  Of all the automatic gadgets in a bathroom, that is the least necessary because once you have the soap, you wash your hands.  So if the bathroom has an automatic water sensor,  you have no control over temperature, if it lacks one, you turn on the water with dirty hands, wash your hands, then have to turn the water off.  If you are in a bathroom that has only electric dryers, there are no paper towels with which to turn the water off.  Maybe there are paper towels, but the dispenser is not automatic and you then have to push a lever to dispense the towel, okay if the lever is on the side, you can use your elbow, but not if it is underneath.  Then you get to the door in the bathroom with only electric hand dryers and it opens inward.  You washed your hands, but did the other person before you? No, I’m not a germaphob, I just find all of this amusing in a peevish sort of way.  Either use all automatic bathroom items and a door you can push outward, or at least give us accessible towels to use to turn off water and open doors, oh and a convenient can to deposit the dirty towel.  Oh and while you are planning this facility, put a hook on the door for jackets and bags.  I don’t want my reuseable bags  or purse on the dirty bathroom floor.

Next up is the Express Lane in the grocer.  You are standing in line with 6 items waiting to check out.  The store isn’t very busy, there are You Scan stations, but you don’t like to use them because they are taking jobs away from folks and they all have an annoying voice that tells you what to do even if you have done it a hundred times and don’t need instruction, plus that irritating voice asks you if you are using your own bag, then calls the You Scan monitor who is AWOL when you put your bag on the turntable.  The two folks in front of you have just unloaded a full week’s worth of groceries onto the Express Lane conveyor.  Ten large paper bags worth of groceries.  It is finally your turn and you mention your frustration to the cashier and are told, it is store policy to not say anything to the violators.  I almost did myself, but didn’t want to create a scene at 9 a.m.  Maybe I will just use the You Scan next time.

How about going to a restaurant and having a server that is friendly and attentive, but then three other people that are not your server stop by your table to see how your meal is? Are you satisfied? Do you have any concerns?  Not one, three different people to interrupt your meal and your conversation.  If you have more than one manager, customer care representative, or whatever the title, give them different sections to monitor.  Don’t keep bothering the same patrons over and over, maybe they won’t come back next time.

My husband says I am getting feisty in my old age.  Maybe I am, maybe less patient. Maybe I am just willing to voice my peeves.

What are your pet peeves?

The Undoing

It takes days to decorate for Christmas and days to put it all away.  Usually, I don’t begin the undoing until New Year’s Day and do a packing away marathon, but the tree needed to go.  Daughter’s family’s indoor cats escape out into the living room every night and one of them has been intrigued with the tree.  Each morning, I have found one or more or the ornaments that were high up in the tree, on the floor beneath the tree.  We have a tradition of putting small gifts, like gift cards or notifications of a subscription in the tree.  One that I put in the tree for Captain Video (hubby’s pet name), a notification that he was getting a personalized license plate CP VDEO for his Harley was there in the tree and then it wasn’t.  Christmas morning, it was no where to be found.  Daughter saw it there before she left for Florida, but it is gone.

The tree was very thirsty at first and was taking a couple of gallons of water a day, then it just stopped drinking and the needles started raining down on the wood floor and the living room rug.  The cat’s activity was speeding that process along, and several smaller branches in the tree were broken.

It was time.  After an early appointment in town, we returned home and I collected daughter’s ornament box, my box for garlands, lights, and the starfish tree topper and tackled the removal, pack up, and clean up of the tree.

The tree once denuded of it’s ornaments and lights,  required siphoning of a gallon and a half of water from the base, removal from the house and taken out of it’s stand it was dragged down the hill to an area we can’t mow that has several Christmas tree skeletons in it.  Some years, we buy a root ball tree and plant it after Christmas, but that wasn’t an option this year with just the two of us here to deal with it and with Jim having some irritated nerve issues that we have been dealing with for the past month or so.

The living room is rearranged into it’s normal configuration, the backs of the leather furniture draped with throws as one of the cats has claws and has damaged the back of one of the couches.  The Santas, snowmen, village, linens, and wreaths will remain for another few days, and the 2 foot tree atop my jelly cupboard that is decorated with Hallmark minis, will stay up until daughter’s family returns next week as the ornaments that DIL made them are currently adorning that tree, and the gifts from eldest son’s family to daughter’s family are under that tree.

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Now that Christmas is over, real winter will set in here in the mountains.  We will see fewer mild sunny days, more cold, some snow, and lots of rain.  That is the nature of winter in the Virginia mountains.

Wishing you a Happy New Year.