Life changes

Upon moving to our rural area farm and reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a long held lifestyle of recycling and organic gardening in a city was allowed to grow into a stronger commitment to life and health.  As we planned our home, we sought to make it as green as we could without being off the grid.  Our home is constructed of logs, minimally treated indoors with dilute linseed oil, plywood was avoided as much as possible, the poured concrete basement is faced with fieldstone from our land.  We insulated with cellulose and recycled denim instead of fiberglass.  Water runoff from the metal roof is captured in a cistern system that can be used for watering animals as soon as we get our fencing in order. We have planted trees in areas that would not be pastureland, dug a substantial garden that is handled organically with no weedkillers, no chemical fertilizers, included fruit trees and berry bushes and seek to grow as much of our none protein food as possible.  That which we can not yet grow, such as meat, milk, butter, cheese, and eggs, we buy locally from neighboring organic small farms.

I feel that we have made great strides in living locally and with an ear to the environment.  One area that still concerns me is garbage.  Our property has a large sinkhole that apparently had been used as a dump for years.  There were also well over 100 old tires surrounding the lower pasture in the edge of the woods.  Many loads of this garbage have been removed and hauled down to the garbage pick up center, but some of the larger pieces have been too difficult for us to remove ourselves.  Plans are being explored to enlist the aid of a local caving club interested in our sinkhole to help us remove those pieces this spring.

All vegetable scrap is composted.  All recycleables are taken to the center to be recycled, but still there are about 2 cans of “garbage” each month, that need to be hauled to the center to be compacted and hauled away to some landfill.  One of my goals has been to reduce this load further.  Each time an unwanted mailing is received, I contact the sender to cease sending, unfortunately our recycle center won’t handle business paper or glossy catalogs and magazines.  I try to buy beans, rice and flour using reuseable jars and bags at the natural food store, but items like pet food still comes in a non compostable, non recyclable bags.  I don’t want  to send it them the landfill, but also don’t want to resort to burning it as the ash from those bags is not useable on the garden. I still am trying to solve how to reduce this garbage load.

The use of freecycle and Craig’s list have helped to remove items that we don’t want but still have a useful life, but we are still struggling with reducing our impact.  Live locally and responsibly and leave Mother Earth a better place.

Triple Cable Scarf

By Fran Stafford

This scarf goes nicely with the Starcrossed slouchy beret.

  • Unplanned Peacock Twisty Aran
  • US size 11 circular or straight needles
  • Cable needle
This is an easy cable project.
K – Knit
P – Purl
CN – Cable Needle


Using long tail cast-on CO 27 stitches.  Knit first 5 rows.

Row 1, 3, 7, 9 Knit

Row 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 Purl

Row 5:  Place first *3 stitches on CN, hold to back, K 3, K3 from CN, K 3.  Repeat from * 3 times.

Row 11:  *K3, slip 3 stitches to CN, hold in front, K3, K3 from CN.  Repeat from * 3 times.

Work rows 1 through 12 until scarf is desired length, finish with 5 Knit rows.

   Copyright Fran Stafford, February 2010

Jet lag

For some reason, the two hour time change to MST did not seem to disrupt my schedule too much.  I never sleep well in a strange bed, but skiing hard each day did seem to help  that some, especially if I had taken ibuprophen to ease the aged achey muscles at night.  Meals were eaten when hungry, or when it was a  convenient time to take a break from the skiing.  As all the delays in our travels put us at the condo in the late evening, all we did was unpack, unwind from 18 hours of travel and go to bed the first night in.

The return trip lacked the delays, thank goodness, and we arrived back in Norfolk in only 12 hours 40 minutes, however at nearly 11 p.m.  That night was spent with hubby’s sis and shear exhaustion allowed for a good night’s sleep.  Sunday was a 6 hour drive home, unpacking and a normal bedtime.  For some reason, the return trip has caused serious jet lag for me.  It has been difficult to roust myself from the comfort of our own bed the last two mornings, and basic chores like light house cleaning and the laundry from the vacation seem to wear me out.  It is now afternoon and I could easily take a nap, in fact, yesterday while hubby was in PT, I did go out to the car and take a short nap.  I guess, a couple more days and I will return to normal.

Vacation end

All good things must  eventually end and this is the last eve of this adventure.  The trip has had a few quirks, maybe not as social as last year’s trip, but overall, it was a great week.  We had three snow falls, the first previously blogged about, made for difficult skiing for us easterners on the first day, the second just a couple of inches on a day we went over to Vail for the day and it was a good day of skiing with more of the group than just hubby, his sister, and me.  The third was 6 to 9 inches of dry powder last night and this morning.  What a surprise to ski when you can’t see your skis, your feet and half way up your shins with no resistance.  I had never had that experience before and it developed into much fun after a run or two when you realize that all is good and the sun came out to give some contour to the slopes.

These trips are a bit of a stretch to our retirement budget and this one more than usual as we both bought our own boots with custom orthotics in them.  They will definitely pay for themselves over the next couple of years in rental savings and for the health and safety of our feet.  I don’t think that skis are in our future since that technology seems to change yearly and renting them alone isn’t quite as expensive.  The boot fitter that we went to was a very knowledgeable and patient young man who took his time with us, and even stayed after hours one night to fit my orthotic (I have weird feet with a narrow heel, normal ball, and arch you can drive under.)

Tonight the group gathers for a potluck dinner night to help rid the 5 condos of the week’s leftovers, some social time, and instructions for the trip home so that hopefully, we don’t lose anyone else and all our luggage arrive home with us.  We will leave here at 8 a.m. mountain time and arrive back in Norfolk at 10:40 p.m. eastern time.  We have reconnected with folks we met on last year’s trip, met some new folks this year and had a tiring but fun week.

Skication cont.

I left you with us being less than enthused about our Beaver Creek skication. Things have improved greatly.  Yesterday was beautiful, sunny and most of the slopes except for the experts had been groomed.  We had a good day of skiing, though due to the altitude, we can’t quite make it a full day.

Today about half of the group took a bus to Vail, it was snowing heavily and a new accumulation of about 3 inches of dry powder had fallen.  We went straight to the top, 2 miles up and skied anything that had been groomed and wasn’t marked with a black diamond.  Ended up at the top at lunch time and ate at 2 miles high.  For the first time since arriving, we skiied with a group of comparable skills and had a great time.

This is day 3 of the trip and is the day that the elevation sickness seems to hit the hardest and though our group is faring well with only a bit of queasiness and headache, a couple of our group members are having a hard time.  We live at 2300 feet, but most of the group is from sea level, so the 8,000 foot elevation is a tough adjustment.

We have 3 more ski days and hope to make the best of it.


For the past couple of years we have treated ourselves to a skiing vacation with the ski club we belonged to prior to our retirement mountain move.  Last year we came out to Colorado and skiied Snowmass.  This year’s trip is also to Colorado to Beaver Creek.  They have had much lower than normal snowfall this year, the base is low and concerned for the season.  The weather system that tormented the country yesterday, gave them what they have been waiting for in the form of a foot of snow, but it is very sticky.  We almost didn’t get here.

Our flight from Norfolk left at 7 a.m. meaning a get up time before 4 to meet the group traveling together at the airport shortly after 5 a.m.  It was raining in Norfolk and the flight to Atlanta was bumpy and rough.  We arrived in the air over Atlanta early and were put in a holding pattern for 45 minutes and then allowed to land.  They were experiencing severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings, so there we sat for 4 hours.  Finally, our flight left for Denver, not  bad leg of the journey, until we got to the luggage carosel which did not want to feed our bags up onto the level where we could collect them. Four flights of people mostly going skiing clustered around one broken down carosel trying to get many oversized, overstuffed suitcases.  Finally all 35 of us were collected with no missing bags.  Loaded on the bus and off we head for Beaver Creek.  We weren’t even out of the airport when the trip leader realized we were 1 person short, so back to the airport, cell phone calls and 3 other trippers looking for this man, we finally set out again, group in tact.

Just as  the bus got to where the interstate started its climb into the mountains, we drove into the winter storm.  We made it through the pass before they closed it down, the bus slip slid up to the condo units we had rented and we unloaded in a foot of new sticky snow. Total travel time was 18 hours.

 It continued to snow lightly all night and until noon.  My hubby and I ventured out early to the rental shop to get our skiis and back in time to head out with his sister to try this moutain out.  I have never skiied in deep sticky snow before and it did nothing to instill my confidence in my ability.  The first run, we stuck to a green and easy blue slope, venturing to a different blue on the second run.  It took us over an hour to get down that time.  My very confident skier hubby wasn’t doing so well.  We went inside for lunch and decided to call our first day at the halfway point.

Our condo was advertised as ski in/ski out, it isn’t, the shuttle service from the village to our condo area is slow.  Hopefully the week will improve, right now, I’m not impressed.


When I was in school and when I worked, I was always ready for bed at 9:30 or 10:00 p.m., would fall asleep almost immediately, slept soundly, except when I had a kids in the house and would hear their not usual night sounds.  And I would awaken prior to my alarm clock going off almost without fail.  I have never been a night person, really not a napper either.

This process continued throughout the first year or so of retirement, being ready for bed before the night news and awake at the first hint of light in the morning sky.  Lately, this has changed.  Hubby is a night person, and since his arm break accident in October, has had more difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep, coming to bed at 2 or 3 a.m. instead of midnight or so.  This may be a part of what has disrupted my cycle, but I am finding more and more nights where I sit and knit while he watches TV or go to our bed to read and instead of being ready to fall asleep by 10 o’clock or so, I’m finding my self still awake when he comes to bed and often lying awake until 3 a.m. or later.

Last night was one of those nights.  I sat up finishing a hooded sweater for our 6 year old grandson, so that I could mail it before we leave for our ski trip, kissed my love goodnight and did not get to sleep until after 3.  Of course I awoke as the sun kissed the eastern sky and could not go back to sleep.

I resumed serious early afternoon workouts, walking 4 miles in an hour, stretching and some weight training a few weeks ago, hoping that would return me to my old sleep habits, but it hasn’t helped so far.

Here I sit now, near dinner time and I am so sleepy, I could curl up comfortably on our rock hearth and sleep, but I dare not give in to the temptation to nap for a little while, this late in the day, or I will again lie in bed and watch the stars moved across the sky and the minutes on the digital bedside clock click over one at a time.

A Winter’s Day

Again I sit at our table with my breakfast, but today there is no warm pool of sun to enjoy.  The wind is fiercely trying to blow yesterday’s rain clouds away while they squeeze out a bit more moisture in the form of mountain snow showers. The weather has indeed been fickle this winter so far.  Yesterday was in the 50’s and rainy, today it is in the 20’s and clearing.
Ski resorts are struggling with no snow, yet the Alaskan town has an emergency with 18 feet of snow.

As I sit watching the flurries, I am also being entertained by a flock of small birds that have found something of interest at the back of the house and keep landing on the deck rail, cocking their heads to check me out on the other side of the glass and returning to whatever caught their attention outside. While living in Virginia Beach, I used to feed the birds and the persisent squirrels who outfoxed my preventative measures, but have not here in the mountains. I guess that is partly because we have outdoor cats to deter the rodent population, and birds on the deck might prove too much temptation. I plant seed producing flowers and leave them for winter forage instead.

I sit here waiting for a 28′ tractor trailer truck with the log siding for the basement completion, worrying that with all the rain we have had that a truck that size is going to do significant damage to the driveway we finally got finished correctly last summer. That was another tale, in short, the original contractor for the house didn’t know what he was doing and we had a dirt lane, deeply rutted and nearly impassable, that took 3 weeks, much grading, rock removal, changing the pitch, a culvert and lots of gravel to correct.  I love our house, but desperately wish it was complete.  Building a house is one of life’s major stessors.

Retirement Perks

The weekend has come and gone and I have little to show for it.  Maybe that is one of the perks of retirement, you don’t have to get all of the chores done on the weekend.  We did get two workouts at the gym and I made homemade Thai curry, we had a little snow to enjoy, but no real work.

We soon will be leaving for a week to enjoy a skiing vacation in Colorado, another retirement perk, not having to schedule vacation time around the academic schedule.  The group we will be traveling with are mostly retired.  A surprisingly fun group, the group with which we celebrated the New Year’s arrival.  I’ve never been a good skier, didn’t start until I was almost 30, but it is a good time and they don’t keep the slopes open 12 hours a day like they do on the east coast, so you can ski for a few hours then come in and fix dinner or get ready to go out for dinner.

The weekend also found me starting two new knitting projects and winding yarn for a third. This is partly because I can’t decide what to take with me on our vacation and partly a reaction to having finished all my Christmas knitting, before Christmas, sort of a reaction only another knitter would understand.  When I was still in the work world, I never had more than one project going at a time, so maybe this too is a retirement perk or maybe hazard.

Well, since I slacked this weekend, I guess I should go clean the kitchen, a bathroom, do a load of laundry, or I can sit here and knit, since there is no job calling me tomorrow, perhaps I’ll just wait for another day.

Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family