Tag Archives: reading

Rainy Day business – 8/1/2018

The rainy season has returned, just in time to soak in the newly planted seed and transplanted berry bushes.  It has put a temporary halt on deconstruction clean up, but I still have a couple of weeks before it all has to be gone.

Rainy days are for knitting, spinning, and reading.  Diligently I have been working on my handspun sweater, hoping to get it ready to submit to the Agriculture Fair, but the body is going so slowly and the neck and front bands will have to be picked up and added, so I don’t think I will make it.  The fiber is a swirl dyed Coopworth from Hearts of the Meadow Farm, the pattern is Peasy.


In the car and away from the house, I am knitting fingerless mitts of my own design from some delightful fingering weight Kid Mohair, Merino Lamb, and silk blend from Junebug Farm.


Oh that isn’t a good photo, sorry.

Last night because my hands were tired from knitting, I tackled a 4 ounce braid of Corriedale combed top  from Best Friend Fibers that is white at one end and gradually ends in a rich royal blue.  It was split down the middle and is being spun into another gradient skein, though I don’t know if I will knit it or sell it.  We will see how much is there and if I have an inspiration when it is done.  Half was spun last night, the other half will be done today, then it will be plyed and measured.



The book of the week, though it is slow going as I generally fall asleep just a few pages in each night is Beartown by Fredrik Backman.  It is a good book, but by the time I pick it up each night, I am exhausted from the day’s activities.

Olio, October 12, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

It has been a while since an Olio was posted, actually been a while since much of anything has been posted.

Spinzilla, the TNNA (The National Needle Arts Assoc.) team spinning competition ended Sunday night.  Our team had 25 spinners from across the US, sponsored by The Knotty Ladies and Strauch Fiber Equipment Company.  Most of our team has reported their yardage with a photo, it was due to our team leader yesterday, but mine was turned in before the official end of the competition by about 3 hours.  I was worn out, beat up, and generally over it by then and had finished plying a bobbin full of wool, so I quit.  During the course of the competition as my spinning wheel only has 4 bobbins and 1 of them has some pre Spinzilla alpaca on it that didn’t get finished prior to the start time, I plyed off every bobbin or two bobbins together, wound them off the plying bobbin, measured the yardage, and banded them with fiber, yardage, and weight and put the info in a spreadsheet to make the total tally easier to do.  In the end, spinning every spare minute I could on my wheel and everywhere we went on one of my drop spindles, I spun 5000.57 yards of wool, 2.84 miles in 7 days.


Though we have often had our first frost by now, we are still experiencing daytime tempertures as high as 90, but the light drought we have been experiencing has finally broken and we have had some rain in the past week, greening up the browned grasses.  The trees are turning orange, red, and gold, some having already shed their leaves.


The pullets seem to all be laying now, often getting up to 13 eggs from the 16 on a good day.  Only one of the old girls is still laying, though the molt seems to be winding down, it no longer looks like a chicken exploded in their coop and run.


Normally in the autumn, we spend about 23 hours taking turns mowing our 30 acres with a 5 foot brush hog and our little tractor, but this year, we turned the task over to our retired postman and his helper and let them mow and bale the 3 big fields.  That leaves only from the house to the road to mow and that often gets done monthly anyway.  That was a big relief to not have to face that many hours on the tractor.


He got 20 large round bales, not too bad for a second cutting of hay after weeks of really dry weather.  His cattle will appreciate it this winter if we get any bad weather.

Each day hubby and I try to get in a good brisk walk.  Even with the rain we have managed most days.  Between our house and Blacksburg, there is a large pond in the  National Forest and it has a nice path around it.  If we park in the upper parking lot, walk down to the pond and around it and then turn around and back track, we get about 2.3 miles.  From the library in Blacksburg to the rec center in Christiansburg is an asphalt trail on an old rail grade, mostly through wooded areas, behind residential areas, and some open fields and it has several access points.  There are two that we choose, from the library to Airport Road and back which is about the same 2.3 miles and from behind the hospital toward Christiansburg, a 2.5 section.  Our 4th walk choice is to go to Radford when we are over in that direction and walk 2.7 miles of Bisset Park on an asphalt trail along the New River.  As we are still seeing various specialists nearly weekly trying to determine what is going on with hubby, we have avoided steep climbs or walks that take us out of civilization where getting help if needed would be difficult.  There is another trail along the New River that we want to check out, but it is one that will probably involve taking along a picnic and making a day trip of it as it is a bit of a drive.

My crafting since the end of Spinzilla has been minimal, but I did get my studio corner cleaned up and mostly organized and used some of my hand spun, hand dyed yarn to repair my favorite pair of jeans.


And I have read.  The Orphan’s Tale is an excellent historical fiction set during WWII set in Germany and France and set around the circus.  A really interesting read, highly recommended.

Quiet on the creek

The pastoral setting of son’s families house, is eerily quiet when they are at work and grandson is at school.  The road is not a busy one, with only a few vehicles passing each day.  Most of the land surrounding this scattered complex of 3 houses owned by the landlord is the holdings of one family.  On Sunday morning, I walked up the road more than a mile and all of the No Trespassing signs on both sides of the road, have the same family name on them.  Though they have cattle, the pastures are too far away to hear them calling to each other as we hear at home.  There are horses in the other direction, but I have not heard any whinnying from that direction either.  Mostly the sound is the burbling creek, the cicadas, and an occasional bird call.

Late last night, some critter got into the recycling on the back porch and rattled cans and bottles around for a bit, but it was chilly last night, so that noise was muted through the closed back door.

Other than daily household chores, such as dishes, and laundry, I have had quiet idle time to read (currently, A Brilliant Death, by Robin Yocum), knit (hats), or spin.  Yesterday, I finished a 208 yard skein of Shetland breed wool that I had dyed in Buttercup and Ripe Tomato color dyes.  It didn’t come out with the longer runs of singles colors that I expected, but it is bright and interesting.  It attracted a local hummingbird as it hung on the clothesline to dry.  My camera isn’t good enough to catch a hummingbird zipping around.


This skein is dk weight, enough for a hat or cowl with interesting color mix, reds, yellows, salmons, and orange.

I can’t decide whether to spin more of the fiber that I brought, or finish knitting the hats with the yarn that I brought.

The old man Opossum finally showed up this morning.  He walked slowly down the hill across the road, wandered that side of the road for a bit in the sun, like an elder warming his bones.  He ambled across the road to this side and I lost sight of him, so my photo is zoomed on my phone.  He is a scruffy old character.


I still have not seen the raccoon family.

Mostly, I want to be slow and lazy like Mr. Opossum.


Olio – April, 21, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

After a lot of cold and wet, we are now warm, dry, and windy.  The burn pile sits unburned.  There are or have been many brush fires in Virginia this spring and I sure don’t want to contribute to this.  Though the pile is in the middle of a grassy area, an errant wind borne spark could be disastrous, so the pile sits for longer.

Yesterday, after taking granddaughter to preschool, I left the car in the lot, met a friend who took her grandson to a preschool a block away, and we walked through town to a local coffee shop, enjoyed a beverage and each other’s company and then walked back to my car to retrieve eggs and some soap making supplied that I had bought to share with her, she was my soap making instructor.  From there to her car, to drop off the items and pick up a book she needed to return to the library, I needed to check out a book I had on reserve and we walked on to the library.  It was a pleasant morning out.

Today I had an appointment to get the oil changed and a state inspection on my 11 year old car.  I had hoped to get in, have it done in an hour or so and leave.  I did have a problem for them to diagnose, as after they replaced my airbag in a recall, the SRS light on the dash lit intermittently and recently, on more than off, which means that the airbag system is disabled.  Well, that little glitch meant that the car would not pass inspection as they do not carry the seat belt part that controls that in stock and had to order it.  Then they informed me that the ball joints needed to be replaced and the car realigned.  I left knowing that I can’t drive my car except when absolutely necessary until the part comes in (at least it is a warranty job) and that they want more than a grand to repair the other.  Thus my dilemma.  The car is 11 years old, has 185000+ miles on it.  It has been a great car.  The cost of the repair is less by far than going in debt for a new car and it will pass inspection this time once the SRS situation is fixed.  I fear that this is the beginning of other big repairs.  I will look into possibly having it repaired at an independent mechanic instead of the dealer, maybe it won’t cost quite as much or continue to drive it until later in the year and decide what to do then.

I have been spinning a lot the past few days.  The Merino that I bought and blended at the spinning retreat was finished, way over 400 yards of soft deep eggplant color with hints of twilight blue and gray.


When I finished that one, I spun the other fiber that I purchased and blended at the retreat, an Olive and Teal blend of Jacob, Mystery Ram, and Alpaca.  It is over 114 yards of yarn that will probably be used to make a hat if the yarn itself doesn’t sell on my etsy shop.


Both of these are available at CabinCrafted on Etsy.

After a couple of years of reading primarily ebooks, I have returned to the good old fashioned bound book.  Having recently read Solitude Creek by Jeffrey Deaver and The Memory Man by David Baldacci, I heard a review and author interview on The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida.  On a recent trip to the library, seeking that and two other books, all unsuccessful, I did reserve the last and am currently enjoying this author’s style and the story.  It is especially intriguing as she spoke in the interview about the beginning of the book being based on a real life event to her.


I will likely seek out her other books to read as well.

On my local walks, which due to Spring Gobbler hunting season have been confined mostly to the road, I have seen many spring flowers, some burned by the last late frost. These walks are now being logged by a community walking group of individuals who are adding their miles together each week and tracking a walk across the country and back from our town to other towns and cities of the same name through out the country and even abroad.  Such fun to be part of this event.



Olio – February 2, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

After a few spring like days, the lower field looks like a tonsured head with the fringe of snow around the edges of the bald field.  Yesterday was rainy but warm, today gray, drizzly and chilly.  The kind of day where I want to read and knit and so that it mostly what I did, along with a brief nap as I am still coughing and somewhat congested, a week and a half after contracting this latest round of winter crud.  Having 2 school aged kids, a daughter that works in a school and a SIL that works in a hospital, someone is always bringing home a new variety of it.

I finished one sock of the Unplanned Peacock Twisty Sock yarn, Rainbow and it fits.  Maybe a tad looser around the leg than I need, but at least it goes over my heel and high instep easily.  Sock #2 is in process, my carry along knitting, the cuff done and the leg well on the way to the heel flap.


Because the socks are my carry along knitting, I started my latest sweater two nights ago.  The socks on tiny size 1 double pointed needles, the sweater on a huge size 10 circular needle.  The pattern is Shalom cardigan, the yarn, my own handspun.  Last February at the spinning retreat, I purchased a pound of beautiful Coopsworth overdyed fiber.


Off and on, I spun this fiber into a heavy worsted weight yarn for me.


The fiber was all spun, the yarn washed and measured and it isn’t enough to make me a full sweater.  Shalom is a cap sleeve cardigan, I have knit it before and added 3/4 sleeves.  As luck would have it, Hearts of the Meadow Farm where I purchased the fiber, still has some of last year’s in that color and she has set aside another 8 ounces for me to purchase at this month’s fiber festival.  My plan is to not bind off the cap sleeve, but put them on holders, knit the body and see what I have left over.  Purchase the additional fiber and spin it and hope to have enough to put long sleeves on this one.  Since the yarn is heavy, a full long sleeved sweater would be best.


Shalom is a triple yoked sweater with a single button.  I loved the pattern the first time I knit it, but ended up hating the yarn as it pills terrible.  This yarn shouldn’t do that and I am loving the teal and gray.

The longer days as we march toward the Vernal Equinox has stimulated the Buffy’s desire to lay for us.  Where I was getting one egg every two or three days and always from the same hen, I am now getting 2 to 3 per day and they are coming from various hens as seen in the variation of color and size that I am bringing in each day.


Only one of the Americaunas has ever laid an egg.  I haven’t figured out which of the two it is, but as they are already the odd gals out, I will keep them both to hang out together.  Perhaps both will lay come full on spring.  I have 6 Buff Orpington hens, 2 Americaunas, and two young roosters.  I hope we have success raising chicks this year, as I want to increase my flock back up to 14 from the current 10.  The young rooster who has recently found his voice is practicing more and getting better and more vocal each day.  I still haven’t heard the other one try to crow.  Yesterday, the flock finally left the small area of hay in front of the coop and ventured across a band of remaining snow to the bare spots in the garden.  Today, most of that snow is gone and the garden open for their scratching and digging.

Our spring like days have ended and we are again looking at seasonal temperatures, frigid nights and possibly more snow in the next week.  Phil may have predicted an early spring for Pennsylvania, but I doubt we will see it here.

Olio 12/9/15

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Though still coughing some and still having some sinus discomfort, I think I am finally on the mend from the virus caught from the grands.  My energy is back, fortunately, as there have been gifts to wrap, salves and lotion bars to make, wooden boxes to stain.

Each day, the postal service, UPS, and or FedEx drive down our long gravel road and drop off boxes and envelopes of goods ordered online, by us or by daughter and SIL. Some of these goods are gifts, some supplies for this weekend’s Holiday Market and the etsy shop.

These packages have required attention and some have made more work.  There are still a few expected items that will have to be wrapped and later put under the tree. One of the packages was a new shipment of tins and bottles needed to finish getting items ready for the Holiday Market.  After waiting so long for the prior shipment, I changed suppliers and they got the items to me in only 4 business days.  One of the items purchased from them was a package of shrink bands to make the tins of salves, lotion bars, and balms tamper resistant.

A few days ago, I purchased three more of the boxes that I am making into the Body and Beard Kits.  These boxes are purchased unfinished and it take a couple of days to finish with stain and urethane.

Today, I made more Moustache Waxes and Comfrey Salves.  I sat at the table and burned my hand more than once learning to secure the shrink bands on all of the tins, but all are done and I feel better about presenting them in the public without having to worry about one being opened and handled then not purchased.  There will be testers of most of the salves and lotion bars that are available.  Tonight, the last 3 Bath and Beard Kits were assembled and boxed up for this weekend.


The weather this weekend is looking stellar and for that I am glad.  It will hopefully bring out more people and I won’t freeze standing outdoors for 6 hours.

On the farm front, my chickens seem to be on strike.  I haven’t gotten an egg in a week.  When I decided to raise chickens, I selected Buff Orpingtons as they lay year round and are a dual purpose bird.  The plan has been for some of the chicks from last spring to replace some of the hens, so that we would not have a flock that all molted at once.  That plan didn’t work out with all but 1 of the spring chicks being taken by predators or the neighbor’s dog.  The 1 is our young rooster and he still hasn’t even developed his crow.  The 2 Americauna’s though young, don’t lay in the winter.  All 7 mature Buffy hens are molting.  Once done, egg production will resume and the chooks will all have pretty plumage again.

Since finishing my Coopsworth spinning project, I haven’t been spinning or knitting.  My Coopsworth ended up being more than 950 yards of yarn.  Not quite as much as I had hoped, but there are a couple of sweater ideas in the works. But I have gone through a couple of books. The Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard was a very good Revolutionary War Historical Novel.  I recommend it if you like historical novels.


Olio – September 25, 2015

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The coastal storm that has cancelled many events in Virginia is providing us with some much needed rain and with it unseasonably cool temperatures.  The rain is welcome, but as we still have been unable to get a roofer here to put a new boot on the bent vent stack and to refasten and realign the gutters damaged by last winter’s snow, I am a bit worried about the rain leaking in.  I actually have finally gotten someone to at least come to give us an estimate to make the repairs and to install snow strips to try to prevent this damage from happening again.

I’m still not totally over the fall crud that I caught a week and a half ago.  About the time I started feeling better, it settled in my sinuses as often happens.  I think it may actually be finally going away.

The chicken pen installation has some flaws.  I keep finding a hen in the meaties pen and meaties in the hens’ pen, so they have found a way to get back and forth.  Last night one of the teenagers was totally out of both pens.  Perhaps they have learned to fly over the gate.

I finished the project I was knitting for my author friend and again, as it isn’t my project to show, I won’t show a photo of what it is, but the colors ended up very jewel like, so I had to take a shot of them.


The project has been delivered to my friend and I have resumed reading, something that I set aside to finish the knit.  The current book is Once We Were Brothers, a historical fiction of World War II atrocities in Poland.

I did begin a new knitting project, to finally make the socks that granddaughter requested when I was making the Rainbow pair that I sent to my sister for her birthday. The Wildfoote Sock Yarn is also jewel like and really similar colors to the project that I just finished.


This is just a basic vanilla sock pattern for a nearly 4 year old girl.  I suppose that I should finish knitting the sleeves of my sweater that has been on hold all summer now that the weather is cooling enough to want to wear a sweater and to finish spinning the Coopsworth from last spring’s Fiber Retreat so that I can make myself another sweater from it.

A portion of this afternoon was spent updating my etsy shop, adding some new soap and handspun  yarn.

I haven’t visited the garden in a few days.  Once the weather improves, I need to harvest more tomatoes and peppers and get some more canning and freezing done.

Labor Day weekend Olio -2015

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The mountain cabin is quiet.  I left on Wednesday to return Grandson #1 to Northern Virginia to meet his teacher and settle in to his back to school routine before school resumes on Tuesday.  I drove home today to a flurry of activity.

Daughter and family just left for a long weekend, returning to the city of her childhood to see how her husband and kids do camping in a tent and to visit with friends from high school days, most who have never seen her Florida born children.  We will take care of their pets while they are away.

Last evening, daughter texted me a photo of the first Americauna egg.  I was hoping for blue eggs, but the first was olive green.  This afternoon, a second one appeared, I think from a different hen as it is a slightly different shape and more blue green in color.


The eggs are still small as first eggs tend to be, but it is fun having some colored eggs mixed in with the creams and browns that the Buffys lay.  If two of the Americaunas are laying, that leaves only one.  The Buffy that decided to be a late broody has been broken of her habit, I think.  I have been gone for a couple of days, but I hadn’t caught her on the nest at night for a few days prior.

The meat chicklets are maturing quickly, at two and a half weeks, they are mostly feathered, seriously outgrowing the 100 gallon livestock water trough that serves as a brooder.  They use the Brinsea heat table to try to launch themselves out of the tub, but none of them sleep under, on or even near it now.  They can foul their bedding in two days max.  We never did get the chicken tractor secured so I can’t put them in it.  The cull coop area is still not fenced so that is also out.  I guess I will have to keep cleaning them every other day, set up a playpen outdoors for some day time in the sun and get the fencing up pronto so that they can go outside permanently in another week or so if the weather stays as warm as it has been.  I think they will fare better with space and no source of heat than they will in such tight quarters.  Maybe I can put the Buffys and Americaunas in the cull pen for a couple of weeks and put the chicklets in the coop where they are better protected and as the hen pen has a low border of chicken wire surrounding the inside perimeter.

My current knitting is a test knit for a friend who is a knitting book author, so no photos or credits at this point.

My spinning had been suspended for about a month as my chair was commandeered with having so many extra folks in the house this summer.  I could use the stool that my brother made for me, but I put all my fiber supplies on it when we moved the chair.  Now that the house has returned to just the regular residents, the chair is back, so I can reclaim my stool and finish the pound of Coopsworth that I bought last spring at Hawk’s Nest, maybe just in time to return to Hawk’s Nest for the fall spinning retreat.

As for what I am reading; each year I reread Barbara Kingsolver’s, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  It always helps me recenter and dedicate some time to putting by for the nonproductive food months of winter and to help limit or eliminate the purchases of items that are not carbon footprint friendly, having been imported from across the country or even from other countries.  It is a reminder to help support our local farmers and dedicate more time to my garden.

Until I write again, have a great holiday weekend.

Winter’s Roar

Our winter has been unusual to say the least. Until a couple of weeks ago, I think the temperatures had been above normal with occasional snow flurries, a few barely covered the ground snow falls that didn’t last. Then things changed. We haven’t seen daytime temperatures rising above 20° (-6.7°c) and night time temperatures near zero (-17.8°c) in more than a week. On Saturday, we were expecting flurries and got several inches with sharp temperature drops. We had driven in to town to a nice restaurant to celebrate our 37th Valentine Day and Anniversary and the drive back home was a white knuckle ride.

Yesterday we took Son#1 and Grandson#1 to the bus to return home from bringing my car home and a weekend visit and it was brutally cold and windy, wind chills in the double digit negatives.
There were severe weather warnings posted for today and the school makeup day that had been scheduled for today was canceled.


We woke to the expected snow. So far about 5″ with the heaviest part of the system due this evening and overnight. We may be looking at a foot or more with extremely cold temperatures and expected to drop to -10°f (-23.3°c) Thursday night. We aren’t used to that type of temperature. Our firewood supply is running low and our heat pump is struggling.
My chooks won’t come out of the coop when there is snow on the ground and with the temperatures as they are, I didn’t even open the pop door today. I have gone out 3 times to change out the frozen water, twice to throw down a scoop of feed into the straw and collect the eggs before they freeze.
Our neighbor has two very pregnant cows and we saw her go down to check on them before the snow cover got too deep. Our steep gravel road will be difficult to traverse in a couple more inches of snow. I hope the cows don’t calve before we have a moderation in weather back to around freezing this weekend.
The grands are playing in the rec room, I am knitting, reading, and cooking stew and homemade bread. A good way to spend a frigid snowy day.

Book Challenge

One of my avid passions is reading. My favorites are forensic science fiction, historical fiction and fiction by local authors or authors that set their books in areas or regions that are familiar to me, though I often read books recommended by friends, family, or public reviews..

Last year I joined a 100 book challenge a bit into the year and succeeded in reading 90+ books. This year, again I joined the challenge and have read almost 50 books so far. The challenge is a group including many of my friends, however, it is on Facebook and I have decided to deactivate my account. I will miss the book suggestions and reviews from this group.

I have always loved books and have several that I read repeatedly such as Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and the classic To Kill A Mockingbird.

All of our family are readers and I have been in awe of our 9 year old grandson, who while staying with us this summer has read in excess of 4000 pages of novels.  Though he still picks up some books that would be considered 3rd to 4th grade level, he has read the entire Seven Wonders series, the entire Eragon series (3 of the 4 are over 750 pages each), and reread the first book of the Hunger Games series. He not only can read them, but will sit and discuss them with you. In that sense he reminds me of his Dad at that age. Such a great passion, love of books.