Thursday, December 29, 2011

Putting my money where my mind is.

Happy Birthday to Me!  Happy Birthday to Me!  Every year I buy myself a birthday present.  What this actually means is that I purchase something that I cannot justify spending money on under ordinary circumstances under the guise of a birthday present.  It is usually something modest - like pre-owned DVDs of a Murder She Wrote season that I don't yet have.  This year was a little different.  I received some birthday money and decided not to spend all of it on hay.  Yes, I know - e-i-e-i-OMG she's such a narcissist!

I have been contemplating what to get for a couple of months.  And I have finally chosen it.  And I know you are all waiting with bated breath to know what it is.

It is the Pioneer Clothes Drying Rack, handmade by the folks at Forgotten Way Farms!  This is a family for whom I have nothing but admiration.  They have chosen to live completely off-grid, are raising a lovely, hardworking family, and are making their living by their own hands.  I have been lusting mightily after these drying racks ever since I ran across their website here.  I have been wrestling with my cheap, flimsy rack for years, and have never been able to quite afford the Amish made models I've come across.  But these racks are amazing AND affordable - plus I happened to buy one when they were on sale!  How fortuitous!  I can hardly wait until it arrives -- no more wet laundry draped over pillar and post!

I am so happy to be able to spend my money on a useful, American-made product, handmade by people who are living a sustainable life, and hand-crafted with a great deal of care, talent and forethought.  For what more could I ask?  Happy birthday to me!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday Musings.

Happy Boxing Day!  When I first heard of this day, I thought it was a day where all the British servant class would get the Peers in a ring and give them what-for.  Serving class revenge!  I was rather disappointed to find that it had more to do with giving the servants the day off, since they had to work on the holiday.  I like my idea better.

Boxes.  I've moved around quite a bit in my life.  I think, at one point, my mother said that she had to start a new address book just for me, as she already had sixteen different addresses under my name.  I mostly moved myself - being the starving artist that I was for several years, I didn't have a lot of possessions.  Everything was boxed up in boxes gleaned from the back of stores and groceries.  I would pack things willy-nilly and label boxes in a cryptic way:  "Stuff - Old LR".  I inevitably lost a box during transition.  I came to think of it as one does about socks in the laundry - a veritable Box Black Hole.  When I moved to the Netherlands, one of my boxes never made it back into the shipping crate at Customs.  Unfortunately, it contained all my dinner-sized plates.  The first Dutch word I learned was inappropriate for family viewing.

When I was a kid, I had a cigar box in which I kept all my "important" stuff.  There were rocks, little Robin's eggs, some sea glass, a snake skin.  I was constantly spotting something amazing and pocketing it until I could safely stash it in my box.  Which was then hidden through an elaborate series of coverings, veilings, and subterfuge.  Heaven forbid someone would find my treasure!  I still pick up odds and ends.  Sort of like a magpie - shiny objects are always catching my eye. 

One of my (countless) New Year's Resolutions is to sort through some of these boxes that have been toted around from pillar to post.  They are still unpacked and still unused.  So, I am assuming, they are unneeded.  I have found that the best motivation for giving all these "collections" the heave-ho is imagining the conversation that will take place between my unfortunate family members burdened with the task of cleaning out my house after I'm gone. 

"Um, didn't we just open a box of string bits and hour ago?"
"I'm afraid to open this box - YOU open it."
"Did you realize she had a 'problem'?"

Pardon me while I pull out my sorting bins (thank you Sylvie) and toss some flotsam!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

'Twas the day of Christmas and all through the farm
the furred and the feathered were keeping quite warm.
The run-in was topped with a nice vinyl cap
While tiny, sweet goaties climbed up in my lap.

The nesting boxes were filled with nice shavings
to welcome eggs that the hens had been saving
The ducks took turns in their nice soaking bath
While chickens kept hunting for bugs in their path

Scrappy was bouncing by the closed pantry door
If one treat came out of there, there must be much more.
Bernie was curled up on her freshly washed bed
With visions of pigs ears dancing around in her head

The Boyz dash about over tables and chairs
Giving their 'mother' a zillion new gray hairs
This mother of many both feathered and furred
(while her posting of late has been quite deferred)

wishes all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Ode to Tattlers

I wax poetic about my wished-for lids - and you can all blame dr momi!

I dream of Tattlers with their endless seal
I dream of them with every apple peel.
I long to end the flats I'm tossing
(and the money I am lossing)

So, Santa, hear my request
As a Good Girl, I am the best...
My Stocking (a large one) will be hung by the fire
Please fill it with Tattlers, the lids I desire.

(Blatant, but effective?  Time will tell...)

Move over Bob the Builder!

There's a new game (dame?) in town -- Sue the (con)Structor!  Yet another surprise met me at the door last week.  (All these surprises being delivered to my door is wreaking havoc on the interior of my house - the dog alarms take umbrage with anyone approaching the door!)  I was calm enough, letting the dogs out, changing into barn clothes - all the while keeping the box just inside my range of sight.  After everyone was fed, watered and locked up tight for the night, I rushed inside and opened it.

Meet Sue the (con)Structor's sidekick, Drillie:

OMG!  Yes, I am not ashamed to say that I managed to drop the hint that I would really like an 18V Makita driver/drill about a million times.  It really works, when you add a lot of sighing and draping tragically across each page of your posts regarding building.  You know, if I hadn't gone into amateur homesteading, I could have been a silent film star.  It is difficult not to put an exclamation point (!) after every mention of this amazing driver/drill (!)  It weighs only a little bit over 3 lbs.  It fits my hand like a glove.  It came with two batteries.  The charger charged the battery that was totally drained in under 15 minutes.  (!!!!!)  If it hadn't been raining the morning after I got it, I would have been out there driving home all the 4" screws that my wimpy driver/drill couldn't manage.  Poor thing, old drillie.  I have had ample opportunity over the weekend to put new Drillie to the test - it's almost scary how fast the screws go in!

Maybe I should start to wax poetic about Tattler canning lids?

(My apologies to anyone who wants to leave a comment.  Thanks to a great deal of nasty spamming, I will have to moderate comments before I post them.  Bear with me.....xoxo)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Musings.

One of my favorite things about winter is that I get the opportunity (between rounds with my Snow Wolf) to dig into the large stack of books I have been putting aside.  I love to read.  I have always loved to read.  My mother would take us to our little local library every week, where we each could pick out a book of our own, and my mother would pick out one to read to all of us.  I can remember very clearly the children's section of that library.  I remember how it smelled.  I would stand and look at all those shelves of books and get giddy.  BH (Before Homestead), I read an average of a book a week.  Now, I am lucky if I can keep up with the few periodicals I get.  But winter.  Winter forces me inside and, since I can avoid dusting with the best of them, I am given the gift of time.

My favorite book of all time is Alice in Wonderland.  I can quote the Jabberwocky verbatim.  Not that I have had much occasion to pull it out.  But I could, if the occasion arose.  I have read that book, cover to cover, at least 20 times.  The volume we had at home had wonderful pen and ink illustrations.  As I read, I could just see everything playing out in my mind.  I wanted to go through that looking glass, down that rabbit hole.  Of course, there were a few times in my wayward youth where I probably did do those things.  Sort of, in a way.  But that's a whole nuther can of wax, to mix metaphors.

I had a very vivid imagination as a child.  I still do, but it lacks that brilliance of innocence. When we were children, our family would spend two weeks every summer on a small lake in northern Ontario.  My mother came from a long line of hearty, headstrong pioneering people.  They used to throw a picnic and the babies in an old crank car and head off to the unknown at the drop of a hat.  My great-great grandfather bought a piece of property on this lake and, in the winter, they would snowshoe across the ice to where they had cut logs and pull them over to the homesite.  They built a log cabin, chinked it and put in a woodstove.  There was no plumbing (we used the "Mansion" up a path in the woods) and no electricity.  It was absolute heaven.  Many hours were spent along the shoreline playing house, pretending we were wood fairies.  Watching the loons and making up scary stories about Ghost Island.

I feel pretty wistful for the kids today.  If they were plunked on our shoreline with nothing more than what was at hand, would they be able to come up with the fantastic adventures that we conjured out of nothing but our over-active imaginations?  Doubtful.  They would be looking for the nearest electrical outlet.  I assume that I will fixate on that period when I am in my dotage and repeat the sames stories to whatever unfortunate audience I have held captive.  It is a very pleasant place to revisit.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas came a-knockin'!

It must be the season.  I am sooo slow in the morning getting to my chores; deaf to the penetrating bleats of Acacia; refusing to make eye contact with Scrappy.  I am *gasp * dawdling.  Yesterday morning I was wandering about after going more than a few rounds with my crossword puzzle - heading in the vague direction of the barn, when the dog alarm went off.  Someone was driving up my driveway.  Was it Santa in his sleigh?

No!  Even better - it was my favorite Christmas Elf, Kay, in her Honda!  She had decided that what I needed for Christmas was a practical gift.  Oh, how right she was/is!  Here is what she bestowed upon me yesterday morning:

A gluten-free girl's dream come true!
I happily abandoned the sheep pre-breakfast (with loud protests from Acacia and gang, and worried noises from Hoosier), to invite her in for a cup of coffee.  We managed a nice, but short, visit before I had to race around and make up for lost time before heading off to work.

Christmas also arrived at my door via the postman in a mysterious, flat, rectangular package:

I call it my "Christmas Snowman Hearth Shovel" decoration!

Is this not the cutest thing ever?
Tom - the very talented vermiculturist (aka Worm Farmer) over at worms-a-crawling farm had made it and sent it as a thank-you for some books on rabbits that I had mailed.  He did the woodworking and his neighbor did the painting.  It is adorable!

I am still feeling all warm and fuzzy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Learning. Ouch.

If I had a nickel for every time I didn't listen to that little whiny nagging voice in my head, I could retire.  Or at least I could have afforded my car repair bill on Saturday.

A very hectic work week ended with a much-too-exciting trip down my mountain with my brakes feeling like twin Twinkies.  Spongy.  I was very relieved to pull into my driveway in one piece.  Figuring it was just an adjustment needed from my front brake replacement job of last weekend, I did my rounds and had a glass of wine and a tin of kippers for dinner.  (I tell you, there are upsides of singlehood.  No pans, no one expecting more than a dish of kibble.  No one to say, "What in the world??!!  Kippers?" - no, wait, YOU are saying it, aren't you?  Well, I can't hear you - lalalalalalala.)

Saturday's errand list was two pages, so I figured I would stop at the garage first, then zip around and check things off the list and be home in time to zip over to the feed store, shower and go out to dinner with my neighbor.  There tends to be a lot of "zippiness" in my thoughts on weekends.  This is what actually happened:  I spent five hours and mucho dinero at the Bennington Midas.  Having my rear brakes replaced.  I did NOT get to the feed store.  I did NOT go out to dinner.  I did NOT drop off my Goodwill stuff.  Luckily, my dear sister was at our parents' this weekend and was able to come and rescue me once they informed me it would be hours longer.  I was able to shop for our office adopt-a-family (which I love, because it's the only time I get to shop for little ones!) and I did manage to do a Tractor Supply run for scratch feed and bird seed after the brakes were replaced.  And before I was all spongy-braked again.  Back to Midas where they bled the air out of the brake lines.  And, worst of all, I DID NOT BRING MY KNITTING.  That was the cruelest blow.  I had left the house at 9a thinking, "I should bring my knitting - nah, I won't be waiting long enough to make any headway."  Cha-CHING!  Another nickel!  I got home at 3:45p.  I was unhappy.

Sunday wasn't much better, as cheating on my non-gluten diet during the week finally caught up with me - oh, fickle, delusional me.  But I did manage to piece together some board siding on the run-in and put the two upright boards on my cover-my-fuel-oil-tank project.  The rest of the day was low-key, fiddling around with my rearranging projects and doing laundry.  If all goes well (hahahahahahahahaha) I hope to have the run-in shed in finished-enough shape to hold us through winter and have the framework finished on the tank enclosure. 

On an upside note, I think that I have found a great home for Acacia and Coco.  That will leave me with five sheep, which is much less of a feeding expense and will give everyone more pasture next year.  It will also mean that A and C will be getting a lot of individual attention - something that A craves and C needs.  Fingers and hooves are crossed.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Musings

When they (there they are again) say, "boy, she really packed on the weight" - how come mine is in jiggly plastic carry-ons, and not in hard-sided American Tourister luggage?  Do they even make hard-sided American Tourister luggage anymore?  Is it even cool to be seen with an actual suitcase?  Do the airlines charge you triple for actual suitcases?  You can tell it's been a while since I've traveled.

I used to love to travel by air.  It was an event - E.V.E.N.T.  Everyone spiffed up, all spit-shined clean and coiffed for a trip on an airplane.  No jeans, no pants-down-to-your-knees...

Segue - how on God's Green Earth can those homeboys keep their pants from pooling around their giant sneakers with every other step?  What if they have to hurry along?  And, do we want to see their undies?  I think, generally, NOT.

I'm back.  You could sit comfortably in your seat in those days.  Your knees were not up to your chin.  There were no yowling babies - it was too expensive to bring the whole family.  Plus, I do believe that people weren't in the habit of hauling mere infants all over the place just days after birth.  You got a free:  blanket, pillow, meal, beverage.  It was just lovely.  The last time I flew, I flew overseas to attend the wedding of a very dear friend to the love of her life.  Given that the last time I flew was after the world was turned on its ear, the security was amazing.  Bags were thoroughly searched, as was I.  We were shuffled through long lines, herded onto a plane that had been reduced to a narrow aisle lined on both sides with hundreds of tiny seats.  I half expected to see Temple Grandin waiting for us as we boarded.  We were "served" by an overworked, unhappy, cranky bunch of flight attendants, and my headphones didn't work.  Ack.  The best part was landing in Amsterdam and getting on the train to Eindhoven and seeing Els when I alit.  The return was just as grim, plus there was the added bonus of a drooling, snoring drunken seat-mate to contend with.

Enough of that.  Let's do a little tip-toeing through my childhood memories, okeydokey?  We did not fly anywhere.  We drove.  My parents were of the thought that all car trips should begin before daylight.  This added to the excitement - the car had been packed the night before.  We were awakened in the dark and bundled off into the car in our pajamas.  The car was almost always a Dodge.  With spectacular tail fins.  It was BIG.  We slept through the first hours of our trips - and that was probably the only peace and quiet my parents got on the trip.  The rest of the time was non-stop jabbering (by yourstruly), punctuated with pleas to stop (we learned to hold our water - my father didn't believe in stopping for anything but gas), and rousing games of License Plates, I Spy, and 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall (which we thought was a daring, wicked song because it was

I still sing in the car.  An while vacuuming.  And to the dogs, cats, chickens, sheep, and goats.  The dogs and goats are particularly moved by my vocalizing, although it worries Bernie if I get too wound up in a rendition of an Aretha Franklin song.  Are you a closet singer?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Snow Wolf. A Review.

First, let me say that I am pretty adept at putting things together.  When I first saw the box containing my Snow Wolf, I thought, "Gee, this seems like a pretty small box."  That was because the Snow Wolf was in about a thousand pieces.  Holy Crap, as Kay would say.  Last night I took everything out, laid it out and looked at the directions.  Or, what I will refer to as the so-called directions.  Vague would be an understatement.  Luckily, I had all the recommended tools - and a DVD.  Saved!  Not.  Even the DVD was vague.  I started at 7:30p and finally had the wheel together, with tread firmly (I hope) installed by 9p.  By 10:30 I had the main pieces put together but not attached to the wheel.  I opted for bed.  After rising at 3:30a and beholding the overnight efforts of Mother Nature, I made some high octane coffee and finished the job.  Ease of assembly:  D- (With a degree in Mechanical Engineering?  A+)

The Snow Wolf - In all its Glory at 5:00 AM

This was a perfect day to road test the S-W.  Here is what I beheld as the sun rose (somewhere):

Line of trees between front yard and barn.

Back fenced area with hoophouses and hay feeder (after SnowWolfing)

As with anything new, it takes some getting used to.  This system is so different and "engineered" that it does take a while for us mere mortals to get the hang of it.  Also, to be fair, not once in the riveting DVD action did one of the nicely dressed, perky S-W operators shovel anything but a nice, flat driveway.  It was way easier to use than a regular shovel, but you can really only do large, wide swaths.  I still had to hand shovel the decks and steps.  This thing is BIG!  It also seems to put some strain on one's arms, but that could be because this "one" hasn't learned how to use it correctly yet.  Ease of Use:  B+

Here are some more snowy pics for your entertainment - all of you sitting nice and snug by your wood stoves.

See stark contrast from previous post.

Yes, those dark blobs are sheep!

Chickie and Sage don't seem to mind the snow

Winter camo.

The Evidence

Boy, nothing like pictures to show you everything that wasn't done, still has to be done, ought to be done.  But we have a good start and I am now inspired to simplify my space to where I feel blissful.

Looking across LR - the bookcase had been to far left, with long table (holding TV/DVD) to right.
Front door is to the right.  You will notice a cat on every piece of furniture

Table now behind sofa (upon which I need to do some adjusting of covers...)
This pic was taken from the hallway.

LR "area", complete with two cats.  Still needs work (as in de-cluttering)
but I am making progress!

Half-wall in dining area leading to kitchen on right.  Sans Pie Safe.
I will take more once I get more natural light. I was up until 11p trying to put the goldarn Snow Wolf together. That experience deserves a separate post.

Since I was running around with my camera - here's more evidence...

The New and Improved Goat Gate (with triple bungee closing, thanks
to Chickie's discovery that he can push it open with one bungee)
Run In Shed - partially sided.  The facing boards need to be trimmed.

So there you are.  The evidence.  I now have to pull on my Carharts and muster the courage to tackle the 6 plus inches of snow that was predicted as a "light covering".  It's Woman and Snow Wolf against the elements! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Glory Be! Halleluiah! Woot!

What a surprise that I did NOT take a "before" picture, nor do I have an "after" photo with this blog post.  It sort of takes the wind out of one's bag as far as comparisons go.  After successfully luring Sylvia to my house for dinner with the bait of having her rearrange my living room (no, I will not give you her phone number), she stood in the cluttered space and looked around.  I stood helplessly by and offered amazingly helpful comments like, "Oh, I don't know" and "I don't know, what do YOU think?"  I also offered her a  glass of wine, so I wasn't, like, totally, like, lame.

With tape measure in hand and a gleam in her eye, in less than 15 minutes she had completely transformed my living room space.  It really was amazing.  And, contrary to all my fears, only one slightly dessicated mouse was uncovered while moving furniture.  And a pen.  And a raccoon-sized fur ball.

There is still work to be done.  Artwork has to be hung.  A lamp must be purchased.  My crock collection must be artfully displayed.  The mantle needs to be de-cluttered.  Have I mentioned that I L.O.V.E. it?  I will have to see if I have prior pics to show the difference.  Basically, she pulled things out from the wall, which opened the room up tremendously.  I realized that I had everything clinging to the walls for dear life!  What am I afraid of???  Within all this opening-up, she also created a snug, cozy area in the living room, where - gasp - I can actually see movies played on the DVD!  I am embarrassed to say that, for four years, I have had my tiny TV screen about 40 feet from my chair.  And left it that way.  For four years.  Sigh.  I did a little more decorating this morning (along with putting up two more siding boards on the front of the run-in) and will hang a few things on the wall tonight.  I'll post pictures tomorrow so you can at least see the "after".

I also started on the dining area by moving my pie safe around the corner and into the kitchen.  I removed the wooden record album cabinet that I used as a wine cellar (how grand, non?).  The top of the pie safe is large enough that I was able to fit my Berkey water filter and a small wine rack on top.  I removed the chandelier from the ceiling in the dining room -- here's a question for you:  Why, pray tell, would they have hung the chandelier in a place that would force you to put your dining room table slam/bam against the sliding glass doors in order to have it hanging over your eating space?  Hmmm? -- Once I find a cap that fits, I will cover the old opening.  All that's left is to hang my lovely wrought-iron candelabra that was an early birthday present from a certain someone.  While I doubt very much that it will be as lovely as hers, it will be lovely enough in its humble surroundings.

p.s.  I just found out that Sylvia is doing an amazing giveaway on her blog!  Go!  Comment!  Everyone is a winner!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Mewsings

I have, over the years, been 'host' to a variety of cats and kittens.  They were the allowed (or not) pet in most of the apartments in which I've lived.  When I first moved to the country, in my previous life, I brought my two cats with me -- Tippet and Woody.  Both were Brooklyn City Cats.  Of course, they were glued to the windows and doors and wanted OUT.  I resisted.  Then, under duress, I let Tippet out one day.  She immediately headed down the driveway and took a right turn into the middle of the road!  Luckily for us both, the next car that came around the bend was driven by a kind-hearted person - who slowed to a crawl behind Miss Puffy Pants.  I shouted at the driver to honk her horn, and Tippet shot up the hill (thankfully, in the right direction) where I soon corralled her.  We tried one more time with a figure-8 harness and leash.  I put her on the deck and she took one step...and dropped to her side like she'd been shot.  She wouldn't budge.  It was obvious to her that these leather objects were objects of torture.  Tippet chafed at any of my efforts to control her.

People often dropped off stray cats there.  Apparently, they thought they'd be releasing them into the wild - as if that was a good, natural thing to do.  Oh, don't get me started!  Over the years, I have had more than 18 cats spayed and neutered! 

We never had cats growing up.  My mother didn't and doesn't like them.  I was desperate for a pet.  She allowed fish, so I had a tank of guppies that I loved - until the females had babies and they were eaten by their parents.  I didn't sleep for days from the trauma of it and still carry the psychological scars.  I also had a field mouse in a shoe box under my bed for a while.  This would be the period where I kept my room spotless, so that my mother wouldn't feel inclined to clean it for me and discover the contraband pet.  I was so delighted when I opened the box one day and found a whole row of tiny pink babies!  Some days later, I was not so delighted when I pulled it out from under the bed and found...nothing.  I was on edge for weeks - seeing mice out of the corner of my eye at every turn!  Then I had Peeper, my chick.  But she had to go live on a farm after she acquired pin feathers.

When I was around 8 I rescued a wild bunny  - I had found it lying in the snow with a big gash on it's hind leg.  After running into the house and grabbing one of the good guest towels, I ran out and wrapped it up and brought it inside.  I wore my parents down with my weeping and moaning, so my uncle (the Vet) was called.  He came with his black bag, cleaned around the wound and then put iodine on it.  The last we saw of that rabbit was his little white cottontail madly zigzagging around the house, with adults and children in flat-out pursuit.  My dad finally opened the door and out it went.  I was inconsolable.  Falling to the floor, weeping copious tears.  Appealing to whatever forces there were out there to help a poor, pet-less little girl, to just end my misery.  Have I mentioned that I was very melodramatic as a child?

A dachshund puppy entered soon afterward.  We were so thrilled!  Dachshunds are infamous for being difficult, but this particular wienie dog met her match with my mother.  (Probably because they were both from German backgrounds.)  However, she had the rest of us wrapped around her little paw for years.

My mother always told me (in her most exasperated tone - using ALL of my proper name) that some day I would have a child just like me and it would serve me right.  What a scary thought!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Weekend Doings.

Another fun-packed weekend is in store!  There are new front brakes for the trusty (and rusty) Ford Focus Wagon  -- which just passed a milestone:  187,000 miles!  You go, girl! (please, please, please)  I will continue siding the run-in shed; the water heater for the poultry needs to be scrubbed up and installed; firewood has to be shuttled; and, if it's warm enough, I will tackle washing the front of the house.  I also need to build a frame to enclose my fuel oil tank and move manure to raised beds and rhubarb bed.

On the fun side, there is a holiday party at the local library on Saturday, to which I've procured an invitation.  On Sunday, I have invited Sylvie to dinner -- luring her with the prospect of re-working my living room!  It needs help.  I am clueless.  She has talent in abundance and she is so good at it!  I will try to take before/after pictures.  I am also going to rearrange my dining area -- this is what I do in the wee hours of the morning when I'm trying to go back to sleep.  It's better than counting sheep.  When I count sheep, I end up worrying if they need to be wormed again, if their hooves need trimming, if they're fat, if I'm a good sheep mother.

I also have to find my cell phone.  It has gone missing.  This is very out-of-the-ordinary for me, as I don't lose things.  I think it might be in my car someplace, as I dialed it up to no avail in the house.  Of course, I have a ridiculous ringtone -- guilty of detesting most ringtones (and cellphones in general), I chose the little tweety bird ring tone.  Unfortunately, it is so unlike a ringtone, that I miss most of my calls - I am standing with my head cocked, wondering what bird it is that I hear faintly in the distance.  Yes, it's the Dodo.

I hope everyone has a marvelous weekend!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Creature Comforts

As part of my nurturing nature, I make sure that every being in my care is as comfortable as is humanly possible.  This means that the chickens and ducks have heated water in the winter, shelter from wind and rain, fresh shavings in their nesting boxes (hint, hint, hint), popcorn for special occasions, and, if I am really feeling motherly, I will cook their scratch grains in the slow cooker overnight until it's like hot breakfast cereal.  The goats have their Dogloo house in the barn, with a nice thick layer of straw for cuddling up.  They have a light on a timer, fresh water in a heated bucket, minerals, baking soda, a portion of grain twice a day and hay.  The sheep will soon have a nice, big run-in shed with a thick layer of straw for bedding and, budget-willing, an inside hay rack and an outside hay rack.  They also have a large heated water bucket.

Inside - well, let's just say that some of us are more comfortable than others.  Kramer is the Poster Boy of Comfort.  He knows a warm place when he finds it. 

He only enjoys classical music for its soothing warmth.
 Scrappy has his blankie, which he loves in the evening.  I wrap him up like an enchilada and he is snoring softly in minutes.  As soon as his gentle snorts are wafting about the room, Kramer moves in.

The cats have their own room, complete with a padded comfy chair and scratching posts, two large litter pans (cleaned daily) and cat-sized furniture.  They also have the rest of the house which they use liberally.

I am still trying to find the comfort zone for Bernie.  She has been so deeply scarred from whatever hell her previous life put her through, that I don't think she will ever be truly comfortable.  So we have to just take advantage of the moments she NOT on guard and poised to flee.  She does like the new couch and, in the morning when I'm in my rocker knitting my cabled things, she will tentatively inch toward the couch next to me.  Looking worried all the way.  Once she is absolutely sure it is allowed, she will hop up and curl into a ball with her head on the pillow and gets all squinty.

Every morning, the dogs get their kibble with warm broth.  (Don't tell the cats!  They'll think I love the dogs more.  Which I don't.  Mostly.)  There are bright orange fleecy vests to wear during hunting season and lots of crunchy treats for any reason.

If it were possible, I would love to be one of my dogs.  But I would have to figure out how to be in two bodies at one time, and that would involve time travel and Buddhism or something very complicated - like quantum physics squared by pi.  Not likely.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We've Got Us'ns a Winner!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2011-11-30 16:09:27 UTC

Mama Pea wins the pattern!  I will be putting it in the mail today.  Of course, we expect BIG things and free aprons!  (Kidding)

Thanks, everyone, for joining in.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How my DISorganization Works in Your Favor and I *Heart* Cables!

While trying to decide what apron to make from my (many) patterns for the Geat Apron Challenge Eggstravaganza, I discovered that I had not one, but TWO patterns of an Edwardian apron.  I still have visions of making this and trotting around the homestead like a modern version of Emma (in gum boots) - but it's not on the near-future-list.  I have purchased other patterns from Candle on the Hill - they are very nice to deal with and have a wide variety of styles and patterns.

 Here is the link to this pattern - Edwardian Apron

If this looks like something you have wanted to make since Bo Didley was a baby, leave me a comment below.  I will choose a winner tomorrow (Wednesday) and will put it in the mail this week. 

Over the holiday weekend, in between driving, cooking and construction, I learned how to knit cables!  (Yes, Melanie, you were right - again - it is incredibly easy)  As I rummaged through my pattern box, I had come across patterns for two headbands I have longed to knit.  Spurred on by having some down time and watching a how-to video on YouTube, I sprang into action.  Needless to say (hey - if I move a few letters around, it's "Needles(s)" to say) I managed to knit both headbands by Sunday.  I am a cabling-fool!  Next on the handwork agenda is learning how to crochet.  I have visions of Granny Squares dancing in my head.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Whatta Weekend.

I am very remiss in posting but...I was busy and my nephew had commandeered my computer.  Sounds much more feasible than "the dog ate my power cord".  Even though that could happen - they seemed to be even more focused on food than normal. 

After a lot LOT of driving and cooking and braving Black Friday, this morning found me with a refrigerator full of leftovers, a new gate on the goat paddock, my hooped raised bed fortified for winter, and a roof on my run-in shed!  We won't even discuss the fat, spoiled dogs, although I swear Scrappy shed a tear when my nephew walked out the door to head for the train station.

All I have left to show of my 20 lb. turkey is a container of leftovers and two gallons of turkey stock.  The pumpkin cheesecake was great - but I wouldn't recommend using gluten-free gingersnaps.  It was more like ginger-y sand.  It tasted fine, but ... icky.  I brined the turkey this year in apple juice, water, kosher salt and garlic.  It was amazing!  I liked the idea of using apple juice/cider rather than brown sugar. 

Friday, Austin and I braved the Black Friday crowds to buy him an early birthday/Christmas/birthday/Christmas present - work boots.  To say he packs light is the understatement of the year - he brought the clothes he wore, a sweatshirt, a sweater, a toothbrush, and a razor.  I decided that I owed his mother to try and keep him from breaking bones and spraining things - my ground here has no level points.  We picked up all of our materials on Friday, along with said boots, and then he got to visit his best friend - which was a real bonus.  They happened to be spending Thanksgiving only 20 minutes apart!  This was a nice break for both of us - it gave me time to work on ridding my vocabulary of "like".

Saturday, I dragged him out of bed early (for him) and we started.  We worked until it got dark, with a short break for lunch, and got so much accomplished.  I can never thank him enough.  And he's a joy to work with - always in a good mood, helpful, and holds up to my weird sense of humor.  It helps that we have known each other since he was a sprout.  We have years of history and some very good memories.  He's far from a sprout now -- he's now well over six feet tall! 

The results of our labors:

After working hard for hours, he went inside and made dinner!  He loves to cook and doesn't use recipes.  He decided to make stuffed peppers and sauteed potatoes with greens.  It was wonderful!  I briefly thought of locking him in the guest room and making him stay.  Luckily for him, there is no lock on the guest room door.
It wasn't all work, though.  He did manage to get in some quality time with the goats.

He also got to enjoy the peace and quiet and made quite a bit of headway on a creative project he's been working on.  I think, like, he had, like a good time.  And he, like, said that, like, he'd love to, like, come back.  Ack!

Resource: Look for a Lowes Promo Code and save on weekend project supplies.

Monday Musings

Don't you just wonder how some people's nicknames came about?  I used to know a boy in grade school called "Pinky".  He was neither pink, nor any shade of red.  He had blue eyes and black hair.  I was flummoxed and he wouldn't tell - no matter how many times I pinched him.  (I was an awful child.)

We grew up in a grid-development with two styles of houses.  When we moved in, it was brand-spanking new.  The roads hadn't even been paved yet and there was mud galore.  (It was heavenly to a 5 y/o.)  My first memory of this new house was being outside playing with the kids on the street.  When it became time to go in, one by one, they all disappeared into their houses. I didn't know which house was mine.   My father wasn't home from work, yet, so there was no car for reference.  Easily solved - I just stood in the middle of the street and bawled my head off.  An adult (someones mother - they were all SAH in those days) stuck her head out of the door and assessed the problem.  She finally got my attention and pointed.  It was the yellow one right in front of me!  Saved!

There were three girls in my family and the house next door housed three boys - we were all about the same age.  Mr. F. would line his boys up on kitchen stools every month and give them all the same haircut.  My mother, being the frugal German that she was, sent me over on haircut day and I got a stool and a bowl cut as well.  Mr. F. was a big one for nicknames. (I bet you thought I had lost my train of thought!)  and, while my sisters were easy - Con, Cynth - he seemed to have a problem with shortening my name to something he liked.  I ended up as "Sweeze".  That has stuck with me for years.  I am either Sue, Susan, Susie (my parents' call me Susie), Sweeze, or Sweezie.  A person could get confused!

Where did the name, Bubba, come from?  Or Boo?  Boo Who? (Sorry.)  I can see "Chip", as in "Chip off the old block".  But, Bubba?   Pinky?  My father's father detested nicknames.  That's why he named my father "George".  Can't do much with that.  He also refused to give him a middle name.  I don't remember my paternal grandfather, although he was living when I was born.  I bet he was a stinker.  Stinky?  My mother's name is easily given over to many different nicknames: Kathryn.  Kat, Kathy, Kath.  She goes by Kit.  Then there's Charles.  Or Charlie, Chas, Chuck.  That reminds me of the song, "The Name Game".  (Fogy-ism)  I used to love that song and tried it out on everyone and everything I came across, until I drove everyone crazy.  It still pops into my head every now and then.  If I had been allowed to choose my own name, I would have chosen "Imogene".  The clouds part, birds sing and I can hear guitars strumming in the distance when I say that name.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I have, lately, just before going to sleep, listed all the things for which I am thankful.  Some people may just think them, but I have to list them.  Lists = me.  It's a very long list.  And it's a very wonderful list.  At the top of the list is the fact that I am very thankful that I have the opportunity to share another Thanksgiving with my parents.

I hope you all are surrounded by the people you love (and all the furry ones, too) on this special day.  We will be a small group of four (and two dogs) with our 20# turkey, but, luckily, I am almost more fond of leftovers than the main event.  We will be reminiscing about Thanksgivings that came before, missing sisters, a brother-in-law, a niece and nephew who cannot be with us, and we will not move out of the kitchen - no matter how hard my mother tries to shoo us into the living room - because, you know, no matter how much other space there is in a house, the kitchen is the heart of the home. 

I am very thankful, too, for all the friends I have made though this blog; some of the funniest, kindest, nicest women (and men) ever put on this Earth.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Wolf was at the Door!

And I let it in!  What excitement there was in the Susan house last night!  There were also many signs of excited-ness inflicted on furniture and dog beds - a sure sign the UPS guy had been on the front deck.  My birthday present came early!  We all did our version of the Happy Dance.

I can.not.wait to use it!  Okay, I can wait -- I would rather not have snowfall that would warrant the use of my new power-tool.  Given the many miles I shoveled last winter, I am so looking forward to the non-back-breaking ease of this gadget.  I LOVE MY FAMILY!!

So, other than making headway on my run-in shed (even after falling off my ladder and NOT killing myself), getting the water set up for winter in the sheep run, introducing the non-laying chickens to their new waterer (always good for a few histrionics) and spending a very long day toting octo/nono-generians to brunch, not much has been going on.  Tomorrow I have to drive an hour and a half each way to fetch my nephew from the train.  And, of course, the forecast is for rain, sleet and snow during the time I'm on the road with the rest of the lunatics driving hither and yon for the holiday.  I picked up new windshield winter blades, just in case.  My snow tires are on.  I'll do chores before I leave, just in case we're delayed.  I'm prepping dinner prior to take-off, too. 

Tonight I have to finish my gate and bake a pie for the local library fund raiser.  I think the 20# turkey is thawed, but I have one more day to be sure - then in he goes for an overnight brining tomorrow.  I am providing the turkey, dessert and appetizer for Thanksgiving.  It's a good thing I am up before the rooster in the morning.  And, no, I am not wearing my Tin-Man apron for Thanksgiving.  I may frame it, though.

Monday, November 21, 2011

More Wonderfulness.

Honestly, has there ever been a greater group of sewers/ironers/grommeters?  Here are some more amazing aprons!

dr momi - Oh, good gracious!  The tassels!!!!  I mean, who'da thought you could have so much fun with tassels!

Hoosier Girl - I am thankful that she made this wonderful apron!  And it's her first ever!  I also like her photographic approach - I will have to copy it from here on in.

Patty - It's almost impossible to think that this is the first 'pattern' that Patty followed!  And, is that a reversible apron??  It is completely wonderful!  And I can't even begin to imagine making a pattern for something as lovely as her daughter's shirt (also modeled on the link).  What a great, attractive, talented group!

The Suspense is Killing Me!

Since I know that none of you have had anything to do (oh, wait, there's that niggling preparation for Thanksgiving, remodeling projects, homestead chores) other than waiting for the end of this apron competition to finally arrive -- well, the wait is over!  What you see below is proof that - yes, Virginia, you CAN create an apron out of duct tape.  Complete with electrical tape trim.  There's nothing I love more than a challenge.  The more ridiculous, the odder, the better.  And especially one that I made myself and couldn't weasel out of.

Sylvie and I had a good laugh when I put this baby on.  It is rather a combination of Tin Man Meets June Cleaver.  You could deflect gamma rays with this apron.  It was a lot of fun to make - especially the ruffles (oh, right, hahahahaha).  And we all know we need to Respect the Ruffles.  Believe me, after wrestling with duct tape ruffles, I have a new respect for them, all right.  I would refer to this as a form-fitting apron if one was a silo.  (No cracks, please.)
Please join me in a warm and enthusiastic round of applause for all of the good-natured, highly talented entrants in this challenge!  A little whistling and foot-stamping would be appreciated by all, if you're so inclined.

Jenyfer - who shows that creative+vintage= marvelous!
Mama Pea - not only does creative talent abound in the "Pea" family - but she sure is photogenic!
Full Freezer - Judy may have hated the process, but you could never tell by the end product - beautiful apron!
Hard Work Homestead - Well, could we expect anything less from Jane?  She never ceases to amaze me.
Garden Now - Think Later - Erin once again whips out perfection - while proclaiming she is an amateur.  Are we buying that?  No way!  I love the fabric!!!
Candy - I will have to say that another abundance of talent resides at the Lazy J Bar C Ranch!  Have you ever seen such an amazing color/fabric/pattern combination?  It's wonderful!
Krazo Acres - Hello?  Could someone clue me in about what on Earth Carolyn Renee is complaining?  Not only did she make her apron (with RUFFLES, for Heaven's sake), but she made a SECOND apron for her daughter!  And does she even realize how becoming her apron is compared to MINE?  I mean, mine is guaranteed to make it's wearer bear a strong resemblance to an air-to-ground missile.  With as many curves.  You did an amazing job, CR - and you are as cute as a bug, too.  Just as I suspected!

As more entrants make themselves known, I will post updates.  Thank you all for making it so much fun!  We should now be "covered" for Thanksgiving!

Mondy Musings

I seem to be wrapped up in knitting musings recently - such as, why is it that I think that the Broken Rib Pattern is knitting one should do while convalescing?  Couldn't they just as easily have called it - Non-Conformist's Rib or Slightly Off Rib?  And how telling it is to go through my (frighteningly large) stash of yarn!  You think platform shoes were something?  How about that period where everyone and their Aunt Nettie were knitting those long, loose scarves, using ribbon, mohair, cat hair, sparkles - anything that would wind around needles the size of tail pipes?  When every vertical space in every craft fair across the country was festooned with these wild accent pieces?  I was as guilty as the rest - whipping those babies out on an average of one a day.  I inflicted them upon every friend and family member at least once.  Geez.

It's funny when you make a slip of the tongue - and this falls into the "out of the mouths of babes" department. I used to date a fellow way back in the dark ages who had a young son.  He was the first single father I had ever met.  His son, K, used to refer to woodchucks as "ground chucks".  It was very cute.  Now that I have a garden, I think he was spot-on.  Ground chuck indeed.  He also used to belt me in the shoulder every time he spied a VW Beetle.  And, unfortunately, they were a hot item back then.  Not so cute.

Why is it a "pair of pants"?  I mean, it is one garment.  But it sounds odd when you try to make it single.  I just put on my pant.  Makes you think of a hot dog in summer.  And using another term doesn't make it sound any better - I am wearing my "slack".  Unfortunately, I always wear my slack.  Gravity has struck!  Could it be changed to:  "I am wearing my panting"?  "My slacking"?  How about a description based on closures:  I am wearing my elastics.  I am wearing my snap-fronts.  I will just pull on my zip-ups.  Hey - I am making it plural again!  It's hard to change something that's been set in stone.  I guess I will continue to pull on my zip-up pants in the summer, and slip into my elastic slacks in the winter.

Speaking of platform shoes (hold onto your horses, kids - it's Fogey Time), my absolute favorite shoes of all time - and that's saying something, although I hold boots in esteem in their own category - were a pair of platform shoes right out of Disco-rama, before Disco-rama.  And I don't want to hear from any of you young whippersnappers asking what Disco was.  They had almost fluorescent pink rubber platforms and heels with silver sparkly things mixed in.  They had to be a good 2-2.5 inches high.  The body of the shoe was in a Mary Jane style, in a stiff linen-like fabric with a wild floral design.  Oh, baby, these were smokin' shoes!  And I used to wear them with hot pants.  Oh, yeah.  Of course, the idea, now, of me in hot pants would make me run for the Pepto-Bismol.  The real question here is, though, would I pull on my zip-up hot pants?  It wouldn't do to slip into my elastic hot slacks, would it?  Come to think of it, that would be rather nice in the winter.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Yes, I am guilt-ridden.  I owe you pictures of my earrings AND of my apron progress.   I will now do my best to wheedle out of both....

The dog ate my camera. 

I have not taken pictures of anything other than some Etsy items because I have been so busy working on MY APRON.  I feel like the grasshopper amongst ants here.  Fiddling away while y'all have been whipping up the most amazing aprons ever!  Honestly, I am working on mine.  I have felt a great amount of pressure (strictly self-inflicted) to create an apron that would stand up to its bloggy competition.  That meant that I had to create my own pattern - a real challenge, as I have a difficult enough time following other people's patterns.  But I did it, and I am inching along towards finish-dom.

The cats hid my straight pins.

With any luck, I will unveil my apron on Monday.  Complete with myself as model (Sylvie - practice taking pictures through silk stockings, with mood lighting) as I will have someone available to take it on Sunday.  And I will wear my new earrings, too!

The sheep broke my Singer.

On Monday, I will link to all of you who have completed your aprons - so post pictures on your blogs.     Those who beat us all out (you know who you are, you over-achievers) will be linked as well.  Anyone needing more time - leave me a comment and I will check during the week and will link to you as we go along.  I will have to say that I have seen some beautiful aprons out there -- and I apologize for all the angst this challenge has wrought upon you!  But heck-golly, it's fun!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


A windy, fast weekend!  Saturday was especially productive - I drove to the feed mill, drove north to VT, dropped feed off with M, drove home.  Then I finished deconstructing the lattice house (it got a little dicey there, with all that wind any my teeter-y ladder).  M and her husband drove down to drop off some lumber they are donating to my building project and gave me a hand moving the two long walls to the building site.  Out came the level, measuring tape and cordless drill/screwdriver and a half-hour later I had this:

The sun was not in the greatest position when I took this, but I was there, it was light, I had my camera.  When finished, it will measure 8x10 feet, have a shed roof and a half-wall in front for more protection.  I plan on building a half-door so I can trap them in there keep them secure and have an easier go of it when I need to check them over, administer shots, etc.  That is Freyda, Flora's 2y/o in the forefront.  She is a bossy-pants, but has her mother's amazing fleece.  I have decided to sell Cocoa - even though she also has amazing fleece, she is a pain in my side and turns every worming/health check event into a rodeo.  This is not helpful when you're working alone.  I don't think I should have a problem finding a buyer - she is a beautiful moorit and is a registered Icelandic. 

On an alarming note, my friend and neighbor, Kay, took quite a spill on Saturday and ended up fracturing her thumb and opening a gash that took a number of stitches to close.  This is not a good injury for anyone, but especially someone who is a knitter, spinner, livestock owner.  While they were in the Emergency Room, I zipped over to throw hay at her bunch and let the geese and goat does out.  There, to my horror, was one of her bucks - on the WRONG side of the fence.  He wouldn't let me anywhere near him and then discovered that the does were out in their pasture.  I figured he wouldn't roam far, as he was glued to the fence making ridiculous faces when I left.  By the time Kay got home, he had managed to get back in.  Goats!

Our little craft fair on Sunday was successful.  There were only six tables and Sylvia practically sold out, I sold a lot, and a woman who is a highly talented jewelry maker/designer had a very good afternoon.  Her jewelry is silver-based and beautifully designed.  It was also very fairly priced.  Want to see my new earrings??  Even after the earring purchase, I cleared a nice sum.  And I finished knitting a pair of soakers for a neighbor's new baby while I was there.

I got my laundry done - it was still plenty windy yesterday - although my sheets now carry an ever-so-slight whiff of eau d' manure.  My property is bordered by a leased field and they chose this weekend to spray the field with liquid manure.  That stuff is potent!  I was so unhappy Sunday morning to walk out at 8:30a to one truck after another, that I called the farm an left a message asking for the favor of no trucks on Sunday.  I mean, I have to endure endless dump trucks M-F, with a fair number on Saturday.  I need one day of peace.  I was careful to be polite and reasonable, because I don't mind having farmers for neighbors one little bit.  It's just the Sunday/truck thing.  Then I escaped to the craft fair.  Imagine my surprise when I got home to find a message from the farmer apologizing and saying that he was pulling the trucks right then!  Geez.  I called this morning to thank them.  It's been a terrible year for farming - we've recorded 13" of rain over the norm! - so I know they were just trying to catch up.  I sure appreciate their thoughtfulness.

p.s.  Sylvia has started a blog!  After years of her very popular Gray Zone newsletter, we have convinced her to take it up a step.  Stop over, enjoy her style and say hello!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Musings (I am just full of musing this Monday!)

Murphy's Lawisms: 

1.  If you are going to get a good gash on a finger, it will be your right index finger.  Because you are right-handed and use it constantly.

2.  The driver's side wiper blade bites the dust first.  The passenger side will last for a millenia.

3.  Just when one thinks the insane red bird has moved along - one comes out to find a layer of bird poop on one's car, right where the MANGO! red bird has been re-attacking his imaginary rival in your rear view mirrors.

4.  To be safe, never pick up your phone to answer it.  You will be sure to launch into a coughing fit.  And the person on the other end of the line will insist, by asking you twenty times in a row, that you answer yes or no as to whether you are okay. I mean....really.

5.  If you think you're the biggest, punkiest kid in your grade school class, be careful not to abuse the power.  Everyone you push around will have a growth spurt after you have stopped growing and out-weigh you by 50 lbs.  Payback is a BIODIESEL!

It's a given that, living alone, I would succumb to talking to myself.  Or my dogs.  Or my cat.  Or my car.  Once, when I was in my 20s (this should give you an idea of how long I have been, "musing") I went four days without speaking.  It wasn't easy.  But, when I finally said something on the fifth day, my voice sounded strange - sort of loud and recorded.  It was an interesting experiment, but I prefer to talk non-stop to my dogs.  Sometimes in Caninese - blah, blah, blah, blah, FOOD, blah, blah, blah, blah, SQUIRREL.  There are many of us who do this, if you are totally honest with yourself.  I believe that Felinese is totally different:  hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  That's because they do not listen to us at all.  They don't care what we say, how we say it, or what we mean.  We are there to proffer food and clean litter pans.  Don't get any uppity ideas with cats.

Spending most of my prior adult life as an apartment dweller, I was always desperate for livestock.  So, whenever possible, I would house the most exotic thing I could find (that was non-six-legged, non-slithery, and non-furry in a creepy way) in my living room.  Besides a delightful array of cats, I had fish, hermit crabs, turtles, Chinese button quail, and a skunk.  This was usually without the knowledge of my landlord, which was not often a problem since, being an art student, my apartments were not the type that were often visited by the landlord.  I would rate the early ones as just a half-step up from a tenement.  I did love that skunk, though, even if he carried with him the slight aura of eau d'peuuw.  But he was not fond of strangers and would bite me if he got alarmed.  Which was often -- and painful.  I finally had to take him back out of a sense of self-preservation.

Segue into my last semi-tenement apartment in Cleveland Heights.  I was in my third year of art school (and unknowingly my last, as the school suddenly went bankrupt and closed), living in a one-bedroom apartment that would have given a NYC studio flat a run for it's money, size-wise.  It came furnished.  There was a chair upholstered in avocado green plastic, with a matching sofa.  This sofa was the most unusual piece of furniture -- when you sat in it and leaned against the back, you were left looking up towards the ceiling.  And it was designed that way!  I also had a linoleum covered table, two chairs, and a platform bed without the platform. I think I paid $150/month rent. There were a lot of classmates in that building and, since none of us had two nickels to rub together, we would pool our money for meals and I would go out and buy the food and cook it.  Invariably, we ate spaghetti and red sauce.  And drank from gallon jugs of Gallo wine.  We never got schnockered because we could only afford one bottle a week and there were a lot of us.  As I cooked the pasta for these almost-daily meals, I would throw a noodle against the wall to see if it would stick.  If it stuck, it was al dente.  Long story not short enough, after about a year and a half, the landlord decided to go upscale and we were all thrown out.  Our parting gift was to frame the spaghetti painting on the wall and all sign it.  It's probably worth millions now.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Are we there yet?

Waiting impatiently for the weekend.  Boy, I used to drive my parents crazy with that question.  Back in the day, we drove everywhere for vacations.  No way we could afford to fly.  I loved to be in the car - because I suffer from motion sickness, I got to ride in the front with my parents until they couldn't stand my chatterbox self and put me back with my sisters to suffer.  I didn't suffer that badly, as it only affects me if I have to read.  But I squeezed every melodramatic bit out of it I could muster.  Since those were the days before computers, DVDs, smart phones - heck, even touch-tone was in the future - we had to amuse ourselves with "I Spy" games and seeing who could find the most license plates from "foreign" states.  (Fogey moment)  Not surprisingly, my favorite traveling toy was a red plastic barn that held white rubber farm animals.  It was my constant companion - I even remember the names of my two rubber chickens:  Mudder and Feather. 

Sorry -- got off on a musing there.  The weather forecast does not call for rain this weekend, so I am hoping to squeeze every last bit of daylight out of the day tomorrow.  I've invited a neighbor over for dinner - it's the only way I can pay some of them back for all of their invaluable help - so I won't be working outside until dark.  Pot roast is on the menu!  It's going to be a typical fall day - breezy, chilly, partly sunny - a perfect day for pot roast.  Work must progress on the run-in shed and that's really my priority.  Sunday I will be (wo)manning a table with Sylvia at our local craft fair.  If I am organized enough, I will remember to bring my camera and take pictures.  Since the wine store is next to our space, maybe we can talk her into having a wine tasting!

Above is a picture of my Meyer Lemon tree.  I have had a bumper crop of lemons off this little tree - 29!!  And there are new blossoms and new lemons coming in.  I'm glad I got a lot of SOME crop this year - besides my mega-zucchinis, that is.  You all have a great weekend and keep at those aprons!  I will post a picture of my (hopeful) progress next week.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sitting and more sitting.

I tell you, it is very frustrating when you rise in the morning to a warmer-than-usual-sunshine-filled day and realize you will be spending it NOT on cleaning your garden, mucking out hoop houses or building your run-in.  No.  You will be spending it driving north for 40 minutes, switching cars, driving an hour and a half, sitting in a waiting room for an hour and a half, then reversing the process.  BANANA! 

I drove my parents into the city for my mom's annual eye exam with her specialist.  It is a good test of my patience and concentration (both of which are in short supply).  When I asked my mother for the address/location of her doctor's office, she informed me that "your dad knows where it is."  Somehow, that did not instill a lot of confidence in me.  Driving with my parents entails a great deal of input on their part on a) the speed at which we are traveling; b) the speed at which others are traveling; c) the number of cars on the road; d) the placement of our car vs. the car in front and behind us; e) the condition of the road; f) housing styles - which they want me to look at while I'm driving, but without taking my eyes off the road.  We did, however, end up in the right place with only two or three mis-steps.  I brought my knitting and Dad regaled me with stories from his stint in the Navy during The War.  As many times as I have heard these stories (thousands), I always hear something new and he loves to remember that period of his life.  The appointment went smoothly, we enjoyed a great Chinese lunch, and I almost made it home before dark.

I did take advantage of the fact that I had an extra hour in the morning, and cleared a path next to the goat fence, under the pines, so that I will have a more sheltered way to move hay from the front of the barn back to the sheep.  Sheep who are still baaing STRAWBERRIES! at me for putting them on a diet.  However, I cut up apples for them every morning and will continue to do so until the three bushels their Aunt Melanie sent over are gone.  Pfft!

Below you see the end result of lots of sitting and waiting:  my finished tea cosy on my lovely new teapot!

Somehow, I have found myself volunteered to drive my parents and two of their friends (both in their early 90s) to brunch a week from Sunday.  I did, feebly, try to weasel out since it was supposed to be this coming Sunday, and I have a commitment.  My mother who, though she may be in her late 80s, can run circles around me when it comes to getting what she wants, said very smoothly and without missing a beat, that they had ALSO discussed the following Sunday, so she would just change it.  Sigh.  I will be surprised if my run-in shed is finished before the snow flies.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Weekend? Wha' weekend?

Nothing like having house guests from Friday night to Monday morning to make the weekend vanish into thin air!  I, of course, had forgotten that the fiber fest they were part of was a two-day affair.  Sigh.  At least I got to try out some new recipes and all were big hits.  Friday night, I made my favorite pulled pork recipe - from Sylvia - that is so completely idiot-proof that it's impossible to get it wrong.  All you need is:  a crockpot; a large onion chopped; a boneless pork roast or tenderloin (mine was about 3.5 lbs), one bottle of beer, one bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, two minced garlic cloves, and salt and pepper.  Put all ingredients in your crockpot, turn it on low and let it go for 10 hours.  Voila!  Haul out the pork, pull it apart with two forks and put it back in to heat through.  I served it with homemade coleslaw and pumpkin cornbread.  Everyone had seconds of everything - 'though I had to abstain from the cornbread.

Saturday was dealing with another long list at the folks', a trimmed-down version of my Saturday chores, then home to make dinner number two - roast chicken with pomegranate molasses, mashed cauliflower with cheddar cheese, oven roasted Brussels sprouts and chunky apple cake for dessert.  I did put on my big girl pants and have a small piece of the cake (how could I NOT????)  Those pants were awfully uncomfortable later, but it was worth it, I tell you.

Sunday I was less adventurous -- I did have to get some things done around the homestead -- and made a big pot of soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, and leftover cake  for them with vanilla ice cream - for me - for dessert.  I sent the rest of the cake home with them out of self-defense.  I forgot to send the pumpkin cornbread with them, so the chickens will be happy with their treat tomorrow, ungrateful beasts.  Some heartening news, in a back-handed way:  their chickens are not laying a single egg, either.  First time it has happened to them, too.  Misery loves company.

It was so much fun to be able to have rousing conversations into the night!  Sheep!  Dogs!  Fiber!  Heaven! I spend so much of my time at home alone, that I was almost sad to see their visit end.  Almost.  I am very much looking forward to coming home tonight and NOT having to make dinner.  Scrappy, in particular, will be very disappointed when Frances and Suzy do not show up tonight.  They spoiled him rotten.  They cooed over him, petted him, fed him from the table.  Bernie is shyer, so only managed to get half of the loot that he did.  Scrappy is anything but shy.  He is Velcro Dog; Bert Lahr in a Dog Suit; he is ON FIRE!

I was able to check a few things off my list(s), got my laundry done - we all laughed at my frozen jeans on the line Sunday morning - and Flora seems to be coming along.  Of course, I was told that my sheep are fat.  Geez, it's like being called a bad mother.  So, now, they are all on a diet - including the portly little goats.  And my name is Mud as far as the livestock are concerned.  Work on the run-in shed is inching along.  I spent a good two hours trying to get the ding-dang lattice house apart - I had forgotten that Melanie and I had reinforced the thing to within an inch of its life.  As I have been trying to watch my language - as 'empowering' as it may feel, swearing shows a lack of vocabulary (or so I tell myself) - so loud exclamations of:  "CATERPILLAR!!" and "MOLASSES!!" and "DARN RUDBECKIA!!" were heard up and down the road.  I'm sure my few neighbors think I have finally gone over the edge.   The upside of my new colorful language is that it is so absurd even to me, that I end up laughing and that always puts me in a better mood and makes the job easier.  End result of 2 hours of wrestling with the lattice house?  Me: 1  LH: 15.  But I'm gaining on it~by cracky.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Musings

Listening to Sylvie's four-year-old, Zuzu, chat on (and on - that girl can talk!), made me realize how similar her speech was to, say, my 22 y/o nephew.  And most young people I run into today.  Somewhere, within the long, rapid, stream-of-conscious mumbling, are words that I can understand.  With Z, it was the names of her three BFFs:  Kimberly, Hope and Ramona (her little sister).  With my nephew and other 20-somethings, I can clearly pick up many "likes", "ums", "actuallys", and, in his case, an occasional "Aunt Sue".  The rest is a glutenous mass of rapid jumbled consonants.  It causes me to turn into a fogey - "What?"  "What was that?"  "Can you speak more slowly?"  Could it be a global plot to instill unease and unrest in baby boomers?  Will we be drooling into our Cream of Wheat within a decade?  Mumbling ourselves?

The thrill caused by that extra hour of daylight we are getting, thanks to setting the clock back yesterday, sure fizzles out quickly.  I can hustle my bustle a little longer for what -- a week? -- before the day gets even shorter and it doesn't make one whit of a difference.  And it is totally dark by the time I get home, giving me nothing extra there.  So why, pray tell, do we keep going back and forth?  Just let Mother Nature take her course, I say!

Our family has finally stepped into the Age of Enlightenment.  We are celebrating our first No-Gift Christmas.  While I am sure that a lot of my reluctance to 'gift' everyone on the 25th of December, year in, year out, has to do a bit with my childlessness, I think it's more that I have come to a time and place in my life where I have too much stuff, don't want any more stuff (except, however, a SNOW WOLF), and would just like to spend a pleasant day with my family, listening to music, playing board games and enjoying a wonderful meal.  Bliss, I tell you.  So far, we are all on the NGC wagon - with the exception of my middle sis, from whom we have not heard on this subject.  She is uber-generous and it will be difficult for her.  But I know she can do it.

I have always had a very rich imagination.  When I was small, I had a very active imaginary life.  As I grew up, I could imagine myself in great adventures - doing amazing things.  Imagine how surprised I was when I failed miserably upon actually doing it!  Case in point:  I loved to watch skiers.  I KNEW I would be an amazing skier.  My first foray into skiing was in college.  I had gone from Ohio (f.l.a.t.) to Michigan, where, when the first snowflake hits the ground, skis come out, parkas are zipped up and everyone heads to the slopes.  Not one to be left behind, off I went.  I rented skis and poles and shunned lessons.  For crying out loud - the baby slope?  Not for Susan aka Suzy Chaffee!  I will give you the quick version of my day on the slopes:  wobble, fall, wobble, fall, wobble really fast, spectacular fall, hobble to chalet for hot toddy.  I hate to admit it, but I am still delusional.  I am just less inclined to break something, as it heals ever so slowly now.

Why are there so many sayings that involve poultry?  Something to crow about.  Pecking order.  Madder than a wet hen.  Talk turkey.  Nest egg.  Coming home to roost.  Chicken-livered.  Feather your nest.  Chicken scratch.  Comb your hair (I made that up....)  Okay - I know there are a lot more - anyone like to join in?  Let's see how many we can come up with.