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.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Forging ahead - and falling back.

This week has fallen under the heading "Never A Dull Moment".  Besides the monster snow (any snowfall, in my humble opinion, over two inches BEFORE November is a monster), there was Flora's seasonal wheezy, raspy, snotty nosed self; Bernie decided - overnight, mind you, that she no longer cared for the kind of dog food she was being served; I discovered SEVEN pullet eggs laid next to the house, behind a fence, in amongst the depleted rhubarb; there are three flat tires on my garden cart.

So...I gave Flora her second dose of wormer (and extra apples), a big handful of comfrey and tomorrow I will give her some Vitamin E/Selenium.  Hope that boosts her immune system, as I don't want her to develop pneumonia, which then involves daily injections of penicillin.  She is getting up there (10 y/o) and has had respiratory problems since she arrived at the farm.  But she's a sweet old gal and I'd do anything for her. 

Luckily for Bernie, I had been planning on transitioning to a different food (read: less expensive), and just happened to have gotten a small bag to have on hand.  She inhaled it.  I swear my animals would rather eat at McD's than Sardi's.  Scrappy, however, would happily eat anything, anywhere, at all times.

Since I now get home in the dark, and my mornings are so much shorter, I have not done perimeter checks of the chicken yard and totally missed this pile 'o eggs.  It looks as though two pullets are involved, so that is hopeful.  Now, to get them to lay in the nesting boxes.  Too bad they don't have any older hens to show them the ropes (dripping sarcasm).

Air in the tires is on my list for the weekend.  I will spare you the gory details of my weekend list - you all know the drill by now - more hopeful than do-able.  But, "hope springs eternal", as they - whoever "they" are - say.

Can't wait to "Fall Back" Sunday morning.  That should throw me off for at least a week!  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend - forging ahead, falling back, or just standing still!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Oh, the indignity of it all!

Poor Scrappy!  There he was, curled up on the sofa, swaddled in his favorite fleece blankie, when Kramer decided he would make a nice mattress and climbed on top of him!  Scrappy was not happy at all with this, but he was soooo warm and comfortable, he decided not to move.  He has a very expressive face and managed to convey how indignant he was using only his eyes and eyebrows.  What a hoot!  It didn't impress Kramer at all and he fell sound asleep.  They maintained that pose for over an hour - until I made some noise in the kitchen and Scrappy rocketed off the couch to see if it meant FOOD.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

You say Ketchup

and I say catch-up!  I have a lot of that to do.  Thanks to my lovely sister holding down the farm and cleaning my house, I do have a leg-up on my next round of visitors.  I'm expecting one of the women who started me on my path to Icelandic-dom on Friday.  She and a friend will be staying with me and commuting to the Big E for the Fiber Festival of New England over the weekend.  Their farm is called Hearts Ease Farm and they raise lovely sheep.  It is so nice to be able to spend time with both or either of them!  (Their farm sitter was thrown from her horse and isn't up to the job yet, so only one will be coming.)  I have to pull out all the recipes I have been wanting to try out.  You stay at Chez Susan, you are a guinea pig!  Cripe, that sounds rather bad, doesn't it?

Given the early warning system snow we had, I also have to step up winter preparations.  I have two gates to build, one building to erect, hoses to drain, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  (I always think of Yul Brynner in the King and I when I hear that...)  I also have to finish some crafty-type things for the craft fair in town a week from Sunday.  Luckily, I am a little ahead in that venture.

Yesterday, when I went in to check the water and feed for the so-called chickens, I found...are you ready?...a pullet egg!  I am sure it's Dotty's, the little cutie.  That is one tiny egg in 12 days.  The worst record ever.  I am afraid it's time to think about downsizing.  With the price of feed going up almost monthly, I cannot afford that many pet chickens.  I'd like to get down to about 18 chickens or less.  And get out of the egg business.  I need eggs for trade, as they are as good as cash, but I don't want the pressure of having to deliver X-dozen every week.

Another exciting event - a call from the fiber mill telling me my yarn is done!  Woot!  They will be at the Fiber Fest this weekend, so I may ask my house guests to pick up my yarn when they're there - or press Kay into service, since she's planning on attending.

I am still trying to catch-up on my blog reading and answering.  And trying to decide among three apron patterns.  It's a tough choice.  I may have to make two.  Hahhahahahahahahaha.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

C'est Manifiques! Wunderbar! Now it's over.

The Wyeth exhibit building.

Lovely garden behind the Farnsworth Museum.
Three short sentences to describe my long weekend vacation!  I was immersed in cul-cha:  the Farnsworth Museum on Saturday, soaking up the beautiful paintings and sketches of Andrew Wyeth, with a pinch of Nevelson thrown in.  Then, on Sunday, the Portland Art Museum, for a lovely exhibit of Shaker furniture (most pieces came from the Hancock Shaker Village, right down the road from me!), a wonderful photography exhibit of shots of a Brittany farm (circa 1980), a movie (OMG, Sylvia and I were trying to remember the last time we had been in an actual movie theater) - in French, ahem, Mozart's Sister.  I was almost cultured-out.  Nah.

Taken through glass at the PAM - wish it was more clear.  The figure is formed with
thick metal wires, filled with rocks and stones.
There were the divine crab cakes at the Brass Compass in Rockport, TWO trips to Trader Joe's (be still my heart), tip-toeing through the colorful chaos of Mexicali Blues, not to mention, dinner with her daughter, husband and four wunderkinds.  I also discovered Reny's, which almost defies description - picture this:  within 20 feet of entering the store, you can buy snowshoes, gardening supplies, canned goods, clothing, shoes, cleaning supplies, home decorating items, and sleds.  Need I say more?  Should we ALL have a Reny's nearby?  Oui.  And the prices were L.O.W.  And there was Goodwill.  And lots of great, cheap red wine, wonderful conversation and another opportunity to discover the glories of Portland and South Portland.  The area has everything one could want - not too big, friendly people, lots to do - with most of it free, dogs galore (you just have to love a city that has that many dogs!), great architecture.

Henry, as always, with his nose in a book.

Hey, what's Henry reading?  Zuzu and Eli.

Oh, oh.  It's that scary woman!

The only dip in the bliss was the freak snow storm that came through.  Of course, I was way more stressed than my sister back on the farm - she just didn't want the power to go out.  We were very lucky at home - a foot of snow, but no power outages.  What would I do without her?  Portland got high winds, sleet, rain, and a little snow.  I did not get much sleep on Saturday, but made up for it on Sunday night - 10 hours.  Yes, you read that right.  TEN HOURS. 

We saw a lot of tree destruction on our way home and heard the reports of so much damage done just south and east of us.  After going through the storm at the farm, my sister had to drive home to no power.  She should have stayed!!!  And that has nothing to do with the fact that she cleaned my house.  Really.  Nothing at all.

Now, that's more like it!  Mony loves her grandmother.