Monday, May 21, 2018

A Life in Plan Bs.

That is the working title of my memoir, a work in perpetual progress, which will not be published until all the innocent bystanders have gone onto their next great adventures and can't sue me.

(Warning:  This post contains graphic TMI)

I have a pretty good sense of humor.  And, given the position of the moon and its relationship to Jupiter or whatever, I can take a good amount of needling.  I even pride myself on my ability to change direction at the drop of a hat, to be flexible (in every way but physically....)

However, even I have my limits.
Biggify at your own risk
Wednesday morning, I thought it might be a good idea not to try to keep ignoring an insanely itchy spot on my hip and get me to my doctor.  When that wasn't happening (they don't try to even squeeze you in these days), I trotted off to the ExpressCare (like urgent care, but part of the medical practice) with my knitting around 3P.  By 7P, I was home with a fever, chills, a two-week supply of Doxycycline, a steroid cream, and a diagnosis of Lyme's Disease.  Thursday is rather hazy - other than the memory of intense itching, teamed with intermittent stabs of nerve pain in my jaw.  At its worst, the rash (so lovely, ain't it?) was 12 inches wide and six inches deep.  I mean, really?  It took until Saturday morning for me to feel semi-human.  The good news (as there always is) is that I had absolutely no appetite and it finally cured me of my insomnia.

Because of the Doxycycline, I cannot be out in the sun without every inch of me covered.  How lucky, then, as I started to feel more normal, it rained almost constantly.  (Yes, that is the sound of sarcasm dripping.)  I did manage to drag myself outside Friday afternoon to finish clearing out a raised bed - only because my neighbor was mowing my lawn and could witness me keeling over, if it came to that.  Saturday I planted two kinds of kale and collard greens in the rain.

Sunday, the errant 17 y/o finally showed up (after being liberally bribed by his favorite Rhubarb Crumb Muffins) and the erosion barrier fencing was installed.  Never mind the actual sheep fencing.  I have a tentative promise (HA) for this coming weekend.

The skies finally cleared so that I could hang out my laundry on my newly-fixed laundry tree.  Or not.  When it was fixed, we did not take into consideration that it swiveled within the joined pipe to help offset the various weights on each of the four sides of your laundry.  I pegged up a sheet and the entire thing listed alarmingly to port.  Fine.  A new laundry tree has been ordered.
Plan B
I was able to string it up on the pergola but then I could not grill dinner.  Plan B2.  As I drooped, all 'woe is me' on the sofa, it occurred to me that I had the perfect working title for my memoir!  Because, in every possible sense of the word(s), that has been my life.  Now to figure out if it should be "Plan Bs" or "Plans B".  Hmmmm.

I leave you with something much nicer to look at.
Layla in her favorite place.  In full camo.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Finding the bright side, even if you have to dig very, very deep.

I guess there is a bright side to insomnia - bright being the key word here.
I L.O.V.E. these!
Straight off the needles, ends woven in, but not blocked.  I think I have enough yarn to make another pair.  Good thing, because my mother wants some in a more summery weight yarn (in progress) and my sister wants a pair.  And my mother wants me to knit her sister, my aunt, a pair.  And Marianne would like a pair....
These warm my hippie heart.
I prefer wool, myself, in any climate, as it's breathable, wicks away moisture and comes from sheep!  I also happen to have an 'ample' (cough, cough) stash of wool sock yarn.  So, thank you again, Terry.  Mama is happy!

One of my biggest challenges in finding a bright side came yesterday.  I had my chimney sweep come to look at my fireplace chimney - now set on the roof at a rather bon vivant angle.  All it needs is a beret.  There was, however, no good news.  The pipe had come apart about mid-length, the boot that seals it to the metal roof is kaput.  The inner pipe had been compressed to the point that it, in its relationship to the outer pipe which, in a perfect world would create a cooling space, was also kaput.  In order to replace what needs to be replaced and fix what can be fixed, they will have to cut a large hole in the bedroom wall.  I am waiting for the estimate - which will immediately be sent to the insurance company - and girding my loins for the siege.  BUT WAIT!  After much pondering (and gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair), I found a bright side!  I must now deal with finishing the skirting and sorting of the bazillion fleeces that have been stacked in the corner of my bedroom so that (a) they can reach the access wall and (b) I can elevate myself from borderline hoarder to borderline normal!  Being all fired up, I contacted the local mill and - lo and behold - they are having a Wool Pool at a local fairground, which is about halfway between my house and the mill.  I can bring ALL my wool and we will sort it and sell some and process the rest.  The best part about it?  It is happening soon.  That means that I cannot drag my saggy butt around in its usual state of perpetual procrastination.  I have to act now.  Lawsymercy.  If the weather cooperates, I will be hauling those fleeces (fleeci?) that still need skirting out to the deck during what little time I have this weekend and trying to get it all sorted by June 1.  Icandoit, icandoit, icandoit.....chug, chug, chug.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Discombobulated Weekend

It never fails - the one day out of the weekend that I have for getting things done on the homestead, will be the day of abysmal weather.  On Saturday - my one day "off" - it rained the entire day.  That's not entirely true.  It threatened rain from when I awoke (4A) to when it actually started and didn't stop (11A).  Within that damp window of time, I was able to let the sheep eat some grass (not a lot!  In spring I suffer from extreme BF - Bloat Fear), did some frantic weeding of the rhubarb, threw a half bushel of shavings into the duck hut, did two loads of laundry, knitted, fed everyone, and swept the kitchen floor.  Then I was out of the door and up to VT to get my main air filter replaced for the umpteenth time (thank you NOT, mice), then over to the farm to put in my trade-time.  While we were planting peppers and eggplants in the greenhouse, it started to rain.

It was raining steadily by the time I got home, but there were things to get done outside, rain or not.  I spent an hour trimming and planting willow whips, hoping to eventually create a living fence across the front of my property.  The trucks and dust create such a hazard, that I had to come up with something.  Ideally, one should create a narrow hole about 8" deep in which to place your whips.  Since my property is about 20% stone (ergo - two gravel pits), I am lucky if I can pound down 6".  I am sure the people on my road think I'm crazy, but that's okay with me.  I got fourteen whips planted and thoroughly watered before I threw in the wet towel and retreated inside.  Let's hope that they take hold.

As you can tell from the photograph, I was again laden in leafy goodness!  I got five heads of jewel-like lettuce (green and red - on left), two bags of mixed Asian greens, a box of mixed microgreens (delish!), a bag of spinach/kale, a bunch of red mustard greens, a bag of tiny turnips and greens, and a bag of Shiitake mushrooms!

Sunday (a belated Happy Mothers Day to you all, mothers of skinned, furred, feathered, scaled babes) which started with a cozy session with two of my four (counting Layla because she's temporarily my babe).

It's a little difficult to get a good pic when they
are right on top of you!
I made a peach/blueberry pie to take up to VT for our MD dinner and it was the first time I had made a fruit pie with frozen fruit. It may also be my last.  I did a lot of research online and followed what was, I was assured, the best method for baking it.  NOT.  It was watery and ruined and a total disappointment.  I even cracked and made non-GF pie crust.  Poo.  (For you skilled bakers **cough**Mama Pea**cough**, I baked it on the lower shelf in a hot oven - 450* - for 20 minutes, then at 350* for 40 minutes.  Actually, almost 50 minutes.)  Any input would be greatly appreciated.

I would also like to point out that Sunday was beautiful.  Because of all the baking (pie and barn crew), I didn't get much time outside.  I let the sheep out on a short foray into the grass, and did a little tidying up on the deck.  Then it was out the door again, to the transfer station, to the garden center to pick up my annual MD hanging basket, Home Depot for a replacement bulb for the halogen light over my sink and then to my sister's for dinner with the bad pie.  Sigh.  Then a quick trip to the grocery store for cat food, then home again.  I arrived home later than I had hoped and I was too pooped to do much more outside.  I have another interrupted weekend next weekend, but I am determined to take a couple of days off before Memorial weekend so that I can make some progress.  I mean, there should be a least ONE day of nice weather all to myself in five days, right?

Early mornings are all about Slimmie and me.  The dogs are not early risers, so Slimmie gets some one-on-one Mom Time.  I do adore him.

Monday, May 7, 2018

It's Baaaaa-aack!

The Pergola has Re-Risen!
My pergola was re-assembled and is complete, with the exception of one corner brace, that will be installed later today.  It has been moved forward to allow clearance from the roof.  It is nice to have it back.  Peanut Butter is madly in love with the young man who erected it and it was all I could do to keep him from getting out of the door so he could "help".

Saturday was a glorious day - sun, soft breezes.  Sunday was its polar opposite - cold, dank, dreary, grey, constant drizzle and downright rain all day long.  This was the day the pergola went up!  I had my mother for an overnight stay, Saturday into Sunday.  It is so nice to spend one-on-one time with her and it gives her a break from Dad.  Following our usual schedule for these things, I went up for lunch, popped her in the car and drove her to my neighbor's, who is also her bestie.  There they could visit, undisturbed, while I zipped home and picked up Layla and drove to her first adoption clinic.  We discovered - ahem - that Layla gets car sick.  Sigh.  She was a big hit and stirred up some interest, so we might be getting a call soon for her to go out on trial.  Poor girl had a completely empty tummy for her trip back.  I tucked her into her bed to recover, then retrieved my mother and we settled in for a chat and dinner.  She spent most of her time firmly wedged between Mr. Butters and Layla, with Lovey trying to vie for her attention, too.  Good thing she likes dogs!  Mr. Butters feels the need to show off for visitors - flinging himself about, ferociously dealing with dog toys and sofa cushions.  Then, Lovey and Butters staged an epic (and hysterical) wrestling match for our entertainment.

Sunday morning, we headed for the Firehouse Breakfast and she met the Breakfast Club boys and I got hugged more than I have in the last fifteen years.  Whoa.  I think they missed me and my genuine maple syrup!  I dropped her at home, then headed to M's farm, where I put in an abbreviated session in the greenhouse.  It had started raining about 5A and did not stop once all day.  We got beds weeded and watered, greens harvested and more plants out to harden off.  My haul for the day:  one bag of mixed Asian greens, one bag of tiny turnips+greens, a bag of mustard greens, two bags of kale/spinach mix, a jar of honey, two boxes of microgreens, and some oyster mushrooms!  Wowza!  Needless to say, I have a wealth of salad fixings!!!

Layla got her first marrow bone yesterday.  And we discovered that she is a super mouser!  She has been fixated on an area in the kitchen that mice are known to haunt.  I have to say that I have never had a cat with that much focus.
Enjoying her bone in full relaxed mode.

Laser focus on mouse-doings.
Things are starting to green up around the LLF, thank goodness.  Now, how to find the time I need to deal with it all!


Nekkid sheep!

Garlic! (Weeds!)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Yessiree Bob, We've Got Socks and the Four Days of Spring.

I hadn't realized how traumatized I was about the duck loss, until I got busy last night and it was dusky dark and I realized I hadn't closed up the poultry in their new high-security hardware coops.  I almost levitated out the door, with my sidekick, Lovey, ready for action.  The ducks have been going in early without my assistance.  I guess they figure it is safe now - or at least safer than waddling about near the scene of the crime.  I have a slide-down door and added a locking latch.  Those damn foxes will need tools to get at them.

Dimples and Dolly have settled down and are now back to their loud, stream-of-consciousness selves.  I even got an egg this morning.  This made me even sadder, as I miss my gray, speckled egg from Cordelia and my giant egg from Gertie.  Dolly has only once laid an egg in the almost-two years that I've had her.  Maybe that will change, now that the competition is down.

The weather has been gloriously --- summer.  Honestly, I don't know that we had more than four days of actual spring-like weather.  It was 80 degrees and humid yesterday, and it's looking the same today.  I took down the fleece curtains - still working great through the winter! - and put up the summer sheers.  That did seem to make everyone feel lighter.  Leilani/Layla is now throwing herself into play with Peanut and Lovey.  When it becomes a little too much (Mr. Butters is certifiable), she hides behind me for a time-out.  We have our first adoption clinic on Saturday - an abbreviated appearance on our part, as my mother is having an overnight Saturday-into-Sunday.  We will zip off while she is having tea with her bestie, my neighbor.

With summer comes...ticks.  Man, oh, man, they are really bad this year.  I have spotted and killed six on Miss Blinding White, found one on the back of my neck and had my friend remove it last Saturday, then woke up at 2A this morning with an itchy hip and - you guessed it - another tick!  Needless to say, another very early start to the day.  Sigh.

BUT, there's a bright side to insomnia.  Socks!
The Poison Candy socks are finished, with the exception of a soak and a blocking.
With my favorite sock project bag
and adorable cat stitch markers!
And new shortie socks are on the needles!  OMG, do I love this yarn! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Terry!  I also love this pattern and will be using it exclusively all summer because - you know - socks.  I am hopeful to knit at least one pair a month, all year.  I may even be able to squeeze in a few extra because they are faster to knit.  It's a condition.

Monday, April 30, 2018

No excuses.

If I needed an example of what happens when you a) don't follow your instincts; b) think that, if something happened one way before, it will repeat itself; and c) are just plain lazy, I got it in spades this weekend.

Saturday was the usual whirlwind of activity - all my errands, a haircut, lunch with the folks, my labor-for-vege time with Marianne, etc.  It had been grey and damp in the morning but - thank you, Universe - it cleared up briefly in the afternoon with blue sky and sun.  Just in time for my farm work!  It then went downhill quickly and, by the time I got home, it was raining.  It rained constantly, making any outdoor activity unattractive.   A neighbor had graciously agreed to pick up some books on CD from the library for me, so I squelched over to pick them up and had a glass of wine and some adult person conversation.  It was very nice.  By the time I got home it was pouring, so I had to force the dogs outside (large umbrella held aloft), feed them, feed the sheep/llama, collect eggs, then feed me.  As soon as it is starting to get dark, the chickens are snug in their coop and I close them up.  The ducks, however, are loathe to go in until it's dark.  I decided to wait until the rain eased up to go out and close them in and then promptly fell asleep in my chair.  I did not think about it again until just after I slipped under the covers.  I decided I was too tired, it was still raining and I had left it open before with no ill effects.  After all, the poultry yard is surrounded by a six-foot wood fence with chicken wire around the bottom.  You can see where this is going.

At 2:15A, I heard the ducks - shot out of bed, threw on my robe, got Lovey, slipped into boots and turned the lights on.  Lovey levitated off the deck, snarling with hair raised down her back, towards the fence.  I went out with the headlamp on and my .22 loaded.  A cursory inspection of the duck house showed only one occupant and no sign of the others.  I was too late.  I closed the door, called Lovey off and went inside.  Needless to say, there was no going back to bed.

When it was finally light, I went out to survey the damage.  Only Dolly was left and she was frozen in terror, crammed in the back corner of the nesting box.  I went out of the front gate to survey the outside perimeter of the fence and, lo and behold!, there was Dimples, looking terrorized and missing a lot of pin feathers.  I herded her back into the yard and Dolly ventured out only after hearing Dimples.  There was no sign of Cordelia or Gertie.  Not a feather.  There were only a few tiny drops of blood, so I figured it was a pair of foxes.  This was supported by the method of their entry into the yard.
It's hard to see in the photograph, but they had dug under the fence, next to the duck coop and under the gate and, thanks to me, had waltzed in the open front door and made off with C & G.  If I had been flexible enough, I would have kicked myself from here to Babylon.  Thanks to my pure laziness and arrogance, I had let them down and my dear ducks paid a heavy price.   Needless to say, the survivors were traumatized and spent the entire day huddled together, as far away from their coop as they could be.  It's interesting in that the chickens, having gone through a hawk attack in their coop, then spending who knows how many hours with the assassin perched on their roost, were over it within an hour or so.  The ducks are still not over it.  It took quite a while and some strategically placed boards to herd them back into their coop.  I had gone up to the hardware store (in Vermont) and reinforced both their door and the chicken coop door.  All in the pouring rain.  On top of that, I had gotten a rather last-minute call from my shearer and I had to scramble around to get the sheep corralled and put in lockdown for his visit this morning.
Joe with the fat eel that is Linden.
I no longer refer to him as the 'sweet sheep'. 
He's a pain.

Norman, a Cormo/Pony X, who IS
a pain, is a total bean bag for the shearer.
Go figure.

Dirty but lovely Cormo fleece.
As is always the case on shearing day, it rained, it snowed, it was cold, it was damp.  After spending some hours in cold drafty barns (I help with my neighbor's shearing), my feet felt like blocks of ice.  A hot shower, wool socks and a fourth cup of coffee later, I was on my way to the office, feeling like I was coming in from Mars.  As is also always the case, shearing takes about six times longer than you figure.  When I called my boss to let her know I was running (very) late, she wasn't too bothered.  She had taken the day off to spend with her daughters and nieces for a long weekend of spas, chef-catered dinners and farm-to-table breakfasts.  Yeehaw.

Friday, April 27, 2018

And the winner is....

A very quick post to announce the winner of the Make magazine before I bolt out the door and into OMGIF. 

Michelle of Boulderneigh!

Come on down!!!

I have your particulars, so I will get this in the post to you ASAP.  Thank you, everyone, for taking the time to comment ~~ have a wonderful weekend!