Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Hello Mud!

If there ever was a post title that will come back to bite me, this is it.

I should add, "Goodbye Ice!"  But I am sure I will now get bitten twice.  We went from layers of ice and snow, to boot-sucking mud, to frozen mud, now to dry mud.  But tomorrow it is supposed to rain, so we may just reverse the process.  One never knows with Fickle Farch.

Love the pattern
This is pretty much how the entire chicken yard looks - with the exception of the reseeded part.  I am hoping the area I reseeded last year will hold its own this spring.  The jury is still out.
Betty Rubble

Connie the Cornish
These two hens are my constant companions, along with Dottie, the Speckled Sussex.  They follow along, talking to me.  Betty is an olive egger.

I was happy to see that the ice has melted between the raised beds, so I will be out layering cardboard this weekend - should I have the time.  Another weekend scheduled to within an inch of its life.  Last weekend, I had more of a social life than I've had in months - I met my friend with the Randall cattle for a glass of wine on Saturday night, and my neighbor took me out for dinner on Sunday.  I managed to squeeze in the complete purging of my linen closet - a thorn in my side for years.  I got two huge bags of the gleanings, so to speak.  One for Goodwill and one for the local shelter.  Progress.

There are signs of spring, on this day of the equinox.  My rhubarb is starting to show signs of life.

You can just see the start of the red buddings, if  you biggify.  I am going to divide a few and transplant them in the front - just to see if they do better with more light.  These are fine - albeit slower to grow - but I'm in the mood to try new things.  I got all charged up about a potato planting scheme, until I realized that I don't have the garden space for it.  Seed starting is kicking off this weekend, too, so I may be burning the midnight oil, trying to get everything done.  I am actually afraid to face my seed packets.  I have a feeling it's gotten out of control.

With the absence of ice, I have let the dogs have their heads and it is so much fun to watch.  Lovey gets a bad case of the zoomies and the Pat is positively airborne.  Sometimes he goes so fast, that his rear end is trying to pass his front end.  Poor kids.  It's been a long winter.  I have to check the yard first, however, as I seem to have inherited a yard bunny.  There's a small rabbit that now lives under the deck and is within view almost every time I go out.  That would be too much excitement for all of us.

Tomorrow I try to get Slimmie into his carry-crate (hahahaha) so I can tote him up to the vet.  He went from tossing up the occasional hairball, to throwing up every morning.  He hasn't lost his appetite or looked or acted poorly, which is reassuring.  I had started him on a new kibble, so I went back to his grain free and he has not thrown up once in the last five days.  Still, it pays to be diligent when your cat/dog gets older.  I just have to maintain the element of surprise tomorrow.  He is not a violent cat, but he is strong and eely.  Wish us luck.  If luck is not on my side, I may have to beg for a house call.

Friday, my sister and I are taking a day trip to NH.  I'm going along as company and comic relief.  I am also dropping my car off at the mechanics.  Yes.  Again.  I am actively looking for another.  Saturday, I am hoping to do a shortened version of my chores, so I can get home and get things done.  Sunday, I am joining a spring hike because...well, because it's spring and I need fresh air.   That, and I need more socialization.  I realized that I had not had any interaction with another human being (in person) Monday and Tuesday.  And I work in an office building!  It's not natural.

Next on my List of Purge is the laundry/furnace/tool room.  Again.  I realized that I had not purged anything, the last time I tackled it.  I just rearranged what was there.  No more.  The gloves are off.  The freezer is pretty much emptied, so I will see if I can defrost it, too.  Then I can put it on the local market and move my smaller chest freezer from the back room.  THEN, I can finish the office/craft room.  THEN...well, you know, there is the rest.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor can't get there from here.

Honestly.  Last Monday, I gave a package to my neighbor to drop at the local post office.  It was a book - media mail - and pretty straightforward.  Or so I thought.  Just on a whim, I thought I would track the package (which was going to Ohio).  Here is its path.  So far.

Cherry Plain, NY

Albany, NY

Detroit, MI

Westland, MI

Pittsburgh, PA

Detroit, MI

"In transit to its destination"

At least Michigan is in the general area of Ohio.  As was Pennsylvania.  We've got the target surrounded.  It boggles the mind.  At this point, I'll be thrilled if it actually reaches its destination.

After years of being the outpost in our megafirm, we (as in yours truly) are being inundated with visiting attorneys this week.  This meant re-commissioning rooms, setting up computers and phones, cleaning, catering, etc.  I wouldn't even mind the earlier than usual mornings, except for the fact that they are occurring on the back of this archaic time change.  Anyone who raises chickens knows that you need daylight in order to open the doors - especially if you are in a predator-laden area.  I've known owls who have swooped down and sauntered through open coop doors to do their worst while it's still dawn and the chickens are in their overnight stupor. 

Speaking of chickens, I have noticed that I tend to lose the old girls in the early spring, as opposed to mid-winter.  It seems like they use up all their energy trying to make it through, only to run out in March.  I've lost one of my Goldies (Buff Orpington), my last Maran, and there is another that is looking wilted.   The one that I secretly despise will probably outlive all the rest and continue to make my life a living hell.

There seems to be sun out this morning - if I remember what sun looks like - but the rest of the week will be overcast.  I may need to buy my Vitamin D3 by the case lot.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Wrap or serape? And my very own Bloody Mary.

I have a fairly strict policy of packing my lunch every day.  It makes sense, both from a financial point of view and from the tried-and-true "I can make that better!" point of view.  No one can top my "Clean Out The Fridge" Salad.

However, during Farch, I cut myself some slack.  There are days when it is all I can do to get out of bed and shuffle off into my routine, let alone plan and pack my lunch.  Yesterday was one of those days.  When I saw -2 degrees on the thermometer, I threw up my hands and yelled "Uncle!"  This always has an interesting affect on my 'kids', who have been snoring softly (and not) from under their toasty piles of fleece blankets.  Jerked out of a sound sleep, Slimmie bolts for his room, Peanut barks madly and nothing in particular, and Lovey just looks worried.

Gluten free cuisine has not permeated much of this city, apparently.  If pushed, one can get a sandwich in a gluten free wrap for an extra buck-fifty.  PASS.  I usually ask for whatever I order without any bread product, but that usually causes panic or blank stares, and they forget anyway.  So I just count it as bonus chicken food.  Yesterday, I ordered a falafel wrap, from my favorite mid-Eastern type carryout place.  With the whole wheat wrap, she says virtuously, as I am trying to make sure my chickens have only the best.

I don't know if it's because I live in a cave, from a gourmand's point of view, or if we just make 'em big up here, but that wrap was the size of a poncho!
I was thinking of putting an umbrella
next to if, for scale
The chickens were thrilled.  They also got the rest of my Indian Butter Chickpeas, which were very good but I faltered after four days in a row.  I've got to remember to halve all the recipes.

I've pretty much finished my anklets - although I forgot that I needed to cast off the top loosely.  Because, you know, I finished the first one two days ago.  Much too long ago to remember.  Then I cast on a sweater. 

About this sweater.  While going through my office/craft room, I decided to winnow out my crafting library.  If there is one thing I know about myself, it is that I am sometimes more crazy about the 'stuff' involved in a craft, than the actual crafting of it.  Geez.  I went through my knitting books and found a) I had one that I hadn't even realized was for crocheting; b) of the remaining books, one contained only one pattern that I would even knit, one didn't even have ONE pattern I would knit, and one was full of patterns I would knit.  I rehomed the crocheting book and the knitting books that are getting the heave-ho, were heaved into my garage sale bin.  Once I settled on a pattern, I had to see if I even owned a sweater quality of yarn.  I may have lots (MEGALOTS) of yarn, but most of it is in single skeins or balls and all 'special'.  I should not have worried.  From the magical land of Oregon (and it IS magical - or, at least, there are magical people there), a box landed on my doorstep that very night, and contained the exact amount of yarn I needed for my sweater.  And then some.  Cue the spooky music.  The yarn was mailed before I even knew I was knitting a sweater.  I swear, it almost gave me goosebumps.  Because - are you sitting down? - it was also in the exact color that I was thinking about.  Lawsymercy.  (You know who you are, you Yarn Fairy, you.)
The Sweater
The yarn
As with all things I jump into, this pattern was unknown territory - knit from the bottom up (first for me), with a shaped form (read: decreasing in pattern - argh).  I sallied forth.  And promptly had to rip it completely back.  Too much sallying, too little focus.  This morning I shunned all social media, made a large cup of strong coffee, and concentrated.  Hi-ho!

If you don't believe that this endless frigid weather can cause one to lose the farm, become that last straw, make grown men weep and babies cry, well then, I am here to tell you that it can make quail go completely postal.   For most of this week, the overnight temperatures have hovered near, or under, zero.  The daytime temperatures haven't been anything to write home about either.  My quail have braved this weather for months - but, apparently, last night was the last straw.  When I uncloaked the hutch this morning, I noticed some bright red dots on the upstairs level.  OMG!  I got the door opened and the largest quail (most likely female) was chasing down her roommates and pecking them bloody!  I removed her and marched her down to the wood line and bid her bon voyage.  The remaining quail were huddled, bloody-headed and unnerved in a far corner.  I hope they can recover, poor things.  I have a feeling the Quail Venture is doomed.  (Really?  And, pray tell, why would you think that????)  Had it not been for my required hour commute this morning, there would have been bourbon in my hot chocolate.

I am going to put my seed-starting set up together this weekend in my hour of unscheduled time.  To hell with the housework.  I need something that evokes sunshine and green things.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Bits and Blobs.

If my life was a load of laundry, it would have been beaten against the rocks on the river this week.  After shuffling into work in my slippers, furry teeth and all (snort) when we last spoke, there was Wednesday.  It took me over two and a half hours to get home - with two very close calls.  I am convinced there is a regional condition called "seasonal amnesia", where a person's mind is wiped clean over the summer of all thoughts and experiences of winter, and all the joys it brings - like driving in it.  I cut my driving teeth on the southern shore of Lake Erie, so I know winter.  There was one winter where I went to work on my cross country skis because I couldn't dig my car out of the parking lot.  Only to find I was the only one there - they had called everyone BUT me to inform them the office was closed.

The very first and foremost rule of thumb to maintaining life and property when the roads are hazardous, is to drive slowly, steadily, and go lightly on the brakes.  Last night, at least three nimrods were driving too fast, realized it, then slammed on their brakes.  One hit the car behind me, but I was watching and maneuvered out of the way.  The second bounced off the exit guardrail to the left of me, but cleared me by a car's length.  The third hit the same guardrail, and then skittered across the road in front of me (about three feet from my car), hit the guardrail to my right and ended up facing the wrong way in the lane to my left.  JM&J.  With rapidly rising blood pressure and the coiffure of a hedgehog, I inched ahead and was finally able to exit off the freeway.  The roads were not that snow-covered, but they were sure icy.  Even with all my 'expertise', I came very close to going off the road and down an embankment.  By the time I got home, I was a wreck. 

Thank goodness it snowed enough to justify working from home, because I couldn't face getting in the car and retracing that route yesterday. 

Then Peanut hurt his back again.  Mysteriously, as always.  We are back to the crate for 4-6 weeks and I am picking up his meds tomorrow.  Tomorrow, I need to get everything done because we are in for another snow 'event' (Winter Storm Xavier, anyone?) from Sunday into Monday.

The domino effect in my side woods:
You'll have to biggify to see the toppled trees
The 'dusting' of snow predicted for Wednesday into Thursday:
Note the roof of the quail hutch.
A couple of gems unearthed in my stress-bashing purge mission:

Dad's first resume from graduation.
Ancient photo from my trip to South Dakota between
my junior and senior years in high school.  I'm holding
Lester Leadercharge - he of the double dimples.
(Hey!  What ever happened to my eyebrows???)
Yesterday, during my lunch break, I went through an entire box of photographs and recycled about 95 percent of them.  As are the contents of my freezer and canning shelves, about 1 percent were labeled, leaving the rest in a vague veil of mystery.  I had the unmitigated pleasure of shredding old boyfriends and keeping all the cat and dog photos.  Hindsight is always so clear, isn't it?

I finished my fancy socks, but haven't taken a photograph of them.  I have started to work on my large stash of forgotten knitting kit projects.  Although the thought of sock-knitting makes my eyes cross, I ran across a kit for Fancy Feet Anklets - Socks for the Week.  Anklets, I thought.  Snap.  I wonder why I haven't worked on these...

Cute, no?
This is why I have not touched them in over
six years. 
Since I was determined to get a least one pair done, I gritted my teeth and slogged through the 61 rows required to make the heel.  61 rows, including 122 wrap-and-turns, then having to pick up all those bloody wraps.  Well, needless to say, I missed a few and I DON'T CARE.  They are worn on my feet, in my shoes, so pffft.  Need I say that I will not be knitting Tuesday's through Sunday's anklets?   I can't even indulge in an adult beverage while knitting this heel, for fear that my socks will look like they've been hit with a scourge of pox if I miss picking up those dadgum wraps.

However, right after the vet, hairdresser, folks, and grocery, I will be hitting the local package store.  Along with everyone and their Uncle Mick, with Winter Storm Xavier looming on the near horizon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

That slippery slope.

I have reached a new low.  Not only did I forget to brush my teeth this morning (TMI??), but I am sitting at my desk in the office in my .... slippers.


Just sent a text to my middle sister, alerting her that she had better brace for the future.  Let's hope it's not the near future.


Longer post with pictures coming.  We managed to not blow away on Monday, although the pine trees in my little forest took on a domino effect.  No sheep blew by my front window.  The quail survived, yet again, but are actively petitioning their hatchery in California to be rescued from their daily dose of Fresh Hell.  I hope they take me with them.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Me : Cars / Oil : Water / Match : Gasoline

Short Pier : Long Drive.

It occurred to me that I should entitle my memoir "My Life In Cars", but it would have to be X-Rated due to language issues.

On Monday, I drove three different vehicles and none of them was my car.  Let's morph back to Friday.  I am minding my own bees-wax, listening to Rick Bragg's My Southern Journey, thinking of the long weekend stretching ahead, mentally ticking off all the items on my List.  Then, three blocks from my office building, I smelled something burning.  Like rubber.  Since there was no one in front of me, I figured it was my piece of junk car.  I asked the building super - long-suffering Steve - if he could just take a look at it and figure out what could be causing the problem.

His verdict?  The clutch.  OF COURSE.  Because I have redone the wheels, suspension, brakes, suspension, wheels, suspension and the Universe thought I might be in the mood for something different.  I was not.  I tracked down my mechanic and gave him the info and he agreed.  Once again, Saturday found me driving north to the mechanic.  Since it's a full-day repair, I rented a car from Saturday to Monday.  Saturday afternoon, my mechanic called and gave me the good news - it was not my clutch!  I did not need a new clutch!  There was an ominous pause, an audible swallow, and he told me it was the transmission... , instead of an $1100 job, it would be a $3000 job, less if he could find a used transmission from someone who would guarantee it.  He could, however, give me a loaner so that I didn't have to compound my outlay by having to rent a car for the week.

Then these things happened.  I got my rental, which was a 2019 SUV - it was POSH!  And had way too many doodads on it to make me comfortable but, still.  I had to turn it in on Monday.  We had a winter storm on Monday.  After a white knuckle 25 mile drive over slippery roads, I made it back up to VT and turned it in.  I got a ride from the rental company to the mechanic where I found out the loaner had not been returned and wouldn't be returned for another 5-6 hours.  BUT, I could use his truck in the meantime.  His truck was the size of a 747, had 215,000+ miles on it and all kinds of "quirks".  A beggar could not be a chooser, however, and I took it.  It should have included a ladder and crash helmet (I don't want to tell you how ungracefully I clambered into that giant vehicle - barely).  Off I went - 25 miles back home.  Needless to say, I did not get much checked off The List.  I did, however, decide that I was miserable enough to tackle my filing and clear off my desk top.  At 5:30, I clambered back up into the behemoth and bounced my way back up to VT.  Where I collected my loaner.
I couldn't even get it all in the frame.
Luckily, it is only the size of a small school bus, and not an airplane.  However, it has dawned on me that I will be pumping enough gas into this beast to pay for a rental car.  Sigh.  I have added "Find a good, used Toyota Rav 4" to my list.

Since I will grab onto any tiny good thing like a woman drowning, there was a plus:
Yaaaaassss!  I squeezed in a loaf of GF bread - using yeast this time! - and it turned out like bread!  This is a good thing, because I did not have time to do any other cooking and had to make PBJs for lunch.

The other good thing was snuggle time with my girl.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Remoting in and other ramblings.

That dull red was blood-red, just moments
before.  Yo!  Sailors!
Thanks to the Weather, with a capital W, I was forced to stay home Tuesday and Wednesday.  We had, in no particular order, sleet, rain, ice, snow, wind, sleety rain, icy wind, and more snow.  It was a very unusual snow - dryish, as in it didn't stick to my shovel, but abundant, as in it really piled up.  Because it did not stick, it was easy to rake it off of any roof, but it was heavy.  When I let HQ know that I was weathered in (we are into weird-speak now, I see), I was told I could remote in and finish my multiple tasks (yay, tasks!) including my onboarding placeholders.  What?

Sometimes I wonder what planet I woke up on.

I am back in the office today, but my brain seems to be hardwired into thinking it's Friday.  I hope I show up tomorrow, but it's 50/50.

I used a new conditioner this morning and my hair now has a bad case of the flops.  Which, given my genetic make-up, is not a good thing.

In a mad fit of cabin fever, I organized all my patterns.

Just when I thought things were too boring, I had to get a certain someone to the vet.  Out of the blue, there was mad head-shaking-ear-flapping.  Non-ending.  I poked around in the Pat's flappy little ears, but just came up with ear wax.  Into the car went the booster seat, seat belts were strapped in all around and off we went - just before the second round of ice.
My co-pilot in half-mouse-ear pose
We did a quick feeding of the barn cats and were off.  Thankfully, the main roads were in better shape than the secondary, and we made it safely.  After PB made the rounds - front desk, office, hospital - whatever doors are open or people appear, they are all his dear friends - Dr. Hannah dredged out his ears and found the beginnings of a yeast infection.  Then it was on with the tiny muzzle and the nail clippers were applied.  Geez.  High drama screaming, while rapidly wagging his tail.  He is too much.  He got treats and I paid the bill.  Back home, Lovey was thrilled that she hadn't been left an orphan and we got back to normal.  Except, I now have to add ear cleaning and squirting of ointment to our morning/evening schedule.  While it was all fine and dandy with Dr. Hannah, with Mom it's an entire different (and highly dramatic) ball of (ear) wax.

This Saturday, it's a hot time in the old town, with a Valentine's gathering where my sister and I are the youngest in attendance by a long shot.  I am spending Sunday firmly planted at home.  I've made a tiny bit of progress on my office/craft room and I am all fired up!  I may have a desk by the end of the weekend.

As for Valentine's Day - one of many minor holidays I normally ignore - I may rustle up the energy to shape the dogs' dinners into hearts.  Or not.  Bah, heartburn!