Monday, April 25, 2016

It's not cheating, right?

Let's see if I can *ahem* rationalize convince you of the latest purge targets...

127-131 - rhubarb plants
132- garden cart
133- rolling garden seat

As I staggered around yesterday (remnants of six hours of coop-cleaning the day before) I realized I hadn't done my weekly purge list.  But wait!  I have way too many rhubarb plants for a family of one (none of my dependents - other than the biddies - will eat rhubarb) so I split some of the plants and potted up five.  While I was rummaging around in the carport, I came across the garden cart - which I used to display them and then realized I had not used it in over a year.  #132!  And, hidden behind the cart was the little wheeled seat.  #133! 

I have to give the transplants time to get over the shock of being plucked from their nice little home.  I did manage to pot up 15 pots of violas.  I planted a few violas a couple of years ago and now they have taken over the world.  Or at least my corner of it.  And I cannot just rip them out, because they are darling and pretty.  I took a large pot over to my sister and am slowly but surely moving volunteers into various deck pots.  I feel so thrifty.

Little Purple Poseys all in a row
I just love the heartiness and beauty of these flowers
I am trying to fit in weeding raised beds here and there.  I did, over the course of the weekend, clean the bean/pea bed and plant peas; transplant a volunteer chive clump; finish prepping my strawberry bed; finally clean up after myself.  My neighbor stopped by with his granddaughter and her husband in the middle of my coop-cleaning extravaganza.  I was forced to stop.  O woe was me - not.  The granddaughter's husband is a very nice young fellow, who is also a talented carpenter looking for odd jobs.  HOOHA.  Did he come to the right place!  I have him working up quotes for:  duck housing, roofing, building of overhand over front deck, pergola over back deck.  And I still have a few other project up my proverbial sleeve.  If he is affordable, it may be the answer to many wishes sent out into the ether. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Next Out of the Door...

(Please excuse the horsey-ness of the pics - this post was iPhone-driven.)

Items 120-126

120- Great idea, wrong windows!

121- Made for votive candles, by some twisted mind.  You are supposed to balance the candle on a tiny plate on the bottom which then must be screwed in without knocking the candle over.  While lighted.

122- Wore it to death then not for two years....kept it one year past the one year "rule"...

123- A print of one of my favorite paintings.  I've had it since my late 20s.  Which makes it an antique.

124- see #122

125- One of those "surely I can find a use for this" items.  Surely not.

126- For all those sweeping vistas I was going to photograph.  I'm all about the accoutrements....

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Shoehorning Into the Routine or Just Call Me...

Elasta Gurl!  I knew the nuggets were due to arrive last week, but I very (in)conveniently slid that particular item of knowledge to the dark recesses of my conscious brain.  I am beginning to think that my brain is like a soppy-wet sponge - nothing is being absorbed.  I had taken last Friday off because I needed to take my car in for recall work (to the --shudder-- dealer) and they needed it all day.  In my own inimitable way, I also scheduled a meet and toss with someone from FB - I meet them and toss them some of the purged items - then needed to borrow a car (since the dealer would not provide a loaner), do grocery shopping and hopefully get a little yard work done, returning the car in the late afternoon and coming home to await Sylvie's arrival - all nice and calm with a spanky clean house.  That was the plan.  What actually happened was: toddling around the house doing anything BUT cleaning, I got a call from the P.O. with the deafening roar of peeping in the background and a nice but firm request that I pick them up sooner than later.  A mad flurry of brooder set-up ensued, followed by a rushed (let's just say the only thing moving up was my blood pressure) trip behind what I felt was an impromptu funeral procession all the way north to meet with the FB people and then to the dealer, where I flung the keys at the guy and gave them a blanket "NO" on any further repairs.  This was followed by a way-too-leisurely ride to my friend's house to pick up her extra car, which she so generously offered.  It was a nice surprise when I found her home, so we had a nice cup of coffee and chat, after which I bolted out the door and made a rapid descent to the P.O. to pick up the nuggets.   Dashing home to get them set up, I placed a call to a neighbor who had shared my order.  Twiddling of thumbs while waiting.  Get his chicks in his truck and then, as soon as he left the driveway, I am back in the car and up to VT for trip #2 - grocery shopping.  Controlled race back home, put groceries away and clean(ish) the house, checking every five minutes to make sure the nuggets were okay.  They were.  This is, by far, the healthiest bunch I have ever received.   For anyone interested - Moyers Hatchery.  A Plan C was devised and I was saved from having to make a third trip to VT in one day.

Brooder condos
Squee!  Notice the little foot
poking out of the top egg?

But, wait!  What's this?  It's sure not a nugget.  Apparently, my math skills are a little shaky.  I was not expecting my duck eggs to hatch until mid-week.  I was greeted by a peeping duckling when I got home from work on Monday night, which put the kibosh on my Monday night list.  More scrambling and I set up a makeshift brooder and moved Duckling One into it (with a soft dog toy for company).  I awoke the following morning to Duckling Two and Three on the way.

We are bursting at the seams at the Little Lucky!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Comfort Zones.

Our instructor - Tony Connor
I spent this weekend in a heady mix, in-and-out of my comfort zone.  I had been strong-armed into joining a two day watercolor workshops by my BFF, Sylvie, and I was sweating bullets when we drove up to the workshop venue early Saturday morning.  I may have had a fine arts education, but it was skeighty-eight years ago, as my neighbor says.  It had been a minimum of 30 years since brush touched paper or canvas.  As a matter of record, my watercolor instructor had said I was way too heavy-handed to ever think about becoming a water colorist, which was why I turned to sculpture.  It's amazing how criticism can cling to you for eons.  But, Sylvie persevered (and provided most of my supplies, not to mention the prospect of having her stay with me for THREE DAYS) and there we were.

Rediscovering color.
It was a very small class, which was both helpful and not - I got way too much attention...I had secretly hoped that I could keep my head down in the back row and blunder away under the instructor's radar.  Not happening with only four students.
No, that's not my painting...
All in all, it wasn't too bad - although by the time it hit 3P on Sunday, Sylvie turned and whispered to me, "I'm afraid to say that all I can think about right now is, when do we get to go home and have a glass of wine?"  Mind meld!!  That's why she's my BFF - because I was thinking the very exact same thing.  In between the sweaty sessions in the workshop, we enjoyed beautiful weather and sat out on the back deck with a glass or two of wine and enjoyed the birdsong.  And the chickens, rooster, sheep, llama, and the dogs that were velcroed to Sylvie.

I don't know that I will work my way up to a reasonable facsimile of a water colorist, but it was a good exercise for my saggy brain cells.  I really enjoyed the color exercises (well, until I compared them to my fellow classmates' work) and I ended up buying one of Tony's beautiful landscapes.  It's hard not to be completely intimidated when your instructor chooses your subject as an example, and whips it out on a canvas in .03 nanoseconds - while you're still all hot and sweaty, busily overworking a minuscule portion of it into mud. 

However, there was a bright spot.  The workshop took place in a beautiful studio on an equally beautiful property containing a B&B and a riding/boarding stable.  How many of you are NOT surprised this weekend involved animals of some sort?  I am going to look into riding lessons (once a month) and try not to be haunted by the close proximity of the scene of my painting humiliations (in my mind).

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Practical Things and Aimless Ramblings.

I was thinking of how glad I am that I am able to create practical things.  If I need a new dishcloth, I knit one.  Ditto with dish and hand towels.  It takes a little (okay, a LOT) longer to create a pair of socks, but I can do it.  For the most part, I can make what I need.  The only drawback - if it is, indeed, a drawback - is that I cannot create something practical in five minutes. 

Lunch knitting project.

This got me thinking about how thoroughly instant gratification has permeated our lives.  At work, the sender of an email expects to hear back from you in a nanosecond and gets their undies in a bunch if it doesn't happen, no matter how unimportant that answer is.  Planning ahead takes a backseat to 'don't worry, we can get it at Wal-Mart at 8A on Sunday if we need it.'  Forget to take something out of the freezer (say, that WM frozen high-fat, high-sodium family-of-twelve-size pizza)?, nuke it.  Most of us (present company - yousguys - excluded) have forgotten how to take basic care of ourselves and provide for our needs with our two little hands.  No wonder so many people are angry.  Anger is most often fear-based and I would bet that most of those who are angry have gotten themselves to the point where they must rely on others (government) to provide for their basic needs.  If that doesn't put the fear of God into you, I don't know what will.  It seems that common sense has left the building.  I am surrounded every day by people who feel that they are entitled to everything just because they exist. 

Coming into or out of the city every day, there is a fellow who plants himself at a rather inconvenient traffic light.  He holds a sign that states he is a veteran of the Navy, homeless and would appreciate some help.  It is an inconvenient light because there are three lanes of traffic, jam-packed with drivers who are chomping at the bit to rocket off as soon as the light turns green.  This fellow used to stand, smoking away, which made me think that - if he would stop smoking, he could save quite a bit of money right there - while at the same time, what business was it of mine that he smoked anyway?  I had a few brief conversations with him while I idled at the light and mentioned that his smoking might be putting a crimp in his donations.  He smiled and agreed.  I didn't see him for a few weeks and then I saw him this morning.  Sans cigarette.  He smiled when he saw me and shouted - "I quit!"  I gave him five bucks.

Ending this string of aimless wanderings, I will leave you with a snapshot of my morning.  Frantic knitting until 6 - change to barn clothes and feed the pups and kitties.  Out the door to the farm.  When I pull up at the barn in the morning, the calves start bawling.  It is so loud, you can hear it outside with the doors and windows shut.  When I stagger in with the first two pails of milk, the farmer is very happy to see me, as the noise level dims slightly and continues to do so with each double feeding until I have finished feeding Monkey and Tulip, the last of the eight.  I have given them all names, which the farmer finds very entertaining:  Daisy (my girl), PIA (do you need a translation?), Pixie, Dinkle, Monkey (as in Chunky Monkey), Tulip, Legs, Butthead.  I then toddle down the aisle and say hello to Jasmine and sneak her more grain (of which the farmer is quite aware), then out to the car with a quick stop to feed various feral barn cats at the old farmhouse (the farmer insists on putting down rat bait, even though I have pointed out on numerous occasions that it is either bait or barn cats).  I refuse to feed them at the barn, because I don't want them tempted by poisoned rodents.  Sigh.  Then back home to do my own outside chores.  Then a quick (sometimes too quick, if the sight of my hair in the office mirror is any indication) transformation into working girl and off I go.  It was a little more difficult to leave this morning because the birds were singing and there was a bright spring sun glinting through the trees, giving me the feeling that maybe, just maybe, spring is back for good.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Monday Musing 113-119




I had to get creative this week, as not everything was photographed - nor did all of it warrant photography.  More of the same rather boring purges, but we are making headway! 

1- I hate to admit it, but I was emotionally attached to this $1 Target plastic mixing bowl.  While it did give me a twinge, I held steady in my resolve to not only purge, but to purge plastic.  Plastic and I are at a crossroads - I am taking another path.

2- P is for photographs.  Another big stack helped warm us up via the fireplace on Saturday night.  The dogs and I LOVE flammable purge stuff!

3- Buttons!  Instead of doing something really useful, I spent an entire hour going through a small portion of my button collection.  A large tin went out the door on Sunday.

4- Another attachment to this cheapo set of measuring spoons.  However, it was a lot easier to divorce myself from this bit of plastic, now that I have a very lovely ceramic measuring spoon set.  (Okay, technically, "purge" is used a little loosely in this case, as it was supplanted by another set.  But I don't care - I'm counting it anyway because it's a double purge.  Clear as mud?)

5- Firstly, I do not change tires.  I used to, in my misspent youth (once having set a time record that would have put me easily in the pit at NASCAR - it was midnight and it was a very bad neighborhood.  Flat off/replacement on in under 5 minutes...) but now I have AAA.  With age comes useful memberships.  Plus, I have two of these.  You don't?  Really?

6- One of those things that gathers dust in the boot of your car.  A cigarette lighter-powered air pump.  Right.

7- F is for files.  Another box was winnowed down to an eighth of its size and carted off to the transfer station for recycling.


The "Bar".
I threw a small birthday dinner for my neighbor and, as I set up the bar area (also known as the kitchen island), I wondered how many people also offered Udder Comfort with their wine, vodka and kombucha.  I think I had everything covered.  The dinner turned out to be very nice - I boned a leg of lamb and let it soak up a marinade of olive oil, garlic, fresh rosemary, S/P and lemon juice all day.  I slapped it on the grill (after removing the three story mouse condo - they had conveniently moved the moth balls to the far end of the grill, so as not to interfere with their building project - and scrubbing it like mad), made mashed taters with minced parsley and chives, and added oven roasted asparagus.  Dessert was his favorite (his mother used to make it for him, I recalled) - pineapple upside down cake.  The GF version.

Saturday was spent with my sister, Connie, touring some local antique (or, vintage) shops.  We were frequently hysterical - neither of us brought our glasses along, so we were squinting and taking wild stabs at prices.  I picked up a neato magnifying glass in a leather case, so we would fall into a snorting heap when I whipped it out - you had to be there.  I was on a quest to replace my plastic mixing bowls (hang onto your Anchor Hocking, ladies and gents!) and my sister picked up an adorable demitasse cup and saucer for her collection.  We had lunch in a great little cafĂ© in Bennington, and then I reluctantly dropped her off at home.  But, she had our parents to see to, and I had some furry dependents that needed me home.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wednesday Wanderings (of my...mind...)

According to one of the latest diet 'fads', I am an O positive trapped in an A negative body - someone let me out!  I need a total transfusion!  No tomatoes?  Are they mad?  According to the Blood Type Diet, everything I like is bad for me.  If you're an A negative, all you can do is go through life drinking water and eating raw vegetables.  Sigh.

I am going to have to hold back a few of the more interesting objects to be jettisoned.  We're getting down to the nitty gritty - piles of papers, old bank statements (from 1990 - can I hold onto something or what?), bits and pieces.  It's too cold and snowy to get my hands on the stuff in the outbuildings.  (I love saying "outbuildings".  It makes me sound like a real farm.)

Speaking of jettisoned objects:

Behold!  106-112!

I did NOT jettison this cake.

Really.  The objects of this week were so boring (visually and every other imaginable way) that I am just going to provide the list:

1- 1990 bank statements

2- 1991 bank statements

3- entire contents of warranty folder due to the fact that I no longer own any of the objects that were warranted

4- pair of black wide-legged pants still sporting the price tag (I cannot tell you how many times I had 'meant' to hem them.  But, I can tell you that I meant to do it for more than four years...)

5- pair of black slip-ons.  May I add that they were one of five pairs of almost identical black slip-ons.  Call me Imelda.

6- wire basket

7- large stack of photographs of exes and other occasions/people of which I desire no photographic evidence.  (No, you're not going to see them.  You'll have to wait for the book.)

The cake is a gluten free number that turned out great.  I had whipped it up Sunday morning - before the first major snow fall of our not-winter-but-spring - and before my dinner guest tripped over a hose by her barn that was hidden by the aforementioned snow.  She landed in a highly uncomfortable and unnatural pose and was nursing her aches and pains and had to cancel.  Alas, I had to eat the cake myself.  (Not all of it, of course...I farmed most of it out to the barn crew.)  It was another recipe from the America's Test Kitchen GF cookbook.  I have to say that almost everything I've tried has turned out wonderfully.  This cake was a gingerbread cake and the only problem with it was all my fault.  I did not tamp it down and that little ring around the center of the top was an air tunnel.  The taste was great and the texture almost fooled me.  Dinner became a week's worth of lunches.  We are nothing, if not flexible.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What a lovely day for shearing!

Norman won't even look at me.

Don't even think about it, lady.

Did someone say 'grain'?

We'll think about forgiving you
if you bring on the grain twice a day until
A month ago, April 4 sounded like a safe bet for a shearing date.  It sounded pretty good right up until two days before.  Unfortunately, in our area there are a dearth of shearers.  Never mind GOOD shearers.  My shearer, Joe, is terrific and popular.  (If I had a son, I would want a Joe.)  He also is based pretty far north of us, so when he puts together his schedule, we are on the very southest end and need to take what he has - he doesn't make the trip twice.  Melanie and I tag team and we include Kay's husband because he needs all the help he can get.  We are right in a row - Melanie first, then me, then Nick.  Joe has other clients south of us so he shears basically from sunrise to sunset.  He is awesomesauce.  As we checked the forecast, we started to get nervous.  Both Melanie and I usually have our sheep sheared outside.  After getting a confirmation that he was still coming, both of us scrambled to provide a sheltered spot (with electricity available) for Joe to work.  I also had to pen my up, spread a one-foot layer of straw and start upping the grain supply.

At 7:15A, I pulled up Melanie's driveway and saw a small pen with a tarp tied over.  It was packed full of tiny Shetlands!  I always forget how adorably small her sheep are.  We swept off the covered porch, ran an extension cord and waited for Joe.  Thanks to plummeting temps and heavy snow, he was running late and that is how the day progressed.  Having extra hands is sure great for getting a job done quickly.  We went through her nine sheep in good order, considering the weather - Melanie (wo)man-handling them up to the porch, Joe grabbing them and shearing them, me sweeping up between and packing fleece in bags.  We then inched down the road to my place where I was pretty much organized (shocking, isn't it?)  Mine were, let's say, slightly less accommodating - although Joe did say that the Fat Eel (aka Linden) was better-behaved than usual.  That may be because it was about 20 degrees and he was stunned that we were taking off his winter coat.  I think the biggest difference between our sheep is that hers couldn't wait to get away, while mine were in our pockets after they were shorn.  (Juno - the old gal - is very curious.  What's in that box?  What's that?  What are you doing?  Can I help you do it?)  Luckily, they are easily distracted by food.

By the time my three were done, the snow was over six inches and still coming down steadily.  We inched off to Nick's where we dealt with four alpacas, three sheep and an angora goat.  Melanie dropped me back at my place where I got a call from another neighbor who had one (wild) sheep to shear.  He came down and picked Joe up (Joe drives a skate on wheels - it would never had made it up the mountain).  I shoveled.  And shoveled.  And fed grain and apologized.

We woke up this morning to about eight inches of snow - more than the entire accumulation of winter - and single digit temperatures.  I shoved my feet in boots, put on my parka, and trotted (carefully) down to the barn to check on my nekkid sheep.  Everyone was cozied up and showing no signs of hypothermia. 

Now all we need is actual spring. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Spring has sprung.

leak.  This may be the most snow we've had all winter.  Unfortunately, it's spring.

Friday, April 1, 2016

And the list goes on....

(How many of you will now have the Sonny & Cher song banging around in their head?)  The purging continues - although there's not a lot of 'interesting' stuff being purged, there is a continual effort in moving it out the door.  We are at 105 and counting...


I'm not sure if my weird and vivid dreams at o'dark thirty this morning were due to the trip down Memory Lane through the latest box of letters and detritus, but it was full of cameos of people from my past - both dead and alive.  It took three cups of strong coffee to get my brain back on its feet.
Here we go:
1- The flotsam and jetsam of my past lives.  Train ticket stubs, menus, maps, my library card from Nuenen, The Netherlands.  An advert from Gary's Muffins - the only place my friend Karen and I could find that had real by-golly bagels.  Unfortunately, it was in Amsterdam.  Fortunately, it was in Amsterdam...
2- Date books from 1996-2002.  Some very interesting reading.
3- Really?  I kept this?  This was Chickie's ball (my little Nigerian wether).  He pounded the poop out of it within seconds.  And I kept it.  Do you think I need an intervention?
4- My new-to-me-years-ago brown cords.  It is time they toddled along.  (Can you tell I don't have a dryer?)
5- Silk scarf.  It was a gift.  I don't wear scarves except on very rare occasions.  Must be VERY rare, as I haven't worn this ever.
6- Black cashmere boat-neck sweater.  It was also a gift - I do not feel comfortable in a boat-neck sweater.  I am sure there is someone without a double chin and with a swan-like neck that would shine in this sweater.  It ain't me.
7- A bag of leashes.  What?  You don't have a bag of leashes?  Well, so surprisingly, I have two.

The following two missives made the "Keeper" box.  They are from my nephews and I love them to pieces.  Notice that I am Aunt "Sew" in the first one?  And I love the fact that my other nephew - a fashionister (male form of fashionista?) even then - managed to convey the fact that these were not exactly what he wanted, but he gave me points for trying.  :)


********** Akannie - you will have the chance to sample Penzey's Spices!  You are the winner! ***** please email your mailing address to me (swomersley at gmail dot com)! **************