Thursday, March 29, 2018

Glorious in its Imperfections and Farm Cat Shenanigans.

After a very small (okay, one day) hiatus from knitting so that my hands could rest - alas, my mind could not, ergo one day - I was hot on my pair-of-socks-a-month deadline.  Not surprising to those who know me, these were not too big, as were the last ones.  They were too small!  I was a tad disappointed, as the yarn was special - a hand-dyed green single Merino - but I bucked up and went on the lookout for someone with more diminutive feet.  With any luck, these socks will be winging their way northeastwards to someone who sports Audrey Hepburn-like footsies.  And who will appreciate them in all their glorious imperfection!

For those of you who are interested (if you're not, just hum a few bars of something - I'll be back in a second), these were knit with a magic loop, from the toe up.  First for me and I like it!

I'm back.  I've been chipping away at the snow load and Mother Nature has been giving me a hand by a) not dropping anymore snow on us and b) providing daytime temps that encourage meltage.  Unfortunately, our night time temps encourage freezage.

Which is why this is my view every night and every morning:
Lump A (left) and Lump B (right)
Peanut Butter and Lovey, respectively.
Lumps are interchangeable, as are the blankies
On Saturday, I visited my parents and got to see my sister and dog nephew.  I then swung by my friend's house to drop something off and commiserate over her frustration at having a broken ankle and a large farm to take care of.  Indeed.  Luckily, her husband has been stepping up, as have various nieces and a nephew, and the weather has been crapola.  I was excited to see their new addition, which she, so far, has only seen with binoculars.
We believe it is a little boy dumpling.
Then it was back home for more shoveling and housecleaning, and whipping up a quick, early dinner for my 83 y/o neighbor who has been my savior during March and beyond. 

I have been feeding the cats at the dairy farm's abandoned farmhouse for almost two years.  During that time, a female cat (which I named Grayce because she's gray and I'm so creative) has been a constant.  She is, thankfully - I think, fingers crossed - spayed.  I seem to remember her from some years ago as a catch, spay and release project from a well-meaning but dingle berry local woman.  This is the same woman who 'set free' a neutered male, long-haired city cat that got so matted and burr-infested that he had to be trapped, shaved and rehomed INSIDE, poor boy.  Anyhoo, Grayce has gone through her share of boyfriends and seems to have settled on a rather taciturn male with tiger stripes.  They get along, she whacks him on a regular basis and he puts up with it, and all has been going swimmingly.  Until his insane doppelganger arrived.  This boy has hormones up the wazoo and gets into fights on a regular basis.  He's a mess and has upset the apple cart of harmony.  We're stuck with him because...
There are steps there, somewhere.
And this pic was taken after a week of meltage.  Of course, the three feet of snow on the metal porch roof has come down as an avalanche on a regular basis and, try as I might, I can't keep up with it.  If it's frozen, I can scale the mountain of snow and reach the porch proper, where they are fed.  Unfortunately, I cannot do this safely whilst donned in work clothes - and I feed them on the way to work.  I will have to dig the steps out again this weekend and, hopefully, oust the bugger.  I will try to tempt him to the front porch, but, you know, hormones.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Dear Honey Maid:

I know you think you're pretty slick.  You're betting that people won't realize that the nice, thick graham crackers that they've been buying for years are being replaced by thinner, less quality crackers.  I mean, the box is the same, right?  And, hey - what about those prices?  You all must be chortling up a storm on your way to the bank, making us pay more for less and less.

Well, laugh while you can.  S'more season is coming up and let me tell you - those wimpy crackers won't fool anyone.  Why, even now, when you open the package, you don't get one - not ONE - whole cracker.  Every single one is broken.  And that is not going to make campers happy.  No sireebob.

My sheep (and llama) and I are on the hunt for a better, thicker, more reasonably priced graham cracker.  I know they are out there, they are just not going to be yours.

Enjoy your profits while you can.

Monday, March 19, 2018


It has finally stopped snowing.  However, to add insult to injury, the temps have plummeted.  I awoke on Sunday morning to -3*.  If Mother Nature had been sitting in my living room, I would have given her a pummeling.  And she would have been sitting in a cold living room, as I cannot safely light a fire because the ton of snow on the roof has shifted my chimney pipe to a slight angle.  I'm not sure if it is seated safely, so will have to wait until spring when the true horrors of roof damage are apparent.
Actually, it is already quite apparent that there is a lot of damage - the oven fan vent is gone.  The two bathroom fan vents are totaled.  The fresh air intake pipes are toast.  Sigh.
Exactly how I feel, Peanuttier.
After calling around to try and find someone qualified to assess the damage, then having both parties contacted stand me up, I hired a local kid (the same kid that will be replacing my fencing) to clamber up a ladder and cover the open vents until I find someone who is qualified and will show up.  Oh, to be 17 again.  Not.  Nothing can fix broken faster than a couple of plastic bags and a roll of duct tape.

The latest news is that the next nor'easter that was scheduled to drop more snow on us Tuesday/Wednesday, should go far enough out to sea that we will be snowless.  Let's hope that is the case because it is going to take 'til June to melt what we have.

Saturday was a whirwind of activity involving Lulu (aka Zsa Zsa), long overdue shopping, more shoveling, checking on my parents, seeing my youngest sister, and finally getting a good haircut.  I know that a goodly portion of my crankiness was the fact that I have been dragging around for months with a bad haircut.  I have been having my hair cut by the same woman for years and I adore her.  But...she is distracted by life events and I have had a bad haircut twice in a row.  Tired of months of bad hair days,  I finally checked myself into a proper salon (and paid the price...gulp) but myauntjessie, it was totally worth it.  There may not be spring in the air, but there's a spring in my step now.

Sunday was - you guessed it - spent shoveling.  There was still at least four inches of solid ice, topped by a mound of snow on multiple points along the front roof line.  I had to unearth/snow my propane tank.  100# of feed had to be dragged through the house and down the back to the coop.  There was knitting.  There was laundry.  There was cleaning.  There was cooking.  I made my favorite applesauce spice cake that is the best gluten free recipe I have found to-date.  It is a breeze to make and the barn guys like it.  I also made a new-to-me recipe, GF Irish Cottage Pie, which is sort of like a shepherd's pie.  The filling was grass fed ground beef (from my friend, Cynthia's, cows), leeks, garlic, carrots, peas, tomatoes, thyme, rosemary, basil, cinnamon, red wine, and Balsamic vinegar.  It is 'lidded' with potatoes mashed with EVOO, and baked in a 350* oven for 30 minutes.  It was delicious, but I would cut the amount of cinnamon in half the next time I make it.  And I will make it again.

An update on Lulu (which she will always be, to me).  One Sunday ago, after what I thought was a seamless meshing of foster and resident dogs, she attacked Peanut Butter without provocation.  Luckily, I was standing close-by and was able to intercede.  There was no damage done - just some terrified shrieking by PB - and Lu stopped immediately.  But.  After what we went through with Pepperoni and Kramer, there is no margin for error.  The dogs were separated again, and I contacted the rescue.  Through tens of calls and emails, involving at least six people, another foster was found for her that was perfect.  Lu went to her first adoption clinic and had her follow-up vet appointment where the news was good - she lost 3#, her skin and coat are much improved and her energy level has perked up.  They also figured she was closer to 7 than 9, so she lost two years, too!  I am so happy for her and am glad I was the first step in her journey to her forever home.  She was such a hit at the adoption clinic with the store staff, that they gave her a spa treatment - bath, ears and nails!  What is not to love?  I do miss her, however.
75# of lovable dog
I only have good things to say about this rescue group - they do whatever it takes to make sure that dogs in their care are in the best place possible.  The best food, the best vet care, the most loving care.  I wouldn't be surprised if her foster mom decided to keep her forever.  We are back to the four Musketeers and Slimmie seems to be very happy about that - I am thinking about renaming him Velcro.  We are still on the foster list and hope to welcome another pooch into the fold.  It is quite something to be part of the process that brings the realization to these dogs that their life is about to change for the better - the best, really.  It is magic.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I lied.

We didn't get a foot of snow.  We got over 24 inches of snow, from Wednesday afternoon, through this morning.
View from the LR window

A cozy cap of snow

I have shoveled this path
2,000 times.  True.

My neighbor took pity on my
roof situation.

Front deck
After I shoveled before bed (I averaged once every hour and a half-to-two hours yesterday), I woke up to find between 6-8 inches of new snow.  It was enough to almost bring me to my knees.  BUT, since I seem to be channeling a 1930s prairie housewife, I stiffened my upper lip (which had begun to quiver), armed myself with my trusty shovel, and shoveled it all over again.  Followed by Miss Velcro.
I'm coming!

What do we do now?
The smart dogs were inside.
Wake me when it is actually spring.
I made it into the office today, thank goodness.  I was really getting a little stir-crazy.  Plus I needed a break from all that knitting.  We will, hopefully, have a bit of a break in the snow until Storm #4 (5?  6?  20?), which is due next Tuesday/Wednesday.  My boss is all in a flap because she is due in from Florida on Wednesday.  I have to say, I was not exactly a pillar of sympathy upon hearing the news.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

If you don’t have anything nice to say…

12 more inches.  I have no nice words.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Bracing, battening and other "b" words that cannot be repeated.

After spending some hours yesterday, roof rake in hand (how did I ever live without it?), clearing off the run-in shed, hoop house, fuel tank cover, front and back house roof, and carport, I was not pleased to hear from a neighbor (who seem way too gleeful about it) that yet another storm is headed toward us this evening.  I am being punished for my wicked youth and I'm taking everyone down with me.

I slip-slided my way to the city Saturday morning so that the Drama Queen (aka Peanut Butter) could get his talons clipped.  Then I turned my back on my to-do list and got a pedicure of my own.  While it's not feasible for me to get my toenails all gussied up with some radical color, given the 20 degree weather with deep snow, plus I do not have the patience to sit  and wait - I do get a thin layer of glitter applied.  Just because it makes me happy when I look down at my feet.

On Sunday, I schlepped the baby hippo up to a DIY dog wash about 40 minutes away.  Luckily, I met up with one of the dog rescue staff and we gave Lulu a good washing with her specially medicated shampoo.  I then hefted her back into the car and brought her home.  Poor dolly was so happy that she wasn't being left, shunted, discarded, moved on, that she glued herself like a burr to my legs, which made getting anything done almost impossible.  Once she was sure that I wasn't going to abandon her, she lumbered to her bed, flopped down and snored loudly for hours.  Honestly, if it wasn't for the fact that I don't think she would be great with cats, I would consider making her my own.  But my allegiance is to Slimmie, and that is that.  In the meantime, all contact is carefully monitored.  I am glad that Slimmie (so inaptly named) cannot climb the barricade, nor does he want to.  This morning, I left Lu in her revamped space and not in her crate (I've run out of crate pads - she chews things up if she's anxious) and closed Slimmie in his room.  Once Lu's follow-up vet appointment is over (next Sunday), she will officially be on the adoptable list.  Someone is going to get a gem of a dog.  This morning, as I lovingly massaged her wrinkly face, she looked up and very gently gave me a kiss.  Gah.  She is so soft and fluffy...

And, surprise!, more knitting has been done.  At least I am branching out.
I LOVE this pom pom!
Speaking of knitting, as I returned from my pedicure, I found a box on my front deck.  This threw me, as I had not ordered anything - I am not allowed to - sez me.  The return address looked vaguely familiar, so I trotted in and opened it.
I can't even...
O.   M.   G.

I am not ashamed to say that I burst into tears.  I am not naming the sender, but I am so grateful and overwhelmed, that I am virtually speechless.  And that is saying something.  I'm going to knit a sweater!  And I'm going to follow a gauge!  That just shows you how special it is.  I never gauge - once a wild child, always a wild child.  However, this is very special yarn (as in some that I have always longed for but never could justify the expense) and I want it to be as perfect as possible.  I can't wait!
A little aside.  Why is it that no one - not even the publisher/editor of a local small newspaper - ever bothers to proofread what they write?  I know I grew up when schools were much less driven by technology and more by the book, so to speak, but really?  The irony was not lost on me.  I have half a mind to get out the red pen and go through the entire paper.
I rest my case.
I leave you with the sight I see every morning, lately, as I venture out to the carport.  I cannot even imagine more.  But there will be.

Friday, March 9, 2018

UNCLE, already! Or, Snow is a Four Letter Word.

View of my deck
On Wednesday, we got over 20 inches of snow.  That's on top of the 15-18 inches we got the Friday before.  When I left for the office this morning, it was snowing.  UNCLE!  I give!  Now someone had the audacity to tell me we may be facing another nor'easter on Monday.  They don't know how close they were to getting a thumping.  Even the mention of snow raises my hackles to spectacular levels.
What?  Snow, again?
We are all getting cabin fever and my shoulders and back are taking a beating.  Wednesday night, after heavy, non-stop s-word since morning, I shoveled my front deck and path by porch light and realized that the carport might not be able to take much more, if it was to snow all night.  I went in, clamped on my head lamp and grabbed the roof rake.  I then proceeded to inch through almost waist-deep s-word while I scraped off over 18 inches of snow.  I went inside and enjoyed an adult beverage and worried and fussed until about midnight, when I finally convinced myself I did not have it in my power to stop the s-word, and went to bed.

Thanks to shoveling the front and back decks (or parts thereof) at least six times during the storm, I was not trapped in the house.  Unfortunately, the snow was thigh deep everywhere else, so getting out to feed the sheep, ducks and chickens proved to be quite challenging.  My farmer neighbor showed up with his plow around noon and slowly, but surely cleared the driveway.  I then strapped snowshoes on and plied the roof rake to all I could reach.  I'm holding my breath that the run-in shed will hold up under the load and that a small break in this onslaught will allow some of the snow to disappear before we get more.  I am so over this weather.
So is Slimmie
Even the extra knitting time
is not making me feel better.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Yo, Farch!

Where to begin...

Last Thursday it began to snow.  It continued to snow until we were covered in 15+ inches of heavy, wet, white stuff.  I don't know that I have ever seen such damage done by any of the storms that have hit my area in the 12 years I've lived on LLF.  And - wait for it - we are due to get another 10-18 inches starting tomorrow into Thursday.  Will the fun ever stop?  Let's hope so.
Not pretty

Downright ugly

There's a barn behind all that.


Maybe the worst of all

Hanging on by a thread

There were no branches there
It was very ugly.  And very heavy.  I had a great deal of tree and limb damage, which means a great deal of fence damage.  My laundry tree was bent in half.  Worst of all - the entire snow load off the back of the roof came down on the pergola and, had I not had the foresight to tether it to the railing post - it would have been ripped down.  As it is, it will need a lot of repair.  Mea culpa, as I did not have the presence of mind to realize that snow comes off the metal roof like an Alpine avalanche and the pergola was placed too close to the house.  Of course, it didn't help to have an inexperienced builder, either.  It was out of plumb way before the snow load hit it - ergo, the tethering.  Another item on the spring to-do list.

It was a long and back-breaking weekend, with much shoveling and re-shoveling.  The only bright spot was that I did not lose power.  A lot of houses around us did.  And for more than two days, too, so I will count my blessing where I find them.

Given that I had a lot of time on my hands (when I wasn't shoveling or recovering from shoveling), I finished my socks and started a new pair for March.  I also had some leisurely, healthy breakfasts for a change since mostly I skip breakfast (I know, I know).
Before washing and blocking

My fav - although not the most appetizing looking -
Avocado/Egg Salad on GF Caraway toast!
I also decided to add to the chaos because, well, that is just how I seem to roll.  Meet our new foster project:
That face.


Before she discovered "her" bed.
I had been thinking about fostering, as there is such a huge need in our area.  But, not surprisingly, I am both leery and drawn to it in equal measures.  I had been negotiating to foster a spaniel from SC, but she ended up ill and was not transported.  Then I was included in an email chain that contained the words, "URGENT" in every paragraph.  Zsa Zsa (who names these dogs?) had been picked up as a stray in a city west of Albany and had reached the critical stage on the animal control list.  She is older, extremely overweight and was so gentle and sweet-natured that the staff kept trying to shuffle her around to extend her stay with them.  But, as it became a matter of hours before she was to be euthanized, the rescue group that I am part of kicked into gear.  She was tested with cats and had many interactions with a Chihuahua, which she ignored.  I still had/have reservations, but I have set up a veritable fortress (there are double barriers - another layer added after the photograph just above).  She has had no direct interaction with my crew and has show little interest - other than barking at Peanut Butter the first day.  She has badly infected ears, needs to lose at least 12 lbs, her gums bleed, her skin is dry, and she was totally exhausted.  She is being treated for a dysfunctional thyroid, although no one bothered to test her - they just medicated her - and needs to have her feet bathed every other day.  She needs to have a bath, too, but there is no way I can get her (she seems to respond to Lulu, so that's what I'm calling her) into my tub.  One of the rescue staff and I are working on getting her to a DIY dog bath place where they have walk-in tubs.  It took all my strength to heft her hinney into my SUV at the vet's. 

She has literally spent the past 48 hours sleeping.  Noisily.  Once she discovered her comfy, orthopedic bed, she has been glued to it.  Who knows how long it has been since she's felt safe and hasn't been surrounded by noise.  She's already perked up and looks less bulky.  Could be the meds or could be the quality (and less of a quantity) of food.  She was once someone's pet, as she sits and offers either paw.  She also leans into you and tries her best to roll her rotund body over for tummy scratches.  The latter reminds me of the Titanic.  I am rather smitten.  But she will remain separated for a week and, even then, I will always monitor their interaction.  She is crated while I'm gone and she does not complain.  Once the snow disappears (June?), we will get out and get some exercise.  We are aiming at a weight loss of approx. a pound a week.  This will help all of us, as Lovey was beginning to, once again, resemble a loaf of bread and PB looks like a fat seal pup.  Let's not even discuss their 'mother'.

I need to clear the paths again before the worst of the storm hits tomorrow.  If the office closes for the day, I have a chance.  If not?  Well, Farch can't last forever, can it?