Thursday, May 31, 2018

This Year's Motivational Chant

I was totally inspired by Debra - she of the trying new things.  Once I heard this phrase (can we just call it a phrase and move on?) I knew it would be the motivational chant of 2018.  If I allow my mind to wander - just try to stop it! - I can see myself poised on a high platform, knees slightly bent, right leg a foot or so behind the left, arms up and crossed in front of me in a defensive position.  Let's add throngs of folks chanting below, and the White House before me...

You will have to forgive the arty pic - I was, as usual, getting through my pre-work morning by the seat of my pants and threw the tee on my bed.  An obliging ray of sunshine came through the window and the mood was set!  If nothing else, it is darn fun to say and keeps everyone guessing.  Unless they practice Tai chi.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Let's review the past five days, shall we?

While, as usual, I have no pictures - I am so lame in the photography department - I am, however, at no loss for words...

Before LD (Lymes Disease), I had decided to take the Thursday and Friday before Memorial Day weekend off.  I decided this because a) given the propensity of my weekends to be rained out, I figured I would get at least two days of non-rainy weather in a five-day stretch; b) I am so behind I am thinking of cloning myself; c) I like the idea of road-testing retirement. 

Thursday, I had scheduled my annual auto inspection (only three months late - not bad!) with a new mechanic.  I cannot use my much loved and trusted guy, because he's in Vermont.  Pfft.  However, Fat Body Custom turned out to be great.  No rip-offs, no lies, no padded bills.  I then headed north to VT to do my seriously long list of errands.  I did this on a nice sunny day because - surprise! - I am not allowed outside in the sun because of the Doxycycline.  I tried to squint past my weedy garden on the way to the car, but it didn't work - I slowly weeded my way across the yard and made it into the shade, feeling like a broiled lobster tail.  In VT, I sucked it up and went to Wal-Mart because they are the only retail establishment within reasonable range that carried laundry trees.

**Perverse aside here - the last one I bought, ten years ago, was from a local hardware store in Bennington that had been in business and family-owned, for 75 years.  This laundry tree lasted through storms, wind and neglect until this winter.  The arrival in Bennington of both Wal-Mart and Home Depot, put the family-run business out of business.

Back we are to Wal-Mart, which was renovated into something the size of a football field, complete with a grocery section.  Right next to our local Price Chopper grocery store.  While I may be forced to buy certain things from WM, I will NOT buy groceries.  Except for gallon containers of Heinz white vinegar, which is the only white vinegar that should be used in the processing of pickles, etc.  No one but WM stocks this.  That said, my laundry tree is made out of such poor material that it's laughable.  While I usually completely forget to fold up the laundry tree and store it for the winter, I had better remember to do exactly that with this piece of Chinese tin, or it won't last two seasons.

I then toddled next door - all righteous-like - to Price Chopper and did my monthly shopping.  By the time I got home, I was bushed and the day was more than half over.  I resorted to housecleaning, as the sun was blazing away, with forays out with the pack.  I also amused myself by counting the number of dump trucks that drove to/from the gravel pit.  I believe we averaged one every 3-5 minutes.  That should really be a selling point, when I get around to putting this place on the market.  Maybe they'll run out of gravel...

Since I wasn't able to work outside, I decided to purge a few things via Facebook.  One was a  wooden plant stand - el cheapo, but held a lot of plants.  However, I had two and only needed one.  The second offering was a fountain that went out on your deck.  I had gotten it from a local woman for a very reasonable price, but I had only used it once and it was a pain to store - so out it went.
Let me just say, as both were put out as free, all the crazy people came out.  I had - I kid you not - 48 messages for the two objects within 10 minutes.  It was like a feeding frenzy!  The problem is, you cannot rely on people to actually show up.  I have learned over the years to sort through all the hyperbole to pick up on key words.  At least half of the people don't really want to go through the effort of having to actually come and get the item - they just want to be first.  I even had one woman who "LOL" indicated she would come before the woman who was first in line and take it.  People.  Both objects were gone in a half-hour.

**It's okay - this is a musing and not an aside - or it's an aside musing.  The frenzied activity reminded me of my one and only snorkeling excursion on my one and only trip to the Caribbean.  I was bobbing around in my giant t-shirt (I burn easily) gripping the bread that the snorkeling guide had said would 'lure a few fish' in to feed, when I was completely engulfed in a feeding frenzy of dozens (maybe hundreds...visions of Hitchcock's "The Birds" came to mind) of pastel-colored fish.  It was equal parts terrifying and fascinating.

Friday morning, before the dreaded sun (I never thought I'd say that, after this winter), I geared up and began the war against the chicken coop.  OMG.  I knew it was going to be bad, given the length of the winter and the number of birds, but holeymoley.  I shoveled and shoveled and carted and carted.  Then ducked inside when the sun shifted.  I am also battling the rooster, who seems to have lost his pea-sized mind.  He must have correctly judged my frame of mind, as, while he did give me the hairy-eyeball, he also gave me a wide berth.  I managed to get a third of the coop done before throwing in the shovel.  I then spruced myself and Miss Layla-bell up and we drove to the city for an adoption event.  This involved giving her Dramamine an hour before the car ride, as her little tummy does not do well with all the bounces and turns that mountain driving provides.  We got there in good shape - unfortunately, the rescue didn't manage to promote it so, while it was a nice hour spent with a few nice people, it wasn't worth the drive.  Poor waif was almost green on the way home.

**Yet another aside.  I have become such a hermit!  While Troy, NY, is not exactly the cosmopolitan hub of the state, it is a rather charming old city with shops and restaurants and interesting architecture.  And I have never been in it, other than a short trip to the courthouse because of jury duty call-up.  It felt so, so....grown up to be there!

Saturday, I was back, shovel in hand, as soon as I could get the hens out of the coop.  I managed to get another third done before I had to go back up to VT to pop in on the folks.  I was then back home to tackle a few items on the to-do list - fence repair, where my neighbor had lost traction and his truck had slid into the wooden chicken yard fence and cracked a couple support boards.  I also weeded madly when the sun went under the clouds.

Sunday was perfect.  Very breezy and overcast and rainy all day long.  I headed up to Marianne's farm and we spent a few hours planting vine crops - cukes, squash and pumpkins.  Since neither of us cared if we got wet, it was very enjoyable to spend the time on her beautiful farm, talking and working.  It was also interesting for me, as she does a no-dig method when planting these crops.  We pulled back black plastic that had been keeping the plot weed-free, then rolled out an organic paper in two long rows.  After weighting it down, she went down the line, making a few cuts for root expansion, while I followed with the composted llama beans (yay, llamas!) and dropped a pile on each planting spot.  Then we followed up with organic compost, then planted five seeds in a circle in each mound.  She will follow up later with composted mulch that will protect the plants, further hold down weeds and keep the paper in place.  I drove home with butter lettuce, oyster and shiitake mushrooms, little turnips, microgreens, pea shoots, leeks and a very contented view on life in general.  I was so contented, that I temporarily lost my mind and just continued planting, weeding and general bending, stretching and reaching in ways that had become totally alien over the winter months.  But, what the heck!  The sun wasn't out and I could be outside!!!  I worked steadily through lunch and into early evening.

**Again - there must be a switch in my brain that flips off when common sense seems to be edging a little to close to reality...

Monday dawned hours after I had dragged my sorry butt out of bed at 2:30A, every muscle and tendon giving me the business.  I sogged out to the living room and tackled my latest knitting project - a summer-weight sweater.

**And, yet again!  What was I thinking?  Knitting an entire sweater out of lace weight yarn?  It's like trying to maneuver fuzzy thread on two sticks.  I kid you not.  This might be done for next summer.  Maybe.

Since the day dawned overcast, I had to face the final coop onslaught.  I could have given Humphrey Bogart a run for his money in that part on The Amazon Queen when he had to go back in the lagoon with the leeches...  But I sucked it up, pulled on my soggy BGPs and finished it.  I figured it was a total of 10 giant wheelbarrow loads.  I need to come up with a better plan.  LD or not, I'm getting too old for this nonsense.  The ingrates now have a clean coop with a fluffy layer of shavings.  The pure relief of getting it done gave me a little spark of energy, so I did a couple of loads of laundry, hung up my windchimes and mirror chain (thank you, Joyce!!), vacuumed the house, swept up a dog's worth of white hair and cleaned off the dining room table.

I am now enjoying the bliss of looking out of office windows that do not showcase weedy beds.  Drab state buildings never looked so lovely!

What have y'all been up to?

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.