Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I walked around yesterday and took about 60 'before' pictures. Here's an example one that's pretty representative. Rocks and trees and nothing green growing on the ground. (Thanks Linda for the suggestion about what to plant! I'll contact the extension service next week.)
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Woodswalker in Saratoga says elderberries are ripe there. But here they're still green.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
This weekend is supposed to be rainy too. Looks like I'll get a chance to finish last weekend's projects.
This one cucumber plant has really thrived on the little frame I built. Imagine what it would have looked like if all six plants would have survived! Not a pretty sight. I planted two squash plants that could be sacrificed and it looks like I may actually get a squash.
It's hard to see (I know where they are, so it's obvious to me), but there are 3 cucumbers in this photo. I harvested two of them last night, #3 and #4 from this plant.
The tomato plants are dying. Maybe this last excessive rain was too much for them.
There is one tiny canteloupe, about an inch in diameter. Unfortunately it hasn't changed in size in the last week, so I'll hope it gets bigger.
For a garden that was a "gotta get something into the ground" affair, I'm actually getting stuff to harvest, and it's great!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Now that they own the counter, they think that they own everything on it, like my meals, which is a problem. Cats can be pretty stubborn, so it's me, throwing them off, 6, 7 times before they stay off. I mean, whose counter is this anyway?
You know how sometimes a project comes up and surprises you? I decided Monday morning that the spices really shouldn't be in a bowl on some shelves. They should be on a rack near the stove. So I found some stained 1 x 4 molding in the shed and got some angle brackets and ta-dah, it's a spice rack. It's not pretty, but there's not much in the kitchen that's pretty. Except the cats.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I love how easy it was to get this rich color! And since this was all colored before spinning, the options are endless for the yarn! Oh the possibilities!
I read something last week about current style, and "they" say that the 80s are back! Nevertheless, these puppies are in the trash now - I'm SO not a big-shoulder pad person anymore!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
The two dogs on the left belong to my neighbor, 1/8 mile down the hill. She is taking care of her father on the other side of town these days, so only comes back once a week or so. I know she's home when her dogs come to visit. (That makes my nearest neighbor 1/2 mile away - cool.)
We met earlier this summer when she heard my dogs barking and drove up the hill to make sure everything was alright. We must have chatted for 1/2 an hour. She's lived here for years, and told me some amazing stories about the wildlife. One story involved a bear that started down at her house and ended up back in the woods, but not before going through the breezeway of MY HOUSE, and trying to get in through the french doors on the south side. She worries about porcupines, since her dogs have had unfortunate encounters with them while on my property. I found that a bit hard to believe.
UNTIL - last weekend. Cooper had been hanging around for days, which is not unusual when he's on the mountain. This time he'd been slinking around a bit more than usual, wouldn't play with Maggie, and had a strange white thing hanging from his nose. I didn't look closely at it until many hours had passed. Yes, it was a porcupine quill. I held him and pulled it out. I guess it hurt more than I expected, because he ran back to his house. But what I saw is that he had a few more sticking out of his nose that either were shorter or buried deeper than the one I had pulled out.
I called my neighbor, who was out of phone range, so we texted back and forth for a bit. It turns out that Atticus encountered the same porcupine and was at the hospital, where they were taking out several hundred quills. Poor guy.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
That's how I learned that the purple ones are phlox. Cool. They smell nice too.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
It's not a bad thing! There was plenty 'mater for a nice open-faced tomato sandwich. Yes - it was good.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
I've had my first digital temp gage for years (I worked in a really cold office, and wanted to prove what the temperature really was). This was my second one - I had it for a few months before I realized that I wanted to collect data on wind speed, etc. Of course, all the wind speed indicators also have all the temperature stuff. That's the story of why I have three. You'll never catch me not knowing what the temperature is!
Anyhow - I had to capture the first time this year that it went over 80 degrees at the homestead. It's so hot inside because most of the windows don't open. Usually not a problem, so that's a project for a future year. (Yes, it needs to be cleaned.)
It was 84 degrees yesterday - steamy! Good thing I have a hammock and an apple tree with good shade to escape the heat of afternoon.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
How this winter is going to be different from last winter: (I'm into lists today...)
- First, I'm going to make sure the windows stay closed. Some of them kept falling open last winter because they don't close enough to be able to use the latches. This winter I'll use wood dowels to force them closed.
- I'm going to put area rugs over every exposed inch of the floor. I think wind was blowing up the hill, through huge openings in the foundation into the crawlspace and some of it was coming up through the floor. (Although looking at this picture, the foundation is protected by snow. Hmm.)
- I'm having someone look at the outside storm windows to possibly repair some of them.
- I ordered inside storms from these guys: http://www.windotherm.com/ . It's like the plastic you put over the windows, but on steroids. The double-sided tape holding the plastic stuff didn't stick last winter, so it was like having nothing at all over the windows. These inside storms are plastic, but it's two layers on a frame and attached to the window frame with twisty things over weatherstripping. I do believe this will stop most of the wind inside the house. I ordered one to cover the door you see in this picture too. That door was a major source of inside breezes last winter.
- If all of that stuff doesn't get me to at least 65 degrees inside, then I may buy sheets of insulation and tack it up on the west wall on the inside. Yes it will be ugly. Last winter I couldn't get it warmer than 58 degrees inside, (10 feet away from the wood stove!) and I don't want to spend another winter being that cold!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
It was not rainy this morning, so I went outside to clear a bit more in the orchard area. (I know I said I wouldn't clear any more this year, but it's SO satisfying. In my paid work, it usually takes months to see results, if at all. (In short, my job is to make people change what they're doing, and think it's their idea. It doesn't happen quickly. Sometimes it doesn't happen at all.) Clearing things is instant gratification. It fills a gap in my life. Yeah that's it.)
There is a single metal rod with a yellow insulator on it in the orchard area, a remnant of an old electric fence that I thought I'd make quick work of removing. I moved it side-to-side and front-to-back to loosen it and pull it out. Not moving. I used the crowbar and mallet to loosen dirt around it to pull it out .... and found that there's a winged "thing" about 4 inches underground. And a big-ass root growing across the top of the wings. Removed the root. Brought the shovel out to dig around and get under the thing. Dug a hole about 6 inches deeper than the thing, maybe a foot deep total. Whoever put it in used rocks to hold it in place - so I wouldn't call it "digging" a hole. More like moving rocks out of the ground. All of that work and nothing. No movement at all.
That's when I began to get a bit irritated and started to think about things like bigger mallets and a huge hole in the ground. And that's when I realized that what I'm looking at here is a ... (cue the Sergio Leone spaghetti western music) ... a metaphor. It perfectly sums up virtually everything here. Harder than it looks, but you don't know how hard until you get into it. The only way to finish it is to start it and just push through. That's when I laughed.
And then it started raining, to continue the metaphor. I went inside and the post is still sitting there. It won. Today.
The introducing-the-cats-to-the-dogs project is going well. Desmond is scared of them, and studiously looks the other way when he sees a cat. That part was easy. The other part was calming Maggie down enough so the cats realize they can coexist with her. I've used the crate with Maggie, allowing the cats to leisurely walk in front of her. The leash works well with Maggie too. And I've put the dogs outside while that cats get free roam of the inside. This weekend we've all been together in the same room several times, and nobody got hurt. That's progress. Maggie just needs to get her nose scratched once and the tribe order will be set. I think the cats are pulling their punches, or scratches. Why, I don't know.
Tonight I made steak and mashed potatoes for dinner for myself, and carried the scraps into the kitchen to feed to the dogs. I woke Desmond up, and by the time he made it into the kitchen, I realized there were THREE animals begging for the scraps in the kitchen. Two dogs and Pancho. Obviously table scraps warrant a cease-fire!
I love discovering new old things on this property, but it's not all sweetness and light. I was mowing over the future orchard area for the first time yesterday and the mower found this. It used to be a tomato cage. I thought I had found all of them hiding in the tall weeds, and now maybe I have. After a short operation, the mower is fine.
Friday, August 7, 2009
I've got a hankering to start a Project. That's Project with a capital P. Here are some old patterns I got in a thrift store in Cleveland a few years ago, and some fabric I got in Oman in early 2008. I really, really want to make one of these dresses with one of these fabrics.
The reason why this is a capital P Project? None of the patterns is my size, so I'd have to re-jigger the pattern. Plus, the fabric has a nap with this edge pattern and I'll have to play with it a bit to get it right. All of us sewers know how time-consuming sewing really is. You spend much more time laying out, pinning, cutting, basting, etc, etc, etc. And hardly any time actually sewing. If I actually started this Project, it would take all weekend.
But since it's predicted to be sunny and dry all weekend, for like the 3rd time all summer, I would rather be outside. I should really save this Project for winter, but who wants to sew summer-weight things in the winter?
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Here's a closer look at the blossoming thyme. Now I'm looking closely at all the grasses, weeds and all the green stuff around here thinking, "is this something interesting?"
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I'm embarrassed to continually be asking questions about what stuff is. But .... what is this? It's about 5 feet high.
In other news:
- I'm going to take a break from showing pictures of my pets. It's hard to imagine, but I understand that not everyone thinks they're as fascinating as I do.
- I harvested some broccoli last night. The ONE plant that is making good stuff after varmints ate the other FIVE, is looking sick after it got flooded last week and sat in water for several days. The thing that saved this plant (from varmints) is a plastic collar at ground level. I tried different collars, and FYI, the cottage cheese container with the bottom cut out - did not work. The one that worked is a black plant pot with the bottom cut out.
- The ONE cucumber plant left after varmints ate the other FIVE is looking great! This one is protected by chicken wire and a plastic pot as well. I planted some sacrificial squash plants, and in addition to having their delicate parts eaten, they never took off.
- The TWO corn plants out of SIX remaining, look great. I hope they actually make some corn for me before it freezes!
- I think I need to buy an axe. Much of the wood I'm splitting is stringy, so the splitter isn't completely splitting the wood. There are strings still holding pieces together. This need-to-buy-things just doesn't end, does it?
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I've been putting off bucking any more wood because my current chainsaw is just not the right tool for the task. I can only get about 10-15 cuts before it runs out of gas, and it doesn't start up again when it's hot, so I have to wait until it cools down. Extreme pain in the keister. (You can see in past posts, my angst about getting new chains for it, and my fun times at the hardware store.)
I bought this guy on EBay yesterday! I'm so excited about getting it and making short work of the 5-6 cords of wood up on the hill. And all the future wood that will fall under this willing chain.
This time I did my own research (which is what I should have done the first time - silly me for believing the Ace Hardware people). This is a Stihl MS310, which is a 60cc, 4 HP midrange saw that has good power for the weight. It comes with a 20-inch bar, chisel chain, bar cover and bag. I don't know what half of that means, but this time I think I got the right tool for the job!
When Pancho hears the noise outside of Maggie trying to get in, he goes to investigate. Maggie is practicing all the loving she's going to give Pancho when they finally get to touch noses. (Ha ha, like it's really going to happen like that!)
Maggie trying different ways to get in. Here she is on the porch railing.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Pancho is the more exploratory of the two cats. He made it all the way to the other end of the house before Sparky even got downstairs.
I can tell already that Pancho isn't going to take any guff from no dogs. When we left the house, he was sitting in this room watching Maggie throw herself against the door.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Pancho, on the left, and Sparky have been shut in the guest room since Friday afternoon. An accidental visit by Maggie set them off for a bit, but they've since calmed down. They'll stay here for a week or so before I slowly introduce them to the dogs. As old as Desmond is, he's extremely interested in them too.