Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Still Thankful and Thanksgiving

November 25, 2012

It has been a very busy week. My daughter had started the tradition of “Friends Thanksgiving” with her friends back in middle school, and introduced it to her college friends. They still continue to do it; this year was #6. Since she is gone, I am invited (only parent who is). It was set for November 17th this year, and I made plans to go. The night before I’m leaving, my check engine light came on. Boo! This is about 800 miles round trip, and I don’t want to do it in a rig that might die at any moment. Luckily, my niece works for a car rental company, and she was able to get me a great deal on a rental car (which my mom ended up treating me to!). So Friday afternoon, I headed over the mountains to Eugene, because Kid the Younger and his fiancée were coming with.

It was a nice evening. Kid and I went to see the new James Bond movie. We got lost on the way to the theater, but had a nice conversation along the way. This is the first year that he will not be able to be home for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I will miss him. It’s nice to know that he will miss me too!

Saturday dawned rainy. I totaled a car when I was pregnant with Kid the Elder, and have been uncomfortable driving in the rain ever since. Oh well, can’t be helped. Off we went. It ended up raining all day (and the next, and the next…) The party was wonderful. It has evolved, as traditions should. The  first baby was brought, and several dogs were also in attendance. We always go around the room and say what we are thankful for. Most of them are very heart-felt, but some were just flat-out funny (one young man was thankful for indoor plumbing). These young people are the most gracious, beautiful souls, and I truly feel blessed that they continue to stay in touch with me and include me in their lives. They credit my daughter with teaching them that friendships are worth the work to maintain.

On Sunday, we left Tacoma and went to visit a couple of my sheep friends. One has recently had a cancer diagnosis, and when I let her know I was going to be in the area she expressed an interest in me coming by. It was a wonderful visit, then we were on the road again, back to Eugene, still driving in the rain. I spent the night with the kids again, rather than drive back over the mountains in a strange car in the dark.

Luckily, all that rain had not translated into snow on the mountains. It was a wet drive home Monday, but uneventful. I connected with Laura, and we made arrangements for her to come over that afternoon to pick up my turkeys for the drive to the butchers on Tuesday. I got them penned up in a small area outside their pen when I got home. When Laura came, we got my coolers into the truck, then I handed hens over the fence and she put them in the truck. There was no way I was lifting the two toms that high, so we let them out of the pen and walked them over, then we each lifted one.

The weather for Tuesday was supposed to be wet, snow level at 5,500 feet. Laura got to my place at about 7:30, and off we went. As we’re headed down my road, she informs me that her windshield wipers have an issue, so they don’t work when it’s wet. Oops! We have an appointment to keep, so staying home really isn’t an option. It turned out that the weatherman misjudged the snow level by about 2,000 feet. It is snowing big, fat, wet flakes before we hit the pass. We stopped just the other side to use the ice scraper to clean off the windshield, and Laura opened her window several times to clean off the corner so the built up snow could slide off while we were driving until we got down far enough that it turned back into rain. Several people passed us laughing and pointing when they saw the turkeys, which were visible when they stood up in the back of the truck.

We got to the butcher’s a bit early, causing a bit of a panic on their part, since they were running a bit behind (first appointment of the day was a half hour late, putting everyone behind). We sat in the office, knitting and chatting with our friend who was nice enough to bring us ice for the coolers. We talked about everything under the sun, much to the amusement of the other customers.  When they were ready for us, Laura went out and handed birds out one at a time. They managed to process our 20 birds in just under 2 hours! My seven ended up being much bigger than anticipated. Smallest one was almost 17 1/2 pounds, and the 2 toms were almost 33 and 41 pounds! Yikes, that’s a lot of turkey!

I had made arrangements to meet my future in-law in Salem to get her bird, so we made a quick stop for that before heading back over the mountains again. The addition of headlights to the mix made the drive back to our side of the world even more challenging. Laura said she was very proud of me for not squeaking once during the trip.

I shopped on Wednesday for the big day, and brined the smaller tom. Thanksgiving was at my mom’s. My friend Brenda came with her folks, and Laura joined us with a fantastic cranberry salsa. I had to make a couple of changes to the menu, since Laura is allergic to mushrooms, and Brenda’s mom is allergic to dairy proteins. Nothing major that ruined the meal. I made my usual stuffing without the mushrooms, and I made a rice stuffing for the first time by combining two recipes I found online (recipes are just suggestions, right?), and did a 7-grain roll that usually calls for butter (substituted shortening). Nobody went away hungry, and I still had half a turkey to deal with. I do love home raised turkey. Even as big as he was, he was still tender and very moist. And he cooked way faster than I anticipated. I have since boned him out, and the carcass is simmering away on the stove in a gigantic stock pot.  It is too big to fit on my biggest burner. There is no room in my freezer or mom’s (which has 3 turkeys in it), so I will be canning stock when it is done brewing.

I am squeezing in some knitting these days, but most of it is surprise stuff, so no pics until after they have reached their recipients. Good stuff, I promise.

I am being good about continuing my “30 Days of Thankfulness” posts on Facebook, so here are the latest installments.

  • Day 11 – I am thankful for the men and women of our military, whose sacrifices have helped make this country what it is.
  • Day 12 – I am thankful that my dad took the time to teach me to be handy. It is a good thing to be able to fix things.
  • Day 13 – I am thankful for my sistahs.
  • Day 14 – I am thankful for my creative skills, even when they distract me from getting things done.
  • Day 15 – I am thankful that I was able to live abroad as a child. It taught me so much about getting along with people I thought I had nothing in common with, and showed me that we are all connected.
  • Day 16 – I am thankful that my adult children actually like spending time with me. They are pretty amazing people!
  • Day 17 – I am thankful that my daughter’s friends continue to share their lives with me. They are some of the most beautiful people in the world, and I am blessed by having them in my life.
  • Day 18 – I am thankful that I live in a country that is inching towards allowing all of its citizens to marry the person they love.
  • Day 19 – I am thankful for modern conveniences (electricity, medicine, & transportation, to name just a few).
  • Day 20 – I am thankful that I have the ability to raise at least some of my own food
  • Day 21 – I am thankful for my mom.
  • Day 22 – I am thankful for the wonderful people sharing Thanksgiving with me today.
  • Day 23 – I am thankful that Facebook has given me the opportunity to reconnect with family. Some of my relatives are pretty awesome folks!
  • Day 24 – I am thankful for the joy that music brings to my life. Love listening to my kids sing.
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Thankful

November 10, 2012

I was prompted at the beginning of the month to remember the things that I am thankful for. I’ve been posting them daily on Facebook, and thought I would share them here too. So far this month, this is what I have:

  • Day 1 – I am thankful that my Daughter still comes to visit me in my dreams on a regular basis.
  • Day 2 – I am thankful that, despite set backs and challenges, I am still able to have my little piece of land and my beasties.
  • Day 3 – I am thankful for friends that are family, and family that are friends
  • Day 4 – I am thankful for my depression, for it makes me appreciate the good days so much more.
  • Day 5 – I am thankful for all three of my children, and for the lessons that they have taught me
  • Day 6 – I am thankful that I live in a country where political discourse is possible and I am free to vote for the candidates of my choice without fear.
  • Day 7 – I am thankful that, while I am not rich in money, I am wealthy beyond belief in the things that truly matter – friends, family, health, and spiritual peace of mind.
  • Day 8 – I am thankful for my aches and pains, which remind me that I am still alive.
  • Day 9 – I am thankful for the beauty that greets me every day when I look around.
  • Day 10 – I am thankful for the animals that share my life, and for the things they have taught me and given me.

More to come as the month progresses. It also reminded me that one year, when the kids were little, I cut out a bunch of construction paper leaves, and we all wrote on them most days. On Thanksgiving day, I spread the leaves on the table, and we took turns reading them through dinner. It was an interesting exercise, especially to learn the things that my children were thankful for. I wish I could say we made it a yearly tradition, but we didn’t. I still have those leaves tucked away somewhere. I should dig them out.

NaNoWriMo continues, but not as easily as last year’s effort. I started with the first line of Stephen King’s “The Gunslinger” (book 1 of the Dark Tower series). Mine is a very different story from his, but it is not flowing well at this point. I am about 7,000 words behind where I should be, and I am tending to ramble, filling in words that have nothing really to do with the story. But I think I can still do it (feeling like the Little Engine at this point, “I think I can, I think I can”). My character really isn’t taking charge like the woman I was writing about last year, and he seems to be perfectly happy leaving me in charge. She was not! I had ideas about what I wanted to write, and she would take over and tell me what she wanted to do instead. I still have no idea where he’s going, and I’m 9,000 words in.

The weather has finally decided to be winter. Tuesday it was over 70 degrees. I drove down to drop off my ballot with my window open. This morning, I woke to this:  I am really glad I filled all the waterers yesterday when I fed, and that I brought in extra wood for the stove. It is pretty to look at, but I have to go over the mountains twice in the next 10 days. I don’t worry about my driving, it’s the rest of those idiots on the road that think that just because they have 4 wheel drive they can drive like crazy people. Next Friday I head to Kid the Younger’s and on Saturday we will head up to Tacoma for “Friend’s Thanksgiving”, a tradition started by Daughter in middle school and transferred to her college friends. I love that they still carry it on, and that they include me in it. Then right after I get back from that, it will be time to take the turkeys to the butcher. Laura and I are making a road trip of it. She is letting me piggyback on her butcher date, since they are booked solid this time of year. We will both make appointments for next year while we are there. It is a different place than I used last year. She has used them in the past and has been very happy. Instead of dropping the birds off in cages by 7:30 am like I had to last year, we don’t have to be there until 12 (much more manageable, given the distance to drive), and they will process our birds only until they are done. It means fresh turkey for Thanksgiving, not frozen! It also means I need to figure out how many birds I want to raise next year, so that I can give the butcher a number when I make my appointment for next year. Off to figure that out!

A Real Vacation

October 2, 2012

A couple of years ago, I went to the beach with my mom and Kid the Younger and my friend Kelly and her family. It was a fun trip, but not terribly relaxing because we were on the go constantly. Hit all the tourist traps in Newport, Oregon (Ripley’s, Aquarium, etc, etc). Plus, her husband was fighting a kidney stone and was pretty miserable the whole time.

This time she picked a beach house (rental) that was SPECTACULAR! Right on the beach, on top of a bluff. This is the view from the back yard.

We could not have ordered better weather – sunny the whole time except for the last night, when we got to watch a storm blow in at great speed at sunset. We got there before we could check in to the house, so we had time for a leisurely lunch and a walk on the pier by the restaurant.

Saturday we scoped out the possibilities for crabbing after a walk on the beach. The local glass artists do a “glass drop” on specific weekends, and this was an extra special one. Not the normal glass floats; they were doing glass crabs and sand dollars. Kelly and her husband came down to the beach but didn’t walk much, but Brenda & I walked above the tide line for about a mile and a half, then walked the tide line looking for natural goodies. It was high tide, so we didn’t find anything. After driving to look at crabbing spots, Brenda and I went back for another walk in the other direction at low tide. We both found some goodies, including this pair of starfish that we put back in the water. I also found a real nice shell about the size of my thumb and some nice agates. No blown glass (insert pouty face here).

    

Sunday, we got crab pots (each of us chose a different type to test) and our licence. Then off to the pier to try our luck. We had set a chicken out the night before so we had stinky bait. Everyone was putting their pots off one side of the pier. I march to a different drummer, so mine went off the other side. Because I wasn’t sure how my shoulder and back would react to hauling the pot up, so I barely let it settle before I pulled it up, along with a nice Dungeness crab inside! Unfortunately, I misread the gauge, and sent him back to the water. Figured out later that he was actually a keeper (they have to be male, and at least 5 3/4 inches across the back). Second attempt pulled up a red rock crab. Pretty soon, more people were on my side of the pier. We had a bit of luck, but not enough to feed everyone. Still, I caught my dinner, and I will be going back soon to do it again. Everyone else in the group got cold, but I was having a blast and would have stayed longer if I’d taken my car! Mine is the smaller dark one top right and bottom left, and they were very yummy.

I also got to see a pelican up close and personal. I thought I had seen one earlier in the day, on top of a structure in the bay, but no one else was agreeing with me. When most of the group went for lunch, I stayed to crab. The pelican landed on the pier, muscled his way into a group of gulls fighting over bait on the walkway and stole it all. He gulped it into his pouch, then flew down to the water to eat. I love seeing pelicans because they always remind me of my grandpa. Anytime we would see one, he would recite:

A wondrous bird is the pelican

His beak can hold more than his belly-can

He can hold in his beak enough food for the week

I wonder how in the hell-i-can

I did get in some knitting time, and the Monster Socks of Doom are now finished. I wasn’t very disciplined about working on them, so they took forever. I don’t know if I’ll be doing anything like this again. The pay was good (a ton of hay), but they were BORING! As a reward, I have started on a sweater for myself from yarn that I had made from my home-grown fiber. It’s a soft brown that will go with lots of things. It will take a while, since I’m not built like a super model (more like super sized), but I’m in no hurry. I will interrupt working on this with holiday knitting, so that will slow me down too.

Catching Up Again

September 2, 2012

Well, I survived the 2nd county fair. Did ok there too, but nothing special. We had the same judge for the goats as at the first fair, but she saw most of the classes completely differently. Oh well, it was fun. This fair is much more like an old-fashioned county fair, so much more relaxed than the first. A little prize money added to the budget, which is never a bad thing.

The turkeys have been growing by leaps and bounds. I’m done to 7, which is the minimum I need to have any left for me. Today they got moved out to their new pen. They made the move fine, but Kid the Elder and I both ended up with huge scratches on our arms, and DIL ended up with a small bloody nose. Kid and I spent most of 2 days hanging netting over and around what used to be one of my goat pens. The little shelter in it unfortunately was partially burned by my idiot neighbor when he was burning weeds along the property line. I’ve jerry-rigged it for now. At some future date I will dig out the corner post of the shelter and replace it.

 There are plenty of weeds to keep them busy, they will have shelter from the worst of the weather, and they have 2 perches (one under the tarp, and one in the corner of the pen. They ate well after they were released in here, and when I went out to feed, they were hunkered down in the shade of the tarp:  You may have to click on the picture to see it bigger to pick them out. Amazing how they can disappear, as big as they already are.

Yesterday, I drove out to Laura’s. She had agreed to dye t-shirts for ARCA (our sheep breed association), and a large box with shirts, ball caps, tote bags and coffee mugs had been delivered. Since I had just finished test knitting a hat she wrote a pattern for, I drove over to give her my notes and to help with the dyeing. Laura has been playing with ice dyeing, and so we soaked all the cloth items in soda ash while we ate lunch, then scrunched them up on some filbert drying screens she had. Then we spread 30 pounds of ice across everything, and she started at one end with blues and purples,

 and I started at the other end with fuchsia, orange and yellow. We met in the middle, adding in green as we went  We spread plastic wrap over the top of everything and weighted down the edges with rocks, and then we tipped her skirting table over the top of everything to keep the wind from blowing things away. She’s going to rinse things off tonite or tomorrow morning and wash them to set the dyes. I’m really excited to see how everything turns out. We do a couple of raffle baskets at Oregon Flock and Fiber (OFFF), and this year will be using the tote bags to hold the donated items.

OFFF is coming up soon, and I need to get working on a few things for my inventory. Laura and I will be sharing a booth in the animal barn (which we also did last year). I still need to finish my farm sign too, but I did manage to pick up a couple of things at Michael’s the other day, which will look good on the tables filled with goodies. Plus, they are obviously sent by my daughter, since they both have her motto on them (Dance Like Nobody’s Watching)

Tour de Fleece Recap and Getting Ready For Fairs

July 28, 2012

For the last few years, I’ve taken part in Ravelry’s Tour de Fleece. For anyone not familiar with it, it’s a spinning “competition” that takes place while the Tour de France is going on. I use “competition” lightly; you set your own goals and no one loses. I always set unattainable goals, but what the heck, for me that’s part of the fun.

I belong to several teams, including My Favorite Sheep and Hopelessly Overcommitted. This year, I’d chosen 5 fibers to spin, and I got at least part of all 5 spun up. I am proudest of the natural merino/silk, which I did on the elec-spinner. I only did a small portion of what I have on hand, aiming for wedding shawl yarn. It clocked in at 9,500 yards/pound, the finest I have spun to date. I couldn’t believe the numbers when I ran them, so I had Kid the Elder check my math. Here is my final recap picture, showing all the fibers and the final yarns:

A total of 19 ounces spun and an estimated 2,500 yards. The purple (upper left corner) is waiting for me to finish the second (finer) ply, which I am doing on the Golding spindle and will put beads onto, and the tie-dyed (bottom row, center) is waiting for a ply of white so that I’ll end up with enough for a shawl.

Also during the first week of the Tour, I shaved both goats to get them ready for fair. I’m not sure why they needed to be shaved, but I was told they did. What a nasty job! I ended up covered from head to toe in tiny little itchy hairs, with a couple of nasty bruises for my efforts. But the girls got done

.  Clara above and Clover below. Not perfect, but hopefully good enough.

I also went over the mountains to help Kid the Younger et al move into their new place. He had surgery a few weeks ago and was not supposed to lift anything over 10 pounds, so he spent most of the weekend painting the insides of the kitchen cabinets (which were blood red), and I spent way too much time lifting things I shouldn’t have. Oh well, we both survived and they are settled in the new place.

After the Tour was done, I settled into finishing up my fair entries, which were all dropped off this afternoon on my way out-of-town. I couldn’t find some of the yarns I’d hoped to enter earlier in the year, so only 4 yarns made the trip, along with a pair of socks, baby booties and the Neibling shawl. The goats and 4 lambs will go in on Tuesday, and fair starts on Wednesday. I’ll be trying to keep up with the Ravellenic Games and the Olympics too, though I don’t know how successful I’ll be.

As a parting shot, this is the tiny thread, along with it’s knitted sample. I think it will make spectacular wedding shawls.

 

Getting My Goat

June 18, 2012

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Not a lot of pictures to share, because they are all on the digital camera and I can’t find the cord to transfer them to the computer.

Started with the trip to Montana. Kid the Younger was supposed to come over after work but got sick the day before we were set to go. Too late to cancel the hotel reservation, so I decided to go ahead by myself. Wouldn’t have even hesitated in the past, but I’ve become a bit housebound lately. I left about midnite (napped early in the day in anticipation of the Kid coming over). With a couple of stops for gas and to shut my eyes for a little while (I have no problem pulling over if I’m tired), 18 hours later I was settled in the hotel room. Met with a very nice “Welcome” basket of assorted goodies which included the itinerary for the weekend. Just in time to meet up with everyone for appetizers and a drink. Then I went and soaked in the hot springs that the hotel is known for. For the first time since my shoulder surgery last summer, I even attempted a little swimming. No, I didn’t attempt, I did it! The muscles were weak, but I managed 2 laps of the pool, and it felt SO GOOD!

The wedding was moved into a tent the next afternoon due to uncooperative rain, but it was a beautiful ceremony. All 4 parents spoke during the ceremony, and the officiate was a friend of the couple, so it was all very lovely. Unfortunately, someone had placed the lace shawl I gave the bride in the reception hall, so she didn’t have it to wear during the ceremony, but the official photographer got some pictures of her and me with it, so I’m hoping to get one of those soon. It matched the color of her dress perfectly, and I got tons of nice compliments from several people. I danced way too much as far as my back was concerned, but the kids kept insisting. I do have to say that this group of young people are the most beautiful people I know, both physically and mentally. Daughter is still very much a part of their lives, and I feel very blessed that they continue to include me in her stead. I was introduced at one point as the “Spare Mom”, and they have all said that when babies start coming I get to be “Spare Grandma” too. I get to be the fun one that lets the kids play in the dirt.

The next day I left for home via Yellowstone. The weather was still cold and rainy, but it was great. I’d never been before, and I’m already planning a trip back! The nice thing about being alone was that I could take my time and go where I wanted (not that Kid the Younger would have objected to anything I wanted). I saw lots of buffalo moms and babies (yeah, yeah, I know they’re really bison). At the very end of the drive I also saw some elks with their calves, including one with triplets! Not newborns either, they were at least a month old and looking good. I was very impressed with her mothering abilities. I also took the side trip to go see Old Faithful, arriving just in time to see it go. Timing is everything!

The final push for home took longer than I had anticipated, mostly because I took so much time enjoying the park. I had told Kid the Elder that he’d have to feed if I wasn’t home by 5, so it was no big deal other than having to pay for a night in a motel again. Better than sleeping in the car!

This weekend I got to pick up my raffle goat. The breeder made me a deal on a 2nd doeling too, so now I have 2! Meet Clara (on the left) and Clover. Both are registered Alpines, and I can hardly wait until I start milking! 

The original plan was to keep them segregated from the lambs for a few days while they got used to me and their new surroundings, but they vetoed that idea by jumping over the panels locking them in the barn. Clara even got in with the rams for a while, but we’ve fixed that hole. Clover is a little more stand-offish, but they are warming up to me. Clara is actually a snuggle bug. I’ve already started rubbing her all over to get her used to the idea that I’m going to be touching her everywhere. I’m taking things a little slower with Clover until she quits thinking I might eat her at any moment. She watches carefully while I handle Clara, just out of reach most of the time. I’m allowed a couple of scratches, and I’ll take that for now. The lambs have accepted them completely, which is nice. This afternoon they all got to go out on the pasture and were very good about coming back into their pen at feeding time. The ewes were sure that my not letting them out was the result of some horrid clerical error, and complained loudly, at least until I gave them the results of spending an hour with the scythe yesterday morning. There is something so satisfying about feeding home-cut hay. I don’t have enough to do it full-time, but a couple of hours work will help cut the hay bill this summer, and it’s easier than putting up fences. I am not an expert with my scythe, but it gets the job done. My back is good for about an hour of cutting. Not as fast as the mower, but I won’t feed mower clippings to the beasties. A little exercise for me, a little fresh hay for them. Sounds like a winner to me!

Where Does The Time Go?

June 4, 2012

The kiddos and I always twisted the standard saying, so we always say “Time’s fun when you’re having flies”. Funny how many people just nod, not realizing what I’ve really said.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I’ve continued to do a little baking for Kellie, usually at the last second (which is normally just fine). Driving. Knitting. Dealing with the beasties.

Let’s talk about driving first. For the long weekend, Kid the Younger came over and we went up to North Eastern Washington. He hit town Friday and we went and saw The Avengers. He’d seen it already, but I hadn’t. It was a fun movie, but then we like that kind of thing. Saturday morning I caught up all the sheep, haltered the ewes and treated them all with ivomec (the pour on I applied apparently did nothing, since my shearer found plenty of creepy-crawlies). Then we left the lambs locked in the barn and Kids Younger and Elder helped me move the mommies to a new pen. I love weaning when I won’t be there to hear the worst of the noise. Unfortunately I didn’t have a place to put the ewes that would be out of sight of the lambs, so weaning is a bit louder. By 2 pm, Kid the Younger and I were on the road. The plan was to get about half way to the wedding site (about 8 hours north of us), but the back cooperated and despite a little side trip that my phone GPS sent us on, we got to the party about 10:30. A few of the kids were drinking and dancing, so we joined them for a little while, and I got to swing dance with the groom (he’s much better at it than I am).

The wedding was lovely. The weather the day before had been rainy, but Sunday was beautiful if a bit windy. Friends of the bride’s family had done the flowers, and each table had a bouquet. During the ceremony there were 2 big gusts of wind, and when we came back around to the reception area, 3 of the bouquets had been tipped over. Only 3. And they were at the table that Kid the Younger and I were sitting at, the table where the bride for the next wedding was (she’s also Daughter’s college roommate), and the bride’s table. They were not the most exposed tables. We agreed that it was Daughter making her presence known (as if we thought she would miss the occasion).

I also managed to make the young lady who was Daughter’s roommate cry. As we were saying our goodbyes, I told her I had something in the car for her. I told her I would have knit Daughter a wedding shawl, and if she wanted one, there was one in the car for her. She could not have faked her reaction – she totally melted. I gave her the Snowflake Peacock, and it fit her perfectly (I was a little worried because she is very tall).   (pic is of shawl on my mom)

We didn’t go by the accident site because Kid the Younger was having an allergic reaction to something blooming in the pretty little valley. We got half way home that night, and back into town in time to go to the movies again. This time we saw Men In Black 3. Again, not a movie likely to win Oscars, but we both love the MIB movies.

The whole drive there was a little hiccup in my steering wheel. At high speeds it just shimmied. Didn’t feel like the car needed realigned, but something was weird. Well, on my way home from baking on Friday, the tread just peeled off one of the rear tire. Luckily I was almost home! Saturday morning Kid the Elder helped me put on the spare and I took it into our tire shop. Shimmy was still there, so I mentioned it. Tire guy said it sounded like I had another tire getting ready to fail. Short story – I now have 2 new tires. The other 2 look ok. I’m so glad this didn’t happen on one of the long trips!! Last weekend’s would have been bad enough, but this week we are headed out to the middle of nowhere, and if they had both failed at once it could have been really ugly.

Kid the Younger will hit town really early Friday morning, so rather than letting him sleep for 3 hours I’m just going to load him into my car and we’ll head out right away. We are facing a 13 hour drive, so I figure if I nap heavily on Thursday I can drive while he sleeps and then he can take over for a while. That way we’ll get to the party early enough to enjoy ourselves a bit that evening and get a good night’s sleep before the wedding. Sunday we’ll leave after brunch and head into Yellowstone. Not sure if we’ll take the side trip to see Old Faithful.

The sheep all survived my absence, but the ewes have figured out that the fence on their pen has been weakened (alpaca kept pushing through it when he was in the pen to get to grass on the other side). We have had several break-outs. The ewes left behind always rat out the escapees, and we round them up and I lace up the holes with more baling twine. It’d be funny if it was happening to someone else. The lambs are all fine. When I get back from Montana I’ll tackle halter breaking them.

On the knitting front I’ve made some progress on the monster socks. It’s a whole lot of plain white.  I’m most of the way done with the legs, but I set them aside for a while because the Muse struck. Yes, I knit both socks at the same time. That way when I’m done, I have a pair instead of having to start all over to make the 2nd sock. I alternate back and forth between the 2 so I can keep track.

So, what did the Muse demand? Four years ago, after Daughter passed I happened to have a cone of sock yarn waiting for color. I took the whole thing and dyed it in her honor. I call it “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching” (that was her motto in life). From it I knit socks for all the important people in her life (except Kid the Younger, who requested gloves). There was slightly more than 6 ounces left, and Thursday the Muse insisted that it become a shawl for me to wear to the Montana wedding. No pressure! I used the formula I came up with for the Ochoco Memories shawl and substituted leaf and rose patterns. I’m done with the first 2 points of the edging now, and I should be able to crank out the edging in a day and a half, so there is hope. The variegated yarn isn’t the best for showing off the lace, but this yarn makes me smile every time I look at it, and I know that the kids at the wedding will recognize it. That makes me smile too.

 Like most lace, it doesn’t look like much yet, but you can see how colorful it is. It won’t be a big shawl, since I’m dealing with a limited amount of yarn, but it will be super special. A bigger version will follow, probably with handspun during the Ravelympics.

Keeping out of Trouble

May 15, 2012

Last week was uber-busy. By Sunday I was beyond exhausted, and I am just now recuperating.

So what had me so busy, you might ask. Well, my friend Kellie is a baker. Actually, her husband does the baking, and Kellie does the decorating. I have offered to help for years, and she has continually turned me down. Finally, last weekend she asked me to come over and get things prepped so her husband could catch up on baking after he got home from work. When I showed up, she asked me to bake a few things. My baking based muster that evening with her husband, so I ended up spending part of 4 days baking, splitting cakes, filling the layers, and simple frosting. Kellie and another friend also just moved into a new shop, and Mother’s Day weekend was the Grand Opening. I made the banner for that too. Rip stop nylon and great iron-on interfacing, so I’ll be working on a new farm sign before fairs. Saturday morning I also helped set up one of the 3 wedding cakes due that day. Working in the bakery is hard on my back because of the cement floor, but it means a little money coming in so that’s good.

 This is before the flowers were added. Pretty, isn’t it? And the nicest thing is that it tastes as good as it looks. She does amazing work.

Another of my discount amaryllis bloomed for Mother’s Day. Love the colors on this one! A third is getting ready to bloom also, but it’s probably a couple of weeks out. Definitely getting my money worth on these.  I may have to look at getting some more after next Christmas. They do brighten the room. 

The County had gotten a complaint from one of my neighbors about the dead cars in the yard. Now, they have been there for years (one of them was the first car Daughter had bought for herself in high school, which died within a few months. So it has been there at least 9 years). I have dragged my heels about dealing with them (mostly since the last time I had scrapped one, it cost me money). A couple of weeks ago, a guy showed up looking for scrap. Today the last 2 dead cars went away. My yard is emptier, my wallet is a bit heavier. Good on all fronts.

I’ve got two weddings coming up, friends of the Daughter. I was worried about one of them, since I thought I would have to drive by the accident site in Eastern Washington, but it turns out that it’s a little farther up the road. Kid the Younger is probably going to come with me, and we may decide to go visit it, but at least we have the option. That makes the idea of going much easier. The other one is in Montana, and we’ll hit the corner of Yellowstone on the way home. Lots of driving on the agenda early this summer. Hope gas prices don’t go up too high.

My biggest news of the week was an e-mail I got from one of the organizers of Black Sheep Gathering, asking if I would be one of the judges for the Spinner’s Lead. I am extremely excited about the prospect. I’ve entered it a couple of time, and the wedding shawl I made last spring won last year. The prizes have gotten much better recently, so if you’re in the area think about entering. You get more points for leading in an animal, but a lot of the exhibitors are willing to lend one out for the parade.

Finally, today the big sheep all got treated with pour-on meds for external parasites, and the lambies all got wormed and got shots. No one is happy with me, but I managed to get everyone treated and can mark that off my to-do list. Next up is a call to my shearer to get a few of the ewes shorn. I’d like to be able to show a couple of fleeces at fairs, and having her do it is the only way that can happen. My shearing is good enough to get a fleece off the animal, but it isn’t show worthy when I’m done. I had fun looking at all the fibery goodness that the coats have been hiding, and I’m really looking forward to getting them up on the skirting table. I’ll be weaning the lambs before Memorial Day weekend, so it’s going to get noisy around here.

Tough Day

April 25, 2012

Not many words today. It is the 4th anniversary of my daughter’s death. I am moved to tears by the beautiful things her friends are saying on facebook, and by the lovely tribute Kid the Younger blogged.

The bottle lambs were especially cuddly last night after their bottles. Maybe they knew I needed the hugs and kisses.

Tell your people you love them. You never know if it will be the last time you see them.

Getting Older (It’s Better Than The Alternative)

April 17, 2012

Sunday was my birthday. I am now 55, which means that one of the local county fairs will now require me to enter things as a senior.

I spent most of the day (as I have most of the week) helping a friend get her new house ready to move in to. My job has been painting the kitchen cabinets. Finished the second coat this afternoon, and will go back to hang the cabinet doors tomorrow. We put on all the hardware today so it should be pretty quick to finish up. It looks amazing, but it has been a lot of hard work. My back is hurting and I am looking forward to being done. I’ve wanted to paint my kitchen cabinets (need to decide on a color), so this has been good practice.

My 6-year-old amaryllis bloomed for my birthday, which was a nice treat. I got it at an after-christmas sale for $2.50, and this is the 4th or 5th time it has bloomed for me. Definitely got my moneys worth! 

Kid the Elder made dinner and a cake. Shrimp Pasta Primavera and garlic bread, and a pink lemonade cake. Yummy! 

And, he & his wife did good in the gift department too. Gardening goodies, and an immersion blender (I’d mentioned wanting one last week, and they found one at Goodwill).

And not to be outdone, I found a very special egg in the hen-house.  Beautiful, isn’t it? Looks perfect, until you see it next to a regular egg.

 Now, these hens have been laying for 10 months, and this is even littler than the pullet eggs they laid at first. It’s cute, but I’m glad that it’s the only one of its kind. Can’t even imagine how many of these it would take to make an omelet!

The lambies continue to grow by leaps and bounds. They’ve started to eat a little bit of grain, and Merlin is finishing off 16 to 24 ounces of milk 3 times a day.  I offered the bottle to Maeve a couple of days ago, and she sometimes chooses to find us and have an extra snack, which I am happy to provide since she isn’t fattening up as quickly as her brother. She isn’t taking much, but every little bit helps, and she’s already looking better. Merlin gets first dibs, then Maeve. If there is any left, I’ll let Malcolm have a sip too. He’s the first lamb I’ve ever had volunteer to take the bottle without prompting.