Friday, May 24, 2019

Hummingbird Issues

When I was down in San Diego, I had lots of flowers that hummingbirds liked. I abandoned the nectar feeders and went native. But up here, in the PNW, I am a bit unsure about the plants and the seasons. Nectar freezes in deep winter. Hummers have migrated south. Exactly when is it time to put out the feeders again? So I started in late march. I heard a hummer buzz me and knew they were around. This property doesn't have lots of flowers, so feeders needed to happen. I bought 2 at the local Lowes and went home to research nectar recipes.
The basis nectar recipe is 1 cup sugar, 4 cups water, heated or boiled or not. My birds were completely uninterested. 2 weeks went by with almost no noticeable reduction in the liquid level. I decided to adjust the mix to 1 cup sugar and 3 cups water. All of a sudden, I had the most wonderful displays of hummers. They love this mix. They are sucking it up so fast, I am making more every 4 days. (I make a quart at a time). Noisy, colorful, suspicious, and beautiful, I have a full selection of the available birds. It is keeping me busy cleaning and filling feeders, and of course just sitting and watching the action. I don't have another post or feeder, but I am considering putting out more.
So why is this mix better than the other one?
Information on the internet is full of holes. There is missing information. I think what has happened is that this recipe has been repeated on every site yet is lacking a specific fact. Nectar mixes from a store are super fine sugar so that it will dissolve quickly. Home sugar is not super fine. So when you measure by Cup instead of weight, you don't get as much sugar as the commercial products. Ease of the recipe may actually up the water to make it easy to remember. Instead of 3 1/2 cups it is 4.
For the products to be easy for humans doesn't necessarily make them good for the hummers.
I have found that 3 1/2 cups water to 1 cup sugar keeps them pretty happy. 4 cups and they ignore it. 3 cups and they are ecstatic.
The Birds will tell you by their actions what they want- usually more sugar.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Surprise extra stuff

When I first got into my new digs in Pacific Northwest, I decided that I wanted to fill my freezer with beef. I planned to buy 1/2 a grass fed steer. I ended up buying 1/2 steer and a whole veal. This totally filled the freezer and will probably last over one year.
When I picked up my order, I also received about 50 pounds of fat trimmings. That is a lot of fat. And now I had to figure out what to do with it. The freezer was full of meat.
This is what I did. I thawed the fat and ran it through the meat grinder to make ground fat. I then simmered most of it to extract the oil to use in cooking. The remaining suet (connective tissues, meat, and skin) was packaged into zip bags and scattered in nooks and crannies in the freezer.  I had about 12 jars of fat for cooking and about 12 bags of ground suet. As winter approached, I realized that this ground suet would make perfect bird food for my jays, robins, flickers, thrushes, and juncos. We sprinkle it on the ground under the bird feeder and enjoy the show.
It was a lot of work to get everything packaged up. But the butcher tossed in the 50 pounds for free. That means my birds are getting fed for free. That is a good deal for everyone. We are more than 1/2 way through the winter and I still have food for them. I have started mixing some seed in with the fat, just in case some of the smaller birds return, but the meat and fat are for birds who normally eat bugs.
There are other birds who would benefit from additional meat/fat in their winter diet- chickens, guinea hens, turkeys, etc. And we have had an occasional cat. I have not noticed any rodent activity. The feeder is far enough from the house that there is no real way for rodents to get comfortable (think owls and hawks). But it might not work out well for a close patio or condo.
I would like to get one of the wire cages and shape the suet so that I can hang it, but most of the birds are ground feeders here, now. Maybe in the spring, when they still need extra food, I will have some left over to try the suet cage.

Sunday, February 3, 2019


In 2008, I went to BSG (Black Sheep Gathering) for my first time. I bought some fleece. As I remember, there were two and some alpaca stuff.
The following year, Eduard went with me to BSG. Then I missed a year. Then I went with some friends. It is now 2012. After that I went every year and it seems that each time I bought a fleece. I had brown, morrit, gray, and white. I stopped going in 2016 because I had many other pressing things happening. But in that year, 2016, I bought 1/2 of three fleeces- Cool and the gang.
I had sent some of the fleeces to be commercially washed and combed. Some fleece I do myself. But over the years I have built a rather large "stash" of washed fleece and yarn.
I am just now finishing spinning the 2009 and 2010 white fleeces. I did the dark brown and morrit fleeces awhile back. And I have partially spun the Cool n the gang group.
I have been spinning about 1 pound of fleece per month for 6 months. I have made a dent in the fleece pile. At the rate of 1 pound per month I will possibly complete all the spinning in my lifetime. But there is also the cotton, the luxury fibers and the weaving. And Sewing.
What was I thinking...infinite time and energy? Like a teenager?
So I have set completion goals. When I am done spinning this bag of white wool, I will start weaving it. I have enough for several blankets. When I am done weaving the blankets, I can spin again. I will finish up spinning Cool n the gang and make a blanket of that one too.
As much as I love buying fleece and spinning it up, I just can't do it without making something from the yarn.
The confession is that I am addicted to fleece. I love it raw. I love it washed. I love combing and spinning. I love fondling the yarns. I just love wool. And I love cotton also. I still have about a year's worth of home grown cotton to spin. I don't knit fast enough to make much with the yarn. I have numerous projects started and not finished yet.
So I am going to use my blog space to keep track of my progress on spinning and weaving. It will keep me honest.
Current knitting project- socks, teal, commercial yarn, gift from friend. I need to finish the rib cuffs, about 4 inches.
Swirl shawl- commercial yarn, green, has cashmere in it. Slow project with lots of little ends. Could finish in about a month if I tried.
Hex blanket using left over yarn- intended to last forever on the needles. Eventually it will be too large to continue.
Cashmere shawl in beige- need to rip it and start over.
Sewing- finish the Christmas table runner (part 2), reindeer quilt, dresden quilt, and two baby quilts.
Weaving- blue rug, silk placemats, first white blanket.
There are more, but we will start with these.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Where I left off

I was going through my lists of stuff we needed to do and what we had done. Then, for some reason, I got sidetracked and didn't write again. So here is the next bunch of stuff:
We finally got driver's licenses, car registrations, car insurance, and hair cuts. I have a doctor now and have had an eye exam. We celebrated Thanksgiving and ate one of the ducks. I have decorated for Christmas, mostly and baked cookies.
But the most wonderful thing for me right now is that my sewing, weaving, spinning studio is up and running. There are still boxes in the other room that need unpacking. There are bags of fluff on the floor in a pile. But I have been able to complete one table runner and two blankets, with a third blanket about to go on the frame. I have spun the cotton crop for  2018 and am spinning some wool roving I have had for three years. Slowly, I am working the piles down and getting through the projects I had planned.
We had the dead tree cut down along with some other near dead trees and have a giant pile of wood in the yard that needs to get split into fireplace size pieces. I have been very busy and the list is getting shorter, but I am no where near the end.
So, now that we are settled in, we are planning a trip down to San Diego. Just can't seem to stay away. I am having a party for my mother's 92nd birthday, visiting my son and daughter in law, and spending time with some friends. It is a long drive and we will take pictures along the way.
I have worked really hard to get to this place. It seems kind of weird to go back and visit as a tourist, but I still have many people I love and adore there. It is worth the time and effort to go for a visit once or twice a year.
And it will give me a break from all the work here.
Still no winter weather- 50f today and a slight drizzle in the evening. Maybe the weather will get cold in January.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Run over by the Moving Van

Well, not exactly, but I feel pretty tired and achy.
We managed to get moved. Total stress, total fatigue. And we are still unpacking. The house closed on Aug. 24 with the tenting for termites. We had already moved the furniture and camped in the house until we packed the last stuff and stayed in a local BnB until we were ready to drive.
We took the long way home, via the coast route, 101 north, until we just needed to speed through at the end. It was beautiful.
We are now unpacking and getting repairs done. The fireplace works, the water system works, the water heaters work, the heater works, the kitchen works, the garage door works, the septic works, the ....list has been long and we are working slowly through it. We have internet, and a phone signal enhancer. We have made some friends and are working toward finding what we need- Doctors, dentists, hair stylist, driver's license, car registration, insurance... the list is long.
So the question is, "How do we like it?" All the rain, dreary overcast, cold. We so far love it. There has only been 4 inches of rain so far this fall and summer. The driest year on record. So much sun, warm days, the warmest year on record. We got here just in time for the California heat to move north with us.
I have managed to get some of my personal goals met. I have 1/2 cow and a whole veal in the freezer from a local butcher. I have 2 ducks cleaned in the freezer for the holidays. I have canned some apple butter and made apple sauce. I have gotten us set up for a long and lusty winter. I hope it shows up. We have had two fires in the fireplace and the wood pile is full. It just has not been cold enough yet.
So hopefully all this planning will actually pay off. We plan to hang out at home most of the winter until it is time to chase the birds. I will keep you posted about what that means, but it is around Christmas time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Things Are Moving Fast

We are now in Escrow on a contract for sale of our house. I have been wandering down memory lane as I sort and pack, but now I have to get really focused and let stuff go. No more time to goof off and wonder about whether or not I will eventually use stuff. STUFF must GO. Our original plan was to move the furniture and boxes out, clean up the house, and then show it. New plan now. Package every thing as fast as possible and get the hell on the road.
We are still trying to determine the best way to get both cars up there. The end of August is looming large. We may have to park a car here, somewhere, for a couple of weeks so that we can get Stuff moved. Or drive separately for three or four days.
This post will continue as things develop.
So we have a plan, I think. Furniture is moving. We are boxing almost everything. There will be a bunch of stuff going in the Green van first. We will follow the movong van by two days to head up and meet the furniture. Then we will leave the van there and take the train to the airport. Well, to the city and then the light rail to the airport. Then fly home and ask my son to drive us from the airport to the house. It is a plan. It sounds tiring and long. And involves many steps.
The last phase of the plan is to clean the house and pack the small car with all the remaining stuff, have the junk guys haul stuff away and go to a party.
Sometime during this plan, my computer gets disconnected, or moved onto the top of a box in a different room. It is a plan, even if it is a really inconvenient plan.
I have hauled toxic waste away. I have had junk hauled by the Junk guys. There will be at least one more load. I have worked to clean out the garage of stuff and hauled 4 more loads to the Goodwill.  I have taken papers to be shredded. I have cooked down lots of food. I have cleaned out the garden shed. It still looks like there is two weeks of work and not two weeks left. I must work faster and toss more stuff.
The kitchen is not empty yet. We have at least 4 boxes of food items to pack. And I have not even started the sewing room. I know I will get this part done, but I am fighting the panic anxiety. 18 years in one house is about 10 years too long.
Ok, we are on the final countdown. Today, Aug 4, Moving van Aug 9 instead of 10. I have started packing the food items. The laundry room cabinets are cleared and cleaned. Wooly room is packed out and I am starting to clean it. Sewing shed is packed and waiting for large items to move. House is so full of boxes I can 't find any place to put more. We are taking more stuff to the shredder today. I am still on course to pack 4 or more boxes every day and have done 3 already, before breakfast.
It is so hot I can only work in the early morning and late evening. Sweat pouring down, multiple showers.
Eduard was funny today. He said it is so much easier to put things away in the cabinet when there is lots of room. He put away one thing and left the rest on the counter. Apparently, no that much easier.
As we pack out stuff, we have a pile that will travel in the van with us and a pile that will travel up at the last minute in August. The van will be packed to the max. THe list is long and the items large. TV, computer, and valuables. Need a bigger car. I will look into it when we get up there. But I suspect, I will have the van for another 5 years.

Monday, June 18, 2018

New stage of packing

In May, I was tossing and sorting and packing items to ride up in the van to the new house. Now I am back with a lot of empty boxes and a rather confused plan. Where to start?
This batch of boxes will go to the new house in the moving van. It must be items that we want but don't need here, so there is plenty of sorting and donating to do. But we also need enough stuff here to "live" and "work" until the last minute, when ever that is.
I am preparing to toss towels that are really old and nasty. And bedding that is no longer comfy. But there are other things that need to be disposed of- like tools. Getting rid of tools is like getting rid of spinning wheels. I just can't seem to let them go.
While we were at the new house, we bought a new chainsaw. Wonderful thing. We had to take down a tree for some of the repairs and we cut it up and stacked it in the wood bin in minutes. Eduard was actually enjoying it. Old chainsaw down here- donate. It is not coming with us. But those are the easy things. The tough stuff is- socket sets, wrenches, screwdrivers, boxes of nails and screws. Just how much stuff to we really need to take with us? There is an entire strip mall up there of those things.
So part of the sort/toss experience will be about changing life expectations. There is much work to do up there, but how much of it will we actually do ourselves and what will we hire done?
I have the most lovely power drill, but I still need some tools for the work on wheels and looms. I have decided to clean out the drawers of stuff and pack only the most obviously useful item, in small boxes. And get rid of the obvious stuff I will not use- like glue guns. 10 years and have not glued a thing.
So this blog post will continually be updated until the end of July with info on how the tool toss is going.
Day  two- tool sort from lower cabinet, left side. We pulled out all the tools from this side and started sorting, which led to other areas of sorting. Things I had pulled from drawers in the brown cabinet- mostly socket sets- needed to get tossed. We now have about 3 full US measurement socket sets and the remaining duplicates are in a box to donate. Today, I sorted all the metric sockets and removed duplicates. It is ready to pack. We have maybe 5 socket drivers of different sizes. The little size sockets need the tiny end extender. It is packed in one box somewhere. There was no duplicate. What is that about. We have at least 3 of everything, but that. All small socket ends rely on the one reducing extender.
BUT- this is a really big clean out. After I get the top of the cabinet cleaned off and sorted, the cabinet will be almost empty. We have chosen to keep out a few tools we may need before the end, but as we use the to finish projects, those tools are packed up. The Right side of the cabinet has the soldering iron and solder, a hand saw that is leaving, and some detritus also leaving. I am packing the soldering iron today and the others go with the junk guys. Eduard will buy a new hand saw when he is ready.
Tomorrow- we will tackle the top of the cabinet. I want to get the cabinet cleaned out and only leave tools we are going to use to fix up the last stuff in the house. They will be in a cabinet that we will donate at the end and we will take the tools with us in the van. It is a plan. Yet, once again, I see the van as having way more room that it really has.
RANT- when Eduard's mother would go to the store, she would buy lots of different chemical cleaners, and yet never clean her house. I think she was hoping that it would clean itself if there was enough stuff there. So when she was sick her housekeeper caretaker only used vinegar or windex and dish soap. Pretty much what I use. All the unopened cleaning supplies came to my house for inspection and disposal. 6 years later, I am still disposing of this stuff. Today- 4 bottles buried in the back of my regular cleaning items hit the land fill/ and sewer system. This took 1 hour.
This blog is getting long. So much cleaning and sorting. The junk guys come today and will haul off a full truck load of big stuff. We have needed to get rid of this stuff for years now. Old ladder, building materials from three years back, old furniture pieces, old tools. As I clean out the garage I find more and more stuff that was just, well, stuffed. I am hoping to have only one last load before we leave, but I suspect there will be more. The last items may include appliances. I have not tackled the freezer in the garage yet, but most of the fruit in there is years old and needs to be dumped into the composter. Guess what happens today.
I abandoned the Macadamia nuts. The freezer was full of them and I really don't like them. I never liked them. But I felt obligated to eat the nuts from my own tree. Why, oh why, do I feel guilty about this. I made Macadamia milk. I used the milk in cooking. I made a torte with the remains of the milk. I didn't like it and don't want to do it again. Really, I prefer almonds or pecans. The trash is so heavy from the macadamia nuts - must be 10 pounds of them. Guilty and at the same time, kind of free.
I also packed up the larger, newer dehydrator. I have decided to let the old one go to the thrift store. I bought it sometime in the 1990's after S and I divorced and it has been with me since- making jerky and dried fruits and pastes. Time is up. I still have the newer, bigger one and I really only need one. Truth be known, I "need" none, but I am keeping that one.
The kitchen cabinets are starting to look bare. The hutch is empty. The bookcase is empty. Half of the cabinets in the kitchen are empty. I packed a lot of tea. I tossed a lot of tea. Things are getting simpler here. Fewer tools to work with. Fewer pots and pans. I am ready to head to the wooly room for a bunch of boxes there.
But first, I found a couple pairs of shoes in the closet that still fit!!! And look like new. I will pack them in the red suitcase and take them with me when I fly up to the new house.