Monday, December 21, 2009

Feelin' good, feelin' fine

It is Yule time and I am feeling very happy and bouncy. My work is nearly done (for other people, that is). I have myself and my sweetie to do things for. That is almost to selfish to imagine. I have been vey busy with other people all year, so now I have only a few little things left to do and I am free to play. It feels good.
I have knitted and woven and spun great mountains of things and have given and sold them. But I am still enjoying spinning and knitting and weaving. I am about to start baking cookies and doing some holiday cooking. I am looking forward to the last and darkest night and the slow but regular return of the sun. My garden is growing spring veges and my trees are dormant. Life is relaxing and calm.
I really needed this, too. This has been a really busy year, and next year will be busy too, so I am resting while I can.
Everyone, you will just have to take care of yourselves while I sleep and refresh myself. I am napping for the next two months. Then, if I see my shadow, we can talk about spring. (snore).

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Party is Over, back to work

It has been a long year. And it is not yet over, but I am seeing it wind down now. Last night I put my son on a plane to return to China, where he works and lives. This marked the end of a very long party. But it also was the end of some other events along the way. The activity and tension levels have been very high all year, and this appears to be a turning point.
Last year, we (my daughter and many other people) started planning her wedding. My job was "details" and "surprises". There were many but mostly near the end. So the impact was not readily noticeable. I had lots of time to spend on my mother, and E's parents and sibbling. E's father's health collapsed in the spring and this pretty much started the ramp up of tensions. We spent lots of time with E's mom, and cleaning up some of the details with her, then we traveled to see his sister. It was a nice vacation, but it had considerable emotional stress connected to it. Work on the house, the yard, my mom, my business choice all started to complicate our time, plus the growing number of lists for the wedding.
Finally, the wedding shower kicked off the "rush" of activity. All the little house details that we had ignored became big issues. Then there was the "organization" of the wooly room. In October, my son arrived and all the "work" became meaningful. The family, my family, was gathering for the big day. And then the wedding happened. And it seemed to be over, but there was still so much to do. And then the visit ended. And as I look back, it seems like a fog of activity- so much you can't really see any one thing, but there is a lot of stuff in there.
Now, as my son is flying home to China, and I am recovering from a long night of driving, I am starting to melt into a soft puddle.
I started cleaning up the mess of the year long party, and I am very tired. Emotionally tired. Happy, but very tired.
I am looking forward to routine and dark, cold winter nights. I need to hibernate for a month.
Unfortunately, that is not what happens. What really happens is we have to get back to the work of living. So, the laundry is happening. The kitchen is happening. And all the activities of life are happening. But the fog is thinning, and I can see things more clearly.
I had a really good time, but I am glad it is slowing down. I want to spend time focusing on my home and husband. The party is over. Everyone- go home.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Christmas Present

This is a story about my Christmas present. Not for this coming Christmas, but for Last Christmas.
While we were in Solvang, last November, 2008, I stopped at my favorite fibery store- Village Spinning and Weaving- (plug for the great store, yes!). I found a Joy spinning wheel in the window (a single treadle which I wanted more than a double treadle). And I found a Schacht Flip loom. I had wanted to learn to weave and I thought a small loom would be great fun. But I don't have lots of space and a little folding one seemed like just the right thing. It came home with me and I put it in the wooly room.
I knew it was in there, but as the days went by and things piled up (and stuff piled up), it got buried. Periodically I could hear it cry out for me in muffled tones from under piles of washed fleece, but there just wasn't any time for learning something new and having fun.
The new Joy spinning wheel went right to work, though. And it snickered at the box and chided it. The wheel was the more important new toy so the box got ignored. Well, that wasn't really true. They are both important, but the wheel I already knew how to use. And I could do something with it right away. So the box gathered dust and waited patiently.
Then the wedding plans and parties, house cleaning and re-organizing, medical issues and visits to relatives- all took up the time. The box waited patiently, muffled sobs.
Today, I was cleaning the wooly room. It got to the top of the priority list, finally- my son is coming home for the wedding and will stay with me for awhile. I stuffed the fleeces under the bed, moved some things around, stacked stuff in the garage and, Lo!, there was the box. After a moments thought, I took the box into my bedroom. I didn't want to stack it in the garage or stuff it in a closet. I wanted to actually get out my Christmas present and use it. Sometime in the future, when I was not so tired.
Then, after I had vaccuumed, dusted, stuffed and reorganized- I wanted to sit down and rest. But, instead- I got the box out and opened it. I could hear the little loom squeal with happiness- finally some light and air. After staring at it for bit, and reading the instructions a couple of times, I decided on a project and started to assemble the loom. The first part was easy enough, but then I needed to "warp" it.
It took a couple of times, but I did get it warped, and I have woven the first inch on it. I like the little fellow and am still thinking of a name for him- definitely a boy name like "Flip Wilson" or "Flipper". And I can see many wonderful projects coming down the path. I want to make a bag for him to match the one I made for the Joy. I have enough fabric left. And I think he would like something more comfortable than a box.
So that is the story of my Christmas present. It has taken almost a year to open the box. I am really glad I did. I will take it to the wedding with me so that I can weave in the evening after dinner at the lodge. I think he will like that, too.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Those pesky little details

I decided early on that I would not be in charge of any of the large details of my daughter's wedding. Actually she decided that for herself, but I didn't argue with her. She got the site, arranged the accomodations, found an officiant, tasted cakes, secured a chef and menu, bought a dress, designed the rings, ordered the invitations, made a guest list, tried on shoes, contracted a photographer, and has been tracking all this stuff for a year.
I have agreed, nay, more like insisted, that I take care of small details- like wedding music. Very small details, like hemming a bride's maid's dress. And some minute details- like baking 300 cookies. There are lots of these details, which is good because I like to make lists. So this is the list of known details-
Public Address system so that we can hear the officiant and wedding couple.
Decorative boxes (decorated by me) for the 300 cookies- to go at each place setting (Appx. 90)
Stereo system with speakers for the wedding hall.
Ipod loaded with selected music for the night.
Binding rope for the wedding ceremony. (Research materials and shop for such)- sew for 4 hours.
Altar and altar cloth.
Containers to take home left overs, ice chest and ice.
Continental Breakfast for 40 on the Saturday morning of the wedding.
Hemmed aforesaid dress.
Research wedding music- find musicians and contract said performers.
Custom ordered, hand crafted wedding book for my sweeties (I love it!)
Host wedding shower. (and clean my house twice, before and after)
Hand made special gift for the bride- still in progress.
Mail invitations with instructions (by Google Earth) on getting to the site.
Data base and spread sheet with RSVP information and label program for Said invitations.
Regular attendance update to the Bride and Groom for their records.
Clean up guest room for my son, so that he can stay and play with me.

As we wind through the last weeks before the wedding, many of these details have been completed and are starting to get "boxed" for the final trip to the wedding site. Each box has a label for its contents. But many things need to wait until the last minute- the last minute details, like buying food and ice.

Yet, in all this planning and shopping, fussing and making, gluing and sewing, spinning and knitting, tasting and listening- in all of this, no one has said anything about who will get the marriage license.
I hope someone remembers. That is not one of my details on my list.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Wonderful Party

Is going to happen at my house. A Wedding Shower for my daughter. I am really excited. And with that excitement comes- house cleaning. Well, more like a remodel, than just a cleaning. This is the story.
Last year, in July we tore the living room apart to put in new windows and a door. Our plan was to have bookshelves built in, move the entertainment area to the other side of the room, get new carpet, pour a patio slab, re-route the water lines to the back yard, paint and patch the walls, and settle in for xmas. About a week after the windows got in, my mom had a stroke event. And life got really complicated. Eduard's father started slipping very fast toward his end from his emphysema, and his mom's cancer started growing again. Our project screeched to a halt and we have lived in chaos for 15 months.
So it is just not possible to have everything done by the Wedding Shower this Saturday. But it is possible to clean it up a bit. We boxed up some stuff and got the dining room into a semi-permanent configuration. We re-arranged the existing furniture to simulate the completed configuration of the living room. And we threw out lots of stuff. We have been cleaning for a week and it is beginning to look really nice. Just a few more details in the kitchen and we will be presentable.
Part of this re-organization included some new equipment. I bought a new vacuum cleaner. And I think I really like it, so far. I also put the exercise bike back into the bedroom- and have actually used it again. The Bedroom got some re-org clean up as well and is a much more pleasant place to visit. I have a stack of tile in the garage waiting for its moment of installation, but that won't be until after Thanksgiving.
All in all I think we have been working our butts off. But it is a really nice result for all the work.
Now fast forward, because my computer crashed, I ran out of time, and the party is over. I am just now getting a chance to finish this blog entry. Can you believe it? It is time to clean the house again. Damn! And the list of stuff for the wedding is on the top of the plate of priorities. Well, life is busy, and happy. It was a good party. The house was beautiful and clean. We had enough chairs. Eduard was granted sainthood by my ex-mother-in-law, in front of her son (my ex). My daughter and son-in-law(en potentia) have been properly celebrated. It doesn't get any better than that. So I will clean up and stop complaining.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Windows Corruption

Lately, my old Mac hand-me-down has become very temperamental. I have a new Mac laptop to replace the old baby, but I haven't had time to clean off my desk and transfer files, and dock, and learn new stuff. And it has been busy being a "portable" unit for most of the summer.
So today, I couldn't log on to blog because the memory was corrupted. Had to turn it off and back on. It had been on for about 1/2 hour and done mostly nothing. On any given day, I have to do this little procedure 5 or 6 times. Applications crash, spinning pizza of death, frozen keyboard, won't wake up from nap, can't find mouse, ... lots of annoyance.
As I was waiting for it to re-boot, I realized that the old Mac sits right next to my old PC/Windows unit. There may even be a latent network connection between the two, even though the PC has been off for two years. I am beginning to think the PC is trying to enter the brain of my Mac and channel Windows issues though it. It is leaking little commando electrons though the cabling and slowly infiltrating my OS, bit by byte. The parallels are just too suspicious.
Naw. I am just getting paranoid. But I must say that it makes me nervous to think about the possibilities. An entire world, taken over by WindowsOS.
But now I think I need to go back up my disk, just in case I have another Windows moment.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Selling my Stuff

Sitting in the pop-up tent, table of wares, notices, coin box. There I am selling my yarns at the farmer's market.
On Sunday, I have an all day plan. Pack up the car, set up the booth, wave and greet and occasionally sell something, pack up the car. I sit and spin, teach spinning and drop spindle, talk wool and fiber prep. I am meeting people, growing my spin group, and playing with my friends. So far, three of my spin buddies have come to sit in the booth with me. There will be more I am sure.
I taught a sweet lady to drop spindle this last Sunday. She bought a spindle and roving. Now I need to make more spindles- ordered parts today. She wants to come and sit in the booth also.
I have knitted string bags, sock yarns, and knitting classes. They will want to sit in the booth also.

Soon, it will be a community booth and I will need more space- 4 is pretty much all I can handle. And I will need to start charging so I can pay my booth rent. But it is really fun to have a community of spinners and knitters out in the open air/shade all playing together.
Now to get some of them to buy all that pesky yarn.
Or pay for a class on dyeing wool. Or to help me card all that fleece.
Well, there is time I suppose in the future for that. Right now, I am recovering from all that fun.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All the Good Stuff

A couple of days ago, I had to write about a fluffy disaster and the terrible stench it created. But today, life is not so smelly and there is joy in Woolville. It took an arsenal of cleaning products to beat the stink into submission, I had to throw away some wool (always a difficult thing for me), and the bathroom sparkles like the sun. My hands and feet no longer waft pungent and I have moved on to other projects- Dying roving.
But I need to digress and get caught up on the good stuff of June. I got to go to Black Sheep Gathering (BSG) again. There were many things on the way, so it wasn't all about me, but it was good nonetheless. We met lovely people in San Jose, we laid Eduard's father to rest in a cool glen at Val's house and we found a nest of owls at the honey farm. Such good film footage, such nice people, such a pleasant week of travel.
At BSG, I got to work in the Wool Show, with the wool judge, Mark Eidman, I won first place on Max's socks, and bought 2 lovely fleeces. There were friends from So.Cal. and new friends from Ravelry, and lots of great things to buy- I did buy some, but I was careful not to over indulge. On the way back we had a great drive with Eduard's mom and Daughter. We were relaxed and happy, though it is a long drive. I was energized to get back into my wooly world even more than ever.
I have started dying again, not just for myself. I have several pounds of roving that needs a color coat and some packaging. I am hoping to get that out and sell it soon, so I have now completed about 14 packages of product. I am having a dye class in August and some of late July. And I am busy washing and dying fleece. Knitting, still doing that, but on a more "just for me" level. And knitting for Eduard, too. I want to focus on myself for a bit.
Yes that is what happens when I start having fun. I want to keep doing it. So you can find me in the kitchen- not cooking, not canning- but having a blast with the color blue.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Way Wrong or why modern invention is good

I have many things to talk about lately. I have been very busy and done many wonderful things in the last month. But what I am going to talk about first is something that was way wrong.
As you may have noticed, FLuffy has a wooly obsession lately. I have purchased fleeces which I wash and spin, then I dye the yarn and knit with it. So this last spring, I bought 4 lovely fleeces from Descanso, and then in Oregon I bought 2 more lovely fleeces. I have finished washing the Black Shetland and a portion of the Columbia. I have always done just a bit at a time until it was all done, using hot water and modern, chemical, hard water tolerant detergent- Orvus. It really works well on the fleece and the plants tolerate the surfactant well. I dump the water on the plants when I can. So this year, I got caught up in a line of bull and I am sorry to say, "It Stinks!"
The old books I have teach about using water and Urine (Yes I am talking about Pee), to clean wool fleece. There is a soaking process and a long rinsing process and then the wool is spun for weaving with some of the grease in and then it is soaked in acid, and finally washed in hot water to shrink it a bit. Gasp! Well, I don't do that stuff. I wash in hot water with strong detergent, rinse several times, dry, card or comb and spin for knitting yarn. It is grease free when I start to spin it. And it is washed again when it is yarn. There is no acid, the vegetable matter is hand picked and carded out. This is modern efficiency.
So this process that was being discussed on Ravelry, is about soaking a fleece for 7 days in soft water so that it ferments. It is called the Fermented Suint Method (FSM). I had all this lovely Columbia fleece (because there was 10 pounds of it) and I thought I would try some in this method. I discussed it with others who had done it first.
Soft water- got some. Dirty fleece- got that. Big opaque covered tub- yep. Time-7 days or less- I started. After 5 days it didn't look like any fermentation was going on, but it smelled awful- it was supposed to. At 7 days I had to take it out and rinse it. So today, I laid out some screens and started to rinse in cold water.
The first thing that went wrong was I got a couple of drops of the soak water on my arm and hand. I almost fainted from the awful smell as I lifted the fleece out into a bucket. A few drops got on my foot. Then I hauled it to the screen area and turned on the water to rinse it. I rinsed for a long time and the fleece was absolutely filthy, not to mention stinky, and still greasy.
So now it needed a hot water, soapy bath, just like it always had gotten before, but with the additional fragrance. I hauled a bucket full of stink into the bathroom with my Orvus. Yes into the house bathroom.
I decided to use the shower so that I could pump the water out to the trees. The stench was nearly overwhelming but I got the first two bags to soaking in the soap and hot water. I tried to wash off the little splashes.
I took a shower in the other bathroom. When I was done, I still smelled like an exploded porta-potty, so did the bathroom. The other bathroom with the soaking fleeces was a toxic waste zone.
I am now on the second washing of both the fleece and me- I will have to scrub the entire house with windex to kill the smell later- the smell permiates every room. (Honey, work late tonight).
Oh, it doesn't stop yet. There is still some fleece that needs to be hot water washed laying on the screens. There is a tub of offal next to the back door, and a layer of sludge in the shower. Of all the times I have washed fleece, I have never had such an awful, offal experience. Never, Never, Never will I do this again. It was a terrible practical joke and I am sorry that I got caught up in it.
After I clean the house, and recover my sense of smell, I will write about the good stuff that happened, but right now, I have made a mess and I am busy trying to clean up.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Fluffys Garden, fluffy... garden... fluffy, fluffy. Hmmm.
For the last two years, Fluffysgarden has been more about fluffy and less about garden. Part of this is because the the Wool Addiction and part is because of the chicken affliction. Well, chickens are fluffy in places, but they are mostly garden destroyers. I have not focused as much on the growing things because the little birds would terrorize the sprouts, roto-till the seeds up, and in general re-distribute the soil and mulch.
I had managed to scratch a bit out of the beds- tall things mostly and things they chickens didn't like. But this year, there are no more chickens. I am restoring the beds and planting great yummy stuff. We had lettuces, celery, carrots, peas, onions, cabbage, brocolli and fava bean already. Now I am planting the summer garden and hoping for some squash and long beans. It has been more rewarding to do this work knowing that the chickens are not going to dig it up. I had forgotten how much I love the soil and eating the fresh veggies.
The Wool Addiction is still going strong, though. It takes up lots of time- washing, carding, dying, spinning, knitting..and..weaving almost. This year, we drove to Oregon to the Black Sheep Gathering at Eugene. I spent two days in Wooly bliss- fondling fleeces, stroking roving, investigating blends and tools. I left with a car full of fleece, roving, honey and people.
Honey? that is not fluffy you say. Well, I have to admit that fluffy has a sweet tooth. I say I bought it for my husbear, but really does he need 60 pounds of honey? I also bought 60 pounds for my friends and re-distributed between Oregon and So.Cal. Most of them bought a 5 lb jug or two, but I buy in cases and get good prices for them. Thus, we have a year supply of sticky sweet stuff- a by product of fluffyness.
So for the fleeces, wools, blends, batts, fluff balls- I am re-energized in my Wool Addiction. I have been spinning up older projects to get them done so that I can wash and spin the new and exciting stuff. I am cleaning my drum carder and getting ready to address the last of last year so that I can get on with the new and knit with the old. I am passionate and inspired.
I am not yet ready to balance the Fluffy with the Garden. I think it will take the rest of this year to settle back into the garden cycles and get the beds re-organized. But I am up for the job and looking forward to a chicken free environent full of fluff and good eats.
Now, for a bit of greasy wool and some thoughtful spinning.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Jonesin' for the wheel

I don't often have this feeling. Tense, distracted, anxious, calculating, restless. I am aching to get a chance to spin. I don't often have this feeling because I would normally just sit and spin for awhile each week. But, it has been several weeks since I last spun. Too many things to do. Too much work, planning, packing, sorting, building, sewing, knitting, writing, cooking, calling, digging, washing, just too much stuff to do. Part of the planning was to get stuff on the sticks so that I had something to knit while we travel. I started three projects. In the process, I had to clean out some stuff in the wooly room and dig my way to the storage bed.
After I made a narrow path to the bed, the bags of fleece started whispering to me- "Spin me." " No! Spin me!" I took the Kiwi out and all my partially full bobbins. I plied until the bobbins were clear and put the Kiwi away. But the whispering didn't stop. Everytime I went into the room, the fleeces were rustling restlessly expecting to be taken out. One of them fell over and spilled a bit of fluff at my feet. As I gathered it back to itself, it called to me. "Touch me, feel me, spin me."
I gathered up the bobbins, the Joy and the fabric to make a bag. I got the sewing machine out and some sewing tools. I noticed that I was becoming tense and nervous in the room. But as I sewed the bag, I was not nervous at all. It was creative and useful and cheap- I was very happy with it. I started to fill it with the Joy, some bobbins, some tools, and some rovings. That is when the Jones started. Touching the roving made me very excited and anxious. I wanted to spin it right now. I wanted to unload the whole bag and spend the rest of the day spinning. Maybe into the night. Maybe all the next day too. Then I realized that the last time I actually spun anything was at the end of May. 2 1/2 weeks with no real wheel contact. The plying took but a moment and was only to clear off the bobbins. But real spinning, the feel of fiber slipping gently through my fingers, the soft smell of sheepyness, the gental whir of the wheel- it had been a long time and there was no time now to do it. I was packing for the trip. I would not spin for many more days. The anxiety was building and I started trying to find ways to sneak in some spinning- any spinning, even on a drop spindle.
That is when I realized I was Jonesin' for the wheel. I was in withdrawal. The fiber addiction had me down and writhing in discomfort as I calculted when I would next get a chance to spin. Friday night? Saturday at the meeting? Drop spindle in the car instead of knitting?
And the wooly room wasn't helping me at all. The color bottles and the white roving tried to convince me that there was time to dye a bunch for the road. The black fleece was saying, "Finish me, I am almost done. There is a sweater trying to get to you." My silk was making soft breezy sounds and the soy was reminding me that It was New and Exciting. What would I spin if I had the chance? I had packed about a pound of stuff, but I wanted to pack another pound- but why. I would not get enough time to spin 2 pounds of stuff. The Alpaca was saying, "Let me just touch you for a moment. You know you want to."
Yes, I want to. Yes, yes. No. I need to mow, and water, and do laundry. I need to cook dinner and pack the coffee supplies. I need to empty the car and wash the windows. I closed the door to the wooly room hoping that the phrase "Out of sight, out of mind" would help.
I am resting gently now. I am closer to being done packing and have most of the errands done. I am breathing softly and evenly and have clear thoughts. I will spin tomorrow on a drop spindle at the meeting- some white merino should be nice. Something thin and satisfying, and soft. Yes, I know. I gave in. But I just love the feel of the fiber.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hobbies or Nightmares

Sometimes it is hard to tell.
I love to try new things but I very seldom continue with the intense interest that is the hallmark of a new project or hobby. That high level of energy and time can just suck the life out of you and take over your whole world. And there are just too many things I want to do to invest all of me in a single, hobby black hole. Multiple black holes? Stop sniggering.
So, I love to spin and because I spin, I have great volumes of yarn. I wash the fleeces and spin, I buy rovings and spin, and I blend fibers and spin. I have a folder of beautiful shawl and sweater patterns. I am developing my own pattern for a leafy thing. I have books and tools and way more stuff than I can finish in a lifetime. I have a lathe that sits forlornly in the garage, covered with raw wool fleeces. Fleeces waiting to be washed, tools waiting to me used, yarn waiting to be useful, a garden waiting to be harvested. And what am I doing while all this is waiting- spinning? Well wouldn't that be nice.
Actually I have been obsessed with making a pair of socks to enter in a judged show in Oregon. The socks were too small for Eduard, so they will be for Max. A calculation error that made me quite annoyed. I lovingly spun a tiny, tiny thread to three ply for socks knit on size one needles. I have given myself a stiff neck, punctured my finger, and nearly gone blind. Did I mention this was a black wool? Yes, spinning and knitting black is very hard to see. I can only do it during the daylight hours. And there were cables. Just slap me. Big chunks of days have been spent on these socks- from spinning to knitting to filling out forms and documenting- so that I can give them to a 5 year old.
I want you to know that I actually love knitting socks, but not all socks are created equal. I did not love these socks. Now they are done and I am writing up the forms for the entry. I look at the socks and they don't look so wonderful or special. They don't seem like award winning socks, high quality yarn, or such a lovely design. They are well executed and sized for Max, but I am disappointed. They are not for Eduard. They didn't use up lots of yarn and fleece. They are not so wonderful that I can look at my waiting tools and other hobbies and justify the time spent.
This has been a nightmare pair and I need a break for a bit. I have some large yarn for making a felted pumpkin bag on big needles. I have some lovely hand spun lace weight for a beaded shawl. I have three bags of soil amendment and a waiting garden. I have a wooly room in a state of chaos and the house is in serious need of cleaning. I have 5 looms waiting for reconstuctive surgery. And, I am having dinner guests tomorrow.
I need to push my hobbies aside and struggle out of the gravitational pull so that I can get my house in order. Last night I dreamed I was walking through a park in Solvang with Eduard and I had forgotten to get dressed in the morning. I was strolling through town naked with my drop spindle, spinning. Usually, when you get the "naked in public" dream you feel embarrassed about your naked body. Not me. I was annoyed that I had forgotten my clothes, but talked to people about the spinning anyway.
So, today is a new day, the socks are off the sticks, and I am going to start cleaning the house. Laundry, kitchen, garden, bathrooms, living room. I am going to fight the urge to bring out the wheel, start another project, lounge in the wooly room stroking my stash. Really. I promise.
Edited update- Blue Ribbon, Max has the socks now.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Hypothosis- do fresh eggs from spoiled, free-range chickens taste better and can it be cost effective, while living in a suburban environment and using easily available support products.

Facts gathered- 1. Taste is subjective. The color of the yolk is definitely deeper and brighter and generally, the participants thought the eggs tasted a bit better. We do not possess the equipment to test for actual vitamin and food values so there is no attempt to prove that the eggs are actually "better" in that area.
2- Cost- Cage and pen materials $250, Dr. visit $400, cost of chicks $21, Costs of hay and bedding material $50, feeding equipment $100, food $240 ($10 mo.) Total - $1061.
We used PVC pipe, wire, chicken wire, bird cloth, steel posts and a manufactured shade tent. We recycled some equipment and lawn furniture for the roosts and nest boxes. The birds mostly ate wild bird seed mix and free range grass/bugs/down fruit/most of my garden. Medical expenses could be avoided by simply eating the sick chicken, but it was part of the learning experience to try to heal the poor thing.

Actual egg production- I didn't count every egg, so the number is an estimate based on the average number of eggs layed during their laying life in the experiment. There are periods of time when chickens do not lay- youth, brooding, moulting. One started laying at 5 months old, one at 9 mo. one at 7 mo. One layed no eggs while broody for 3 months, one layed no eggs while moulting 3 mo., one was an inconsistent layer.
Bieging- 60 eggs Q- 320 C- 200 Total- 580 eggs.
Apprx $1.83 per egg.

The experiment ended last night with about 3 pounds of prepared meat and a large bag of feathers.

Conclusion- chickens are very fun pets, lay tasty eggs that cost a fortune, make a mess everywhere, and get up very early. I prefer them to dogs or cats, but do not want to continue the experiment any further.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just say "No!"

Say it loud. Say it often. No more borrowing, no more taxes, no more outrageous spending, no more water wasting, no more gas guzzling, no more electricity surplus, no more trash dumping, no more, just no.
Well, this is getting serious, so I need to lighten it up.

Eduard and I are trying to figure out how much water our trees really need. And how many trees we really need. We no longer have enough water for non-performing test trees. So we are planning to remove the two avocado trees. One produces a not high quality fruit every other year, and the other has produced 6 since we moved here 8 years ago. Even after the chain saw discussion it just won't take me seriously. So this summer, we will cut them both into firewood size and let them season for the winter fuel. And there is the candelabra apple. Last year it had about 6 apples and the last one, in November was acceptable. But overall the tree is a loser. I would rather have the water for the other high quality producing trees. So that is three identified trees to the axe.
And then there are the chickens. Well, we will be doing some traveling soon and need to find a different arrangement for the chickens. So, Eduard and I are, uh, it is rather difficult to say, but we are in fact carnivorous people, so, umm, we are going to eat them. There I have confessed. It was the plan all the time and I need to keep to my commitment. Chickens for two years, then stew. So, that is the case and it will happen soon. Say no to chickens, for awhile anyway.
And then there is the wooly room. Just say no to more wool. Well, this is where I draw the line. There must be more wool, always more wool. I can't live completely austerely. I need some comfort items. I will have wool. And I will spin and make yarn and knit and weave and crochet until the entire house is insulated.
Sometimes, I just need to say "Yes."
The election is always a long hard day. I worked from 5am to 11pm and I am still really tired. So I am going to say yes to a morning nap, a hot shower, and a piece of chocolate. Yes, yes, oh yes. I will save "no" for later.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Current List

The current list of things to do is so long that I really don't know where to start. I can't seem to prioritize anything. Stuff comes to the top in crisis and more is added to the list every day. Because of this situation, I tend to ignor everything until it becomes a crisis. This is not pro-active behavior.
Awhile back, we moved a piano and spent a couple of weeks recovering. That was just our bodies. The house is still recovering. Most of the wooly room is usable, which means I can find things and get to them- but I would not say it is pretty. And bit by bit the dining room has gotten usable. We have stereo, and speakers, and most of the table, and a little piece of the counter top. I moved Cabinet 1 a couple of weeks ago and sorted through it, tossed some stuff, and re-organized. Today- Cabinet 2! Yes, I did. I sorted out old jars of jam, tossed shelf expired items, reorganized the jar boxes, and made the ultimate sacrifice- threw away empty glass jars.
Not all jars are created equal. Jars for home canning have heavier glass bottoms and uniform threads and opening sizes for clean lids and rims. But I had saved many jars of various sizes and makes for other types of storage- like dried beans. As I collected the proper canning jars from thrift stores or relatives, I neglected to get rid of those unequal jars. Some of the jars I saved were because they had interesting shapes, or a picture of Italy embossed in the glass. But today, I cleaned out many of the old, interesting jars and recycled them for the last time. I found some canned produce from 2004- gone. Old jam that no one really liked- gone. What about that tomato pickle that only I eat, sometimes- mostly gone.
So now, my cabinet is moved and reorganized. My jars are nearly organized and clean for the next season, and I realize that once again I have canned far more food than we really eat. We are awash in apple sauce. We have peaches aplenty. And there is tomato sauce for gallons of spaghetti.
Guess what you are having for dinner, honey. Bean soup, spaghetti, peach cobbler, apple spice cake, a variety of jams on toast. But not all at once- I still have three months before it is time to make more applesause.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Black Friday the 13th

There were many things on the list to do. Once was to mail the clean wool to Zeilinger's to be made into roving. But the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to mail it off. I have a drum carder and carding tools. I should, say it again- should- , do this work myself. So I rearranged the priority list again.
I got out the drum carder and started on the Red dyed Shetland, then did the purple, and finally finished the green. About 1 1/2 pounds. Then I opened the box of "not sent to Zeilinger's" wool.
It is white-ish in an oatmeal sort of way, and it did look inviting, but part of me wanted to play a bit before working again, so my thoughts went black.
Dyed black wool.
Dyed black on Friday the 13th. Bwaahaha. And a couple of black silk hankies to go with it.
I have used some of the other colors, but I have never dyed black. It is kinda redish purpleish grayish so I added a little greenish. Oh, maybe a bit too much color for the amount of wool, but I can always dye a bit more to soak up the color.
After about 20 minutes in the hot bath- I took some out to test the color run qualities. Awful- ran like a demon. So back into the bath for about 1 hour. Finally, color steady- no running. Black takes longer than other colors.
But the black silk is really pretty and took up the color in a snap. Next time- more black silk. That stuff is really going to be a hit with my other fibers.
Everything is hanging out to dry now- the pot is in the sink waiting its turn.
And the box, well it is not empty- imagine that. There is still about 2 pounds of wool to card. And I am tired. So I will card another day and take a nap today. My creative juice has used up all my energy. But when I get up- there will be black and it will be good.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Field Trip

Sometimes, when I am not playing, I am a spinning teacher. Well, that is like playing with other people, but sometimes I also make money. Not much, but a little. And when my students "graduate" from my beginning class, they often become my spin buddies. We get together for spin days, show off our newest projects, chat about fibers and techniques, explore other machines.
Last week, my spin buddies and I went on a field trip. We went to the Riverside Convention Center to a spinners and weavers conference. We just went for the day, to shop and explore. It only costs $10 for a day pass and we got to go to the Gallery, try out every machine there, be in a spinning contest, fondle and drool over lovely fibers, and shop. Parking was free, we took our lunch and ate at the tables in the center.
At the spinning competition area, you could sit at the wheels and try all kinds of different fibers they had in a basket. Some were long wools or silk blends, they even had dog hair roving. Ok, stop laughing. It's true. Dog hair roving.
Because this was geared toward weavers, there was plenty of yarn for sale in very large quantities. There were some of the most beautiful woven shawls, all kinds of hand made wooden parts and tools, dyes, rovings, and specialty items.
So, I was bad. I shopped. The group bought some items with the idea that we would share some between us, but I also bought just for me. I bought 8oz of prime Cashmere roving-$35. I bought a package of Ashford merino/silk just because I wanted to try their stuff- $15. There was the cotton/linen stuff -$6 and three little bags of Fox- not real fox, it is cotton like Linen tow. Very fun looking. A bobbin, always need another bobbin, and Silk. We were getting the silk to split up. 1 pound of Bombyx for $60, 1 of Honey Tussah, $48. I ended up with 5oz of each and the others split up the rest.
After all the money changed hands, products were sorted, gas estimated, dinner finished...I had a $125 Saturday, and a lifetime of fun memories.
I love my spin buddies. And I am really interested in playing with my new toys.
Later, when we meet again, Maggi will be partway (or maybe done) with her beaded shawl, and Juli will have done some blending with the silk, and Jan will have spun some of the Alpaca she won in the contest. We will have show and tell, while we spin and chat and remember our fun field trip.
I don't remember school field trips being this much fun when I was a kid.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Letting It Go

Ok, I said it out loud. Now I have to follow through. I am letting somethings go. Oh, you don't know how difficult this is. A couple of weeks past, my sweetie and I moved a piano, a giant potted plant, and a bunch of bedroom furniture (daybed, trundle, bedding, etc). In return, I collected my full bed frame and Stef's full bed and linens. It didn't end there though. All the mass of stuff in the guest/wool room had to come out and all the stuff on the piano had to be moved around. And then all the spaces needed to be cleaned. And all the stuff needed to be reorganized. Yes, that word organized is buried in there and cleaning.
So this is where things stand. That very night I got the corner for the bed cleaned and the bed frame oiled and set up, the bed installed on it, and the bed made. I put away bedding and threw all the wooly stuff on the bed. Day two- I died from the pain of moving furniture- repeat for several days.
After about a week, I started working on the dining room chaos. I cleaned and moved 1 cabinet. I took all cooking related items from the guest room closet and moved them to the dining room (consolidation). I threw away a bag full of stuff. And then she rested, again.
After about a week, I started on the wooly room again. I have sorted and arranged. I have calculated and designed. And what I have is a bed full of bags of wool that need to be carded and spun. I have several projects in stages of completion. And I have stuff that is on the edge- not in a good way. So a great bag of stuff went to Amvets last week. And today, I am making a very hard decision. One of my very first fleeces, Big Mama, the dirtiest sheep in the world, has already been skirted, washed, and 1/2 thrown away. I kept 2 pounds to continue picking and carding. But I have lots of lovely Merino I would rather spin. Some is already roving. Big Mama keeps moving down the list, never getting closer to the top, never getting done. I think I would rather shear a new sheep than work on that stuff.
So I have decided to let her go. And I promise I will never do another sheep like that again.
Getting rid of fleece, fuzzy, soft, comforting fleece, the most lovely addiction in the world, that is so comforting and sensual, uh, where was I? Oh, yes! getting rid of fleece, that I have spent so much time on, skirting and washing, sorting and fretting over, touching lovingly, stroking, uh, fleece, uh. Well, you can see that it is very difficult to let it go.
If I post it on Ravelry, someone will want me to mail it to them and I would have to box it, and handle it and fondle it, and it just wouldn't happen. So I am going to stuff it in a plastic bag and send it to the dumpster. And then I will be one bag lighter, but a world of work will be gone.
It is not a complete loss, because a couple of pounds of Big Mama has been used and spun. But there is a part of me that abhors tossing fleece. Even free fleece. So if I am a bit moody for a couple of days, bear with me. It is a hard thing to do.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Things old and nearly forgotten

Time it was and what a time it was, I have a photo graph. Preserve your memories. They're all that's left you.
There are things that we do in this world that are unexplainable. Why would some people put so much effort into a project for their posterity, with no guarantee that posterity will even know about it, let alone about the effort? The hope of a better future? A wish that all children will have a better world. A time when hopes and dreams require so much energy that thought is pushed aside by the brute force of it.
Many came to a new world for a better life. Many came to a new town for better jobs and opportunities. Many came to a new University to make a statement and a place for it. Many chose one opportunity over family, friends, and history.
It is not good to look back and wonder what would be different had I taken another path, or withheld the energy at the time for something else. There are choices and consequences and rewards.
My children had wonderful rewards. I had wonderful rewards. And for 25 years, others had wonderful rewards. I don't regret the energy spent, the time committed, the sweat and stress endured. In that moment, I made decisions for my life and the lives of many others and I am still proud of them.
I won't cry for yesterday, there's an ordinary world, somewhere, I have to find. And as I try to find my way, to the ordinary world, somehow I will survive.

Monday, February 2, 2009

It is time again

For blooming trees. The Golden Dorsett and the peach are blooming. The avocado is blooming. And the loquat is, too. Oh! and the macadamia. The apricot will start next month, then the figs will leaf out. And lastly, the pears and other apple. Some of the bushes are starting to get happy. I have flowers on the blueberries, leaves on the lemon verbena, and my bulbs are up.
I have been working hard on my vegetable garden beds. Some of the lettuces have sprouted, and snow peas. There is still much to do, but it is getting to be spring in a real sense. I am actually looking forward to it. Life is joyful.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Things you have to do,

But you don't want to do them.
I know we all put off things that are unpleasant. We make excuses for why they can wait. We make our lives too full to make room for them. We forget them, heehee, well not really, but we pretend we did.
So I had promised my DR. that I would have this procedure two years ago and I have been putting it off for that long. When I promised him again in September, I actually scheduled it for January so that it was far away and the calendar was clear.
Wouldn't ya know, the calendar got full, but the procedure was embedded with priority. Every other relative scheduled something for around that time, too, but mine got scheduled first- priority. I staunchly held my ground even though 25 things could have bumped that procedure. My DR. will never know how difficult it was for me to get there and get it done. If he had a clue, he would be so proud of me. But he will just look at the results and check it off as another thing on the list done.
What I am trying to learn is : The real priority is my health and longevity, not someone else's. Enlightened self interest, selfishness, or just plain reality. If I don't take care of myself, no one else will.
Colonoscopy. Probably the most distressing of all the procedures I can think of. But Colon cancer is a killer and is gaining ground on our generation quickly. If a person has a colonoscopy early enough, the pre-cancerous polyps can be removed and the cancer is stopped. I believed my Dr., really I did. And I wanted to take care of this, but it is a very distressing thought.
There were only two polyps and they were removed and sent to be analysed. I am colon cancer free for at least 10 years. Now it is time to stop thinking about my butt and get back to work.