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Friday, January 23, 2015

Bionic knees -- check

Not much of interest to write about today, as I am blogging from my bed in room 2055, Building Bean2 at Maine Medical Center in Portland. .Right knee was replaced on Monday and from the beginning has not offered many complaints. It was walked twice a day, from day 2, exercised by the PT crew and had been being kept cold by the most wonderful device that  holds a gallon or so of ice water, which is circulated into a bag wrapped around the knee and secured with velcro.

Although I have orders for up to 2 Oxycodone every 3 hours, I have only had to request one, and at that only when the knee was complaining a bit from the exercises.

Knee 2 was done yesterday and has been complaining more than it's buddy,. but not enough for me to want to up the dose of  pain pills. It has been exercised now, but not walked yet.

I really did not need to bring much of the stuff the hospital called for... It really is not practical to change into a normal nightgown, or into workout clothes when you have IVs in both hands.

At this point, PT is talking about releasing me to home, rather than the more typical round of rehab, which I am quite happy with.With the attention I have been paying to "knee miles" the last year, I am already well on track for keeping moving, doing my exercises and puttering around once I am home,

On the hex front, the three signs below shipped out on Friday, and I cut blanks for the two orders I have in the queue, which Tractor Guy is priming for me this week while I am away. 

12" Earth Star Flower  went to NJ
12" Welcome went to CT
12" Love and Happy Home went
to VA
I expect to be back in production next week, working slowly on a 48" sign, which will be done is small bits, as it will require standing, and more quickly on a Livestock Protection sign that is only a 12" one and can be done sitting comfortably.

Of course, Tractor Guy will also be donning his CNA hat for a while to fetch and carry for me, as well as taking on all the critter chores. There is a fine line to walk between being TOO active and falling into the seductive arms of the couch,..


Friday, January 16, 2015

On Faith, and Prayer and Hard Work

This past week found us fighting the elements and the elements, mostly winning.

There are places under the house -- very hard to get to places to be sure -- that the water lines are not insulated. Oh, there was insulation but at one point, before we moved in, someone removed it to work there. Each winter we put lights under that section to produce a wee bit of heat that, with leaving the taps dripping on the coldest nights, mostly keeps the water running. This year our heating lamps elements were burnt out, replacements were not easy to find and the alternative light/heat source, apparently, was insufficient to cope with the serious double digit below zero temperatures and wind chills. The water lines froze up solid, both hot and cold, to every tap in the house. We hauled water, asked every friend in reach, for several days. It really makes no sense to freeze ones body laying on the frozen cement stretched out or scrunched up under a drafty mobile home, and try to thaw pipes when the temperatures and the wind chills persist in the minus-double-digit range.

Normally, we get a January thaw... this year, so it seems thus far, our "thaw" is amounting to a "January-almost-up-to-freezing" but that was enough, after two days of work, for Tractor Guy to be able to finally manage the thaw. Freezing had happened in the line as it comes up from under ground, before entering the pump/pressure tank complex as well as between the works and the taps. It was well after dark yesterday when I heard the sound of water running, first in one tap, then two and eventually both hot and cold lines all 'round ran freely.

It is, once again, BRRRR out there but not so badly as before and we have found replacement bulbs for the lamps. Insulation will be added today and as an added precaution, we will leave the taps running just a bit more freely on the nights when the temps and winds dip and conspire.

It is lovely to know that hot baths can be had again and that washing the dishes, laundry and cleaning the 'fridge and stove will not be more odious chores than normal.  It is especially lovely because all this must be done this week -- along with several other organizational and space making chores -- in advance of my hospitalization next week for double knee replacement.

Yes, as of Monday, Gods willing, I will be writing from the network of the Maine Medical Center in Portland, under the care of Dr. Brian McGrory and the knee replacement team. My right knee will be done on Monday morning, followed by a couple of days of recuperation and physical therapy and then the left knee will be done on Thursday. I plan to be released back to home and hope it will be by Sunday following all this.

As I write this, I know that I will be posting on social media as well, and asking all who are able and willing to put their spiritual shoulders to the wheel and invoke the Powers That Be of their faith tradition on the behalf of Dr. McGrory and his team, and on my behalf, for good results and a strong healing.

You see, I know -- and have seen first hand -- the results of decentralized but focused spiritual efforts. I have stood in more than one hospital room and heard random medical folks comment not only on the accelerated healing of the patient, but also on the "feeling" in the room. Often they cannot put words to what they sense, but indeed it can be sensed even by those who do not know of the efforts being put forth and perhaps would not believe if they did know.

Christians of a diverse range of denominations -- Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist -- as well as Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Heathens and even Atheists and Agnostics, putting their intentions for well being together as a focused lens, do good work.  And yes, Atheists, at least the ones I knew of during the healing events to which I refer, CAN "pray." That is the word they used -- making sure of course that I knew that there was not a God involved -- but noting that they can still put out the energy to the Universe At Large as something greater than "just a wish" that the person they are thinking about be well.

Of course your mileage may vary, as they say.

However, as someone who works with the Divine Energies on a daily basis when painting hex signs, I have found that energy is energy and good will can be universal. And I will ask any and all for the good energies that they can spare in the coming weeks. I have heard "horror stories" of course, but mostly I have heard "you will wish you had undergone the procedure earlier." I have heard, yes, that the physical therapy was the hardest thing the person had ever done and that it hurt like heck -- and also from one double knee patient that she kept waiting for the pain which never came. I think, at least partly, it's a perception thing. But regardless, it will be done and I shall do the healing work as assigned by the medical team, augmented by what my body tells me (likely I will be craving milk and vitamin A-rich veggies). And hopefully will find enough creative things to keep me occupied post op.

I am working hard to complete hex orders before surgery, but will have one 4' sign to complete after I come home and a 1' one as well. This week I completed and shipped three:
Earth Star Flower hex sign

Welcome hex sign

Love and a Happy Home hex sign

Friday, January 9, 2015

Serious Winter!

Looking out on a sunny, snowy landscape at the moment. We do not have a LOT of snow, but the ground is finally covered and not likely to be bare for a while. We have temperatures that are forecast to remain below freezing and at least one (more) night that looks to drop into the double-digits-below-zero with wind. We had a -13 temperature over night a couple of nights ago, and with winds running about 20 MPH, considerable wind chills. Even with heat lights on the pipes under the house and in the cabinets where they usually freeze, we have no running water. And with another frigid night in the forecast with days that do not reach even close to freezing, let alone going above, I do not hold much hope for thawing any time soon.

We have been shoveling snow into a large kettle on the space heater to melt for flushing and watering fowl, and each time I renew the fowl's liquid water, I bring the ice that I can collect from dumping their basins back in to thaw. It is, after all, more densely packed than snow, so I have to carry less to get more water.

Peace, Love and Protection
Meanwhile my push to get things done prior to surgery continues. The freeze-drying laundry totaled a couple of the aging clotheslines, but after repairing some and relocating laundry to others, it all did dry successfully. The final roosters are in the freezer and all of the chickens are now happily sharing the new coop. How do I know they are happy? Well, despite the temperatures and regardless of the short days, I have been getting an egg, or even two, each day! The ducks seem happier with just Christmas, the remaining white turkey, as a house mate and have been willing to go into the coop even on nights when, previously, they would have just hunkered down in the snow.

Abundance and Prosperity hex sign from http://www.dutchhexsign.com
Busy hex painting days continue. Today I will ship a 2 foot Abundance and Prosperity, left, and a new design, for Peace, Love and Protection, which was commissioned by someone who has not yet purchased, and loved by my youngest daughter, for whom I painted a 1 foot version for her to hang indoors (though it is a wooden sign, it has a picture hanger on back instead of the drilled mounting holes .  I hope to be able to feature this sign on my web site, http://www.dutchhexsign.com, as a regular offering soon!

Mighty Oak, 36" hex sign from http://www.dutchhexsign.com
We were also finally able to connect with the local (Maine) folks who had bought a 36" Mighty Oak sign which we were supposed to meet to deliver. Since they are in southern Maine and we are in the center of the state, we agreed to meet about mid-way, in the Mardens parking lot in Waterville. While I am NOT a fan of our local Mardens store -- it is poorly lit, badly organized and dirty -- I was blown away the first time I visited their Waterville location earlier this year and never mind a good excuse to get down that way. We were early and while waiting for the buyer's husband to arrive around 6 pm, we browsed the store and I found huge roll of webbing -- like for dog leashes -- for $5. I was wanting a LONG leash for the Moose to allow him to explore the grounds with greater freedom and still be able to rein him in if needed and this will work well. All I need is the clip to attach the lead to his harness and a bit of time with the sewing machine!

I had also been keeping my eye open for a good deal on some new baking sheets as mine are very ratty and much more suited to their spring time alternative use as a base for the soil blocks -- and found some very nice once for 99 cents each! So, a successful trip all round. The client is very happy with their sign, too.



Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Turn of the Calendar

I saw a post on Pantheos.com recently, that began "I like to look at the holiday season as a liminal time.  The change from the old year to the new year is not on the Pagan Sabbat calendar, but it’s still a magical time that we have rituals for in our culture..."

For many years, I have had a tradition at this time of the year, as a solitary witch, which has involved starting the year with a home that was completely and deeply cleaned the day and evening of new year's eve. I have never been one to attend or throw parties, and it has always made sense to me to start the calendar by setting in motion the energies and forces that I would like to move with into the new year.

Now, though, I do not have the energy nor stamina to completely deep clean the place. This has been somewhat frustrating, in the past. This year, though, I have the goal of getting the cleaning and organizing done by the time I head off for knee surgery, in three weeks. This is much more practical, do-able and necessary. So, today and tonight I shall continue to make progress on that front, as well as getting several new hex blanks sanded and primed to be painted in the next few weeks to complete orders currently on the books.

Moose, the baby livestock guardian dog, has clean, dry straw in his house and the kitties have freshly cleaned litter boxes.

There is pork thawing and a cabbage on the counter, for abundance and prosperity and sauerkraut to go with that pork. Likely tomorrow will be another day for butchering fowl, as I try to move the extra roos from the feed trough to the food chain... but since they "scratch backward" they will not be on the menu. Perhaps I shall keep in mind, as I butcher them, the thought of putting "backwards" and counter-productive energies on ice as the birds head to "freezer camp."

In a few weeks, as the moon turns, I will also be turning a new leaf with new bionic knees.

Here's to change, and moving into the future with good intent!
Change hex sign from http://www.dutchhexsign.com



Friday, December 26, 2014

Yuletide, New Moons, Cycles ending

Welcome hex sign
Protection Sign for beef cattle
We had a busy run up to the first day of the Yuletide season, with several hex signs completed and shipped. There was a 12" Welcome sign and one of two 36" signs, for Protection of Beef Cattle. The third 36" sign that I have been working on is a Mighty Oak, which will be delivered locally as soon as the buyer and I can connect. Since I only share them once they are delivered, you will have to wait to see that one! Instead I will offer this digital version of a Yule hex that I designed a few years ago, by way of seasonal blessing.

We spent a quiet Yule here at the farm. Tractor Guy cut a branch of birch, which I consider to be sacred to Frigga, from which I manufactured "solar crosses" -- or the rune Gebo -- by tying the twigs together in an X form with red ribbon, and then tied a sprig of real mistletoe to the center of the X, and a small bit of ribbon to one of the arms to use to tie it onto things.  I annually renew the protection on the property and offer these charms as talismans and gifts to the Powers That Be. Mid-day on Yule I walk to the north boundary of the land, have a chat with the northern elementals and then proceed around the border, clockwise, placing one of the talismans at each corner and on either side of the driveway. This year, that involved a walk on snow shoes, even though the snow was not deep. Being able to not fall through was much easier on the knees! As I reached the front of the land, I spent some time, as well, liberating the electric fence wire from the snow. It has not been turned on since the first snow, but I still want it there, a visible reminder to the deer.

And thus far, it seems to be working. On Yule we spotted our local herd, browsing in the yard ACROSS the street and showing no desire to head this way!



We had a quiet supper and a nice fire outside, in honor of the season and the dark moon as well. While I was contemplating the changes of the season and the moon, I felt moved to remind -- or challenge -- all of us to:
REFLECT on their relationship with Planet Earth.
RENEW our commitments to our planet, our fellow beings and our Gods to take care of what we have been blessed with.
REAFFIRM that we understand that what we do, each and every one of us, affects each and every other one of us.

Recycling IS the right thing to do. Being aware of, and taking responsibility for our purchases -- including the packaging thereof -- IS the right thing to do. So let's do it! Lets ALL do it and move forward into 2015 with intent... and lighter trash cans!
 Immediately following Yule, my focus shifted to the delightful task of trying to get my dental work completed quickly. And I am pleased to report that, as of this evening, I have completed all the scaling/cleanings, extraction of two teeth and filling of 5 cavities and am DONE! A missed appointment this morning (I do not know why I insist on writing the wrong time in my calendar !) proved to be a boon, as I was told to come back at 5, and that I could call at 4 as that client might cancel as well. Instead I went into the office at 4, and a delightful young intern completed all the necessary work. However I have been feeling a bit "off" and beat up and have been taking it somewhat easier and adding echinacea to my herb regimen for a bit.

While I am sure that the rainy weather of late has not helped (I moved to Maine for the WINTERS, remember?) and neither has skating on icy hills tending the fowl, I am doing all I can to be on top of my game come knee surgery time.

The other news hereabouts is that we finally got my wonderful little 4 harness floor loom, gift from Moose-dog's breeder and friend, assembled. I am anxious to get it warped up and am planning to construct a warping board this weekend from some of the 3/4" plywood left over from hex making and some dowels scavenged from marketing banners when I worked at the store.

Now, as we move ahead into the new year, both as the calendar turns this coming week and the light increases -- albeit imperceptibly at the moment -- toward spring, I shall spend some time focusing on preparing the house and myself for my knee replacement surgery which comes with the next dark moon.

Friday, December 19, 2014

As Yule Approaches

Yule, the winter solstice, comes on Sunday, along with a new moon.  I cannot think of a better time to reflect, renew and reaffirm!

Toward that end, this week has been largely devoted to organizing and cleaning, when I was not painting on the two large hex signs that have been ordered. With any luck, they will both go to UPS on Monday, but that story is for next week's blog.

Moose at his new a-frame dog shelter.
Dog yard fence
The first big job for this week was getting the "dog yard" and shelter set up for Moose, our baby Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD). We recycled some of the old wooden fence panels from the original dog yard to connect the back stoop to the turkey pen and added a short fence section between the eastern most fowl pen and the house, enclosing Moose with poultry pens (so he can get familiar with his charges and they with him). LGDs are not mature, and therefore not trustworthy to be alone with stock -- let alone fowl -- for at least two years. He accompanies me into the pens, on a leash so that I can easily correct behavior, as I do chores. Guardian dogs are not pets, but working member of the farm team and, while given attention and praise as they work, live permanently with the flocks and herds that they guard, as these dogs are bred to do. Moose is 1/4 Great Pyrenees,  1/4 Anatolian, and 1/2 Akbash and the offspring of Cooke and James, who work with my friends Michele and Vester at Hickory Hollow Homestead in Oklahoma.
Typical LGD pose and habit... laying in the snow OUTSIDE the
dog house!


 While waiting for her outdoor home, Moose lived on our back porch with the two fiber bunnies so it will come as no surprise that the second big job of the week was cleaning up puppy mess!  Not just a bit of poo, but as a curious -- and bored -- pup he managed to shred several boxes and reorganized some of the other stuff stored on the porch. I also had been negligent in the cleaning of the pans under the bunny cages, so when all was said and done, I sent three feed sacks of compostables out to the pile and had a much cleaner room.

The last big project for the week was collecting up the trash,  sorting recycles from the things that SHOULD be recycled but are not accepted at our local center and collecting the returnable bottles. Over the past month, my renewed and upgraded commitment to waste minimization has born obvious fruit. We had only two, 50 lb feed sacks of trash for the month (and not packed solid either... less than 10# by weight I estimate) and less than a full 20 lb cat food bag of "should be recycles" that I have not yet found a place to recycle. Our local center accepts only paper, #2 plastic, cans and glass.

Bottled lemon juice for Tractor Guy's sweet tea and ranch dressing were the last things packaged in #1 (clear) plastic that we typically were buying and both of those came to an end this month. TG is using a combination of Lemon Zinger herb tea bags along with his black tea for his brew and the juice of actual lemons, which come packaged in a compostable skin. And he readily accepted the home made ranch dressing using the mayo that I bought in a 1 gallon #2 plastic jar , home grown herbs, garlic and onion and a bit of raw milk that had "gone by" as a substitute for sour cream.

As I have reflected on our efforts to live more lightly on the land, I have to give thanks to a friend for bringing to my awareness that, of the folks out there who do not currently recycle, some of them are people that I would expect -- by virtue of shared lifestyles and beliefs -- to be beating the drum along with me on the front lines of the cadre of active recyclers. And yet, they are not. I understand that it takes a wee bit of time and a definite commitment in many places, to do so.

We have come a very long ways since the late 1960s, when recycling centers were scattered willy-nilly in parking lots of grocers and some other stores. In their initial effort to appear "green" (long before the term became common, let alone before we discovered the commercial effort of "greenwashing") the Glass Container Manufacturers opened a pilot program in southern California, in the city of Industry, to recycle glass containers and expected folks to make a dedicated drive to this totally commercial area with their paper bags of bottles and jars! Ecology Action, of which I was a part, was instrumental in calling them on their publicity stunt and getting them to move to a more environmentally friendly process of picking up the glass -- by the ton -- from our centers.

Nowadays, many towns have curbside recycling right along with curbside trash pickup and it is as easy to recycle as to pollute the earth by sending things to the dump. ...And yet, folks don't do it. Folks who, in other aspects of their lives, live frugally, naturally, and who may even espouse earth-centered spirituality find ways to justify sending recycles to the trash on a regular basis.

Our stable of urban legends abounds with stories of recycling materials gone astray and thrown in the waste stream. I do not dispute that such things happen, though after the fines that were levied on companies and possibly individuals, I have not found any documented accounts of such on a large scale since 2006. But regardless, others' disregard and wrong actions can never be a suitable justification for OUR actions or lack thereof.  

As the moon turns new and the calendar turns as well, I would like to encourage -- or challenge if that would more effectively motivate -- everyone who reads this to:
  • REFLECT on their relationship with Planet Earth.
  • RENEW our commitments to our planet, our fellow beings and our Gods to take care of what we have been blessed with.
  • REAFFIRM that we understand that what we do, each and every one of us, affects each and every other one of us.
Recycling IS the right thing to do. Being aware of, and taking responsibility for our purchases -- including the packaging thereof -- IS the right thing to do.  So let's do it! Lets ALL do it and move forward into 2015 with intent... and lighter trash cans!





Saturday, December 13, 2014

Moose Spirit Tour - Part 2

I Meet the Moose!

Moose, by daylight, sporting Oklahoma
camo 

Very first thing upon arriving at Hickory Hollow Homestead in the middle of the night was, of course, a visit to the animals, including Moose! It was way too dark to consider photography (and admittedly I was tired as well) but little Moose and his two remaining siblings were eager to jump on the fence and say hello. Actually, that was not the first thing... first of course I had to be checked out and approved by Mama Cookie. I guess since her people brought me home, I was a shoe-in.

I had a peek at the goats, a couple of pretty heritage turkeys, several groups of sleepy hens and two pigs awaiting a trip to the butcher. The farm cats made their appearance and one had to check out the car while we were unloading. Apparently it is known for "hitching rides" this way, as I was told this was how he came to the homestead.

After some great conversation, and the remains of the wine left over from my motel stay night, I tucked into a most welcome and delightful guest bed. After three days on the road, I was most appreciative of the memory foam mattress and especially of the vibrating capability (and I didn't even have to feed it quarters )!

Next day I got to see the homestead by daylight, and made friends with my Moose. Michele took me on a tour of the place by golf cart (her mobility device and a very impressive one indeed). My only experience with these carts previously was on actual golf courses, with manicured green paths. Daredevil Michele took her cart down paths that had me holding on to the arm and wondering about her sanity. (Just kidding, Michele!) Honestly, though I was very impressed with the get up and go through the rough muddy trails, up and down hills of this little electric powered vehicle. Michele is disabled and needs the extra assistance and my knees sure didn't mind riding either. In fact, I will be on the lookout for a similar vehicle for here at Fussing Duck Farm this coming year.

Hickory Hollow Homestead is, as most subsistence farms and homesteads are, a work in progress. It is amazing what these folks -- neither  of whom are the proverbial spring chickens and both of whom have physical issues that might make one opt for a life lived on the couch, via remote -- have done in just a few years. Using mostly scrounged materials, they have closed in a pole barn, erected pens and shelters for various creatures and begun selective logging to open up the forest a  bit. Much of Michele's focus is on homestead type crafts, such as soap and cheese making (using the milk from her herd of goats) and the manufacture of salves and lotions using her knowledge of local plants and herbs and wildcrafting. 

She also is a fellow "fiber fiend" with multiple spinning wheels and looms tucked about and a large stash of fiber with which she plies these crafts, as well as felting. In fact, I got a personal class in wet-felting of soap one of the days I was there! We (Michele, her grand daughter and I) stepped in to play shop keeper for a friend of hers who had just broken her knee and needed someone to keep the antique and gift shop open on Saturday afternoon and evening. Michele gathered up a bunch of stuff for crafting and in between waiting on customers, I was shown the art of felting. It was a fun way to pass the time, but I fear that I really do not have the patience for it as a regular hobby. I did manage to complete a felted bar of soap, though.

Much to my surprise, Michele gifted me with a small 4 harness floor loom! Thanks to the help of her husband, Vester, we were able to take it apart sufficiently to load it in the little car, with room to spare!  I am anxious to get some warp and set up to do a bit of weaving.

Not wanting to send me home with a dirty dog (which both the car rental company and I appreciated) Michele gave Moose his first bath on Sunday.
Bath time! He was unsure, but
mostly ok with it.

I got to hold and cuddle him while Michele
took the brush and blow drier to the
back end.
Clean Moose, but not happy to be in a
crate to stay clean.


 A clean pup and I headed east on Monday. It was great to visit another homestead, but I knew that things were hanging fire back at the sign of the Fussing Duck and hex central, and despite getting a great rest at Hickory Hollow, I was pretty sure that the trip back would be less than fun. Long distance, long nights and cat naps in an economy car pulled in next to the big rigs at a truck stop are wear on an old body. By the time I was approaching New York, I was already beat, it was dark and raining again and the Tappan Zee bridge was in hiding. I finally decided to grab the first interstate that purported to be heading east and follow it until I found something I knew or my wheels got wet and I knew it was time to turn left.

Eventually I ran into the George Washington Bridge, an old friend, who dropped me on I 95. Even in my brain dead state, I knew that was the way home.

Moose waits wile I open the gate.
Turkeys, right, no problem.
Moose meets the chickens. THEY
are not so sure about this!
I am still, I think, recovering from the trip. I know the stuff I brought back has not yet been put away, and I am not caught up with indoor chores. Moose, at least, seems to be settling in ok. He has been doing chores with me on leash, but I have not really had to hold onto the leash, just put it on him to make a longer handle, if needed. I know there will be much more training involved, but for now, things are going well. Hopefully we will have housing and a pen for him built this weekend and he can continue to become familiar with our routine and needs.

While I was away, Tractor Guy packaged and shipped this little Love and Happy Home hex sign, which I completed just before departure.