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Friday, March 27, 2015

Out of the World

We were drifted in on Saturday. Our internet connectivity went out Sunday morning. the problem is easy to see... the cable that brings the Time Warner feed from the road to our house is not attached and is looped over the electric wire. Having internet phone, we have not been able to report it, nor to let anyone know that we are also -- once again -- drifted in.

Fergie, as per usual for old diesel tractors, has not wanted to start so we are eagerly awaiting the week's predicted warming trend and hope to find a day soon when we will be able to dig out. As you can likely tell from the photo, shoveling is really not a practical option. Maybe if were were both 30 -- or at least in much better shape -- it would be do-able. I seem to recall digging us out from something like this during one of our early winters here. But when the snow drifts the driveway shut it is never light and fluffy; one uses a shovel to dig blocks to throw, and hopes that the piles are not so high that the block plays snowball and rolls back into the drive.

Fowl seem to be faring well, but Moose, our LGD-in-sort-of-training, has hit his "teen phase" of "disobedience" -- or more like actual teens, his attempts to think for himself -- though they appear to be well intentioned -- fall a bit short as a result of actual experience/training.

Sunday our tom turkey, Tom, had gone walkabout and Moose, knowing that the bird was not where he belonged, attempted to set it right or at least let us know there was a BIG problem (Moose's opinion.) In our opinion, the turkeys have been regularly hopping the fence, walking the fence, roosting on coops and usually come back in to their pen and hut eventually. Eventually is not in Moose's vocabulary, though... so he got himself out and went to make sure that Tom did not wander off and that we knew about the problem. Tom, though, is perhaps a bit too tame and did not recognize Moose as "a boss." When he sees a human, Tom usually heads toward where he needs to be and if he doesn't hop in by himself, he gives no hassle to the human who aides his return home. Moose, on the other hand, he challenged! Ran toward the dog, gobbling like mad with his feathers up to the max. Moose, to his credit, did NOT harm the bird more than by pulling a few feathers, it seems. And when K got out to where Moose could see him, the dog immediately ran to him, seeming glad that he had FINALLY gotten our attention and help.

Moose, during one of his moments of "being good" and
"staying in the dog yard."
Monday he proved to be an escape artist, wiggling out a hole at the gate numerous times. While at one point K saw him head to the west, he all but immediately returned, sat to be leashed, and came inside with me. Later I heard and then saw a crow (so did Moose) and let him out to bark at it. He was good for a while, then I saw him wiggle his way through a place in the fence, into the chicken pen. He is not ready to be with fowl unsupervised, but while K got dressed to bring him in again (we are both beat from fighting weather today and will fix his access port tomorrow with chores) he showed no desire to annoy the birds. Did apparenty snack on some scratch and chicken poo, though. Yuck.

Monday, also, he was in the house for a while to try to thaw some of the bits of ice clinging to the ends of his fur and at one point, for no reason, he began whining. Next thing I noticed, he was peeing on the floor. He is not going to be a house dog, so I have made no attempt to house break him, but it seemed to me that the whining might have been a signal... so i told him "You DON'T pee in the house" while putting a towel down. Before I could put him on the porch, K needed something and so I was distracted for a moment from the dog. Apparently he had also to poo, which he did right by the front door on the linoleum. I just cleaned it up, figured that was as close as he could get to out and that he was trying to understand.

We really need the melt to happen. I need to be able to be out there working him, training him and putting in the invisible fence, which can't happen until the ground is thawed for the posts.  I am sure he IS a good dog and that we will come to be able to work well together.
But spring IS springing! I have been reading some of my fellow travelers' writings, talking about how spring is not a date on the calendar but when one FEELS/sees it happening.  That tells me spring is very different to different folks. To those who see the snow covered ground, forecasts for freezing temperatures and more snow and who long for green grass, swelling buds and budding flowers, spring is a long way off. To those who tap the maples -- or even birch -- for their sap, sping is at their doorstep. To those who raise fowl, spring is springing forth with each egg laid by hens who have been on vacation through the dark, long nights and with every urge of the tom turkey, rooster or drake. Our hens are laying several eggs a day, we have seen eggs from the duck hen and Tom, the turkey, was puffed up BIG the other day, having a conversation with Fred, the young tom. Apparently Lady Grey is not, yet, feeling the urge for she had taken shelter on the chickens' hut roof!

I have been enjoying the digital vacation more than I had expected. It is a little frustrating not to be able to let folks with whom we have appointments know that we are drifted in, but in the end it will all work out. I know the common response would be "get a cell phone" and most folks would. K may even do so, as apparently those receiving Social Security Disability payments have a free option that works here.  I am of another mind.

Long ago, I was much more of an early adopter. Not EARLY early, mind you. I wanted the bugs worked out first. But I found a computer, the internet, a pager, etc.  useful. But in those days I WAS "in the world" even if trying not to be so much "of it." Now, the world has much less appeal. I would love to be able to go to town only once a month but with the hex signs to ship this is less than practical. I have become very picky about even not-town-but-off-farm events I atend. I enjoy keeping up with my kids' and grand kids' and great-grand-kids' doings, and hearing what friends near and far have been up to, but most of this is not of the urgent variety of news that requires an instant response. So most likely I will stay unconnected by the great cell phone conspiracy, not buy into the "gotta have a tablet-stay connected 24/7" gestalt (though I enjoy my kindle and was gifted with a tablet recently by a friend) and maybe even spend less time faffing about on the Internet, especially as winter wanes.
I am considering, though, that it might be good to have a more old-style network in place for times like this -- when communication is down and digging out problematical. "More" old style because it involves actual people being in actual contact but using the Internet as a base.  My thought is to arrange with several friends who are online on a daily basis, that if they do not see me log on or post to one of my usual places by, say, noon, that someone either come by or worse case scenario, call the cops for a "welfare check."  Several friends in various locations, who were able to contact each other would be able to work around local outages that might occur during winter storms, for example.  I would of course be willing to serve in a network of a similar type for others as well.  What do you think? Would it work?

I know there are "life alert" type devices, but in this case, where our phone service is down along with the cable and internet, I do not think it would work. And I would much rather have friends involved that an anonymous voice on the other end of some device -- someone sitting in India, most likely -- who might have a hard time understanding "Drifted in, all is ok but please call Time Warner!"
Tuesday warmed up nicely after a cold night and we were able to fix Moose's escape places. So far (it's dusk) he has stayed in his dog yard all day, though I did go many times to the door to tell him "off" the fence and "good dog" when he was being one.

After swapping Boo's old battery into Fergie and putting the new battery in Boo, Fergie finally started up, but really to no avail. K does not have the traction he needs to move the snow and in trying, Fergie busted a hydraulic line. We had one to replace it with (temporarily... it's longer...) but insufficient hydraulic fluid to bring her up to full and when he tried her out, well there is another leak. So right now we have a driveway blocked by snow AND a tractor. And thanks to our neighbor letting them know we do not have service, Time Warner will be out tomorrow, expecting a clear driveway.
On a positive note, after having started it before I went for surgery, K completed my warping board

filled warping board
today and while he was out fussing with things mechanical, I used it to lay out a 1000 yd ball of crochet cotton for warp. For anyone who may be interested, the board was built more or less after the plan in Foot Treadle Loom Weaving by Edward Worst. I say "more or less" because it was built with materials on hand - except for a few screws -- and the size was based on a piece of 3/4" plywood remaining from my having cut hex signs. It is, I believe, approximately 6' long and a foot wide. After one use, I am thinking that it might be more practical for me -- after a bit more experience with a warping board -- to design one that is a bit shorter and somewhat wider, that could be worked with while sitting down. This one is just a wee bit wide and required me to stand and step/stretch side to side. At this point in my recovery, it was a bit uncomfortable.  I plan to try warping the Weavers Friend (at least partly warping her; at 6 dent I do not know if I have enough thread for a full warp and even with a narrower bit of working I will be able to make something useful (place mats? a runner?) and see if she is working properly. That will have to wait a bit, most likely, as I will be tending critters and then pulling my sled with the "Red Dragon" flame thrower down the driveway tomorrow, hoping to be able to melt off a significant amount of snow.

At 2 moths post op on my knees, I really may not have any business helping clear a long rural driveway, but it must be done. That's tomorrow's project.
Wednesday I did chores in a hurry, so I could get the blue sled out front to K for an experiment using the Red Dragon for melting snow, but I need not have hurried. He dragged the propane and the Dragon down for a "test shoot" and discovered that the flame thrower had little to no effect on our accumulated drift. By the time I got done with chores, he was shoveling.

I changed boots -- the silicone sprayed sheepskin /fleece lined warm foot gear that I have been wearing for chores in back was NOT what was needed in the mud, slush and water of the driveway -- into my muck boots and went out to try to help. I did a bit, but the way I shovel involves pushing against my right leg, which began complaining much sooner than I had hoped. K sent me in to rest as he continued. 

I thought about icing the knee, but as stiff and sore as I was, I really didn't want to walk back and forth to the kitchen again from the computer room, where I plopped down to curl up in my heated throw (Thanks, Michele!) and knit for a bit with my left leg raised on the arm of K's chair with the foot resting on a TV tray.  By the time I used up the remainder of the homespun that I was knitting from, the leg had rested some and I prepared to go back out. It was then I discovered that K had apparently gotten some help and they had completed the job. Our neighbor down the road, John, had come by on his way to visit his wood supplier and stopped to help, taking on the icy and packed "plow gift" at the end of the driveway.

It was lunch time when I walked down the drive and unfortunately our chat with John lasted long enough that K had a low blood sugar issue before he got to the house. Lunch helped, but he went to take a nap in the afternoon while I proceeded to begin putting the warp onto the Weavers' friend and waited to see a Time Warner truck.

By the time I got all the warp threaded through the reed (yes, I thread a loom 'backward') it was time to awaken K and plot our next move, as TW had not arrived. After threading and sliding our way down the drive, we headed to Dunkin Doughnuts in Corinth for WiFi (and snacks). Bad timing, as it was literally supper time but one does what one has to do; eventually I was able to get into chat with a TW rep and get a service tech scheduled. It was not easy, though, as they tried to insist that we had to contact them through a telephone. GRRRR I persisted and was polite and eventually got an appointment time. Also let a friend know that I did need to take him up on a previous offer of ride to the knee doc, but since we are not able to get his response, I will have to wait and see and hope.
It was very nice to no need the heated mattress pad at night and soon it will be time to remove a wool blanket. We have one more night in the forecast of single digit lows, so I am leaving it on for now.
I have to say though, that I think one must need to REALLY love weaving to have the patience to warp a loom. Also, I need to take more care in the laying of the warp threads on the warping board, as despite all my best intentions, I had a rats nest at the reed.

Problem to be fixed
Right one works properly
Ratchet mechanism that changes shed
When I went to begin working the threads through the reed and back to where I could secure them to the warping board, I discovered the first (and I hope only... but not holding my breath as I am working with an antique contraption) necessary repair. The beater bar has a joint at the bottom left that has separated, allowing the rod on which it is supposed to pivot to come out of the metal piece that is the other half of the pivot joint to rotate out of position. I am pretty sure that some long straps and Titebond will execute an effective repair, however, I also think it will be more easily accomplished if we disconnect the ratchet mechanism that attaches to the middle of the bottom of the beater bar. This is the mechanism that replaces the treadles, and allows the loom to mechanically change the shed with two beats of the bar.

So, maybe we will work on this later Thursday, or perhaps save it for Frigga's day and ask Her blessing.

Still not on the Internet, so I have no idea what happened to the proffered ride to the doc, but the time to leave has come and gone. I have a hex late for shipping and the rabbits and dogs need food. Thankfully the tech from Time Warner is scheduled for later in the afternoon, so we completed those errands quickly and got back to find the cable wire already attached to the post across the street. It is good to be able to communicate again and I do look forward to catching up with folks Thursday evening and Friday morning.