Thursday, October 18, 2012

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

We thought we were making progress... Tractor Guy got the mower deck back on Fergie and took to mowing around the garden in preparation for cutting down the weeds and old plants before putting the tiller back on. He was motivated, the weather was right and he was hard at it when he put the mower deck down and heard an unexpected sound... BANG... the pin that hold the contraption that allows the tractor to raise and lower the deck had disappeared.

After looking about behind where he stopped and finding nothing, he backed the tractor up so I could look under the deck, a likely place for the pin to have ended up. Nope, still no luck. Well, at least it is a relatively inexpensive part, easily replaced on my (extra) trip to town tomorrow.

Frustrated, as he likes being able to do when he has the energy and cooperative weather, he headed the tractor back up to the house until I got the part tomorrow. I had walked down to the garden to ask him a question and had been helping look for the missing pin, and he offered me a trip back to the garage, where I had been setting up to work, in Fergie's bucket. Before I could sit, though, one of the hydraulic lines started spewing fluid! Lack of hydraulic pressure means the that bucket would not stay up, even enough for it to clear the ground for him to drive the machine up to the house. Tractor ended up. front wheels a bit off the ground, leaning on her bucket! Well, at least it could roll backwards and sit normally, but now in addition to the pin, there is hydraulic line on the list. Damn.

I was, at least, able to make some progress on the construction of the chicken coop. Not as much progress as I would have liked, as I ran out of light and nearly out of nails at about the same time... but three of the 4 walls are built, wood is cut for the final one, and a plan is in hand for the peaked part that supports the roof beam. Rain is predicted for tomorrow, at least by mid-day, so I am hoping that I can find enough nails to complete the final wall construction and use the rainy afternoon for a town run (though I hate to head in when I do not have work in the morning). There are two hex signs completed to package and ship, and a trash run, to the dump in our little town, would also be a good idea. So we will hopefully get parts to get Fergie up and running again, get nails and ship hexen.

I have plenty of web jobs to work on during the rainy parts of my "days off" and, as always, house work and home renovation projects in various stages of completion.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On Getting Caught Up

Sometimes -- heck, around here OFTEN -- life is like that. The best of intentions get digressed from for the best of reasons. The best thing to do it pick up the thread again when you find it and got to weaving, spinning, knitting, sewing... again.

My off-the-farm work has been kicking my butt with longer hours and yet not a bit of progress in getting caught up. They just keep adding more projects and then along comes stock that was not properly price stickered to be in the place is it destined for so additional work not only to re-sticker, but to document the necessity for the task so that my company can recoup the expense by billing the ones who supplied the improperly labeled products.  Documentation requested more than doubled the time to do the job. GRRRR.

However on that front (fingers crossed) it looks like I will be in a good position tomorrow to finally get a lot of the backlog of stuff onto the shelves. That will take a load off my mind, as I really dislike being behind in what seems to be just about every aspect of my life. If I am reasonably caught up at work, having hex orders waiting, home improvement projects in process and general housekeeping undone does not vex me nearly so badly. I always have too many irons in the fire. Always have. So NOT being behind is not an option, but keeping it in balance is a constant goal.

Everything in my life has to dovetail around things that CANNOT be moved in time and space.  When seeds need to be started and seedlings planted out; when weeds need to be pulled, crops harvested and put by... those are controlled by the seasons and the weather variations and they set the rhythm of my life. Certain big design projects continue to come back year after year (and I thank the Gods for faithful clients!) and in each of their seasons, they add to the non-negotiable tasks (and the bank account!) The season for one of them is at hand, the yearbook for the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center. This wonderful project is published every year, in time for the museum's yearly festival, Waterfowl Weekend, which happens the first weekend in December each year. The festivities kick off with a special Friday night preview for members and guests with a wonderful buffet of local seafood and game dishes and this year the project time line is scrunched a bit as the preview night is November 30. The museum director, staff and I work collaboratively (they are in North Carolina, I am in Maine) via a blizzard of emails, a few faxes and lots of large file transfers. Putting together a book that will run over 100 pages... in less than a month... is not a job for wimps!

Edited to add: I also realized today that laundry is another task that keeps me in tune with my environment but is also driven by the unnatural schedule of work. Since I have chosen to only "hang out" ... or on racks inside if necessary... I time my laundry days around "good drying days" and hope to find them on days when I do not have to work first. Sometimes I end  up doing a load the evening before and having my Tractor Guy hang it out. I don't like to do this because (a) he is not as in tune with this chore as I am and can forget and (b) walking is very difficult for him and the line is not near his regular morning chore route. Today, though, I had a load for him (sheets) and then did my white work shirts and the rest of the wash when I got home. I needed the shirts to get dry, because not only do I not own a dryer, I don't even have an electric iron right now, nor a decent way to heat the old fashioned metal, non-electric "sad irons" that I used in my "beyond the sidewalks" days. Yes, I still have them and yes, push come to shove I COULD iron white with them. Used to regularly iron a white hospital uniform for the kids' dad, back in the day. Good news is that the flannel sheets were dry when I took my whites out and the white shirts (and likely other things, but the shirts were the only essentials) were dry before the end of the day. I love my new, efficient washer! Not only has it had a very significant positive effect on the electric bill (and with only the two of us, and not doing more than a few loads a week, this is remarkable) but as it uses much less water, and therefore calls for much less soap.. and will make use of the soap/borax/baking soda/washing soda mix I make up, it is economical all round. Plus is has an "extra good spin" cycle addition that I have been using when I need to hang indoors or on days that are less than optimal.. cool, not sunny, etc.

And, of course, the tide of Winter Finding is upon us, pushing me to get proper housing built for the ducks and hens, pushing me to push Tractor Guy to get the big machine (which has some overheating problems we have yet to solve) up and running sufficiently to mow and till, and in general to get things set right so we can winter comfortably.

So that's what been up. Hopefully I will have a better track record on the blogging as we roll down to Halloween.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The work week begins

For me the work weeks begins at 6 AM Sunday, getting everything set at the store to align with the corporate ads published in the Sunday paper.  Sometimes this is a  big job, sometimes it is huge but seldome does everything go smoothly.

Today was a seductive day; I thought when my lunch break came, that I had things pretty well in hand. there were some titles I had not yet found to put where they needed to go, but with other folks helping un-box my materials, it gets a little chaotic sometimes.

Got back into the fray after lunch, thinking I would have time to catch up on a bit of  backlogged backstock when I ended up discovering a problem that had "run down hill" so to speak and the I needed to make time to correct what the folks who send my the products had messed up. No biggie.. we re-sticker products often. This time, however, I was instructed by my "help desk" (are these things always named by the law of opposites?? ) that I needed to use one of my devices to photograph each of the items that had the incorrect code on the price sticker before re-stickering it!  That doubled -- at least -- the time required. Was necessary, though, to document the need for the work so they could bill additional hours. I understand that, but DAMN!! Made a long day ever longer...

I was glad to get home to the simple chores of picking lettuce (way more than we needed, of course.. I still have "market brain") and cleaning it for this weeks suppers, washing and prepping the carrots dug yesterday (had been sitting in water in a bucket; washed them in the bathtub with the hand held shower head... once again, market head rules!) and cleaning after the cats.

I find these simple food storage tasks grounding and I love putting by for the season.

I managed to share all of the surplus of duck and hen eggs, so that the fridge is no longer backlogged with eggs. Only one tested "old" and I shall cook it for the dogs tomorrow. We got one hen and 4 duck eggs today; I hope their productivity will be more in line with our needs soon... a few more ducks heading to "freezer camp" may help that, but it will be a while before that happens. I ended up with extra hours this week and a full week coming next as well. I don't mind the extra bucks, but I am hoping for decent (translation: non-rainy) weather soon so that I can put time at home after some of my not-quite-so-long workdays into building winter housing for the fowl.

Now, though, there are hex signs that still need paint and a good night's sleep, I hope, in the works. A bit of grocery shopping is on the list tomorrow, before I get home. I used the last of the rice today, and all but dregs of the oatmeal. I have been working hard to use up the bits of meat that tend to accumulate here... the odd bits of fatty ham, single chicken breast, etc... but am not quite through it all, so the resupply of bulk meat will wait. I found a small pork roast and a single chop which are now in the fridge, thawing, for a session in the crock pot tomorrow. I wish I could cook them with kraut, but K does not like it, so they will be cooked with apples and I'll add kraut on the side for me. Some of our potatoes and a salad should complete tomorrow's supper .

Catching up on little stuff at home

When I get a chance to stay home all day I love to take it; I look forward to retirement and immediately scaling back to, at most, ONE trip to town a week. that should make my tank full of gas last a month.

I made great progress on the hex signs in progress today, got "caught up" on sleep ( though I know one really cannot do that, it felt good to be able to sleep until after dawn), had a late breakfast and concentrated on dishes and laundry while waiting for the paint to dry.

It was unseasonably chilly and very windy today, though the wind did not blow nearly as much as yesterday.
The view above is yesterday's storm rolling in. The wind was so severe it moved the duck "tent", flattened the upwind side of their pen and moved both the hens' tent and pen several feet.

Today, it was just sufficient to make a cold and only partially sunny into a "good drying day" for the laundry.

I was glad to have stopped up most of the holes around the newly installed door yesterday. It kept the living room much warmer and allowed the kerosene space heater to do its job this evening.

Now, time to do a bit of spinning in Frigga's honor before I bid her good evening, extinguish her candle and head to bed.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pagan Pride

Once again I find myself wishing, just a little bit, for folks a bit more in line wTheith my spirituality. I am not Asatru (that path is too hard line and too focused on tribe/community/family for me) nor am I Wiccan ( nothing against these folk but it is not my path.

Pagan pride was an event. I followed up on a request for Pagan-friendly businesses who were not wanting to be vendors to deliver brochures or business cards to a representative for display at the event. This happened a month or more ago. The brochures I delivered were left on the organizers kitchen table. They "made it up to me" by offering me an unclaimed vendor table. I had the foresight to drag along a few completed hex signs and a passel of eggs which I set out. Sold or gave away the eggs, had interest in the hexen but no sales (these local events seldom generate any) but I need the brochures back for some other purpose (which I cannot remember now, but I do remember thinking that the timing of getting remainders back at the end of the event was a good thing) but I fear getting them will be like pulling hairs.

There were a few interesting people that I talked to at the event (not about spiritual topics, admittedly) and th people watching kept me awake. The one workshop I attended was ok. The ritual, put on by a long-standing Dianic group, was... unfocused, chaotic and wimpy. I have attended several of their regular rituals and was not impressed. Still not. At the end they closed the ritual by howling and one male attendee howled longer and harder than the rest of the assemblage and, in my perception anyway, balanced out the totally female energy of the ritual and grounded the event. Yay for him!

I have carrots to clean and refrigerate, and cat boxes to clean but I am going to bed after tending the rabbits. Tomorrow is a major work day and energy and focus will be required.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

End of the work week

I am being most thankful for the end of the in-town work week this week. And glad that, for once, we were allowed extra hours as needed to complete the huge pull of old stock. I often feel more than a day late and a dollar short trying to keep the department organized, looking good and well stocked, with the extra projects that we get handed.

My day in town therefore went longer than scheduled, but since I knew there was the potential to actually get the job DONE by keeping at it, I made sure I had a lunch so I could see it through. Then a quick trip to the store for a couple of odd ends and to cash in the change that has been accumulating in the cornucopia.

Each morning I do a ritual ... greeting the day, invoking Frigga and her Handmaidens and making an offering -- a coin or two into a cornucopia basket with the words "From the Gods to us and from us to the Gods that there might be much for many." This is my variation on a Feng Shui prosperity ritual (I believe) that I learned long ago called  "the penny dance."  When the basket gets full, I change the change into folding money and use it for something appropriate in the name of the Gods. This time, it shall go to buy food which I shall offer at the Pagan Pride day. They, in turn, will donate their offerings to a local food bank. I have $20 which will be turned into non-perishable, basic food on my way to the event on Saturday.

I was so beat after work today that I ended up using most of the remaining afternoon in a nap. I did dig out the silicon seal and "Great Stuff" canned foam insulation and filled most of the cracks around the new door. K brought in the kero space heater and the bit of remaining kerosene and hopefully I will acquire more on my running Saturday. The bit we have should get us through tomorrow and overnight. We have a predicted low of 30 tomorrow night, our lowest predicted low thus far this year. We still do not have insulation and drywall around the door but that will come.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Delights of Fall

I was going to post a pic of the wonderful yard full of leaves that I got to scuffle through on Monday, going to and from my massage appointment, but it appears that Blogger won't let me upload from my system or from a URL any more! So I'll just give  you a link to the picture and hope they get this worked out later.

I really don't feel like it's a proper autumn until I have, at least once, walked, scuffling my feet, through masses of dried leaves. As wet as the autumn has been, I had all but forgotten about this joy. That, and the fact that until this week, there was little FALL to the fall; many of the trees in my area were still green and the ones that were changing were, well, wimps regarding color. Not too far away, when driving to a friend's farm, I drove into autumn and truly enjoyed the colors though they were still somewhat subdued.

Well, over the weekend the local trees got the idea and pretty much changed and began to drop leaves all at once. My friend and massage therapist had not raked and I think the leaves did a nice job complementing her fall and Halloween decor.

We have hit a cool spell that has been great for the Tractor Guy in his working to get the tractor up and running. In fact, he was about ready to install the mower today when ... surprise, surprise... it started raining.... again. Tomorrow is forecast to be sunny and dry, so hopefully he can make some progress before the next damp day.

I am beginning to feel that this small visit from the Big D (depression) is finally getting put on the run by my St. John's Wart treatment. I usually note that an improvement in my mental state accompanies a time of being less than regular about taking my mid-day capsule and I have made that mental note today. Despite the exhaustion of two full 8 hour days at work this week, and the accompanying knee pain, I realized I was feeling great after work Yeah, I hurt (but I had not had to wrap my knee until only an hour was left in the work day) but I had a positive attitude; the extra errand of getting mail out via the post office and coming home to a chilly house did little to dampen my spirits.

It has gotten cool enough that I installed the heated mattress pad this evening and will turn it on low. Tomorrow will finish off the work week, with a day of painting to follow and attendance at the local Pagan Pride Day on Saturday. I am planning to construct my chicken house next week (have Wed. off) or at least give it a good start. Still not sure about inexpensive, durable and available siding for it!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tired Tuesday

Work is kicking my butt. And of course, being in a retail environment, it is only going to get worse. I am SO counting the months... 24 as of the end of October... until I can tell them to "take this job and shove it" though actually I won't. Not a bad job, just bad knees.

I had a long day today, but managed to clean out the rabbit cages (actually under them) and while I was dumping bunny presents in the garden, noted that a duck had gone walkabout (or would that be waddleabout?) and that there was a hole in the fence. Hole has been patched and the silly fowl finally herded back into the pen. She walked PAST the open gate three times, stopping and looking at her flock inside, and then walked on by, to try to get through the fence farther down the line.

She had been hunkered down under the forsythia bush, and when I chased her out, I also flushed most of the chicken flock as well. They headed down to the "tent" that is home to the Silkie chickens, to steal laying ration (tastes better of someone else's plate, don't you know!). I whacked the tent and sent them scurrying... on down to their pen. They put themselves up, so I shut the door and went back later to let Henry, the rooster in.

Spent a bit of time working on the hexen on order (I need to spend much more time on this but falling asleep in my paint can is not a good thing!) and then made enchiladas for supper. I need a bath, and more drawing and painting time after supper, I hope.

Another very long day at work tomorrow, as we are returning lots of products after a month long promotion tomorrow, so I am expecting to be rather tired and not have much of a day tomorrow either.

Late Monday Post

I was totally beat from work yesterday, intended to blog and just ended up going to bed. Long days at work do that to me, especially when I get startled out of my wits as I come into the house, staggering on dead, hurting legs. Lost the rest of the day to trying to calm down from the adrenaline.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Long day

Long hard day at the store and a scary arrival home which I will not talk about left me reeling. Hopefully the morrow will be a more productive day.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Finding an Old Thread

I view life as a tapestry, with each person, animal, object... from the blades of grass and grains of sand, to the computer on which I type and all its components... as threads woven together in a complex pattern by those called the Fates, the Norns and even the Goddess Frigga. As a hexeri -- a designer and painter of the spiritual folk ark designs known as "Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch)" hex signs -- when I am working for my clients and customers, it is as if I am sitting on the weaving bench alongside the Weavers. The work of the hex does not create the threads but "tweaks" them with subtle pushes of the energy to move things in the direction for which the sign was painted. Think of this as an application of the "Butterfly Effect."

As the tapestry of our lives is woven, there are threads that run in associated close proximity for long periods... those of our family, we would hope; those relating to objects of serious interest often hang close for years as well. Sometimes, though, a thread will hop, skip and jump though the weave as we pick up a hobby, for example, then let it go by the wayside for a time as other concerns take our attention.

The various threads of fiber art constitute one theme that keeps returning, in various forms, into my life. In the 1970s I was introduced to spinning and weaving by a friend in Colorado. I made a Navajo spindle for spinning (which I still have) and first borrowed, then purchased, a loom.

Life took some turns. Marriage, small house, children and the threads in my life were of embroidery floss and boughten yarn for knitting and crochet.

Many years later, far along the Pagan path, Frigga and the other Gods and Goddesses of the northern tradition came calling me home. Home, as in back to my beloved norther latitudes after many years in climates where "winter" did not even come close to feeling right for me. Home, as into the fold of the Gods of my ancestors. And home, as back to the traditional fiber arts of spinning and weaving and yes, even knitting and crochet.

Acquiring the tools for these pass times ... well that is a story in itself. I have often said that to do anything in life requires a threefold application of  Time, Money and Hassle. With sufficient money, of course, the time and hassle components can often be minimized. In the absence of abundant capital -- a state I know well -- liberal application of time and hassle can usually reach the same objective.

My spinning wheel came after many months of haunting online sale sites;  not from any of the sites, but from a friend who was downsizing for a major move. The lovely Indian Head spinner (admittedly on a less than lovely base) came all the way from California to Maine, being carried by fellow travelers of our spiritual and fiber tribes.

I continues to haunt the sites, looking for looms. There are always lots of looms for sale, if you have money. Last year I found a small table loom -- missing parts -- for free. Have not gotten it repaired yet as much for lack of table space on which to put it as anything! But I still wanted a floor loom, but needed to allocate the hundreds of bucks -- minimum -- asked for such tools for true needs, when the funds were available. Somehow, though, I just never stopped clicking on my two regular sites and this past week found a huge old rug loom -- the Weaver's Friend -- for only $50. THAT I would spend, especially as the loom was in working condition.

The loom is huge! Over 50" wide and deep and weighs in at 300 lbs. We live in a smallish (and it just got smaller!  Ha!) 2 bedroom mobile home. If we had not just finished replacing the front door with a large sliding door, it would have been pretty near impossible to get it in. However, the doors were installed a couple of weeks ago and the porch replaced this past week so the project was on! First task was to clear a large enough space for it!

We did not pick it up until 4 pm, so the seller's husband could help load it and got home as the sun was getting low on the horizon. We tarped it against the dew and possible rain (which did come in a brief shower this morning) and brought it in today.

Ramps from my pickup to the porch and a come-along working from a 4x4 spanning the width of the slider door opening pretty much brought it right up.

First it balanced on the porch ...

...then over the threshold and in!

Now it is in its place of honor, waiting for the fall projects to be completed so I can spend more time inside, getting the loom and the wheel ready to go full speed ahead!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Hail Frigga! and a LOOM!

Late posting today as I have been busy getting space cleared for the behemoth of a rug loom that I found for sale on line recently, and went to pick up today.

It is an old Weaver's Friend (Pg 4 of the linked PDF file) that appears to be in usable shape. The thing weighs 300 lbs and is over 50" in both length and width and is currently sitting (covered with an "easy up" tent cover) in the back of my truck waiting for daylight to unload and bring into the house. We were not able to pick it up until 4 pm and by the time we got home, the sun was getting low. The best part of the whole thing is that I only had to pay $50 for it! At that price, I would have expected something in pieces and likely with parts missing. This one does have a couple of makeshift parts (what appears to be a length of coat hanger wire is used for a connection to the brake and the brake crank handle is a handle from an old wood stove, but they work.

As large as the thing is, we will need to remove both of the sliding glass doors to get it inside and I needed to clear a seriously large space in the living room (the only room we can get it into!) for it to sit. My formal altar, which used to be set up on the lid of my dad's Navy footlocker, has been trimmed down and now occupies two quarter-round shelves on a taller shelf unit, the extras packed away in the truck (in which I store out of season altar decor and witchey items I am not currently using) which has been moved to another room. My sewing machine also had to be relocated to the bedroom, where my "work in progress" spinning wheel is living for the moment.

I DO intend to get the back room refurbished this winter (flooring, and possibly floor replaced and a  built in work bench made for the north wall, on which I can draw and paint the hex signs.) and when that is done, the altar and other things can return to that dedicated sacred space. That will allow the spinning wheel and possibly even the sewing machine, to return to the living room.

Meanwhile, since my spinning and weaving is something I dedicate to Frigga, I am pretty sure She will have no issues with the location of either of the tools, or the more formal altar.

Hopefully all will go well tomorrow and I can post pictures of the progress.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Weaving Life

Strings, threads, weaving, warp and weft... spinning, carding... spiritual concepts all, at least in my world. As a follower of Frigga, the Norse Goddess who is often pictured as she "diligently plied her wheel or distaff, spinning golden thread or weaving long webs of bright-coloured clouds." The more I walk this path, the stronger my urge to card, spin and weave. I have only this year acquired a spinning wheel, having previously used a drop spindle and -- long before -- a Navajo spindle, for which sitting on the ground is required. None of that for me, now, sad to say, though this large tool often graces my altar.

Unfortunately, even used spinning and weaving tools are often quite dear, even those that do not have all their parts. I looked at many "antique" spinning wheels that were missing all of the essential ingredients to make the them actually tools and most of the sellers were not even aware the wheels would not work. My first wheel came cross country, the gift of a friend who was downsizing prior to a major move. And then, shortly after that wheel started its cross-country journey, being carried "underground railroad style" by an assortment of fiber and/or spiritual fellow travelers, I was able to buy a simple, new, wheel kit, which I am working to assemble.

Still I had hopes for a loom but these things run 10 times the price of the wheels and far beyond any budget item. Always the optimist, I kept looking on the online sales sites for our local community papers and such and yesterday found a floor loom, rug loom to be exact, offered for only $50. I jumped on calling, left a voice mail and got a phone call back from the owner of the number, saying they had no placed the ad and had no loom! The ad did give the option for email (though here in Maine, if there is a phone number offered, it is best to use it, for the average Mainer seems to be less obsessed with checking email than average. It took a day, but the owner did get back to me today and sent pictures of the loom. It is huge, heavy and hopefully MINE soon! Since we just put in the sliding glass door, we SHOULD be able to remove the non-sliding panel and get it into the house. Where it will go then is anyone's guess, but I am promising myself this is the last BIG tool I will acquire.

Other threads of life are coming to an end and getting tied off. Yesterday I dug beets and today carried a large bag of them to a friend, fulfilling a promise made after she gave me a ride to and from town when the car was in the shop. One of the beets was a bit odd... Yes this is ONE beet with TWO tops!
While I am writing about threads getting tied off, one that is close to that stage is the porch and door/window replacement. You can see the new (to us) slider. It came from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore last year, a good, solid Anderson unit for around $50! The panel at the right is our old door; yes, it is held together with tie down straps (K's answer to duct tape) and it survived that way through the winter, as he was not up to the door install last fall, winter was too cold, spring too busy with the garden and summer too hot. With the help of a friend, though, we got the "replacement" slider in and soon the failing panel will be replaced with a reasonably solid twin (currently hanging on a makeshift shed built by the previous owner) which will be mounted as an un-opening window. The deck needs railing and handrails on the steps as well, but as you can see it already is hard at work as a plant platform (that's my bay laurel and a couple of planters of herbs) and loading dock.

I spent a good day after work today in errands and visits (though just realized I forgot the post office box trip) and it's now time to think supper, painting and maybe a bit of work on the fowl housing design.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Catching Up Days are Good for the Soul

I love "catching up days." Days off from work (usually an extra one) when I don't DO any particular projects but merely catch up on lots of things hanging fire from having to do bits here and there, working around the weather, time and energy constraints.

Sometimes I don't feel like I "accomplished" anything (and sometimes I don't actually get to the END of any of the "catching up" projects, but sometimes -- like today -- I feel like I have done as much if not more than my sore body indicates.

The first thing I "caught up" on (though I know science says one cannot truly do so) was sleep, or at least rest. No matter how hard I try to get to bed early on work nights, I just cannot seem to get more than 7 hrs at the most, usually less, of sleep. And often, even on days off, I wake up frustratingly early, unable to turn off the mind and find sleep again. This morning, however, I DID get to rest. Neither dogs nor cats decided to disturb me. Score one for me!

I got in a good online chat with an old friend who happened to be online at the same time. Almost an old fashioned "over the fence" chat over coffee while I gathered steam. Excellent way to start the day. Had a great breakfast, too, even though it was late. I miss my egg breakfasts (just not enough time on work days; I settle for thick cut oats cooked the night before and heating in the micro, usually with milk and wild Maine blueberries or strawberries.

I got the dishes caught up also. Somehow, I never got into the "do dishes right after supper" mode of my mom, and I don't have time in the morning on work days, so sometimes they collect a day or so. I wash and K puts away; that also puts me behind sometimes, as there are days when he is not even up to this small chore and it makes him feel bad if I do it.

Next up was progress on some of the hex signs I have on order. I painted the first coat of green on one and drew the design on the next larger one, then painted the first coat of yellow. My temporary work space is shown in the photo, above. You can see the small sign in process on my painting altar, with the next larger one on the floor (painted white) and a 4' diameter that also needs painting to the right.

While the paint dried, it was time to complete the current round of the Fall Clothing Shuffle. I took two laundry baskets of summer clothes to the garage, sorted them into the appropriate boxes and stacked them in the wardrobe. In the back and forth garage goings, other stuff that was needing to go in both directions got carried (and what went into the garage, stacked on appropriate shelves.).

I unloaded the garden cart, which we had used to haul stuff away from the porch project area, so I could use it to haul produce, leveled the dirt at the bottom of the steps and went to the garden to dig the beets (a big bucket full) and collect the last of the onions (another bucket full, 5 gallons). I found a good serving of broccoli to pick for supper as well as harvesting some lettuce for salad tomorrow (likely rain would make picking not exactly fun). Also moved the chickens run to the garden area. they had been shy of it since the skunk's visits and I am hoping that a new location swapping out the "tent" shelter will allow them to relax a bit.

Came in for a rest and remembered... the laundry!! Two very full baskets later, all the laundry is in the house. Let it rain... again...

Time to take a pic of the newly completed deck, put the fowl to bed, make supper and have a bath to be ready for my 3 hr day at the store tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rituals of Life, the Year, and Especially Autumn

Well, folks, I have read the "writing prompts" for NaBloWriMo and please excuse me if I continue to follow my own path. NEVER am I at a loss for words, voice or in print!  LOL

After over a week of damp, wet and totally rainy days the weather pattern has shifted for a day or so. We have had sunny and partially sunny skies today and tomorrow is forecast to be equally warm (low 70s) but overcast. NO RAIN or fog.

When you live like I do, the ebb and flow of the seasons and the weather day by day has an unavoidable effect. Many outside farm and garden projects simply cannot be completed in the rain and the necessary ones (tending critters, picking from the garden for lunch or supper) take longer when fighting rain, mud and working in foul weather gear. I also have chosen to omit a clothes dryer from my home's appliance list, so laundry works around "good drying days" or gets done in small bits and hung on drying racks in the house.
I last did laundry about a week and a half ago (count the underwear if you are not sure) and that did not include sheets. The day was getting late when I discovered one of the kitties had left a wet hairball mess on the bed and getting the spread and blanket out in time to dry before the evening dew was top priority. I took the opportunity to begin the seasonal change to flannel sheets. The fall clothing swap, when my shorts, short sleeve shirts and other warm weather gear gets washed and placed in boxes, labeled by category, to be stacked in an old wardrobe in the garage. Cooler season clothing must be brought in for this to happen; the boxes are all labeled with a "summer" label on one end and a "winter" on the other. This several-time-a-year ritual is one that I really enjoy. It is nice to meet "old friends" again! You can probably guess I am not one to buy lots of new clothing and as time goes on, I am actively moving towards do so even less frequently. Most of what I wear is here on the farm and my black pants/white tops for work. I used to say "the goats don't care" what I am wearing and I am pretty sure the tomatoes don't either! Tractor Guy grew up in the south, and does not have this clothing swap tradition, though he does now have to wear different things to accommodate the seasons. I try not to let it drive me nuts when I see ALL his clothes, winter and summer, hanging in his closet... winter and summer!

Fall always gets me to thinking about Ritual. Fall is the beginning of the dark season, when in my tradition, we turn more inward in physical space and in spirit. I find myself, only at this time of the year, wanting to gather like-minded folk around the hearth to study the lore and to talk of the Gods and the way of the northlands. I'll likely pick up a study of the Runes again soon. Spend time in the evening spinning (once I get the wheel completed!) and do more regular and formal work on Friday evenings with Frigga in mind.

It is also a time when my mind dredges up new designs for the hex signs I paint. Finding time to put ideas into electrons and eventually to paint them on wood is always a challenge. I have one in the works -- a Maine theme hex ("the way life should be") featuring a moose surrounded by a wreath of maple leaves in the colors of the changing seasons. It's meaning will be quiet strength and sweetness in life.

But for now, thoughts of supper and bed gather in my mind. Last evening we were able to resolve "the skunk problem" but it kept us up later than usual and I was scheduled for a longer and very busy day at work today. But I am about done getting the laundry out (it can hang overnight; come in tomorrow mid-day) and the rabbit cages and cat boxes got cleaned. With any luck we will have steps on our new deck and I will be able to use them tomorrow! Putting on my muck boots and tromping through the tall wet grass before dawn to go to work the past few days was NOT fun, but we got rained out last week before completing the new deck. And power tools do not go well with rain, especially as I need to keep Tractor Guy around a least long enough to FIX the tractor!

Monday, October 1, 2012

NaBloWriMo Day I

I fail miserably at NaNoWriMo... hoping this is more up my alley. It was suggested that we write a bit of an introduction...

As a farmer/homesteader, designer/folk artist AND someone who works, part time,. away from the homestead one can pretty easily see I don't have a lot of that valuable commodity called "spare time." Not only that, but over the past year my amazing good health over my life caught up with me and a bout of extreme anemia, and most recently a visit from the shingles, have shown me that, at age 64, I am no longer 5' tall and bulletproof. The anemia, result of acid reflux, took the worst toll. I was so weak at this time last year that I made the decision to stop attending farmers markets with my produce. Being on the lower end of the money ladder and having no help to afford medication, the drug that was prescribed was above my pay grade (would have taken 12% of my monthly gross, I figured. Not possible, I declared and in consultation with my pharmacist and my family doc, I selected an alternative. Totally teed off the specialist, even though I expressed concern at the time he prescribed and informed him of my action at the time. Apparently "something not-quite-so-good, but which you can actually afford to buy and therefore will take" does not trump his prescription. And at my latest yearly physical I measured out at 4'11. So, indeed, life changes.

But I am big on personal responsibility, on keeping going despite it all, on doing my best to enjoy the life that the Norns and I are weaving. "The Norns?" you ask? In the northern traditions, they are akin to the Fates of the Mediterranean area.
In Norse mythology, the Norns are the demi-goddesses of destiny. They control the destinies of both gods and men, as well as the unchanging laws of the cosmos. They are represented as three sisters: Urd ("fate"), Verdandi ("necessity") and Skuld ("being"). They live at the base of the World Tree Yggdrasil in the realm of Asgard.
So I hobble on (yea, my knees don't work as well now either... bone on bone and no replacement in sight until I am able to retire, draw my SS pittance and therefore take weeks/months off from being on my feet; fall of 2014.

So what have the Norns and I been up to of late? Well, there is the matter of the skunk who has been plaguing the chickens the last few days. This will be settled by this evening and that is all I will write about that. Hopefully there are no kin in the area. Research indicates they are territorial, so I expect this may be so. This is the first issue of omnivore predation we have had in 4 years, other than crows this spring wanting to make off with eggs, so I shan't complain too much. Deer and the garden are an issue for another day.

 Oh, yes... "we."  I have a life partner who I refer to in cyberspace as K, Tractor Guy and (using his own words) Big and Ugly. He has reasons for wanting to stay in the background. The rest of "us" are all critters of different species:
  • Coffee, the Saint Bernard and Stormy, the Newfoundland dog, supposedly, though she is a bit small. 
  • Cats: Angess (black), Harker (grey/white), Ghost (grey, the oldest), CC (orange), 13 (grey tabby, the youngest) and Sparky (mulitcolored flecks, black background)
  • Angora rabbits (most recently acquired) Cotton Ball and Cloud, both white and Honey Bunny and Rufus, both shades fo brown. 
  • Chickens: a small flock of 3 RI Red hens, one RI Red roo (Henry) and three Aracanas, Owl, Pheasant and Confused
  • Ducks: Khaki Campbell. We sold some earlier this year and were down to 15. Then we had some heavy winds and apparently one of the ones we sold blew back in because the beak count went up to 16. Down to 14 now, as two went to the butchering stump, supposedly for supper last week when a friend who was helping us with a project offered to teach me to spit roast them with orange marmalade. But we got rained out so the two currently reside in the freezer.
When not engaged with the farm, I make a good bit of my living as a folk artist in the tradition of the "Pennsylvania Dutch" hex painter as taught by my grandmother.  And I also work as a graphic designer on the web and in print for a variety of local Maine clients and for old friends/clients in North Carolina.

So, when do I find time to blog?