Monday, November 30, 2009


Made it through another NaBloPoMo! I did have that one day where I forgot to post, but posted twice the next day, so I think it's all good.
I don't know how Norma does it...

I hope to get some sheep pictures on Thursday. I want to do some comparison shots so you can see how much their fleeces have grown since last spring.
And I just plain like taking pictures of sheep.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

One thing I won't miss about hunting season.

Today was the last day of the season, and sadly, we are venison-less. Madman made every possible effort, but luck was against him.
One of his tricks is to keep his hunting clothes free of the smell of humans. He washes them in a scentless detergent, and keeps them bundled in a giant plastic bag when he's not wearing them, so they don't pick up any household smells. (Deer are not fond of the smell of pot roast, for instance. Makes them a mite skittish...)
Early in the season, he found he was nearly out of the detergent he uses, and told me he was going to pick some up at the store.
When I got home from work that day, the dryer was just finishing its cycle, and there was a smell of dirt in the house. Not the smell of "Exactly how long has it been since I last dusted?", but a smell like someone had been digging in the garden and had brought in a big whopping bucketfull, then scattered it around the house.
Mystery solved when I spied the box of special hunter's dryer sheets he'd bought. The name of the scent?
"Fresh Earth."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A little help from my kids

One of my daughters sent me this link to cheer me up. (Be sure to click through to the next cartoon, as well, for Part II. That one cracked me up even more.)

She also included a photo they'd taken at a business near them.

Can't argue with that...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday is over. Bring on the beer.

Whenever I start to have hope for the human race, a day like this comes along. Wolves and warthogs would have been better behaved than the packs of so-called humans I saw today.
Attila the Hun could have ridden in with his horde and pillaged the store, and I guarantee less damage would have been done.
What gives people that kind of sense of entitlement? Who raised them? (My mother would have beaten me ragged if I'd ever shown even half that much disrespect for the store's property and other customers. And I would have deserved it.)
It was really hard to keep smiling when dealing with people who should have had some sense slapped into them.
(Wow - I'm not usually so violent. But after today - I swear I'm going to ask Madman for a cattle-prod for Christmas... )

/end rant

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Full of Turkey

As a matter of fact, I'm very full of turkey. And gravy. And squash.
So full that I can hardly keep my eyes open.
I hope your Thanksgiving was as good as mine.
Now to relax. Tomorrow will be a busy day.
I work in retail. Tomorrow is Black Friday.
Have pity on me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Even our kitty wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Ursula, sleeping upside down.

Want a good look at her thumbs?
I'll bet I could knit her mittens, but she'd probably just lose them...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In the land of chickens, I am a goddess...

I finally got around to cooking off one of those giant delicapumpkins, delumpkins, squadeliumpkins delisqumpkins.

Here's a pic of it sitting next to a 5lb sack of flour, to give an idea of scale. This one is one of the medium-sized ones - we have both larger and smaller.

Madman had to cut it for me - it was just too darn big for me to be able to get any leverage. I used a big spoon to gut it,
then placed the two halves on a cookie sheet, and into the oven it went. I chose to bake it instead of boiling it, because I was concerned it would be soupy, and it turned out to be a good call. These squash er pumpkins objects were far from dry inside.
It was at this point that the camera started lying to me. I took shots of the cookie sheet, both before and after baking, and the camera assured me that I had perfectly lovely pictures. However, when I tried to upload them later, the camera just laughed and said "Pictures? What pictures?"
One of the happiest uses for squash/pumpkin is pie-making.

Luckily, I took about 14 shots of the pie, of which only 5 came out. (Do non-bloggers take obsessive excessive pictures of pies?)
Looks like pumpkin pie. Smells like pumpkin pie. As soon as supper settles a bit more, we're going to see if it tastes like pumpkin pie.

And the title? I saved the squishy squashy guts and seeds and the scraped cooked peels for the chickens. They were very pleased.
So pleased, in fact, that a riot broke out when I set down the dish. A few of the smarter hens grabbed a piece of treat and sneaked off into a quiet corner with it. But the not-so-smart ones grabbed a piece and took off running, holding it high in the air, and squawking that they had the "Best Treasure Ever!!" Naturally the rest of the not-so-smarts took off after them, trying to take their treasures away. There was one big ring of chickens circling the coop, each of the hens who actually had something being followed by 3 or 4 empty-beaked hens squawking "Gimme-gimme-gimme!!"
Of course, there was a whole bowl of 'treasure' right in the middle of the floor. Chickens who knew enough to keep their mouths shut were happily chowing down...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Resurrected UFO

Remember this? When last this project saw the light of day, it was in a courtroom, while I waited for jury draw. (And I still don't believe they let me into a courtroom with those pointy little needles!)
In between blowing my nose, sipping tea, and reading yesterday, I pulled out that slipper and carried on a bit.That's the top, and this is the sole:

The pattern is sort of mitered square meets origami, and is a lot of fun to knit. (And please ignore that one of the squares on the sole is going the wrong way. I've made peace with that fact. Really.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Finally, a down day

So I finally took a day off 'off'. I laid on the couch knitting and reading. (Oh, happy day! I checked out a Terry Pratchett book from the library that I thought I had read, and it turns out that I haven't! There are few joys greater than finding a Terry Pratchett book I haven't read yet.) I'm hoping this day of rest will pay off in feeling better tomorrow.
This cold is just kicking my ass...

The knitting is the resurrection of an old project. Photos tomorrow when it actually looks like something...

Ummmm.... Uh Oh

I sat bolt upright in bed at about 3 o'clock this morning. "Gah! Did I remember to post last night?!?"
Apparently not.
We had company - friends we hadn't seen in years. They came for supper and stayed overnight, and we had a blast. Talking and laughing, telling stories, playing remember-the-time. The guys have known each other since dirt was young, we ladies were folded in over the years. It was a thoroughly lovely evening, and I sort of forgot about the blog.
Is there a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card for NaBloPoMo?

Friday, November 20, 2009

I wish I'd said that...

This is the best knitting post ever written, hands-down. I can only dream of stating something so eloquently.

And now, I'm headed for the couch. Seriously. I feel better than I did Wednesday (then again, Wednesday I would have paid you to shoot me...) but I'm still fighting off this damned cold. Let the quilt-wrapping commence.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It was a simple plan.

Though some of you are familiar with my plans and their execution.

Let's review. My plan for today was:
1) Wrap up in a quilt and rest on the couch.
2) Watch season 4 of Lost.
3) Knit something. Anything. I wasn't picky.
4) Guzzle elderberry cough syrup.
5) Blow my nose. Repeatedly.

Of these five, I managed to accomplish two. Unfortunately, it was the last two.
What I did manage to get done was:
1) Caught up a little on my blog reading. I'm still roughly 1000 posts behind, but at least I know what some folk were up to through the end of August.
2) Went to the library. Had to - I had books that were due.
3) Made an experimental barbecue sauce for tomorrow night's supper. (It's a crockpot project, so the sauce had to be done today so I could fire up the crockpot in the morning before work.)
4) Finished baking the batch of cookies that I'd started earlier in the week. (Well, we were out of cookies. What's a brown bag lunch without a cookie?)
5) Ran an errand with Madman. Unavoidable.
6) Fed the sheep, forgetting to take the camera out with me. I noticed the other day that their fleeces are now hanging to their knees. All you can see is skinny little legs sticking out of a big puffball of wool.
7) Gathered the afternoon eggs, forgetting to take the basket with me. I ended up with eggs in both coat pockets, as well as a bunch cradled in the front hem of my sweatshirt. It could have ended badly. Very badly.
8) Stacked 84 sheep. (A new personal best.) (And thanks, Laurie, for the new obsession, BTW.)
9) Plied a little more of the merino-tencel. I didn't mean to. But I sat down, and next thing I knew, I had fiber slipping through my fingers. I don't know how it happened. Really.
10) Cooked supper. I was totally going to con Madman into cooking for me, but forgot.
11) Wrote a blog post. This one.

I'm going to go lay down on the couch now. Seriously, this time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yes, words do bite.

But first, a basket. The class I'll be teaching is a beginner's class, so I wanted a simple basket that would cover the basics: an open-weave bottom, plain plaited sides, and a simple wrapped rim. I made this one for the class sample:(Clothespins included for scale. And because they're what I use for clamps (best cheap craft clamps ever!) so they happened to be nearby.)
And the semi-side view:

The only thing I didn't do while it was still wet, that I really should have done, was to burn off the "hairs" - little fibery bits from the reed that stick out here and there.

But given how late it was, and how tired I was, and how crappy I felt, it seemed like a remarkably poor idea to start playing with open flames. I'll resoak the basket at a later date, and burn them off then. (Getting the basket wet reduces the risk of setting fire to it. Go figure.)

Oh, the post title?
I had a feeling that the last words of this post would come back and bite me on the ass...
Yes. I'm sick. Madman had a head cold a week or so ago that he passed on to me, but my version is a combination head and chest cold. One or the other would have been sufficient. Both at once is beating the crap out of me. I've been taking the elderberry syrup, and I think it's helping. (Which is actually scary; if this bad is 'better', imagine how truly bad I'd feel without it...)
Tomorrow is my day off. I had all kinds of plans, but I think my new plan is to wrap up in a quilt and lay on the couch. A friend at work loaned me season 4 of Lost, I have plenty of knitting, and lots and lots of elderberry cough syrup.
Now all I need is a truckload of tissues.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Up way later than I had planned. I was finishing up a sample for a beginning basket-weaving class I'll be teaching next month. I just needed to finish putting the rim on it. After diligently soaking the reed, getting other things accomplished while I waited, I discovered that the piece I had chosen was about 3 inches too short.
So I had to cut a new piece, and set it to soaking. I ended up starting the rim at about the time I had planned to be finished. I could have just set the whole thing aside, and finished another day, but my innate stubbornness kicked in. Everything was ready. I wanted to get it done. By gum, I was going to finish it.
Virtue may be its own reward, but stubbornness is its own punishment...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Taking one for the team

I mentioned the other day that we'd had to pull a hen out of the flock. We'd seen frequent evidence of egg-eating out in the coop - bits of broken shell with yolk and white oozing on them - and given the fact that we were getting barely any eggs to begin with (what with the hens just coming out of the yearly molt) such behavior couldn't be tolerated. The hen with egg on her beak got put into isolation. We'd long suspected that she wasn't laying - she never seemed to be in a nest box, no matter what time of day we were out there.
After a week of isolation, we had our evidence. There were no more broken eggs in the coop. Miss Isolation either laid no eggs, or ate whatever she laid. Neither was acceptable.
Sunday, Madman spent the early hours of the morning sitting in a tree stand, waiting for a deer. (First weekend of hunting season - he'd gone out most of the day Saturday as well.) Then he came home for a quick chicken butchering, lunch, and a rest, then off he went to the tree stand again.
I wrapped up our former egg-eater, all nice and cozy, and she's now in the freezer awaiting a starring role in Chicken and Dumplings.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Still plying...

But I've got roughly a bobbinful done. Actually, I could have gotten a bit more on the bobbin, but both plies broke at the same time, and I took it as a sign that I should stop and wind off the yarn.
And here it is:

There's a little bit of barber-poling, but most of the color changes are subtle enough that it doesn't really show.

If fact, as I was winding onto the niddy-noddy, I was often surprised to see that a whole new color had started without me even noticing.
If I haven't screwed up the count, I've got 625 yards so far.
Now I just need to find a shawl pattern with a lace pattern than can handle stripes of color. Anybody have suggestions?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good news! I didn't crash into the cruiser!

On the way to work this morning, in a steady cold drizzle, I saw flashing blue lights on the bridge not far from my job. I slowed down and saw a state police cruiser, a pickup truck in a diagonal postion on the bridge, and another vehicle after that, all in my lane. The trooper was standing next to some scattered debris, on the other side of the bridge, and I assumed he was directing traffic, since we were now down to a one-lane situation.
At first I thought he was waving me through - he was swinging his arm back and forth, not making the universal the-cop-says-stop gesture with a straight-arm open palm. But then I realized he was swinging his arm with palm outward - an awkward, non-standard, ambiguous gesture. At the last moment, I decided he wasn't waving me through, after all, so put on the brakes.
The brakes didn't catch. I just kept going, at least another car-length. Finally, finally, I came to a stop just a couple of feet behind the parked cruiser's rear bumper. I thought my brakes had failed. I had an adrenaline surge that could have powered up a small city. I gasped with relief when the car stopped moving.
The trooper came walking toward my car. "Don't tell him your brakes failed," I said to myself. "That's a ticket for defective equipment."
I rolled down my window.
"I didn't think you were going to stop," he said.
I stammered something to the effect that I'd been a little concerned, myself, while the voice in the back of my head was saying "Don't mention the brakes. Don't mention the brakes." And I was hoping he'd been too far away to notice the look of terror on my face.
"Everyone else seemed to see my blinking blue light and slow down," he said.
I started to say something about the ambiguity of his gesturing, but then thought "Don't criticize the cop. They don't like that. They write tickets for that."
Now I had two things whirling around in my head that I was trying not to blurt out. Smiling seemed like a good response. Silent smiling, with no talking whatsoever.
"Try to slow it down. It's icy out there," he said.
Icy? It's icy? No wonder I couldn't stop. Not my brakes. Ice. (That also explained why the pickup was diagonal in the road ahead...)
"Yes, sir!" I piped up as he walked away.
He let a couple more cars come through from the other direction, then finally waved me through.
I drove slowly that last little bit to work.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The trouble with spinning

Recently I've realized that I'm doing a lot less knitting since I learned to spin. Time that used to be used for knitting has gotten sucked up by the wheel. I now have a lot of yarn, but instead of knitting something with it, I grab more fiber and start spinning the next project.
For instance, I have a huge list of shawls I want to knit. Maplewing, Aeolian, Laminaria, to name a few. (My queue is now long enough to circle the earth at least three times.) I have patterns printed out, I've spun the yarn. I want I want I want to knit these shawls with a white-hot passion. Have I cast on any of them?
No. I'm spinning more yarn.
And we won't discuss how many fleeces I have in my craft room. Or the balls of roving.
Is there any way I can learn to knit using only my left foot? I need the right one for treadling, you see...

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Madman and I have a loose system for chores - last one out in the morning feeds the critters, first one home feeds the critters. Our schedules vary enough that we both get tagged, though admittedly he gets stuck more often than I do. (On the other hand, there was an 18 month stretch where he worked out-of-state for 5 days a week, and I tended everything the days he was gone.) Back in the days when we only had chickens, chores only took a few minutes. But these days, with rabbits, sheep, and chickens, the time necessary to get them all fed and watered can really add up - especially now that cold weather is here, and waterers are frozen solid and have to be either thawed or swapped out.
We'd moved this year's young chickens in with the main flock so there was only one group of chickens to feed. (Though, we've had to pull one older hen out and isolate her. She's an egg-eater. And she's not laying. She'll go into the freezer the next time we have a day off together and can do the deed. It's all about being a team-player, ya see.) We've got two chicken waterers, so in cold weather we have one thawing while the other one is watering.
Today was my day off, so my turn to do both morning and afternoon chores. I fed and watered sheep, fed rabbits and switched their waterers, fed and watered Miss Future-Stew, then headed for the main chicken coop. After filling their feed and water, I started rummaging through nest boxes, looking for eggs. Every box seemed to have a chicken in it this morning - which is good news, since it means egg production is going up. (They're just coming out of molt, when they hardly laid any eggs at all. We were getting 3 eggs a day from 15 hens. Not good.) The chicken coop is fairly dark, so I've always left the door open so I could see into the nest boxes. (Not every round light-colored thing in a nest box is an egg. Sometimes it's a big clump of chicken poop. It's good to know that before you pick it up...) It has never occurred to our 'senior' chickens to go out that door - after all, everything they want in life is in that coop. Food. Water. The companionship of the flock. And they have a perfectly good little chicken-sized door for going out if they want. The big door is for Mom and Dad, the little door is for chickens.
Not the new girls, however. When I turned from the last nest box, with a handful of eggs, I saw 3 of the little biddies standing in a group just outside the door.
When I was done gasping (and trust me, taking care of livestock will leave you gasping more often than you would think. Worse than kids.) I moved quickly, but don't-panic-the-chickens quickly, to head them off. Luckily, chickens are indecisive creatures. They were still in "Okay. Now what?" mode when I scooped them up as a unit and stuffed them back into the coop. (And without breaking my handful of eggs, I might add.)
Now, that was a relief. The prospect of chasing chickens around the yard had flashed before my eyes. Add to that, the fact that I would have had to leave the coop door open in order to get them back in, meanwhile the chickens who were in the coop would have gotten curious about the commotion outside the coop, and would have come out to see what was going on. (Chickens are very curious creatures. And stupid. Curiousity and Stupidity are a really bad combination.)
I had a mental picture of spending my morning putting one chicken in the coop while two more got out. Sort of like a video game for the truly masochistic...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oh, yeah, there's fiber around here, too...

Though admittedly, there's been precious little fiber content on here lately.
Wanna see the Merino-Tencel? I've started plying. The colors are subtle and gorgeous, with a sheen from the tencel that practically gives it a personality. I wish I could take a photo that really did it justice. This is the best of the way-too-many-attempts:

I'm in serious love with this stuff. Serious. Thank you, AnnaMarie, for threatening to kick my ass enabling me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Pork Roast is followed by Pork Pot Pie as surely as Autumn follows Summer.

And yes, those biscuits are heart-shaped. I've been doing that since the time I couldn't find my regular biscuit cutter, and the plainest shaped cookie cutter I could find was a heart. When I discovered that hearts fit into the casserole dish much better than the round biscuits, I never looked back...

Monday, November 9, 2009


Woohoo! The pullets are starting to lay!

Shown with one of our "normal" eggs, for scale. (Most of our hens lay eggs in the extra large range, with a few larges and some jumbos, just for fun.) Our little beginners start small, then gradually lay larger and larger eggs until they hit whatever size is normal for them. These pullet eggs usually turn up on the floor of the chicken coop, as the young ladies haven't quite figured out the nest boxes yet.

I always picture that first egg as quite the surprise - the little hen spinning around to look, with an exclamation of "What the hell was that?!?"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's all about the food

Though I spent the morning just lolling around slothfully, I ended up in full production in the afternoon. First, I made these:And these aren't just cake doughnuts, like I made last fall. These are honest-to-goodness, full-tilt-crazy Raised Glazed Doughnuts. They're lumpy, bumpy, and oddly-shaped, but oh my goodness, they're tasty...
A pork roast was popped into the oven, potatoes were peeled for mashed, and I tried an experiment with one of our "Delicorn" squashes.
I made a baked stuffed squash, with a filling made of bacon, sauted onions, apples, brown sugar, and a big pinch of cloves. Here are the two squash halves, stuffed and ready for the oven.

And here they are after a good long bake. (You can see on the left one where I poked with a fork to see if it was done.)

The squash got a thumbs up, though next time I think I'll use more onion, and a lighter hand with the cloves. This is the first year we've grown enough squash that I dare to experiment. When you only get 5 or 6, you hate to lose one to a cooking accident.

Pork roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffed squash, and doughnuts for dessert. Madman had to roll me to the computer chair...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Jean's Beans

Madman has been diligently shelling dried beans in the evenings, as we watch a dvd or two. (I'm usually spinning or knitting.) He finished up the Jean's Beans first, since they were new to us and we were anxious to see how they turned out.

Not a bad output for the roughly 12-foot row we planted. (I love growing dried beans. You plant them, weed them a time or two early in the season, then just ignore them until the plants are well and truly dead. None of that pesky every-day-checking-for-ripeness. Gotta love it.)

My best guess is that they're a variety of Jacob's Cattle beans. (Anyone out there have a good theory? Leigh?) There's quite a bit of variation in color, but I don't know if that's just a part of not being completely dry yet. (It's been a very wet year - sort of counter-productive to growing dried beans...) They're a beautiful bean, anyway. We'll be testing them this winter for flavor. Can't beat bean soup on a cold winter day.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Prepare to crack up...

One of my daughters shared this with me today:
Some of them made me laugh so hard, I had tears running down my face.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Okay, so I lied...

I fully intended to play with the book I mentioned yesterday, but when I heard that Norma was headed for AnnaMarie's, how could I stay home? I bustled through my errands and the things that absolutely had to be done around the house, threw my knitting in the car, and hit the highway.
AnnaMarie had lunch ready for us - she made an amazing split pea soup. (Note: if AnnaMarie ever offers to cook something for you, just pull up a chair at the table and wait quietly for Nirvana. Seriously.)
We sat and knitted and talked and laughed. Spinning and spindles, blogging and bloggers, food and farms, books, yarn, pets, patterns, festivals, tv shows - we covered a lot of territory in conversation. The woodstove made the room cozy, and the company made it cozier.
An afternoon of food, friends, and fiber? Balm for a weary soul.
Naturally, I forgot my camera...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I love my library.

I just got this book from the library. Tomorrow is my day off. I'm going to play...
Homemade chocolate sandwich cookies, anyone? Or peanut butter cups? Or...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today was definitely better

Much easier day, today. Yesterday I had to work 7 to 5, which is a two-hour earlier start than my normal 9-5. Coming on the heels of the time-change, it was a little rocky. I was so afraid the alarm wouldn't go off, or that I would oversleep, that I woke up every 20 minutes, gasping and thinking "OMG - what time is it?!?" All. Night. Long. Not restful. Stir in a little extra anxiety - "Oh, no! Did I set the alarm clock right for the time change?" - that made me get up out of bed at 3:00 am to go check my watch and my cell phone for the correct time, and you have a recipe for almost no sleep at all.
Then the long day at work.
As it was, last night after hitting 'publish', I decided I didn't even have enough energy for lolcats. I sat down on the couch, picked up my knitting, and promptly fell asleep.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm so tired, my brain hurts.

Loooong day at work today. Luckily supper was just leftovers. (Leftover mooseloaf. Heh.)
I've been trying to think of something to post. I give up. I'm headed over to look at some lolcats. See you there.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November 1st. Is it NaBloPoMo?

I'm three-quarters of the way through the second bobbin of the Merino-Tencel. Here's a look at bobbin one:The second batch of roving seems to have longer runs of the teal - not that I'm objecting. I'm dying of curiosity to see what it will look like plyed.
I've been working on the gray/black scarf, as well. I won't bother with a photo - it looks just like the last pic I put up, only about twice as long.

We've been wrapping up the garden. Madman dug the rest of the carrots, and has been rototilling diligently, getting ready to put it to bed for the winter.
Tonight for supper was the last of the swiss chard, which unbelievably was still growing, despite cold, snow, wind, and rain. Served up with baked potatoes, and a nice slab of mooseloaf.
Only in Vermont.