Tuesday, February 28, 2017

alternate realities

Today we were at checking out at the hardware store, and the clerk asked me three times whether I was paying with credit or debit. Each time I answered "cash", and she'd still ask me again. Then when I handed her the money I told her I had the change, but needed to get it out. As I'm digging out the last penny, I realized she was counting change. I told her at least twice I had the change. The second time I was about to get more than a little irate, when I saw the hearing aid. For whatever reason, she wasn't hearing me. She turned, I handed her the change, and she got a little huffy as she slammed the change she had just counted out into the drawer, shaking her head. I imagine she thought I was being very rude and inconsiderate, never realizing I was answering all her questions AND talking to her the whole time. And as aggravated as I was, it also made me think about how many times I've made assumptions and become irritated by a situation, never realizing I was the one at fault.

On a side note, all the seed for my spring garden stuff (spinach, lettuce, english peas and a few cabbages) is out and the area cleaned out and fenced off from the chickens. Mind you, I used my old wiring and garden gates so it could all be done today. It's pieced together and looks a little redneckish, but I'm okay with that. It's done. There's a lady in our church who does a lot of vibrant, folksy artwork. I couldn't help but think if she were at our house she'd spray paint each section a different primary color and make it all look festive. I'm afraid if I tried that it would look clownish. Maybe in a year or two I'll be purchase better netting or fencing, but for now my rusty pieces are doing the job.

Monday, February 27, 2017

goose eggs

Our geese usually start laying between February and March and will lay until mid-April or May. But since we no longer have a male goose, there's no point in leaving the eggs for the girls to attempt to hatch, nor collecting them to put in the incubator. Which leaves us with a new dilemma - what do we do with them?

Many years ago I fried one for "us" to eat. Only Bobby ate his portion. I simply couldn't stomach it after cooking it. So this morning I spent some time researching goose egg recipes and found out they're quite popular in Britain and South Africa. The most common usage is in omelettes (almost always with bacon), though quite a few people use them in baking (but modify with chicken egg whites to prevent heaviness). the funniest recipes came from some British goose website. The brownie recipe calls for caster sugar, an "apre-lined tin" and tells you to put the gas mark at 4. The picture looks great, but I think I'll have to do a little research before I attempt any of them.

And I just have this terrible suspicion that even with all the seasonings and additions, the omelettes aren't going to be all that great. I so hope I'm wrong.

Friday, February 24, 2017

"What's wrong with your pond?"

Two winters ago our pond began doing some very weird things. Like after a torrential rain, water would properly drain over the spillway, but then it would continue to drain through the regular drain pipe long after it was supposed. The pipe's top would be sticking up out of the water, but somehow water was still getting through. Then water would stop draining, and the water would rise past it's high water mark but not to the point of the spillway, and nothing would drain out. It's not uncommon for the drain pipe to get stopped up with either debris or a turtle, but it is uncommon for the water level to continuously drop. After the third time it happened, we realized the pipe was rusting out or had a hole under the water level. A call to a pond management company confirmed it. And so in the early part of this year we had to drain a small section of the pond so the drain pipe could be replaced. And since we've had almost no rain since the procedure, the pond has yet to totally fill back up. Hence all the neighbors wanting to know what is wrong with our pond.

Digging out the dam where the pipe is located.

The dogs enjoyed the extra running space from the lowered pond. The geese? Not so much.

The old drain pipe...the original from 1960 when Mr. Bryan built the pond. The workers sawed it down and capped it off.

The new drain pipe is located on the side of the dam, and has a cover. No more stuck turtles! :)

And the view from on top of the dam

On top of the dam, looking down to where the water drains back into the stream.

The finished product.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fogwood Farms

My sister-in-law Brenda, (aka "The Produce Lady), and her husband Rex own Fogwood Farms. They grow mushrooms and blueberries and ginger and turmeric. And in case you're wondering what ginger and turmeric are, they are spices. To be more exact, they are the root of a plant, but the root is usually ground or chopped. In Asia they are used frequently in all kinds of dishes.

But the mushrooms is what fascinates me the most, because prior to Brenda and Rex growing them, I never once considered that people grew mushrooms. So sit back, and enjoy your field trip of Fogwood Farms.

I've seen the logs in the distance before, but this time it's up front near the house and behind the driveway. Rows upon rows of logs...

Mushroom sperms comes in a bag (above), and when emptied into a bowl, looks like this:
(And no, I didn't think to ask if she had to prep it in any way)

 Rex has a special bit he uses to drill holes in all the logs, then Brenda fills up her "puncher" (I don't know what it's really called), then punches the button that releases the proper amount of sperm into the log.

And yes, Brenda loves her coffee, but this isn't coffee...it's melted wax. Once a log is filled, all the holes are covered with melted wax (like brushing on melted butter) to prevent insects or bugs from entering the holes.
I got to help with two logs, and wished we lived closer so I could do more. It was quite fun, though I can see how doing this all morning would become quite tedious. Above is the stack of logs they hope to inoculate within the next month.
 This year they have a special greenhouse called a geodome where they've tried growing mushrooms through the winter...and it's worked. The ones above remind me of rolls.

Logs stacked in the geodome. The pile in the center is sitting on top of a vat of water.

And that's all the field trip. :) The rest of the time we looked at the rest of the house and chatted and ate lunch. I didn't realize how accustomed to the construction noise I had become until we were at her house with the birds and the insects serenading us. So if you like dried mushrooms, check out the link above.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday already?

Monday we spent most of the day on taxes, only to get near the end and realize we didn't have everything we needed.

Yesterday we spent the day with Brenda and Rex (Bobby's older sister and husband). It was fun, pleasant, informative, and I came home with several possible garden ideas. I've intermittently spent the day trying to e-mail the pics from his phone, to no avail. A few minutes ago I gave up and decided to text them to myself, even though that meant losing some of the quality. And guess what...they all came through. Go figure.

Since it didn't rain, I spent part of the day outside cleaning up a little bit in my garden area, and planted a few sprigs of romaine lettuce and cabbage. If I had some potting soil on hand I would have done a little more, but I was getting tired and I don't, so I didn't. I still have two more things on my to-do-list before church, but I'm thinking they might not happen today.

We signed up for a Netflix account, and one of the shows we were watching is suddenly not available anymore. We could get the DVD through the mail order service, which we don't have, but we can no longer stream it. I'm not exactly very happy about that. Also, many of the movies I was hoping to see are available on DVD, but not through streaming. I'm not sure why that is. And it makes me wonder if we should call and switch our account from streaming to the DVD mail service.

Meanwhile I have four more weeks (I think) until my next sugar test. The last few weeks have actually gone way better than I anticipated, and I'm hoping by the time the test comes I will actually have established a few good habits. Wouldn't that be nice?

It's hard to believe this week is almost over, much less the month. My teachers used to tell us we'd one day feel that way and we needed to stop wishing our lives away. And now I get it. I guess that makes me officially old.

Friday, February 17, 2017

a nice surprise

Back when the elementary school was in the planning/permit stage, one of the things Bobby brought up was the fact we have a pond and the school was not planning to put up a fence. The town of Garner was also requesting a public walkway, which was going to be on the border of our property. I've lived here long enough to know that people think our pond is public property, even though the public doesn't maintain it, nor did they build it. And we're not the least bit interested in stocking the pond for the public nor having it drained because a child who couldn't swim wandered into it. So Bobby requested a fence, which I thought was a wise move. But I would have gladly said "I want this type of fence" and presented some options and gladly paid the difference between what the school was offering and something nicer. But not everyone thinks alike. As a result, we were told the most economical thing was a chain link fence, and for almost a year that was what I thought we were getting. So imagine my surprise when my husband told me this was what the contractors were going to put up, and they did within a week or two:

They started at the pond side. Didn't go as far back as I would have preferred, but we can plant shrubbery there to keep people out. 

and I lost a crepe myrtle...it was too far over on the school's side. I'd have gladly dug it up had I known.

But I'm really pleased with the end result. I feel like I have my yard back. I can work in the garden or clean out the hen house without feeling like I'm being watched.

They trimmed some of my trees that were right on the line. Not sure how they'll thrive, but time will tell.

The property line is actually the end of the chicken pen. We wondered what they would do, and they just moved the fence a few inches over. I guess I'll have to round up that spot as there is no way I can weed eat or mow there.

And my garden fence (to keep the chickens out) is just a little inside the property line. I think there's just enough space to run the lawn mower here. The sickening thing is that's just enough space to plant a row of something. I should have waited another year before putting the new one up.
From the back porch or the garage,  it's not all that much privacy. If anyone is in the corner of the yard at the end of the fence, they could see me on the porch (it's the lower part of the valley and our house is up on the hill). The same is true for people at the school. Clearly, if I can see them, they can see me. But either way, I'm still thankful for the fence and that it's not a chain link fence. The chickens are a bit confused by it, but I'm okay with that. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

television project

Back in January I posted about a project I had started - one of those crazy pinterest ideas. And today I finally finished it. It's very different from what I imagined (the final product is Plan D or E...I forget which).

the original tv

Spray painting the boards. Yes, I locked myself into the dog kennel to do it. Way easier to lock up the boards until they dried than the dogs. Neither the dogs nor the chickens were happy about it.

The final product. My original plan had been to have the bottom shelf as a hidden drawer that could be removed, but that didn't work for so many reasons. And then my measurements kept being wrong, so I ended up piecing the bottom board to make it work. It shows up worse with the flash than it does sitting in the living room. It's actually not too noticeable that way.

and I cheated on the back and used foam core. I couldn't find the type of board in the price range I was wanting, but it works.
Would I do this again? For this particular television, yes. But I would not pick up one for free and do it. It's not worth the time and expense of the supplies, nor do I have all the skills I need to accurately build something. Had I given this job to my nephew-in-law, I bet he could have found a way to make my original idea work. And who knows? Maybe one day I'll give it to him and ask him to do exactly that!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

still on the proverbial fence

At the close of 2015 my cousin talked to me about making two memory quilts for Christmas gifts in 2016. I tried to put her off, suggesting she contact local quilt shops and sending her youtube videos, etc. I told her I would work with her in cutting them out. She did help me cut them out, but very clearly wanted me to make them. I talked with several quilters in a group at the quilt shop, and they all groaned when I mentioned the words "t-shirt" quilt. One lady even said she put such an outrageous price on making them that no one asks her any more. And now I understand why.

I made the one on the left first, and it was a challenge. While I thought I was measuring and piecing everything to size, it didn't quite work out that way and I ended up adding a lot of extra strips here and there to make things work. The second I made in rows, and it went together SO much faster. I did have a brief moment of panic when ironing the interfacing to the back of a t-shirt, though (since t-shirts are stretchy and not quilting fabric, they have to be stabilized or they'll distort during the quilting). One of the t-shirts had heavy paint instead of ink, and I didn't think to put a towel or damp washcloth on top of it. And yes, some of the paint came off, and not only got on my iron, but also on a different part of the shirt. I was frantically scrubbing trying to get that off and hoping it wouldn't be very noticeable. When all was said and done, I don't think anyone but me would know.

I think the biggest thing was the pressure. Something that sentimental you don't want to mess up, and you find yourself measuring three times instead of two before cutting, and then slowing your pace down. There's no fabric you can substitute if you mess up, no "eh, I'll just make a different block".  It's that or nothing.

So while 2016 is mostly centered in my brain as the year of crazy election working hours, I did actually start and complete two quilts.

And a day after posting this, I realized my post didn't match my header. This was going to be about how I couldn't decide whether or not t-shirt quilts were worth the time and effort put into them, but obviously I went a direction.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

bullet points

SO much has happened since my last post that I'm not even sure where to begin. But since this blog is for me to practice writing and keep a record of life, I'm going to simply highlight things and maybe I can come back to some of them in more detail later.

  • Our road is paved and painted. 
  • I'm not thrilled with the mess they call "right of way" and part of our yard.
  • The school built a nice privacy fence.
  • Construction should officially be over March 6th. No more house rattling!!!! :)
  • Heading up our local Quilts of Valor group is more work than I anticipated.
  • Learned more about Mom's health diagnosis (not sure how to spell that in the plural form)
  • Made a quick trip to AL when Mom's heart rate escalated to more than double and she was admitted to the hospital
  • Another heart oblation is scheduled for March
  • Celebrated Dad's 75th birthday
  • February is half over and I've yet to finish January's projects. 
  • I baked 5 batches of tea cakes for a kids activity at church. (What was I thinking?)
  • I was asked how many grandkids I had by a waitress lately. And when I stopped to think about it, I do know four people my age who are grandparents. 
  • Reality of never being a Mom is setting in, and most days it's not too hard to deal with.
  • Heartaches for several families I know...such things never get easier.
  • A decision about whether or not to continue as a poll worker the next few years is coming up soon.
  • We need to find a new definition for our normal.
And that's all I have time to type tonight...but it's enough!