Friday, November 30, 2012

How Ironic

So... (pregnant pause)... after suffering through an October and November with tree guys and equipment butchering a clear line through a good portion of the front of property, the first sustained storm to come along wipes out a tree which in turn, snaps a pole.

The fallen tree can be seen behind the pole by about 20 feet.

 Power loss was a little under 12 hours and the surge when finally coming on fried our electronic oven controls. You simply can't come into a wooded area and clear cut like that and not expect consequences.

 Weaker trees that have grown up in the middle of a tree cluster don't usually put down as nice a root system. Take away the outer trees ( that offer both support in a strong wind and deeper root systems) and you are left with the weaker ones. Take away the brush and the scrub and you are left with bare unsecured earth; in our case, a very small layer of rich matter on top of a very slippery and dense clay composition. Add about 5 inches of rain and 50 mph wind gusts and well, watch the trees fall.

 It missed taking out the corner of our upper paddock by about 15 feet but the electric lines where resting over the the electric fence. That's how close it was. The crack was something. Horses were wigged out but thankfully no where near the top portion of their enclosure. They were eating down by the gate.

Then the rest of the story. They brought in 4 big trucks and a new pole. Need I tell you what 4 BIG trucks do to a dirt and shale road that is saturated by rain?  Looks like next spring we'll be doing some heavy duty repairs to that too. At the top of my trail head it looks like monster trucks were mud wrestling. It's bad, it's just god awful bad on top of the horrible straight through view.

So pretty much I spent my day fuming indoors. While the boiler doesn't work in a power failure, our little Morse Squirrel wood stove comes to the rescue for heat and comfort.

 It rained pitchforks all day and I did feel bad for the crew that had to work in that. They didn't do the cutting, they're simply hard working linemen doing a pretty nasty bit of work yesterday.

Getting the tree cleared, the snapped pole out and everything onto the new pole in the wind and rain we had yesterday was heroic.

The stalls flooded, and I mean flooded. Even a good french drain isn't going to help when you've got 5 inches of rain plus or minus coming down in a 6-8 hour period. The horses were wet and obviously couldn't stand in all that water. Blankets and feeding outdoors was the only option. They are hardy, fat and use to extreme weather. Thank heaven it is not terribly cold. Over night temps are hovering at 40F.

So enough griping! We were warm, we had food, we had 9 little furry foot warmers (don't forget the cat!), horses and donkeys were safe if not terribly happy and it was only 12 hours. The power company may spring for a portion of a new oven, but even if they don't, it will get fixed or replaced. At least it wasn't any of the sewing machines, computers or..TV! ;)

Parting shot: The dogs (Smoochie, Robin & Miss Bea), have picked the danish chair to love. Such good taste! :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who Doesn't Like a Good Slash Pile Burning?

Not me. I've been wanting to get that thing blazed since my folks were here and yesterday was the day. All it took was new (to me) furniture. How extreme!

I simply got tired of there being only one truly comfortable seat in the house. That would be the comfy chair. And that was driven home during the parental invasion.

Unlike Archie Bunker, I would never begrudge my Dad (or my Mom!), the special comfy chair especially on Sundays, when one plops their butt into it at a little past nine in the morning and need not move until about 12 hours later. Beer, bathroom and stretch breaks aside. It's football all day long and the comfy chair is VERY comfy. While pretty and well made (and where the rest of us were relegated to), the mission love seats are not comfortable.

 We are a short family and those are deep sofas with not much back support. Gene and I agreed, they had to go and for a joint anniversary gift I could replace our existing sofas. I got to work. I have a long list of must haves when looking at furniture that lives with pets. The sofa had to have loose cushions and no upholstered frame as did any additional chairs. It had to be smaller too, apartment sized.

 I never buy new furniture, mostly because I don't like the over stuffed styles (comfy chairs are the only exception), and it never meets a majority of my criteria. Plus, lets face it, I have eight dogs. Furniture takes a beating in this household. Mid Century Modern fits the bill and I set to work looking for suitable pieces. Nothing available local for sure. Not a popular style around here it would seem and those I did find, the prices were through the roof in San Francisco and Portland. Enter the internets and a few taps of my fingers and I was in Florida, at a wonderful mid century specialist Furnish Me Vintage. Needless to say, I found some well priced, well made pieces and was able to swing an amazing deal that included crating and shipping. They arrived yesterday and in the blink of a thousand eyes we had them uncrated and in the house. They are all extremely comfortable and except for the egg chair,

 which might require some professional work to recover, all within my scope of expertise for cushions etc. (Linda are your reading this? ;->). Gene hated the egg style chair when he saw the picture, but I adored it and the price was too good to pass up. You know how that ends, he has taken that chair over as his own. ;) The velvet danish lounge chair was love at first sight for me. Original upholstery and all.

 Of course, they don't match, they just live together and my living room will never be magazine nice, but now there are truly numerous seats to flop in and oh, bring a book, you'll want to sit awhile! And the crates,

why they fueled the slash pile!

Parting shot: New furniture, sounds tasty!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

About Those Cats!

I only WISH they were mine, but Foxy (above) and Omar reside in their own lovely house on the east coast. They keep my parents around as servants and caretakers of the property. They also have two Golden Retrievers that provide entertainment as the in house fools.

 It would be quite a step down in the world coming here to the low rent district of the Greensprings, where cats have to work for a living and dogs rule the roost. I'm sure they would survive but at present they just allow my folks that two weeks vacation time every year and make do with brought in help.

As to what's going on here, our one house cat is laying on the fat and napping
except for short outhouse runs. The barn cats too are getting rather plump. Part winter coat, part feed.

I went on a cutting frenzy over the weekend. A lined wool vest in a beautiful plum Shetland herringbone,

 five tops in all, one of which was done in knits, another in that plum plaid wool/rayon.

 A cotton velvet jacket using a new Project Runway pattern from Simplicity,

 and a couple of fun and bright cotton Anouks because they are my answer to having something to wear over a turtleneck,

 Indygo Junction's comfy cowl neck tunic in a heavy twill print and denim

 and lastly, a pair of pants also done in a beefy grey ponte knit.

The knit pieces I finished over the weekend and while I don't think I will ever be wild about knits in general, these did come out nice.

 The top is a Vogue Katherine Tilton pattern #8817 and was very nice to work with. I had to do a lot of shortening in the waist area. Much more than the one inch or so they give you for a petite adjustment, but it worked out well. I didn't even need to add length to the hem area either.

 For the pants I used my much loved and adjusted Sewing Workshop Trio pant.

 I slimmed it down quite a bit in the legs and shortened the back waist area just a bit to allow for the drape and stretch of the ponte knit.

 I like them, they are very comfortable and give me hope that I can pull off some leggings in lighter stretchier knits in the future. I also want to try the other top style offered in V8817 since I have more of this wonderful stable ponte knit in a deep old gold color and a fair amount of the deep teal too.

I headed out on Black Friday to Ashland. I shop small all year and spent the morning window shopping and getting gift ideas. I must say, retailers everywhere have responded to the economy. The inventory was pretty lean.. The nice small boutiques are sticking to neutrals for many wardrobe pieces and while brights are represented, a lot of the fun, funky and unusual items just aren't to be had. And that's fine. I would rather have all my favorite wonderful little shops be conservative and be in business come next Christmas! Believe me, I found just the right things and today I head off to do the great gathering of gifts. And not anywhere near a mall. If I have items that can only be purchased at a chain store I do it online.

Last week before the holiday I slipped over to Klamath Falls to give my favorite senior horse Woody a quick massage and leave Mary with some instructions on how to do a lot of it herself. We shopped, we lunched and had a bubbly morning together. Always so much fun. I also visited a little with Nick. He is looking great and doing extremely well in Mary's skilled, steady and loving care. Of course it did all seem so unfair that I should drive miles to go rub a horse when I have two perfectly good candidates out in my own pasture. Yesterday, Dandy got a full nose to tail massage, complete with thorough grooming and most importantly ( to him at least) treats. We spent a lovely two hours in the afternoon sun and then all to soon it was time to start the feeding rounds at Runamuck.
Cooper is slated for later this week or next as weather allows.

Parting shot: Pretty Please...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Almost Perfection

What a wonderful Thanksgiving Day the Runamuck crew had.

So many blessings to reflect upon  It was a quiet day with just Gene and I, so the meal was a paired down version, light on sides except the ones we love. It kept it easy, the dish load light and resulting fridge maze in check too!

I had time to take a ride in the late morning (while the turkey roasted in peace with its foil hat), on Cooper. He was needy and the minute I walked in with a halter in hand and gave a whistle he was heading right for me at a dead walk. Ears forward, alert and focused on beating Dandy to me. He did too and I had the halter on and the big spotty butt through the gate before another nose was on his tail trying to sneak out.

This was our first adventure since the big clearing by Trees Inc. Our little meandering path
by the back of the paddock and along power lines to the boundaries of Tub Springs State Wayside is now a flipping 30 feet wide expanse and totally straight. Needless to say we both did our fair share of rubbernecking and both had the same thought at some points. That would have been WTF? I don't need to write that one out and the thought was plain on both of our faces. Gone is the dense Chinquapin bush that the White Tail mommas left their fawns under every year. All of us would delight in slowing down to see if a babe was in residence. Gone is the fir tree that the horses always tried to snatch a mouthful of.

 Now I will say, it does take away the surprise/spook factor. The old downed logging snags are still there to the sides of the trail. Places for chipmunks, squirrels and lizards to busy themselves on and for the rodents to scold us from. We'll be able to spot a bear or big cat from the beginning of the trail right up to the hill by Tub Springs. After we got through our changed trail head and onto parts that remain unchanged we both relaxed. Even after two months Cooper was the perfect gentleman. So much so I dropped the bridle off from the saddle ( Zilco makes great tack BTW) and we did our ride in a halter and single lead rope. It was a walk only one, the footing strange. Mud in many parts and then where it was shade, the ground lifted and crunchy with frost crystals. There were only a couple of places safe for faster speeds and we knew them both on cue. We took a winding deer path home through dense trees and I marveled at my mounts ability to keep my legs from scraping against trunks as we snaked in and out of the close wood. He isn't so careful with my head, but then again. I have to take responsibility for some parts! He's a horse of the woods. Careful of his face and eyes and feet. He'll side pass a log and if something makes him anxious, he'll either back track or go forward. He's never slammed any body parts in close quarters. He ducks under low branches and never panics if something snags his tail or tack. I am so grateful for him and his side kick Dandy.

The day was capped off with an evening of football. Not just any football either, the Patriots and the Jets. And the ending, just perfect!;)

The few pics I've put up are of sunrises the last couple of days.

 It's always beautiful even if my camera doesn't completely catch all the glory of it. In this last pic above, you can just barely see the frost tipping the tree branches. My own flocked tree forest!

Parting shot: The truly privileged and pampered, Foxy and Omar.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

One of These is Not Like the Others

It seems appropriate that I should do this post now.  All summer and fall we have had a family group of turkeys visit our property.

 I've watched old lame Momma hen go from 10 little ones to just 3 that have made it to adulthood. While my parents were here a fifth joined the group. I had my suspicion's but this week they were confirmed.

The new addition is indeed a Tom, a young one (called a Jake) who likely struck out on his own. Just look at that amazing blue head!

And yes, we joked about a traditional Thanksgiving feast, but these birds are safe, from us at least!

I probably won't get back to blog until after the event, so everyone, have a wonderful Thanksgiving, spent just how you wish. Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Parting shot: Only sleepy heads in THE most coveted spot in the house.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Great Indoors

It's a jungle in here! A busy jungle too. And there is a lot of overgrown ground to cover.
Let's start at what's been read and what is waiting to be read.  I'm not going to do links for the books. I am sure all of you know how to get to Amazon or B&N and search for titles.

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. I usually avoid post apocalyptic type reads but I made an exception for this one and am glad I did. It was an excellent read. A bit more hopeful than a Cormac McCarthy book, but not much, so don't go thinking you are going to leave this one feeling good. You're going to close it feeling like you've been chewed up and spit out, but maybe not so doomed. This is one I will come back to for another read.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean. Before starting The Dog Stars I wanted something light, fun and well written. This was suggested by friend Sandi and oh my what a enjoyable read it was. I loved this book. Yes, it is a young adult title, but then again, so was Harry Potter, so don't turn up your noses at books aimed at teen readers. THANK GOD they are reading and some fine writing is going on there. Just because I'm older doesn't mean I should miss out on a good book and neither should you!

The Pass by Thomas Savage. A beautiful book about the west (set in Montana) in the early 20th century. The writing and characters first rate. Again I must reference Cormac McCarthy for his Border Trilogy and Anne Proulx because surely she was influenced by Savage. This book was first published in 1944 and thankfully has been reissued along with others long out of print until recently.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet. I can't describe this one except to say, put it on your reading list and have some fun with it! Heck, when another dog arrives into the household some day, he or she may just get a name from this book. That's how much I enjoyed it.

Now, on my short list of books waiting to be read are these:
Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux ( finally his writings are on Kindle)
The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson
Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor ( sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone)

I am always eager for additional suggestions to my reading list, so please suggest away in the comment section!

Leaving the reading nook, I promised to tell you about a baseball cap. Here goes. My Dad found this creative ceramic at a local store Art FX and couldn't resist bringing it home for a house gift. So dang clever isn't it?

I rarely go into this store simply because I don't often buy jewelry, but if you do, Chuck Troutman is a master jeweler and has some beautiful pieces. Anyway, this wall vase must have been cast from an actual baseball cap. I can see stitch lines and the twill weave in the fabric.

 It has got a wonderful spot on a wall between kitchen and dining area. Thank you Dad!

Now, we're going to pop over to the studio, because it is crammed full of loomy goodness. I just couldn't leave Murphy out in the cold back room and who wants to weave in 30-40 temps anyway? Not me!

 But there is always room for one more and with a little shifting around, we have a workable solution for three 40 something inch looms.
I might add we are weaving prayer flags again and using a new threading.

 I love this one. Basket weave and herringbone out of A Handweaver's Pattern Book, pg 49. I'm thinking this has a future as a table runner or dresser scarves for another warp.

Only a blouse has been completed up in the sewing room.

I had some fun with a small piece of my favorite Stella & Robin fabric (you might remember the red color way of it), and used it on the inside collar stand

 and inside cuffs.

 I'm reorganizing up there, bringing knits and wools to the forefront for winter sewing. Some fun things coming up and some real challenges but all that is for a later post.

Parting shot: The best seat in the house. For cats only!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Buttoning Up and Battening Down

Winter arrived last Thursday for the long stay. Snow has fallen, both wet and powdery every day since. While we took note of all the signals that winter was on its way, we were still behind in stuff to get done around here. For me, buttoning up the barn with new tarps was job one, for Gene, firewood. The barn tarps went up last Thursday morning as the snow started flying.

The big wide front opening is most important since it protects the hay. The side opening and rear are smaller. Bob is parked in the rear of the barn next to the tack room and the tarp there is much shorter and is simply latched across with an old short trailer tie so I can slide it open and closed. It's so dark and dreary in there once the tarps go up I wasn't inspired to take pics. But the barn cats enjoy the snugness and the little caves the hale bales make are warm and protected.

Gene again weighed the costs of different ways to fill the wood needs around here. We have a lot of available logs from the culled power line trees, plus some free stuff out at Tub Springs from an old growth tree which came down last spring. This year, he finally decided to invest in a log splitter.

The new baby is rated 25 tons and splits logs either horizontally or vertically, which I'm told is important since a lot of logs are too big to pick up and put on a splitter. It has already spent a day making short work and garnering two cords of wood from the massive old growth tree. I'm told there is more to do over there. It goes nicely with his new chainsaw, an unexpected arrival. Gene loaned his old one out and you know the story. The loanee forgot to mix oil with the gas and fried the engine. He did the stand up thing, and returned a new one (same model), to Gene along with his old bar which is a longer than standard for this particular saw. I had SERIOUS chainsaw envy when I saw it. I have lobbied for a small one for a number of years for limbing trees and clearing small snags on the property. This isn't suitable for that (too big, too heavy), but I remain hopeful!

The trailer is doing its winter duty as run in for the donkeys.

 It's not ideal, but it works. Between the blankets, the great little grove of firs and the trailer they have protection both to eat and rest. And it keeps it very near the plowed driveway should we have an emergency and need to get it out fast. I am thrilled to announce that we have an equine vet that has moved to the Greensprings and set up shop. No more expensive farm calls. Dr. Gail Colbern DVM, MS will also handle any small animal emergencies up here on the mountain. I can't tell you what a relief this is. An emergency in bad weather would take anywhere from 3 to 8 hours for any of the valley vets, assuming they could even make it up the mountain roads.

The round pen has been closed off with the removal of the trailer but it was a good set up being able to use it for trailer loading training and I'll move it up there again next spring, or should I say Gene will be directed to do so..;)

The two bird feeders around the house are again supplying black oil sunflower seed for the winter birds.

 Mostly Junco's, Chickadees, Nuthatches and Stellar Jays. We get some native LBJ's (little brown jobs) in the late morning and the flock of turkey's makes a stop there every couple of afternoons. The fox has been spied by both of us also under the feeder in the pre dawn hour. Both feeders are hubs of activity all day long.

Parting shots: Cold days, warm friends. ( Smoochie & Robin)