Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pole Climbing, Taste Tests and Big Storms

 Well, I have nothing to complain about weather wise and I hope those that have been and still are being affected by Frankenstorm Sandy are safe and dry somewhere. What a storm she was! We all watched from the comfort of our living room while she blew into New Jersey, shut NYC down, dropped snow in feet not inches on WV and spread out along a vast majority of the northeastern seaboard. My parents home experienced neither damage nor power loss and thanks go out to the wonderful and diligent house sitters, for bringing stuff in, tying it down, keeping us posted and using good common sense in their care of the homestead. Barbara and Tom, you two rock! Laszlo says so. ;)

While Sandy roared in the east, we've been chugging along here in the west. Lots of wine and beer has been savored and some great meals. Dogs have been cuddled or reprimanded as needed, cats catered too and donkey's spoiled with carrot treats. Of course once in a while we don't feel like going out. Instead we do something silly, like taste test boxed Mac & Cheese.

 I don't know how it got to be on the menu, but Dad was for Kraft in the blue box and I stood for Annie's with the white cheddar. We had a throw down. Two pots, two brands handled exactly the same right down to separate spoons. No doubt Gene and my Mother think we're both crazy because let's face it, neither is stellar fare. Maybe you all think we're a little nuts too! ;) Anyway, along with taste and texture, cost and package weights were taken into account. The winner was Kraft. The prepackaged cheese whiz while neon orange was creamier and mildly cheesy, but what won the day for it was the use of elbow macaroni as opposed to twist pasta. It was also cheaper and you got a little more.

Now my favorite Annie's had better cheese taste, but the pasta is not well matched to the dish. In fact when I use it I usually toss the pasta, use elbows and add a little milk or sour cream to the mix, but none of those things was allowed since we adhered to strict testing guidelines! Served with salad and spinach and cherry ice cream for dessert, none of us went to bed hungry.

Then there was the pole climbing.

 Gene had to fix the antenna set up on the radio repeater for the fire department and the window is pretty small for getting up to the Soda Mountain lookout area. at this time of year.

Once the snow really starts in and at their elevation, only a snowcat can make it into that area. Gene spent two hours on this pole Monday and hopefully the welding repairs will hold through the winter and beyond.

It was a lot of work but he had a beautiful day to do it and the view from there is spectacular.

Halloween has not been forgotten either and while we have no children that Trick or Treat through the rural areas of the Greensprings, I could not let one go by without sharing this bit of comedy. A tip of my chapeau to The Cat in the Hat, I give you Thing 1 and Thing 2 as parting shots.

BTW, these adorable costumes were custom made by this wonderful gal on etsy.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Yep, finally, deck pictures. Now the railings still need to be installed but Gene was so behind on business he had to pull off the deck and get caught up.

 Of course just when it became usable the weather changed.

 Snow and rain predicted all week long. A fine welcome for the folks. The stairs are temporary until next year when we will look at them again and grade and landscape the area but for now, they are fine and sturdy and certainly beat going up and down a ladder!

We have opted not to enclose the underneath with lattice or the like.

 I will likely do some shrubs, clumping bamboo and of course lavender and santolina since the deer hate those items. Maybe a woody herd like rosemary since that's also unappealing to the deer but not as hardy in this climate as I would like.

Since the folks have arrived, I can show you the the small welcome gifts I made. Linen pillowcases complete with monograms. Along with the correct monogram they each got a different colored hem band

 It was my first shot at monograms.

The complete alphabet (and numbers 1-9 I believe), in this circle style from
8 Claws and a Paw Embroidery were on sale for $4.95, so it was not terribly expensive to add this nice set to my growing embroidery selection.

My parents got in without incident after a long and cramped flight. I know airlines need to make a profit but I have say, having so little leg room you can't even cross and uncross your legs or tie a shoe really makes one feel like the proverbial sardine in a can! The folks agreed but everything was put to rights with a nice meal and plentiful libations. The fun begins today with a marathon football viewing extravaganza and homemade pizza! :)
Parting shot: Throw that ball or I will bark and bark and bark and......

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Switch Has Been Hit

Our long Indian Summer has truly come to an abrupt end. No gentle cooling down here.
The weekend brought rain and lots of it, fire season has ended and the storms are starting to line up bringing more moisture. In fact, next week there is snow in the forecast for the eastern side of the Cascades. The nights are cold. Tuesday night we were below 30F and tonight sitting at 36F as I type. We so need the water I can't begrudge any of it, but am hoping that we will be able to enjoy the deck with my folks at least a few days while they visit. Even the trees are late turning this year, lulled like us all by the mild, long dry early fall.

The house is as clean as it's going to get, one more run through, quick vacuum, quick damp mop, fresh sheets on the beds and it's show time.

I staged my chores out this year, took almost 12 days to get around to every room, with some down time built in. I started and cut a wonderful little cape pattern. Perfect for our
50-60 degree days. The challenge was what to do with a just a yard of beautiful fabric.
This one happened to be wool.

 I've eyed this wool on the bolt for so long but didn't have a real idea of what to do with such a small amount. Collar or cuffs, but white wool...not very practical and kind of ho hum for such a pretty fabric. Enter Butterick 5032, one of their retro line of patterns. Now I can assure you there are no "wiggle" dresses in my future, but the cape caught my eye. And what is this? It uses a mere 1 yard of fabric! My wool found it's use along with another much admired but never used piece of fabric.

Long ago someone gave me a good sized piece of actual sheeting. This was a houndstooth with a large mare and foal graphic, probably from the early 60's but maybe even the 50's. It was in lovely condition and I've had it with me for years, waiting for the right something to use it. The cape lining!

 To say I'm in love with this little capelet is an understatement. I would love to do a few more renditions. One with a scarf collar and another dark version to wear around the house. The length is short enough it doesn't interfere with things like washing dishes or weaving and it feels perfect for keeping your neck and shoulders warm. Plus the dogs won't catch it like a knitted shawl.

I also promised you pics of the completed Burda 7136 tailored blouse pattern.

 This still has a way to go. The sleeve placket needs adjusting, the sleeves shortened and the cuffs made much smaller, but all in all after the dart correction, I like the pattern.

I've paired it with the silk matka  pants made from my custom pattern. Silk done this way is such a nice fall/winter weight fabric. Soft and nubby once washed. How cheery to pull these out of the closet on a grey winter day.

In farm news, Gene has complained to the powers that be about the cutting job done on our property. Yesterday we blocked them from coming through with their big swath mower. Part of the problem is they have gone from skilled hand crews to these horrible mechanized machines to save money.  That's fine on government land but small private parcels really deserve better than this. I'm sure there will be more on this in a later post.

The deck looks great. The railings are cut and waiting to be installed, stairs are done and a walk way to the stairs. Only pick up work remains to clear the pile of tools and stuff that has accumulated while Gene worked on this project. Pictures next post! It seems slow going, but really, it was pretty fast. Gene still has a business to run and all all sorts of Fire Department obligations. While my folks are here he'll be working on the front porch and the horse shelter. He must be so happy when it finally snows, then there is only plowing to worry about! ;)

You all know I love dogs and have a spot in my heart for old dogs especially, so I figured I would pass this story along about a man, his old dog, a big lake and the giving nature of people when their hearts are touched. Don't forget to click the video along with reading the brief story. I still need to grab a Kleenex to watch it.
Go Schoep!

Parting shot: Jack, the skeleton in our closet! Doesn't he look happy??? NOT!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Countdown

Here it is already. Less than a week before my folks arrive and a punch list a half a mile long. The deck part is done, stairs today, railings over the week ahead. And you'll just have to wait for final pics! It's a wonderful transformation to what use to be a terrible entrance to our house. We have decided that next summer we'll be doing some grading and fill and a concrete pad which means the stairs this year may or may not be the stairs we finally end up with.

Over last week the power company came and trimmed trees around their lines. I am putting that in nice terms. Let me say, usually they have Trees, Inc do their work. I have no clue what idiots they used this time but it's so bad in some areas I can't even look at it without wanting to cry. Whole trees have been limbed up a complete side and these not even near the power lines, other trees taken out when topping would have been fine.
To make matters worse, they did send in the more experienced Trees Inc guys to take a particularly difficult tree down and those guys looked at me and said we hate having to follow them. The exact words were, "it sucks to be following in THAT draft." I haven't seen one thing wild since the tree butchering began.

There's not much exciting to say about cleaning. It's getting done, room by room, top to bottom. I've managed to finish the Burda blouse and get it into the washing machine. After I finished with chalk lines and adjustments that white fabric had been handled so much it looked like I had worn it for a week! Some gift sewing was done and it all came out fantastic. Heck, I don't even have a new parting shot, so I'm going to leave you with this oldie but goodie from the archives. I'll do better next post!

Parting shot: Stella with her new baby brother Robin.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Is It Done Yet?

No, the dang deck is not, but it sure is getting there.

 I have the patience of a gnat, an ADD one at that! Friday the guys worked from nine in the morning to three thirty in the afternoon. It took a little while to build up a routine, but by quitting time they were sailing long.  Dom had a hot date Friday night and a big bike ride Saturday morning in and around Klamath Falls. Gene took off Saturday to fly (paragliding) somewhere in California near the Nevada border. So that left me, the critters, the sewing machines and the unfinished deck.

 Everyone got some attention and I did enjoy sitting out in my red chair in the late afternoon sun.

 Yesterday Gene worked on it until it was too dark to be safe. I did offer to hold a light or two if he felt so inclined to carry on! He only has a little less than a quarter to go before the deck part is complete. Then railings, then stairs. I'm pretty darn sick of the ladder as you can imagine.

I  started to tackle my self imposed "Perfect White Shirt Challenge" with Burda 7136

and 2.5 yards of inexpensive bleached muslin. This shirt is one of the few patterns I found with the desired combination of front button placket, back yoke

 and collar and stand. In other words, a man tailored shirt with dart shaping. I change many of my blouses to front placket because I hate facings anyway, but it's hard to do that with a one piece collar. Anyway, Burda really missed on their dart placement. I know I have suffered some downward pull over the years but gut level? I don't think so! The following picture illustrates where the dart started and ended.

 I had to move them and change the angles for a more upward sweep.

 Odd dart placement all around and Burda usually does better than that. Along with front plackets come sleeve vent plackets and I'm having a struggle with them as well, mostly due to inexperience.

In other news, the headache finally left grudgingly yesterday after almost two weeks. Good thing too, because today marks the start of room by room fall cleaning in advance of the much anticipated parental invasion. :) Smoochie is almost as excited as I am once I told him my Mother was coming!

The horses and donkeys all received some one on one time. There is nothing like sitting in the dirt, leaning my back against Cooper or Dandy's front legs and practicing solar warming. Dandy likes to drool in my hair and Cooper quite often lowers his enough that I can scratch his chin while he dozes. These two boys have adjusted so well to being just the duo again.

Parting shot: A seasoned beggar, at only 1.5 years of age!

No Robin did not get any of Gene's ice cream, but only because I was watching.....

Friday, October 5, 2012


Last weekend, along with a wicked sinus infection and crappy daily headache, our beloved (not) satellite dish AND my truly adored whole house humidifier
crapped out. Hence my very quiet blog this week. We are trying out US Cellular's "Hotspot" package. We have 15 days to decide before a two year commitment. If that doesn't work, then another satellite company will be auditioned. Going with Hughes again, is an option far, far down on the list of possibilities. Thank you Hughes for being such ass hats that you will charge us a ridiculous fee to come and fix your expensive satellite dish.

The sinuses are better, the headache is still there but seems to be improving slowly, a new humidifier is on its way and the deck is further along than these pictures taken last Friday.

 You do get a better idea of the scale of the project though.

 Today, Gene and friend Dominic will be putting on all the decking. I will be making spaghetti and meatballs. I haven't done meatballs in a long time.

Sewing has been pretty slow. A pair of pants done last weekend and a tunic that I need to redo the sleeves on. I'm guessing I was kind of asleep at the wheel so to speak. The dogs have all been good nurse maids though and willing to cuddle up for a nap any old time of day!

On a completely different subject, since Nick went on to his new digs in Klamath Falls and I have just had two horses to deal with (instead of the five I had a scant two years ago), I decided to go back to my original vitamin/mineral supplement maker. Horse Guard. Cooper and Dandy always looked and seemed to feel their best when taking them, but as the herd grew so did the expense and HG for five horses was too costly. For years everyone has gotten a good quality supplement, but not a great one. The two boys are looking great, fattening up for winter, growing in the healthiest curly coats I've seen in years and acting more like 8 year olds rather than 16 & 17. Of course good hay helps too and we have loaded in some really nice hay this year. Our hay guy is the same person who produced Stella and Robin and the older brother to our much adored past farrier Morgan. I didn't even know that until I had to write out a check for Stella to the same unusual last name.

 Parting shot: Barn cat Buzz.