Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The folks pulled in on Sunday right on time. Which for my Dad means 15 minutes after the Patriots game ended. I did get a few calls along the way for score updates, so between cooking , last minute cleaning and critter patrol, I was keeping ears and eyes on the football games.

Monday found my Dad busy planning his warp, yesterday we wound it on.

I suspect between activities today he'll be threading. This is 10/2 bamboo at 24 epi for two table runners. I think it's 14" in the reed. He'll be using the Landis Valley Linen pattern out of Davison's classic book of 4 shaft patterns.

I had sampled this pattern for him way back when I had the bamboo first in my possession. He also helped me get all the harnesses adjusted on the Delta loom since I wasn't happy with the slight unevenness of some of them. He showed me how to use the adjustment screws Louet has for just that sort of thing.

On farm news, the weather has been pretty crappy. The last 3 years visits brought cool crisp sunny days, this year, rain and snow. With luck, the unsettled weather will clear out and give us some great days to enjoy outside.

The Greensprings Fire & Rescue Harvest Festival had a wonderful turnout. Good food,
good band and lots of great raffle prizes. The big prize was a lovely quilt. There were also lots of fun stuff in the silent auction including my 3 little towels which I am happy to report garnered $65.00. Folks who attended where more than generous with all their bidding since this is one of our only fund raising events.

Gene has been getting up earlier, can't say why, but I'll leave you with this gem. Full morning feeding regalia! ;-)

A vision no?

Friday, October 23, 2009

White Glove

Okay, Mom, bring it on! The house has been scrubbed from top to bottom in the annual fall cleaning extravaganza. As per tradition, Gene cleans the kitchen. He volunteered to do it a number of years ago and now, well, it's expected! Of course I get the other 7 rooms and two bathrooms, so don't pity him too much. The mention of bathrooms gets me off on a side note. This house called for two smaller bathrooms upstairs, a master and one to service the other rooms. Now I don't know about anyone else, but walking two steps further down the hall instead of through the master to get to the loo is worth not having yet another bathroom to clean. Instead we have a huge walk in closet. A better use of space as far as I'm concerned. ;-)

Here is Gene on the beginning of his cleaning journey.

And the final product. Ready to turn my soup making Mother out into it!

On farm I have a farm? Oh yes, there are animals out there and they are sorely neglected I might add. With all the cleaning it's been feed runs only. I did get a brush out and give the boys a few swipes each while the water tank was filling. When the grandparents come, everyone will be spoiled with treats and attention.
On weaving all I can say is my looms look quite clean and dusted. Hey Baby is ready to go, BV got a nice gentle vacuuming around the existing rug warp and the Murphy loom is getting a polish up tomorrow. Today is a town day and I have at least 7 stops that I can think of off the top of my head.

And for comic relief I leave you with these shots. Someone decided the roving hanging prepped and ready to spin on the wheel was just too tempting.

Pink mustache anyone?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Weaves of Waffles

The towels for the Greensprings Fire & Rescue silent auction are woven, washed, hemmed, ironed and ready to go.

For some reason this particular tie-up produced a very mushy absorbent weave and of the two I've tried, I like it better. Next time I will make the warp a bit wider than they call for though. I like an oversized towel myself although I did keep one for myself from this warp. It produced 4 towels and about 20" of waste.

This pattern came out of Handwoven's Design Collection 18, A Treasury of Towels. Hey Baby is now bare naked and ready for a good dusting. My Father's warp will be the next thing to go on her.

In fact the whole house is getting it's thorough pre-parental visit top to bottom cleaning. Today, the upstairs and nothing but the upstairs. I washed windows yesterday so it will be a dust,vacuum and wash floors mission. Oh, and my walk in closet needs some attention and the carpet washed in there. The front guest room got some improvements after painting it. I had two twin beds in there and decided a single double bed would be more comfortable. The twins are listed on Craigslist and I found a beautiful iron double bed complete on CL right on the mountain. In fact from a new neighbor not more than 5 doors down and under 2 miles away. At pick up time there was more chit chat going on than wheeling and dealing and it was nice to the see the property getting the TLC it needed and deserved.

On farm news, I haven't seen Bond and he hasn't busted in to my knowledge, but I've smelled him around. Puck the black cat comes and goes. He hasn't been seen for days but judging by the caterwauling last night which prompted me to call Rodger in, he's back for a visit. Rodger has a bite under his chin that is going to require a vet visit this week. I was lucky enough to snap this sweet pic on Saturday after the hustle and bustle of furniture moving through the house. I guess it just exhausted them all. Being under foot is hard work!

Just as I was getting ready to power wash windows outside, Morgan showed up to trim hooves. I forgot, again! There I was in my Sunday best. Holey PJ bottoms, ripped t-shirt and a really god awful old sweatshirt, and let's not forget the muck boots and baseball cap. A vision! Horses now all have pretty trimmed toes and celebrated by racing around the paddock yesterday afternoon, kicking up those clean heels and having a grand time mock fighting.

Well, off to slog out and feed. The rain has returned and we are in the mud production business again! :-)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Post of Many Unrelated Topics

I guess I can cover just about anything with that subject line huh? A couple of you asked for close-ups of the armadillo. Here he is! The real ones are kind of cute too. I had them around the house in Texas and they were fascinating to watch and follow. You can get quite close to them when they are busy. I've sat in the woods and let them snuffle and forage around me.

There is a store a couple of doors up from The Websters called American Trails, they have TONS of these carved figures from Oaxacan Mexico although only a few show on their web site. We have a number of small ones around the house. Some cute, some just plain old strange but all unique.

My favorites are the bats. We have a couple of the Oaxacan, but I can't find the hanging one. He's down for a wing repair.

We have metal bats hanging in strategic places around the house too.

Wednesday morning I had to take Dennett to the vet for his annual check-up. Pogo came along for the ride and to have his nails done by a team of people MUCH better at navigating pedicure problem dogs than Gene and I. His nails look great and he is silent as cat these days. This is an appointment that I dread. Every year we run blood work and check the old boys blood pressure. Often the blood work comes back with all sorts of news I don't want to hear about my oldest best guy. This time we had reason to break out a nice bottle of wine and have a toast. Liver and kidney functions have dropped into normal or almost normal ranges. He had some readings off the chart so to speak. His weight has dropped too, he lost 4 pounds over the course of a year and it's a good thing. He is still maintaining muscle tone and is in fine shape for the shape he's in. There is little we can do about the heart murmur that is loud enough to hear without a stethoscope, but should he start having coughing and lung congestion, we can go to Lasix. We got options if need be to keep quality of life high and at his age, that's what we shoot for. Dr. Gurney also mention how good he looked and asked if I had changed diets. I had and we received kudos for the diet changes on both dogs.
About a year ago after I was having digestive problems with a number of dogs on the old food. Come to find out they had changed the formula and it was now being made out of house. It was time for a change. It took a month of examining and comparing
products but we finally settled on a great product and it has made quite a difference in all 8 dogs. Their coats all improved as did energy levels. Upsets stopped and everyone lost some weight due to the higher nutrient/lower bulk content of the food. We added a canned product in also as every dog likes a little something in with their kibble. I was cooking a homemade stew but it's a lot of work and after being frozen to keep, just doesn't maintain a nice texture. For those that are interested, we went from Canidae
dry food to Eagle Pack Holistic Select, Duck & Oatmeal formula since Smoochie does have problems with allergies and yeasty ears and Halo Spot's Chicken Stew for canned food.
If I hadn't had the vet comment that she thinks in no small part the blood work changes on Dennett can be attributed to better food, I never would have given it all a second thought. My folks have two big Golden Retrievers that are doing well on Eagle Pack also. Pilot has food allergies and he's no longer chewing at his feet. Happy campers east and west I guess!

The weaving has progressed. I am a third of the way through the final towel and hope to get them off the loom today or tomorrow for finishing. I managed to get a pet prayer flag sent out for the Puss 'n Boots annual animal shelter silent auction. They have scarves but this was really appropriate to give them also. I wish I could go but the Greensprings Fire & Rescue is having their Harvest Festival the same night, also with a silent auction.

Lastly, my lasagna sauce recipe was requested.

Now, I make sauce different every time depending on what's available, how much I need and the position of the moon. But here is a bare bones version to jump off from.
2 large cans ground tomatoes ( use fresh if available, peeled and chopped fine or a can and fresh)
1 can ( 14 oz) beef or chicken broth or red wine or a combo
tablespoon or so of tomato paste
fine dice onions, bell pepper, sliced mushrooms and a little celery
fine dice garlic
red pepper flakes, bay leaf, pinch of sugar, oregano, basil,parsley and whatever other spice you might like in your sauce salt and black pepper to taste
olive oil

Saute onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic and celery in olive oil. If you want to add ground beef do so at this time also. For ground Italian sausage I fry in a different pan to drain most of the fat off, or cook sausages in the oven and slice for placement on ricotta cheese layer. Your choice.

Once everything is nice and soft but not browned add spices and wine/broth and paste, bring up to a happy simmer and add tomatoes and the pinch of sugar. Let it all cook for 5-10 minutes and check seasoning, adjust as needed along with consistency.
I don't like a thick sauce, I like a thin sauce so if you need more liquid add it, be it broth or wine. Bring to lowest setting, cover and simmer for about an hour. Use as needed for lasagna or some other pasta dish.

I think that about covers the range of stuff for today. I have tried to give the links for everything mentioned. :-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Paint Cans Goeth Away

Painting projects for 2009 are finally a wrap. It's been a long four days on the bathroom but I am very happy with it. If you don't like green, and I'm talking bright apple green, you won't like it. But I love green and since I am surrounded by greens of every deep shade and hue, this bright kiwi makes me feel like I'm walking smack dab into spring every time I turn on the bathroom light.

The paint cans, the brushes, the tapes and the rollers are all heading down for a long winters nap in basement. It didn't seem like I got a lot done paint wise this year but I did. The huge master bedroom, the back room with it's new windows and painted floor, the guest room and the bathroom. 2010 no doubt will see all the paraphernalia resurface.

I love these Day of the Dead pictures. And yes, they may be a little bizarre, but isn't that the charm?

They are around the tub and always make me laugh when I take a moment to actually use that nice big soaking tub. The third one is of a rider and a rearing horse. The flash didn't like the glass.

On farm news, Puck is still around, but he's been keeping a pretty low profile and since the heavens opened up yesterday with biblical proportion rains and wind I didn't expect to see him slinking about outside. The horses are pretty cranky. It was so nice just a few days ago and yesterday tails and manes were flying in the wind and everyone was wet and slopping in mud. The goats are bereft. They hate rain. I turned their shelter around so it wasn't facing into the wind.
I am taking old man Dennett to the vet this morning. This is his annual visit and we'll check his blood pressure since he is on heart medication. Pogo is going along for the ride. I'll let the vet and her two helpers clip Jaws nails this time. See if they can do a better job with the little piranha!
No weaving has happened to speak of, but soon. I need to get those towels done and off the loom. Maybe this afternoon while lasagna sauce is cooking....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Slinging Paint

Which is just about what I feel like doing. I'm so glad that after this room, I can put the paint cans, rollers, brushes, stirrers, and tape away for a few months. I could say I saved the best for last. Sure if you are an acrobat. Angled walls, wide and deep tub and high ceilings coupled with a two tone paint job and added trim have all conspired to make this more than slinging mere paint! The problem with bathrooms is they have fixtures and if you could move them out of the way or the room, I guess they wouldn't be considered as such.

So yesterday was spent standing on the toilet seat and straddling the tub. The tub walls where the hardest although it was interesting getting on and off the ladder in the shower stall. All the high portions are done in the allotted cream color, both coats. Today we'll (that would be Jack and I, Gene always manages to disappear during a painting marathon) tackle the lower portions in the bright spring green. Later in the week, trim. It is at this moment that I am bowing to whatever gods gave us the bright idea of old barn board around the tub. It means I NEVER have to paint it. The barn board came from an old barn that gave up the ghost our first winter while we were building. Good thing too because I'm not sure I would be able to get around it and no one is up for moving a cast iron clawfoot tub of unknown vintage. As you can see by the picture, I started while it was still dark outside. If you got to do it, might as well start early so you have some daylight on the other end.

On farm news, Puck the black cat has been sighted again on the property, twice, by me.
Once on the front porch at a bag of garbage waiting to be driven down to the barrel bin and yesterday morning sleeping on top of the hay inside the barn. Yesterday afternoon the horses where all practicing their solar collection routines, five flat horses all napping in the sun on the hill. I wanted to go out and put pillows under each of their heads they looked so peaceful until someone started dreaming. The feet started to move, and in the process that kicked up dust onto another horse and up he got waking everyone up with the shaking and stomping and mosey off to the water trough.
The saddles are in the house for their fall cleaning. I am half way through towel number 3 of the waffle weave warp and hope to finish it up later today or tomorrow.
The loom will then get a good cleaning and lay in wait for my Dad to put some magic on it. The colors of bamboo cones we picked out two years ago are beautiful and match their dining room rug to a T. I can hardly wait to see what gets woven up.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Well, It's a Look

Doesn't mean it's a good one, but it works for me! Just how dressed up does one need to be to get on the back of a horse? There was a time, when the riding pants came out, the high boots, the expensive gloves, the nice shirts and vests. Gosh it was a lot of work just to get all slobbery and hairy. I also want to mention high boots are very uncomfortable for walking, let alone walking home with either a horse that is lame in hand or without since I might have been abandoned ( Dandy, YOU know what I'm referring to here). The riding pants rarely have decent pockets and I have yet to figure out the sizing of any of the brands. Seriously, that 14 looks like an 8 or 10. Just about every piece of riding apparel is geared for slim, tall teenage girls and I am not joking here. It is. It is also very costly.
A pair of good riding pants will run in the $125.00-$200.00 range. Jackets and boots can go up into the $500.00-$750 area for show gear. In my opinion all that money can be more wisely spent on the important things, like a good comfortable saddle for your horse. That is the single area where folks shouldn't skimp. Pay for a professional fitting. Imagine carrying over a hundred pounds on your back in a saddle that pinches because it is too tight or rubs and chafes because it is too loose or too long? I can't think of anything worse and it's amazing to me the people who own horses and have no clue as to why their mount doesn't enjoy riding and they have never even thought to check how their saddle fits. So, lets set it straight, I don't show, I don't think at this point I could assemble an outfit acceptable for even a training show and I am a more comfortable rider for it. Sweat pants with good pockets work great,

Lands End has yoga pants that for all purposes are like riding pants with a boot cut ( at $20-$30/pair). I have good sturdy boots ( don't skimp on footwear, ever, it will make you miserable) with a heel for safety and will serve me walking if I ever have to hike back. I have warm shirts, loose jackets ( with good treat pockets), thick socks and a good bra or two just for riding.

So after throwing on my pieced together attire, I may look the slob, but I never have to give it another thought and can enjoy my time aboard unfettered. So it was yesterday when Gene decided he wanted some snaps of the fall ride.
I whined, "I look like Ma Kettle gone to pot!" He said "Who's Ma Kettle?". So it is you all get to see me in fashionable glory.

I had my hair up so the hot pink helmet was too tight for yesterdays ride.

Cooper is always at the height of fashion I might add, with his lovely dark bay coat and his big white spotty bottom for interest. The curls are just starting to appear on him. Hard to see and he sure isn't like Berber Carpet Imp!

We had a super ride.

I wasn't expecting to see much wildlife. The deer are scant at this time and who could blame them with the opening of rifle season this past weekend! But low and behold, when you least expect it, you get a delightful surprise. Coop and I have a little known path that meanders up to the canal road. It requires a little more work for him hill wise, but the footing and scenery are better than just a gravel log road. So up and over the rim to the canal road and point west and there about 100 feet away is a lovely coyote having his morning drink at the canal. He is truly startled, Coop, once he has identified it as something known is interested. We watch while Wily J thinks about leaping the canal and then decides to run away from us down the road. So Coop you wanna catch him? And we are off on a delightful little fools errand, galloping down the road, knowing we won't even come close but it's fun anyway. We dropped back down to a walk and I spent the time tracking our quarry. He ran a good long while down the dirt road before veering off to woodier parts. I was happy to see him. I've heard them from time to time and seen tracks but I'm never sure if it's a big dog or not. This one looked healthy, well fed, coming into a beautiful winter coat and damn fast!
We spent two hours out putzing around, looking at the snow on the higher peaks around our home and noticing the quiet that is settling in with the coming winter.
The sun was warm, the shade quite cool and the breeze hinting that we should enjoy fall with as much abandon as we can muster because winter is growing restless to arrive.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Slow March of Progress

Well, for me at least it's been pretty slow. I am happy to report the upstairs front bedroom is finally completed. Nothing left to do but give a good cleaning and make the beds. Whew!

Of course the upstairs bathroom is half torn apart. Gene finished off the ceiling and I need to get the chair rail ready to install by painting it. It will be the defining edge for my two tone paint job. Green on the bottom, cream on the top. Good thing it's a small room painted in a lighter color.

The fire & rescue towels are in process. Nothing fancy, just one color for the weft and trying to get them all done in time. I might add something a little fancier color wise in the weft as I near the end of the warp, but who knows.

I'd really like to get back on the rugs but even more, I want to get old spot bottom ( Cooper) out for a ride in the woods and that is first up on the list of things to do today. It's promising to be a cool, crisp and sunny day. Cooper has been sitting in the paddock laying on the winter fat, a little too much of it actually. I'm sure today the ride will be energetic to say the least. Why shouldn't it be!
If he has the energy, I know the hill to climb. A nice long constant grade that he can fritter his reserves on without straining his legs too much, good footing and views that can't be beat. Coming home is all down hill.

On farm news, I have not seen evidence of any Bond break-ins. Gosh, maybe I've finally prevailed? I rather miss the challenge and hope Bond has simply given up and found better skunk foraging places.
No raccoons, no bears and very few deer. Rube the outside boiler is officially in service, Gene is cutting wood, the trees are almost 50/50 in the leaf turning department. Doesn't look like it will be a very good color year. We had an inch of snow on Sunday, pretty early even for us. Wonder who won the pool guessing the first measurable snow fall?

We're planning and plotting things to do for the parental visit. Mount Shasta is on the list and a trip to the Redwoods in CA. That's about as far as we've gotten. We try to have a few things planned but not so many that we can't just say, let's hang at home and do nothing. My Dad has sent along some bamboo. He wants to weave a fancy runner on the Delta, so we'll be weaving too.

Friday, October 2, 2009

GSF&R Warp

That would be the Greensprings Fire & Rescue. The towel warp is wound on. I guess I can move pretty fast when I need to and this isn't a terribly long ,wide or high epi warp.

The trick to this one was winding 3 threads at a time to get the variegated green in the stripes. The color grown cotton I have is a 3/2, little heavier than I usually use at an 8/2 so I was able to take some finer 10/2 I have and triple it for something close in weight. There is a dark spruce green, a light fern green and organic natural in the mix of three. I'm setting it all at 12 epi, 22" in the reed and each towel will be 30" long in a standard waffle weave pattern. Plan B is, if it is too dense, to resley at 10 epi. The warp is about 5 yards long. I'm hoping for 4 towels.

This is a pattern I may want to duplicate in the future just for the fire and rescue. It drove home a couple of points. First is that I am a terrible, and I mean TERRIBLE note taker on my weaving stuff. The second is I much prefer planning a warp and putting it on to actually weaving it. Hence my looms all get stuck with stuff on them. It's not until I am jazzed about some warp I've thought up that stuff begins to move off the looms in progress.

To the first failing, I am going to attach a notebook to each loom and do my very best to at least put the bare bones information in there, or try to grab it for my scribbled doodles I call draft planning. If it's right there I might even be moved to put those important comments about how a structure or a fiber actually worked in the project.

To the second, I'm not sure. I like weaving, I do, but it's the warping and the sense of discovery as the pattern appears that first time which keeps me coming back. I suppose just doing what I've been doing for the time being. Shorter warps. ;-)

No farm news really. I think I know what flew into me the other night. I saw a small owl resting on the fence yesterday morning when I went out. I'll bet you he hangs around because the mice like to make a meal of dropped grain up at the goat paddock.
Maybe a fledgling from this year? I didn't put him in my light for more than enough time to identify it as an owl. I didn't want to scare him, so off the light went while I slowly opened the goat gate, then I turned and left. If he sticks around he'll be of great benefit on the farm.