Friday, August 31, 2012

Watch Out for that First Step

Nothing declares the start of a project like a big pile of scrap wood!  It's my favorite part.
It says "Holy crap, I guess we really have to do this now!" Oh wait, that's what GENE says. My comments usually sound like, "Are you done yet?" or "Seems simple enough to me!" Have I told you Gene has a fearsome scowl? But so do I! ;)

Right after this shot Gene started pulling the last stair riser away only to discover there was a wasps nest on the under side. We both split pretty darn quick. He went down the driveway, I popped back into the house. Minutes later we had a plan. He would use the crow bar to pull that riser out and I would hit them with wasp killer from the porch since it would be more exposed at my angle. Worked perfectly. Whew!!!

Now that the steps and the railings have been torn off,  the excavator can do it's job. Today it will be excavating the railroad tie steps (leading to the now imaginary porch steps), and dig all the holes for the footings, lots of footings. This will be a sizable front deck at 16 feet out from the house and 25 feet running the length of the front of the house. The long run of stairs leading up to the front porch will never be seen again. We are relocating any steps to the side of the deck were the land is less steep. For now we are using a ladder to get in and out of our front door. Soon we'll just have to use the back door as construction progresses.

The air is better but the fire is not. It's jumped from CA to OR in the Klamath Basin. A little rain would go a long way right now.

I'm going to miss most of the excitement with large equipment because I have to take Robin and Pogo to the vet. Robin is having his one year check up and booster shots and the evil Pogo is going to have his nails trimmed. He's really a nice little dog most of the time, but bring those clippers from the drawer and out pops the devil.

Not much time for any fibery stuff this week. I did spend hours on pocket design, cutting and lining for a pair of cargo pants for my Mom. In fact the two leg fronts are together, but it's time consuming. Every seam needs to be sewn, then serged, then top stitched twice. I don't do well with a double needle set up and find it easier to just do a second row of top stitching 1/4" from the first. I'm hoping to get them done and a few other projects worked on this weekend. No slacking on my deck supervisory position either.

Parting shot: The watcher at the window. Nice how we put those love seats just so small dogs could utilize the backs for viewing huh?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Crazy, Hazy Days of Summer

While the northeast watches tropical storms and hurricanes (not to mention all that Republican bluster down in Tampa!), the west is watching fires, temps and winds. Hoping that any rain will NOT be accompanied by lightening. Locally, I'm hoping the the evacuation in the Seiad Valley (Goff Fire), will prove to be unnecessary. Nationally, thoughts and prayers are with those facing Hurricane Isaac. Having lived on both sides of the country, left and right (and in Texas too), I know there are vast differences in weather experiences. I had no idea how big a big fire was or how absolutely frightening and far reaching its effects can be.

My experience with fires was mostly burning buildings or homes seen on the news, not acres and acres of torching trees. I had no clue but I had some questions.

How do fires get their names? For that, this article from Slate in 2005 provided my answer.

How are wildfires fought? It can take months to get a wildfire under control. The infamous Biscuit Fire smoldered in Oregon for close to 8 months before finally being dead
sometime in the middle of January when all those burnt acres succumbed to winter rains and snow. The mechanics of wild fires  are explained in this wiki article and an overview of fire fighting techniques in this one. It sure doesn't cover the sweat and hard work our nations fire crews; private, public and volunteer, put in to save forest areas, lives and homes.

 As to how to stop forest fires from happening; clearing, fuel reductions, controlled burns and the like. I have no comment.

 These are hot button topics out here and I think they probably all have their place. Other than lightening, carelessness is the biggest fire starter, here in the woods and in the cities.

Lastly, where are the fires this year? Oregon and Washington stats and for the visual the big map can be seen here. For all the fires burning in the nation right now and the acreage involved you can go to the Incident Information System.

By the way, all the pictures in this posting were taken yesterday. Don't think for a minute I am not fall on knees grateful that I'm showing pics of haze and bad air quality instead of fire. I am very thankful.

Parting shot: Osprey

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Top of Old Smokey

No snow, but wickedly smokey here. While temperatures have dropped considerably, the smoke from multiple fires in Northern California have made it impossible to ride.  The sky is hazy, and it still retains a heavy wood scent day and night.  If we did have a fire up here, who would know?

Late August always seems to be the busiest time for spectacular (and not in a good way), emergency calls. The Greensprings Fire & Rescue had three this weekend, one requiring a Mercy Flight off the mountain. The other two left in ambulances. One year we had a string of awful motorcycle accidents, another some pretty bad hiking falls and another, multiple small set fires kept popping up.  The only thing they have in common is the time of year. Beware the Ides of August!!!

I pretty much stuck to my sewing room this weekend. Got myself sidetracked with more shelf shifting but did manage to finish a couple of things. The second Victory Patterns Anouk came out well.

This is probably the only Eichler I'll ever own!

 I love this print and the organic cotton is crisp and full of body. It reminds me of  old fashioned cotton Percale sheets. I have some ideas to change this pattern up completely but am putting it away for now. The second top I snuck in.

 I ordered this pattern (Anna by Amy Butler), and it came in Thursday at Fabric of Vision. I was so smitten with the looks of it, I grabbed some sale cotton and did it soup to nuts in about three hours. It's a wonderful summer top pattern and ladies, you'll like the little bit of coverage that yoke/sleeve offers! Rhonda doesn't do this top justice.

 The back buttons give an interesting detail to an otherwise plain top.

 Now that yoke was a bit of bugger to fiddle with, but it all comes together in the end.
This is the first run through and it's always a little rocky on those. Amy Butler tends to draft her patterns for 20 somethings, so like me, if you try it, you might want to add a bit to the hip area. I graded about an extra inch in from waist to hip. I did not line the body either preferring to do a narrow bias binding for the lower armhole portion. You have to do this before you attach the collar/yoke.  I can see this done up for winter. Grade a little more room in it and do it up in corduroy or a stable ponte knit, add pockets and it would make a cute jumper over a turtle neck with some leggings.

Got to some reading over the weekend also.  I'm almost done with "Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion" by Elizabeth Cline. It will be an eye opener for you. Scan the reviews and I highly recommend it.

Parting shot: Domestic Terrierist!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fox's Wedding

Which is what this little Japanese cotton batik piece was titled when I found it years ago on Etsy. It had been just waiting in my stash of fun things for a eureka moment. During the "clean the bolt off" sale at Fabric of Vision, I brought it with me. It had stayed far too long folded up on the shelf and was at the top of my "use or lose it" list. Sandi found the basket weave printed cotton and the match was made.

 The wedding could finally move on! The pattern was an easy choice. Sewing Workshops Quincy top because it has a nice narrow back panel providing a suitable showcase and keeping the panel intact.

Those of you who follow my blog may remember that I collect foxes in almost every medium. So one fox moved on and within days another one arrived.

 This is a lovely and thoughtful gift from a friend who saw it and knew just the right home for it. It came with wrapping and stickers and ribbons and bows!

A casual meet up for dinner felt more like a mini birthday celebration. Thank you Dear Friend for seeing that and thinking of me.

Meanwhile, back at the barn, the Nick project moves along slowly.

 I got him out 3 days in a row. Two of those days we took long walks in hand off the farm. He needs to get out and experience events away from his companions. Nick is always willing to leave but has been more cautious and worried about his surroundings than he use to be. Use it or lose it, I need to get him out more for sure. The last day we walked miles, literally, both of us. He did surprise me by willingly going into the a stream the first time when I sent him forward. He didn't surprise me when he wiggled and jiggled and rubbed off half of his bridle while tied to a tree.

 The walk back home is all uphill. Just like when he was a youngster I tailed him (holding his tail as he walks using some of his power to pull me along), most of the way. He stayed steady in his pace, listened to my voice and got to feel brave being the leader while I stayed fairly safe on the ground should there have been any upsets. What also surprised me was how tall he got!

 Cooper and Dandy are both compact horses, Dandy barely 14.3 HH ( in horse speak that is measured at the withers and each hand is 4" making Dandy 59" high at the top of the shoulder. HH = hands high.), and Cooper 15 HH. Nick is certainly 15.2 plus and has filled out enough that the medium wide Tucker saddles fit him. It doesn't sound like a lot but it is when the overall horse is two to three inches taller everywhere. Trust me on this. It's a good way down should you part ways and Nick really isn't considered a tall horse by comparison to many.

In weaving, the Murphy loom is lying in wait for me to start. I've been so dang busy! Plotting and planning on the porch and deck,

 staying cool on hot days, dog walking and just stuff. Seems schedules go to seed in late summer! But here is the pattern it is threaded for. Basket Weave & Herringbone.

 Parting shot: Canine optical illusion!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I'm a big believer in keeping extras around for things I like. Two pairs of boots, one for using, one for when those wear out is just one example. They are my form of contingency plan. My little black mount Nick is the spare horse, the horse with the smoothest ride this side of a gaited mount, the horse for my later years.

 Only problem is, he hasn't had many miles recently. In point of fact, none. My spare languishes out in the pasture, green as he was two years ago. Shame on me! Well, enough of that. Yesterday, I finally grew a pair and announced I was riding Nick and headed out to grab him. He comes when he's called by the way.  Gene moseyed up to the round pen to hold him while I mounted just to make sure we wouldn't have an immediate saddle ejection. I don't know why I haven't ridden this horse? He has no buck, is sweet, smooth and honest. His steering could be better and he was a little busy with the bit, but hey, he hasn't had one in for a long while and I've got him in a slightly different one from his french link snaffle. His whoa is good. He willingly trotted out in both directions, we worked on circles and turns, he even gave me a nice couple of steps of back up. I made it a short 15 minutes of work and ended on a positive note before we were both done in from the heat. There's only two ways to get a seasoned trail mount, buy one or put the miles on the one you have. Time for some miles.

Over the weekend, I started and finished another french style house dress. Marcy Tilton's V8813 is a fun pattern and so well suited to "around the ranch" wear. I went down a size on this from the last edition and it improved the fit substantially.

 Big pockets, cute and comfy.

 This one done in a black/tan calico type print and using my little Japanese batik Tapir panel for the front. Of course the all important snap hardware for the pockets too!

Leggings, turtleneck and boots and we'll be turned out pretty well for fall wear too.

Sunday was spent getting a lot of patterns cut out. Three tops made the cut; another Victory Anouk, a Sewing Workshop San Diego and a Quincy. One pair of pants from the Sewing Workshop Trio collection was cut for my Mom and a fleece Petite Plus Walking coat complete with cute lining finished off the frenzy. Actually, I ran out of pins!

The weekend was rounded out with a drive over to Klamath Falls to visit with Mary and her handsome mount Woodrow. I had a wonderful time and got in some first rate gait observation watching this pair breeze around a beautiful large arena. I never tire of watching the interaction of horse and rider. The movement and carriage of horses is truly a thing of wonder and Woody didn't disappoint. He may be in his early 20's but he thinks he's still a much younger horse and Mary handles him beautifully and kindly.  We finished off the morning with a little browse around downtown K - Falls and some yummy bagels. And thank you for the patterns too Mary!

Parting shot: Gene & Photoshop. Need I say more?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Victory with Anouk

To say I was pleasantly surprised with the Victory Patterns Anouk top would be an understatement. I grumbled over it being a PDF pattern and Gene grumbled over the 50+-pages containing both instructions and tape together pattern pieces that he had to print for me. I don't have a printer hooked up to my computer, so Gene is designated "Print Shop".

The instructions were quite good, the pattern drafted beautifully. Something I also really appreciated was letting you know right on the pattern, which markings to do on the RIGHT side of the garment.  The nicely shaped European style armhole fit close and high on the body and the sleeve set in in the blink of an eye.

 Now I made a couple of adjustments which, in the end, I didn't need. I added a bit of width to the top front & back making it a bit too large. With the deep yoke and stiff regular printing paper, it was hard to get an accurate idea of fit even on Rhonda, so better a little large than a little small.

It certainly will accommodate a turtleneck underneath for fall wear, so I'm okay with it on this wearable muslin. I also found the little peek-a-boo space under the yoke to be much too low for me, so I worked in a panel to cover it up completely. Next top I'll either shorten that space or cover as I did here. And this pattern is earmarked for at least a couple of variations.

 I certainly will be shopping another pattern or two from Victory based on my positive experience with this one! It's very comfortable as you may or may not be able to tell from the wrinkles on this one.....

The heat has continued up here, with temps at 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. in the mid to high 90's F. I don't know how folks do it in the south or south west because that kind of daily heat just saps the ambition right out of me. Gene, on the other hand, always waits until now to begin his big summer project. Go figure! This year the front porch is being stripped down to bare bones. We've had a problem with leakage and cracking from the get go out there. He's doing an epoxy cement with a pebble finish on top. We're hoping it will fix the problem since the special epoxy is not prone to cracking in the cold and is quite water-proof. It's often used for the hardscape around pools. After that is done, the mini excavator will be rented and deep holes dug for a large front deck. The front of the house has always been a bone of contention between Gene and I. What to do with it? Finally we hit upon a solution that we were both jazzed about and didn't require lots of retaining wall building, french drain moving and super high landscaping costs. I'm, of course, elected for the supervisory position although, to clueless outsiders, it might look like a gopher position. Don't be fooled! ;) I'm leaving my paint brushes in storage this year. Concentrating on that project and finishing up every last taunting curtain project.

In farm news, we're back to this for morning feedings. It may still be hot, but Summer's hold is waning.

 Parting shot: Sewing room snopervisors (Smoochie & Robin), snoozing on the job! Thank god I don't pay these guys...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bells and Whistles

 Maybe stupidity and despair might be a better title, but then folks would panic thinking someone got injured or died and none of those things happened. What did happen is that I took a perfectly good pattern and a rather nice clearance fabric, put the two together and goofed it up beyond belief. The fabric was woven which was one of the contributing factors since there is no "wrong" side and of course it was bright. It eat up any and all markings like crazy. So, I made the left side into a right side, attached all the right side plackets and such and started in on the left side which was really the right side piece. Let's just say after a lightweight woven is sewn and serged it's very hard to take apart. Can be done, but once some of those plackets distort, it's going to be a battle and this design counts on those curved plackets to provide interest. I paid $4. per yard for the fabric. I used 3 yards. If I had more fabric I would have gone for it, but nothing more than a few 3" scraps remain I was that tight on it. It sits hidden on a shelf in a ball. We may only need a short break from each other. We'll see.

But wait, there have been other more pleasing projects finished. In fact the Sewing Workshop San Diego jacket loves being made into a vest.

 This is my version in plain black linen. It should make a wonderful basic wardrobe piece don't you think? And there's more...Cindie, weaver extraordinaire (and just plain old nice and generous too!), sent me a little piece of a sample she had woven on her new mega multi shaft AVL loom when I had asked.

 It had been sitting around waiting for just the right moment.  Thank you Cindie, your lovely little woven hearts have turned this vest into something very special in a number of ways.

The state of the ranch report reads hot, dry and dusty.

 I'm ready to go out and do a rain dance. Now wouldn't THAT be entertaining! Well don't hold your breath. I suspect this Boston born 50 something transplant couldn't produce much more than a little spit and some tears of laughter. Oh if getting rain where that simple though....

The new fancy TOMCAT mouse trap has scored a fresh mouse two nights in a row. Not bad. The catch and release program is still in full swing. I'm wondering just how many mice are hanging out in Castle Runamuck. Robin has shown interest (doesn't he look interested?),

although it is unclear whether it is Mickey he is after or the peanut butter on a little biscuit bait!

It should be a quieter week than last and with the heat and smoke coming from fires in California, that's probably a good thing.

Parting shot: 6 in 1.

Friday, August 10, 2012


That is the sound of another week zipping by. Some weeks just seem to do that don't they?
But it was a full and productive in it's own way. Each day had a highlight.

We'll start (predictably), with Monday, a day devoted to the drudgery of house cleaning. The weekly round-up of dust bunnies was vastly improved by the start of a "clean off the bolt" sale at Fabric of Vision. If you finished a bolt of 45" cotton, be it organic, corduroy, or just basic cotton yard goods, it was $7.50 per yard.

 I had been petting a few fabrics hoping they would still be around by the 6th and had prepared myself for some Olympic level bolt emptying. I picked up some nice organics and it was a good savings since most run around $19-$21 per yard.

 Yes, I had to buy more than my usual 3 yards, but with the sale emptying the bolt was still less expensive than buying the shorter yardage I would have wanted. These are fabrics I adore so having extra isn't a bad thing. Some fabrics are already ear marked for my Mother and Gene. Gene is, of course, getting something from that nice woven plaid and there is a plenty of that rocket ship organic to go around. :)

Tuesday was spent at home having a perfectly wonderful trail ride with Mary, followed by leisurely lunching over at Howard Prairie. It's always nice to have company and so special when that company can ride. Mary and Dandy make a nice pair and she sure gives him some confidence to lead out on the trails. He knows how to be a babysitter with Gene, but it's nice to see him be able to step up and be a leader on a trail ride with another horse.
Cooper pulled a few ugly mugs over it, but all in all was very good. We have no worries about startling the wildlife with all our chatting and laughing, that's for sure! We got back just as the heat and bugs were taking hold of the day.

Wednesday on the surface didn't look too promising. Peter had a check up appointment at the vet and while I always love seeing Dr. Beth, I wasn't looking forward to it.

 He had been coughing due to his old age enlarged heart and we had been slowing things down with walks in the summer heat. BUT, to our delight, blood work all came back just about perfect and that is grand news on a dog who is 17. The bonus was the tweaking of his meds. She added just a bit of Lasix ( if there is any fluid in the lungs it will help to clear them out), to his Enalapril regime and we started him on Vetmedin, which in simple terms, helps the heart pump stronger without demanding more oxygen. It has few if any side effects and made such a quality of life difference for Dennett during his last two years. By Thursday any coughing Peter had been experiencing was gone. He was bright eyed, energetic and full of beans. This is not uncommon for Lasix as it is fast acting. We're keeping him on it for two weeks and then we'll pull him off and see if he stays cough free. If not, I've been instructed to just add the quarter tab back into the mix. I have included links to all these drugs should anyone reading it have an older dog, as certain types of heart conditions are common in dogs and this is a pretty standard (and successful), course of treatment.

Thursday, after a wonderful walk with Peter (at Olympic pace I might add), it was the designated town day. Like Monday and Wednesday in one week weren't enough! I did get a hair cut, do a little shopping for small companion pieces for the sale purchases (the sale goes through Sunday), and then it was off to the market.

Not a stitch has been sewn this week so far, but I did get Victory Patterns Anouk taped together and then cut out.

 This is my first experience with a PDF pattern and I'll admit it's kind of a pain but I love the pattern and it's nice to support small indy designers. Hooray for big cutting tables!

The prayer flag warp is being threaded and I've been working on the prayers written in silk here and there.

Today I'm not going anywhere but either out to the paddock, up to the sewing room or onto a loom bench!

Parting shot: Robin has also had a busy week! Getting into mischief is exhausting work.