Thursday, November 22, 2012

May You Be Blessed

May you be richly blessed with Good Health, Abundance and with Great, Great Joy!  May your heart be filled with peace, your life with adventure and your soul with expansion.  May you find in all the Things YOU get to do today an infinite number of things for which to be Thankful.

(I'm away visiting Mother and then Daughter.  Back on Sunday.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Knitting Peace

She's gone.  A little over a week ago her last breath came and went and was no more.

Peace and Sweet Release
The most appropriate response it seemed for me was to knit.  I'd been toying with some lanolin-rich Irish yarn for a small project--a gathering pouch for a young lad to stash collected treasures while he adventures about his yard.  I found that taking the time from the other Things I get to do today to sit rather still, hold the yarn in its serpentine around my tensioning fingers and let the thoughts of my dear friend Karen* who gifted me the yarn and who has so recently departed this physical plane knit themselves into a place of peace was a perfect way to hold her and her memory is a sacred space.

We had time to chat--I could hear her voice from a place beyond.  We laughed.  And cried a bit.   And remembered.  But mostly, I just sat with the yarn that had been hers, was now mine, and would be someone else's soon, and found a soft sweetness in releasing Karen to the next phase of her being, honoring her memory with each stitch.

*Some past posts that include Karen:  Open Season, A Gaggle of Swifts, Peace of Yarns, Gifted by Friend, Sniffing the Sights, Hilda Saves the Day, Rake Leaves/Play Ball.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dresses, a Bit Ragged and Torn

Holes and tatters in Nora Jones' garment.

They've lasted a year of 24/7 wear.  New ones are on the way.  My girls hope to look swell again for the holidays (probably not by Thanksgiving), and their new dresses will be the perfect thing.

Katy Perry Chicken looking far worse than last year's
Bad Hair months. 
Pin feathers will give way in a shower of milky dust to lush, strong feathers that will keep the girls warm for the winter season.

Today's rain has kept the hens in the shelter of the coop nearly all day. They're grateful to be loved, chicken pets instead of commercial turkeys.

And though one of the Things I get to do today is lay one of the hens to rest layered in straw and under the damp earth, I'm glad they are my pets as well. And Queen Latifah Hen, though now gone, no longer has to deal with faulty kidneys. All is well on the city farm.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Summer Dust

It's not all the same.  Summer dust is totally different from winter dust.  In the usual rain-every-few-days-except-in-August Portland, we can safely say we never have the summer kind.  Summer dust is the result of dry:  dry fields, dry dirt roads, dry earth combined with wind.  Rain puts an instant stop to the very thought of summer dust.

This past summer and fall it was amazing to see fine grit on the furniture--summer dust.  It rested most on the window sills left open to welcome a breeze and admit the comfort of fresh air during the night.  Though not much of a duster, I removed the grit more frequently than I thought possible in August, September and October.  When the rains put an emphatic end to grit in the wind, it seemed that perhaps all the summer dust had been removed from the house.

Gritty "summer dust" behind hidden behind the books
on the library wall.

However, when Things I get to do today encompass taking down a wall of bookcases in order to paint the surfaces behind, unknowns become known.  Behind the books (and even in front of the books--gasp!) lay a significant amount of summer dust.  Perfect time to see it on its way and dust the books.  Perfect time to settle into the rain and damp of middle fall and winter and to allow time to gently bless all surfaces with the lint and fluff of winter dust.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lipstick RED

Burning Bush

Drop-dead gorgeous! I've always wanted shrubs this color.  The very same type have grown in my own yard, but in the fall, the leaves turned a reddish brown.  That was it.

Maybe it's a crisp, deep frost that helps them reach a glory-hallelujah state.  It is never cold enough here in the fall to cause this explosion of color.  But at the other house, over the mountains where our daughter lives, the show is spectacular.  And for now, Things I get to do today, appreciate the ruby lips of the lively leaves no matter where they grow.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

We Are So Honored

Too much in a hurry to sit still for a picture, our new
exterior house cleaner:  Ruby Crowned Kinglet.
Just a tiny fleck of his crown is visible.

Everyone is on board.  The house, in its sprucing up, has apparently put out a call to the Universe.

Working over the trellis
Even the birds, little tiny ones at that, have shown up to make their contributions.

Under the eaves, over the eaves--
we received a full inspection
Ready to have another go at the dining room window frame.

I noticed him first gleaning bugs from under the eaves at the back porch. Shortly he was back checking around each of the windows.

This sweet, tiny Ruby Crowned Kinglet has become the latest member of the crew to make sure we look sharp on the outside (since I've been paying attention to the interior only of late.)

When he checks out the window frame, his little crown flashes a huge, brilliant orange/red flare.  And because of this little guy's attention to the outside, I took a look at it myself.  "Wash the exterior walls" will find its way to Things I get to do today (but not until several tomorrows into the future.)  At the present, I really appreciate his help!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Too Many for the Road

Drunk is never a good thing.  If you are a Robin, it's even worse.  The sky and the road and windows all look the same.  This fat fellows found the "sky" had suddenly grown solid.

Abundant Porcelain Berries
Too many for the road OR the skies

The rain and the time of year conspired to bring down the Porcelain Berries and all their leaves. Nearly every morning, Things I get to do today include blowing the results off the patio. This morning's ritual moved smoothly until my eye reached this fellow--fortunately before the wind of the leaf blower caught up to him.

Drunken Robin survived his window 

He was one of many of his fellows who feast on the blued fruits of the Porcelain Berry vine.  The nearby house window looked like the path to freedom in the skies.  Not so.  He crouched on the patio without moving as I quieted the leaf blower.  A big leaf had lodged on his beak and head.  As I pulled off the leaf and took his picture, he remained motionless, waiting patiently for his wits and senses to return which they eventually did. When his drunk wears off, will he remember?  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Walls

In the day light, the color comes across a fair bit lighter

Pale Honey.  Sounds delicious to me. Our frequently rainy and often dark climate puts in a request for warm colors on the interior walls of my house.  That's where the golden tones of honey come in.

Cold air return: cleaned and replaced with
painted screws onto a clean and freshly painted ceiling
The wall painting went slick.  Handy Andy remembered her painting instructional videos.  Load the roller.  Rotate the roller back and forth when moving from the paint pan to the wall to prevent it from dripping.  Begin rolling at 1/4 of the way down from the ceiling and roll down to 1/4 from the baseboard.  Then roll up, up to the top and down, down to the bottom.  Reload and repeat.  This is amazingly fast and produces perfect results.

The above tip lays a uniform and moderately heavy coat of paint on the wall--ideal if you aren't interested in doing two coats.  Top of my Things I get to do today is NOT to be interested in putting two coats of paint on the walls.  That gave me time to do all the walls in the dining room, living room and entry in the afternoon after my morning "touch up" of the ceiling and before house guests arrived at 6 PM.  A couple of rest days are so in order.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Ceiling

Love/hate:  2 gallons is enough for a
huge mess.

Learning curves can be painful.  And embarrassing.  And time consuming.  Handy Andy, miss-I-can-do-anything, intended to spray-paint the vaulted ceilings.  A bit of a stitch in one shoulder convinced me that that rolling the ceilings would be very hard.  Spraying would be so much easier!

Several days of laying out the process in my head was useful.  Watching expert "how-to" videos on line was critical.  Gathering the right equipment was frustrating--especially when the extension pole the experts said was needed was not available to rent ($175 to buy for a one-time use).

Peak of the vault--hosed for a split second with paint

Being persistent equalled all the Things I get to do today.  With a 4-hour rental clock running, I was finally ready to take care of the ceilings.  A 30"wand on the end of my spray gun made it possible to reach the 12' peak.  Ready to go.  Pull the trigger for the first pass. SPLAT, SPLASH!  Paint showered all over me, the wall, a wedge of carpet that was exposed, the fireplace hearth, the dining table in the next room!  Not believing that the fine mist I had seen in the expert video was NOT coming out of my sprayer, I tried it again on a lower wall (preventing the drench of paint from overhead).  SPLAT, SPLASH!
Spray gun, wand and corrected nozzle attachment.
All paint splatters on the plastic were from the single squirt overhead!

Time to look at the end of the wand.  Here is where I crash straight into the sharp curve.  The wand is a tube for the paint but comes with no spray/mister tucked into the  nozzle head--I proved it to myself, twice!  So now's time to let the rental clock tick down as I clean the carpet of paint rain and finally put the "bit" from the spray gun on the end of the wand nozzle.

At the end of four hours filled with roller coaster emotions of disbelief, despair, elation and determination, the rental equipment went back.  The next morning a wiser Handy Andy put the paint roller on a very long pole, painted over the learning curve stripes, and made the ceiling look great.

Tomorrow:  The Walls

Saturday, November 10, 2012


This all started, you know, when I cleaned (really cleaned) my kitchen floor.  Be warned for your own situation.  Scrubbing can lead you to a very slippery slope.

So now I find myself preparing the interior of my house, as in living room, hall, kitchen and family room, to be painted.  According to my husband, it looks like the place forgot to take off its Halloween costume, draped as it is with ghostly, filmy plastic to protect floor and furniture from the "paint dust" from spray painting the ceiling.

Dirty, dirty

And down come the ceiling cold-air return covers.  In the twenty years of their boarding in our house, they've been cleaned (from time to time) but have never been removed and washed.  The gray heads of the screws annoy me slightly.  Among all the other painting details helping the heads look smart will be one of the Things I get to do today.

Going to spray paint these to match

Found that a 3x5 card, punched, worked just swell to hold the screws for a quick spray paint.  Photo soon of the delightful results.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

For the Birds--Plant a Tree

It has no roots.  It may not live.  For a tree with leaves to be bare in winter certainly does not foretell its future viability.  But come spring, we'll know for sure.  Regardless of what shows on the tips of each branch, this odd tree will continue to serve its purpose.

Downey adjusts easily to the new location
next to the sideway--good access for Mom
 and her walker.

My mother loves to feed the birds in the winter. North of Spokane snows are measured in feet not inches.  The birds who stay are blessed by the help from Mom's feeders.  She is careful to tend them with watchful regularity.  But over the years winter snow and ice has made the old feeder location treacherous to get to if not impassable at times for even the able bodied. At 91, Mom's not going to attempt crossing the icy driveway to keep the birds' tummies filled.

Handle and hook so Mom feels safe and can enjoy filling the feeders

Most satisfying of Things I get to do today is make the new bird feeding station and insure that it is a pleasure to visit for the birds and for my mother.  An 8' 4x4 post, a 2x4 cross beam, fasteners and screws make the basics.  Three feeders are fastened to the cross beam.  Next screw in a sturdy hook to hold the small bucket of bird feed that my mom has trundled out on one handle of her walker.  Then a secure, keep-my-balance handle is fastened on well so mother's stable while she focuses on filling the feeders with sunflower seeds.

A Black-capped Chickadee and Downey Woodpecker feel at home

And now to find a "tree." Service berries grow profusely on this land. A long, lateral branch from a nearby shrub is perfect. With 18" plunged into the ground, this delicate "tree" still stands nearly 10 feet tall. As the last soil is tamped around its trunk, chickadees and pine siskins have already marked it as their own. I wouldn't be surprised if it sprouted leaves, sent out roots, and started another life in its new location after winter has come and gone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chop Wood, Carry Water

We are SO grateful that the water now comes in through a pipe.  When I was a kid on the farm, we carried it into the house in three-gallon, enameled buckets.  Two of them sat on a cart in the kitchen after they had been filled at the pump.  For many years now (since 1957) faucets, sinks, a toilet, and a shower have been a part of the house.

Three and a half rows of wood for the winter

But when I visit my mother, I get to chop wood.  We left the farm for my mother to take RN training.  I was too young to handle an ax except to make kindling. And when I tried to milk the cow, it just made her cranky.  Small hands are can make a mess of things.

"Small" wood for the stove

All these years later, it is safe to say I grew up, though a child-like glee wells up when the ax falls smartly and the wood splits with a decisive and resounding crack.   I found that I love to chop wood.  I make sure that in all the Things I get to do today, time is left to include a contribution toward keeping the house warm.

Monday, November 5, 2012

In Passing

"Slow me down, Lord, I'm going too fast," the song goes.  Well, that happened for sure on the drive back from my mother's place.

Washington side of the Columbia River just west of Hood River

On my way North, I missed seeing the orange marmalade of Fall flow down the gullies of the muscled hills.

Bright moss mounds in rolling landscapes
Won't see this at 70 miles per hour!

Driving back to Portland, a traffic alert reader board informed us of an accident ahead.  Half an hour later traffic slowed to a walking pace with a quick catch-up step in between.  At that pace Things I get to do today include taking time to breathe and relax and noticing art in the highway divider.  That's not where one normally turns for beauty and balance.  But it is there.  Just slow me down.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Secrets of the Earth

Replacing raspberry support posts

Be careful when you dig.  It never entered my mind to dig with caution, but my eyes are always looking for the unusual.  While at my mother's, the Things I get to do today list always includes a multitude of opportunities for exploration.  Replacing rotted-off supports for the raspberry canes was unexpectedly one of those times.

Critter was found right where the canes plunge
into the earth

Right next to the post hole, something caught my eye.  Creamy white is not the color of dirt.  This was something else.  My gloved hand scooped up the odd object while my stomach gave a little churn (sorry to admit that whatever this critter is becoming makes me a little ill even now).

"Whatever it is" sitting next to "whatever it was"

Regardless of my feelings toward it, it agreed to sit for a couple of photos.
Furry little feet are part of this guy's equipment.

When the post was in place, the hole filled and tamped, the little critter was returned to the earth, just an inch or so under some fluffy, sandy soil.

Keep your secret.  Reveal yourself when your time comes.  So pleased to have accomplished my task and kept you safe.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Real Mess

Mess of Beans is a figure of speech.  We are now talking about a real mess--all over the place.  It started in the lettuce (alone) patch.  Leave two gorgeous lettuces alone on their honeymoon and you'll get some hot action. (See previous post of October 7.)  What followed was a late-night kidnapping of the crown candelabra from the tallest plant.

 I'm in love with this dark, burgundy lettuce.  Garden salads are a staple in our evening meals.  Since we eat plenty of other green leaves from about the yard, the color of this variety makes it enticing and delightful.

A beautiful burgundy colored lettuce--
I believe it is called Merlot--dried for saving

Our dry, hot weather had gone on for months, exceeding all past records.  I became careless.  The middle of the night it first rained, I awoke with a start.  In my Things I get to do today I had forgotten to bring in the multiple seed stalk from the honeymoon bed.  An observer (there were none, fortunately) would have seen a figure in night wear, bent against the drizzle, scuttling quickly to the garden, breaking off the crown candelabra of seeds, tucking it into the loot bag and disappearing just that fast.

Tiny seed head

Pinching off the end tassel allows the seeds to fall out
10 to 20 seeds in each tiny head

Stray seeds from each head are mixed with the shards.
These will grow in my lettuce bed.

Set out to dry for two weeks, the seeds now need to be released from their tiny heads and stored safely.  The first attempt, rolling the head between thumb and finger produced the seeds as well as all the protective dried head in shards and thoroughly mixed with the seeds.  What a mess!  

If these were to given as tiny Christmas presents, the separating technique needed fine tuning.  By removing tuft of the head, the seeds squirted out nearly clean.