Monday, December 9, 2013

Mitten Weather

Knit from Finn Sheep wool mitten kit
It's probably the same in your town, too, if you live in the USA outside of Florida.

Ever notice how wonderful things all come together at the right time in perfect order? Like finishing mittens just before the cold spell hits. Being on the way home (and near home) from travels when your spouse suddenly needs to be in the hospital.  Having a gas stove when the furnace goes into geriatric mode.  Having the furnace give one more try at keeping the house warm on the evenings when you come home from the hospital early to catch some extra sleep.  Having the best gastroenterologist in the hospital assigned to do your husband's surgery.  Having a daughter whose work allows her to be anywhere who comes home to help cover all the bases when there are extra things to tend to.

A new furnace is being installed right now requiring that "Stay Home" be tops on the Things I get to do today, which also means being able to take a moment to write right here about all the recent blessings that are coursing through our family at the moment.

May this mitten weather find you cozy and hopeful and inspired to bless the bliss in your life.  And may your husband pass gas as proof of a successful surgery when he needs to. Life is good!  Very good!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for You

Perfect for eating or for feasting the eye on a Thanksgiving Table.
It all came together perfectly, the definition of Synchronicity.  A perfect growing season for Persimmons, enough time and focus to prepare token gifts, an exquisite ball of yarn in all the right colors bought years ago with no possible project in mind, leftover paper lunch sacks from my husband's working days all came together to provide a tangible comment of appreciation to the neighbors who live on our dead end street.
Plus a note inside on what to do with Persimmons!
Not many people know.

I'm thankful for them. And I'm thankful for YOU.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Upping the Down Down

Emptier near the top (right) and puffy full near the bottom (left)
It's been slipping out at night.  Caught it just a couple of weeks ago for the first time as part of the routine Things I get to do today. The top row of our down comforter has twice gone nearly "empty." But gone where? A whole blog sometime back was dedicated to the puzzling situation and the efforts required to fill the top pockets with more down (from an old vest) to plump them up again.

The escape vent is slightly visible on the bottom right
of this square.
The downs traveling down have been discovered.  What appeared to be square totally stitched pockets turned out to have little escape hatches.  All the activity at the top of the comforter required to make the bed, pull the covers up under the chin at night, and a few arms flailing have chased the down down.  That would explain the very thick pockets toward the foot of the bed.

Twenty minutes of patting the bottom pockets next to their "escape vents" upped the down down.  Though some of the hens are scanty feathered around the neck, we in the house are now finally cozy.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Why is it always that?  Why do I not think of "Go to the bathroom" before I am bundled up with boots newly tromped through the mud?  And those items in the distant bedroom that were to go to the shed, muddy boots cannot come and fetch them.

Things I get to do today take me out into dirt, the rained-on, wet, wet earth.  Boots are perfect for my feet, but their tread is a sucker for mud.  If they've been outside, they are never clean enough to flat-foot on a hard floor, nor to tip-toe over carpet.  Nope.  Can't be done.

I rush into the house, only the tippest of my toes touching the vinyl.  Two plastic grocery bags slip  over the offending boots.  A quick overhand at the ankle, and the bathroom is in sight.  Grab the items for the shed, sprint to the back door and off with the bags.  Not bad for the after afterthought.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holidays Are Nearly Here

I can tell because the earth has her gown ready.  The fabric is a rich brown studded with brilliant pearl-sized beads in turquoise, purple and aquamarine.  Gold bugle beads with splashes of "gold-leaf" complete the design.  If sewing this fabric were part of the Things I get to do today,  I'd be a bit of a wreck.  Sewing beaded fabric is not for the faint in heart.  But Nature drapes herself in exquisite garb that needs no needle, no thread, and only observant heads turn to admire.  
The earth's beaded gown--ready for Holiday parties.  Porcelain berries, stems and leaves on damp earth.
Were a brown velvet covered with these colors and shapes, a dress made from it would stop the show!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Four and a Half Hens

How many do you have?  That's nearly alway the first question after most folks hear I have chickens. The answer is usually, "Five."  But the last month or so, the truth is, "Four and a half."

Petty coat showing on a tiny hen
We'd been away for ten days or so building a car port in Bend for our daughter.  Kind neighbors came twice a day to tend the five hens.  During that time a common but very strange-looking thing happened to my plumpest, most vigorous chicken.   Massive handfuls of feathers appeared in the coop.  Every morning they flowed out of the roost area.  Her caretaker was alarmed and removed the feathers.  She was nearly afraid to look for fear she would find a dead hen, naked and cold.

Grunge comes and goes in the fashion world,
but this style is never in.
Kate Perry Chicken, the most fashion conscious girl of the flock, was getting smaller and smaller.  By the time we came home, she was only half the size of the other hens and about a third of her own usual self.

But Nature is balanced, and all is well.  Kate is close to three quarters of herself again.  Soon her comb will be redder, her tail feathers tall, and plump will be her shape.  Things I get to do today will include counting my hens is whole, round numbers.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall Fruit Salad

Glorious leaf colors come together though the fruits cannot.

Nature makes delicious combinations.  When fall leaves turn spectacular, their coming together is a juicy delight. I found the Persimmon, the Ginkgo and the Blueberries mixing it up during the Things I get to do today for fall clean up.  Best "fruit salad" I've seen in a long time.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Simple Pansy

From my mother's side garden--
a snow and Pansy arrangement.

A Pansy is not really an elegant flower. Because of their short stems, they aren't found in formal flower arrangements, bridal bouquets, dinners for heads of state.  There are probably other reasons as well.  It's a humble flower.

Rock-sheltered Pansy as
Fall turns briefly cold.

Most often Pansies grow wildly after self-seeding from the previous year.  They turn up all around the garden bed and will bloom wherever they are allowed to put down real roots.  That's not the lineage of  an elegant, long-stemmed flower.

North of Spokane: chilled and brave

But just before I stepped into my snow covered car, noticing the royal courage and contrast of this simple Pansy was the sweetest of Things I get to do today.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Speck of Sunshine

Ginkgo Biloba  shining all over my yard!

Today is Fall Grey.

Some days are deeply impenetrable in that dense, dark color.  Regardless, one can always find spots of brilliance and light, little reminders of the giant sun.  My Ginkgo tree flashes pure, clean yellow all up and down our street, the only radiant tree on the curb.
Fuyu Persimmons--ripe enough to eat.

My favorite of Things I get to do today is taste test a golden, sunny orb from the Persimmon tree.  Grey has no grip on my soul--not today!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Three Twigs in Their Pots

Twigs, even large ones do not hold much promise.  A columnar apple tree, when it's only a couple of years old, is really nothing more than a large twig.  Surprise, surprise.

Scarlet Sentinel in April
Our three apple tree "twigs" have lived with us for a year and a half.  Pretty flowers graced them in the spring, but they're still babies, and I expected nothing more from them.

Northpole, which we planted in the southern position, looked naked all summer until I paused at look at its base.  Three giant apples snuggled together with ruddy green cheeks under the large leaves.  Golden Sentinel at the far north was covered with pretty little green apples.  I did not thin them.  Some were stolen by squirrels, some fell to the ground and whatever I could collect were fed to the chickens.  The girls pecked them enthusiastically.
Making my mouth water even now.

Then Things I get to do today said to pick the funny apples on the middle tree, the Scarlet Sentinels. Most of the fruit had little black dots scattered about on the skin, reminding me of worms.  A knife split one crisply apart revealing a clean, bugless interior. Also on the "Things" list: do a taste test. The best of the bunch, the Scarlets, are sweet, tart, crisp.  So glad the trees are potted so that when we move, these "twigs" can go with us.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Clearly Clerodendrum

All dressed for Halloween!
I thought I knew.  I didn't.  The enchanting spent-blossom seed heads of the Clerodendrum were not what I imagined. Also called Harlequin Glorybower, the stunning fall show looks like little jester hats sprinkled magician-style all over the small tree. The glistening fuschia petals appear to be succulent and thick.

A closer, careful observation reveals nothing thick except the center, the turquoise "bead." The petals are thin with their edges curled back to create this stunning illusion. As long as I thought I knew, there was no space in the Things I get to do today to learn more. Really opening my eyes, to see clearly, made room for these little jesters to un-trick me.  No Trick--All Treat.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Birdie Bouquet

Rudbeckia, Camphor Hyssop, Cosmos,  White Boneset, 
Feng Shui says "no."  Dried flowers in bouquets in the house are dead flowers in the house.  Not a good thing.  Outside is a different matter, I'm sure.

When several clumps of Rudbeckia finished their bloom cycle, I remembered the birds--Gold Finches and Lesser Finches--that like to feed on the seeds.  Rather than stuff the unattractive dried foliage and flowers into the yard debris bin, a plan popped into the Things I get to do today.  I'd stake all the seed-food flowers in front of my dining room window.  We would watch the happy flocks settle one bird at a time like the timid flakes of a season's first snow.  They come in the morning for breakfast right about the same time we are having ours.

This morning we noted several other types of spent flowers that the Finches were trying. So why not make a dried flower bouquet of all the seedy sorts in the yard that the birds might enjoy, all in one place--an edible flower arrangement--a Birdie Bouqet.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Too Tough to Tell the Truth

I've put them on nearly every day.  These gloves have been the protector of my hands since September 26th, the day we started the carport in Bend.  Except for a five-day break around the first of October, every other day the Things I get to do today involved building (along side my hubby who did the heaviest of work) the foundation and structure that would provide shelter for Samantha (she's a long-ago-retired Forest Service Jeep who's needed a cover for years).  
Hiding the truth about the effort it takes to build a carport.

The gloves are just cheap throwaways.  But we shed our dirty clothes each evening, and the gloves got tossed into the wash with all the rest.  Everyday they were fresh and clean.  It certainly made it easier to put them on.  

The carport is to go along this sidewalk.

It wasn't until the last day, as we poured grout behind the retaining wall, that I noticed gaps where the thumbs join the hands.  These little tears do not tell the truth about the work they did from dirt to finish.

The footings were to be two feet deep and one
foot square.  This is what we found in most
of the holes for the footings.

West side footings  are poured.
Took a few days break here.

Extra help putting up the "bents" and bolting them to
the footings.

Finally well "out of the ground"
Smiling Sheltered Samantha
The sign belonged to the construction business of  the
previous generation.  The company would have been proud.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Grand Re-Opening

Grand Re-Opening of Dusty Springs

A little dust goes a long ways.  Hens, however, can handle a lot of dust.  Fall, with the rain and the wind, has none to be found.  So there is the dilemma.  Where does a hen find her dust?  A hen must dust.

Supplies: scraps from other projects

My girls had a resort hotel for their dust bin.  The space was really the first story of a chicken tractor that since has found itself moved to a friend's house and is fully occupied with more hens.  My flock has been short a dust bath house for a couple of months.  That's now a situation looking for a solution.

Bath house frame: as big as the
longest boards available
Checking it out!

Looks like it's acceptable.  Nora (on the right) has an itch
that won't wait.
 Find that solution and build a dust bin are Things I get to do today.

Afternoon sun makes blissful dusting.  Violet demonstrates.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Glorious before become soil again
Passing from alive to not alive is seldom done gracefully.  My Rhubarb has it mastered I observe during the garden clean up Things I get to do today.  No longer erect and crisp, the stalks have lost their will. The leaves lay flattened, exposed, vulnerable and, most of all, beautiful and elegant.

No fear of letting go
What lesson is here?  Is it possible that what lies beyond is more glorious than what we are so attached to in this physical awareness? Consider the lilies. Consider the Rhubarb. Consider yourself.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fall Signs of Spring

Spring comes pulsing, even at this time of year. Be looking for it. The hope of spring gets us through dark, wet, cold, damp, snow, sleet, ice, rain and grey. The most fun Things I get to do today are filled with the vibrance of Spring. Already.
Seeds ready for next spring starting: Sun Gold, Jeune Flamme, Rapreco Paste, Green Zebra, Galina Yellow Cherry.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hard, Sharp, Soft

Yucca is not wispy.  And yet there it was, gentle wisps curling around the stiff, pointy stalks of the Yucca leaves.  Things I get to do today take me past this area on the front walk frquently.  Pretty curls soften my on-a-mission of focus and capture important moments of contemplation.

Threads of contrast--curls on the straight.

Spirals headed in every direction.

How like people--always a soft side, always another aspect not readily visible,  always contrasting beauty.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

180 Degrees

I should apologize to someone.  Most likely it should be directed to Sam, the previous mayor of our town.  Since he's no longer listening (actually never was listening), perhaps it could just be a public statement, witnessed by blog readers from around the world.  That should be good enough. (See post "And My Mayor Loves Me" 10/24/11.)

One handsome bucket.  
"I'm sorry I said all those nasty things about the compost bucket put on my curb nearly two years ago. I know that you meant well, and I used it for a purse only once.  I've never used it for its intended purpose:  putting kitchen scraps into the yard debris for pick up each week.  My kitchen scraps are way too precious to give to any mayor, even one that I liked and admired.  But as I was cleaning out the pantry in the middle of Things I get to do today, I came across that compost bucket.  My other one was a little small, and I had a purpose in mind for it, so I decided to try this one I pay extra for each month.  I am chagrinned to observe that I absolutely love it.  It's wonderful.  Let me tell you why:  it holds about a gallon; it has a lid that pretty much seals off the odors; it is already brown, so won't stain from decomposing vegetables; it has a handle that is sturdy; it is designed well for dumping with a little lip for ones fingers to grip when it is inverted.  In short, it's a "beauty" regardless of where it came from.

The bottom line is that I love the bucket.  But, Sam, don't even think about getting any of my kitchen scraps.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Quick Fix

Little black chips around "Twelve O'clock"

Handy Andy could have been more careful over the years.  The damage is beginning to be noticeable.  Now that the gold is scraped off in small areas, the black shows through. She's shrugged for the last year, trusting that most folks are not careful observers and will not see the black where gold once was.

Close up of chipped area

Gold nail polish drying over the chips

Then Handy Andy remembered the broken wrist, the purple cast, the gold decoration and the gold fingernails to match.  Gold nail polish would save the day and the tray.  Daubing a tiny touch of "hiding the carelessness" took only a minute in the Things I get to do today.

Slightly visible at "Three O'clock" but so much better than black marks

Close inspection is not desired on this project.  Hold this baby at arm's length, and most folks will never have a clue that the tray was damaged, ever.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Savior of the Garden

The flowers of summer are gone.  If it weren't for the Rudebeckia, there would be no color in the yard--the Rudebeckia and the Zinnias.  The seeds for the Zinnias were started late, so instead of the plants finishing off the season now, they are just now getting their second and third blossoms.  In spite of the wind and the rain, they are blooming, blazing and brilliant all over the yard.

Dried Zinnia

This is the third generation of seeds from a single gifted plant two years ago.  Last fall I saved the most developed bloom of the most Righteous Red I could find in the yard.  All winter the wad of brown, twisted shards dried and waited.

Arrow-shaped seed still attached to the dried petal

Then finally it showed up on the list of Things I get to do today:  extract the seeds.  In that process, the Zinnia held a surprise for me:  the seeds were attached to the petals!  I know little about Zinnias except that their intensely brilliant color thrills my soul.  I certainly never knew this.

Among the beans

The odd, shard-like seeds found soil, sprouted into seedlings, and then were tucked into all the places of bare earth around the yard and garden.  And now the payback!  On a grey, rainy day, Righteous Reds reign as the savior of the season.

Lining the front walk.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Green Mountain Girls

The girls are not a militia.  Well, in some respects they are.  Earwigs, earthworms, cutworms, flies, spiders, little creepy critters of all kinds would definitely consider these chickens to be armed.  Sharp beaks and strong toe-nailed feet count as lethal weapons.

Mountain of gifted greens
When my hens bellied up to the mountain of grass clippings and clover dumped from the five-gallon bucket, they meant business, and they became the Green Mountain Girls, for just a minute or two.  Collecting the bucket of greens from my sister's place was one of the Things I get to do today.  Dumping it in the hen house where they could forage without concern for the rain was another.  Eating their way through the pile as tall as they were was their job which they dispatched with the precision of a platoon of soldiers.  What they didn't eat, they scratched.  Days later whatever is left will have dried and become the pickings for a boring day inside coop while a fall storm thrashes its way through.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall is Fell*

Nothing is forever.  Not last year's leaves, even if a tree is "evergreen."  What that means for a Giant Sequoia is that their leaves do not last only a spring/summer/fall, but for a full year, plus a few months, and every fall they loose the leaves from the previous year.

Golden carpet

Today while the Things I get to do today kept me safe and warm indoors as Nature assured us rather wildly with wind and rain that it was no longer summer, fall fell. Leafy needles everywhere.  Brown/black earth turned gold-orange in a few hours.

Nourishing itself with litter back into the soil
*An old rhyme that delighted a friend in high school in the 1960's:
Spring is sprung.
Fall is fell.
Summer is here,
And it hotter than
the average.