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Monday, April 27, 2009

We Break From Our Original Programming For a Minute of Whining

I have a hard time picking up after myself.
This being said,
Why do the others in this house leave messes for me to pick up?
Is it because I don't "work"?
Is it because it is "my job"?
Is it because they feel they don't have to take care of things because they work outside the home?
What if I wanted to get a job?
Would I have that job and this "non-job"?
If the past is any sign, then yes!

Case in point;
Last night I went through the house and picked up all the little piles of recycling that get stashed in corners.
Beer bottles (I don't drink beer)
Pepsi cans, both diet and non diet (I don't drink soft drinks as a rule)
Junk Mail...we all receive it.
Tonic bottles (yes, those are mine)
Cans and whatnot from meals prepared (shouldn't this be a shared thing?)
All the recycling got carried out, the trash taken to the can and all was kind of good.
Fast forward to today...
I am cleaning the master bedroom.
Master is looking on.
He helps spread the top sheet.
He leaves the room.
I move the furniture.
I vacuum the room.
I clean up the accumulated stuff.
I get irritated.
Toss the winter bedding to the landing.
The Master moves it to the bottom of the stairs into the middle of the parlor.
I want to scream.
Boxes are again piled in the kitchen.
Cans next to the sink.
I carry them to the recycling.

I want a new job! Or at least better pay! I can't keep up with it all. Like I said, I can barely pick up after myself!

Really want to scream now.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Edited for another semi-rant:

Went to the basement and What!? Master is cutting boxes to bundle for pick-up.
Should I feel like a shiite heel?
Still valid rant.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Where Are My Daffodils?

As I was driving up the hill today to make my weekly "farm fresh" run I saw homes. Many homes. Many old and quaint little colonial, early American homes. They were all so cute and had such character. Some of them had porches canted to one side - not conducive to playing marbles. Some had roofs that were growing moss. Some had doors that no longer fit straight in their jams. They were all cute. They all spoke of ages past. And they all had masses of DAFFODILS!

Why? Why? I ask you. My neighbor has blooming daffies, every house in a 50 mile radius from mine has daffies! I have daffie leaves. Not a bud. Not a bloom. Just leaves. Why? Again I ask. Why?

Should I sneak next door in the dead of night and cut some for my table? Or should I politely knock on the door and beg shamelessly for a few to grace my home? Or, rather than attack one house, and one so close to home mind you, I could drive the back roads and cut one or two from every cute frickin' little house I pass on my way!

All I have to say about this little rant is "Where Are My Daffodils?"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Almost Finished Room!

Last weekend, amidst the gardening, outdoor play and general weekend frivolity, the dining room was painted and the furniture moved in.

It is done, or close enough that I can show it to you.

Just to refresh your memory, the above pics are the "before" shots of the room. Pretty bad, right?

We spent months tearing out the old wall paper. It go to be a regular part of the entertainment we provided to guests. They loved it! (sure they did) It did become a game though. If someone saw a corner of the paper lifting up, they would walk by and pull it. At first I would express my disapproval and try to discourage said behaviour. But, after a while, there were so many strips of wall paper missing and so many loosened corners that I gave up. Made my life so much easier when I just joined in the game.

Over the holidays, my kids paid a visit from out west and they joined in the game as well. After Thanksgiving there was so much wall paper scattered about the floor that Jack had his own practice hunting grounds. He would hide beneath the paper and await the next unsuspecting dog or human with bare feet to wade through. Occasionally his patience would pay off with a yelp from Jezz or a screech from me.

I digress. This is supposed to be about the finished room.

And, I present....drum roll please...
This picture is looking toward the pocket doors and into the front parlor
The top "before" picture shows the corner of the front room with the pocket doors. (just for perspective, k?) The desk in the front is my little secretarial that my son is using for his computer because we kicked him out of the next blitz attack room. Won't be staying. But, all that aside, it is sitting in the location of the corner unit that the Boyfriend won't allow me to bring back into the room. Sadness on my part.

The above pic is the same view as the second picture above, minus the 1960s re-muddle "tried to make a built in cupboard" monstrosity.

This is what greets you as you walk from the kitchen into the dining room.

What is left do finish?

Look above the table. Yes, that hidieous light fixture is so outta there! It will be replaced with this beauty!

And, the rug, yes the one with the dog on it, needs to be much, much larger. Looking around for an Art Deco style 12'x16'. That would leave about 1.5' of hardwood showing on the sides and about 2' of hardwood at each end.

What did I learn from this room?

The first thing would have to be Use Benjamin Moore Paint! It took only 1 and 1/2 gallons to do these walls! The bedroom upstairs took 3 gallons of Valspar to cover fewer square feet.

And, when decorating, don't ask the Boyfriend what he likes. It ends up in a disagreement, no matter what.

There you have it! Another one down in the American Foursqaure!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Little Garden Update

Today the garden box got filled to capacity.
Here is a rundown;
Back 4 sections contain sugar snap peas, 8 in each square.
The next row contains, from left to right: 4 heads romaine lettuce, 2 kale, 2 kale, 2 kohlrabi.
The next contains, again from left to right: 2 kohlrabi, 4 swiss chard, 4 swiss chard, 4 swiss chard.
Then the front row contains, yes, from left to right again: 9 beets, 9 beets, 16 carrots, 16 carrots.

Next month I will be building 2 or 3 more boxes to fill. Need. My. Colors!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Little Garden

As I posted last, gardening was something I had been missing. That feeling of getting down on ones knees on the earth. The sense of groundedness (no pun intended) that you have when working in the soil. The connection that you have, albeit unknowingly for some, with the greater spirit of the past and our ancestors.

Before I get too far off the deep end I will go into my first garden in New York state.

Wyoming was one of the most difficult areas I had ever lived for gardening. There was no soil! the wind parched the ground and blew the top layer off into Colorado somewhere. The lucky people of that state got to partake of the Wyoming nutrients. For Free! Then, one day as I was shelving books at the local Barnes and Noble, I picked up a book to put on the shelf and it was the first edition of "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. It was love at first read. I put together a couple of boxes and went to town. We had vegies coming out of our ears and the neighbors beating down our door to find out how we did it.

Now, in New York, I am doing the same gardening technique. Not because of the lack of soil or water, but because of the ease of planting and care of the garden - for I am a lazy sort and have more to do than tend a garden. Mel now has a web site that I have been reading with interest as I longed for my plot at the community garden

I couldn't wait for the plot to be ready.

I took over my contained mulch area that had been a dog run and was actually large enough for a rather nice garden area! This is what I started with this morning. The leaf pile was contained within a 12x16 foot pen, fully enclosed, in the sunniest part of the yard. I had been sitting for months wondering where I could put a garden amongst all the shade and pavement and trees, when it was right there! Right there waiting for me to recognize the potential. It wasn't until this morning that I did. It was like one of the "Ah HA" moments. A slap upside the head. Now it is mine and I can give my community plot to someone who needs it.

This is the front corner of the compost pen. It was relatively clear of leaves and other composting mater. So I got the old rake out and began clearing a section large enough for my first Square Foot box. It needed to be a bit larger than 4x4 feet, which didn't take long!

Before I could finish my little corner of the area, the Boyfriend was moving right on in! Not that I minded of course. His pots, very large pots, made ready for his hops, found their way to one side of the plot. That is cool. You always need your organic hops to make your organic beer. Right?

It was starting to look more like a garden. Two large pots, large enough for a good sized oak tree right next to my little spot for my little square foot box.

The spot was ready, so first came the box, placed carefully over a double layer of weed guard, landscaping cloth. I know it doesn't look like much yet. But I painted it a happy Bumblebee yellow so the little seeds would begin to think spring and be ready to come out of hiding. Sure, I know, too many gardening fairy tales as a child. But back to the box. It is a simple box built from a 2"x6"x16' board purchased at Lowe's. The nice man in the lumber department even cut it into 4" sections for me. Cost of lumber? $7.98 plus tax. The yellow paint I already had at home so that was a previously absorbed cost. The landscape cloth I purchased at Wally World - 3'x330' for $12.00. (lots of little square foot gardens there!) Now, I usually staple the fabric to the box, but the staple gun was still hiding from our move.

With the box in place, the next thing was to fill it with gardening medium. No, not dirt, not
soil...medium! Very important use of words here. I went from store to store and purchase different brands of compost and a large bag of vermiculite. The vermiculite was the most expensive part of the entire process. If it wouldn't insult Mel, I would find a less expensive "medium" to use in my planters. Maybe ordinary potting soil...hmmm.

Anyway, I mixed all of this stuff together in the box. Using a rake it is easy...just make sure the tines are facing up so you don't puncture your landscape fabric. Silly but true. As I was mixing my compost, I noticed that the local bag had some free worms in it. Yay! the little worms will enjoy thier new home, I am sure.
Now that the box had the planing mix in it, it was time to make it a "Square Foot" garden.

The section pieces were still needing to be installed. I always do this last because I mix my "medium" in the box rather than on a tarp and then dump. Once the medium is in the box it is a simple matter of nailing the wood to the top of the box. I used strips of wood that was in the garage when we bought the house. Although a bit thicker than I would have liked - lath works great - it was free. Free is a good thing!

Now my first little garden box was ready. Time to gather the tools of the "Square Foot Gardening" trade. One of the reasons I love this method of gardening is its "sandbox" quality. All you need is a pail, a shovel (trowel), a bucket, a pencil and a cup. I keep all of them right there in the garden. The pail is left to catch rain water or to fill with water to keep at ambient temperature, the trowel for digging, the cup for watering each square. But a pencil? No, I don't graffiti the cross strips. It is for planting. You use it to poke holes in the soil to place your seeds in. So, not only is this method of gardening easy and practically labor free, it is tool free as well. I bought the trowel and bucket at the local dollar store, stole the cup from my son, cuz he wasn't home for the weekend and the pencil was in his room too. How economical is that?

What good is a garden unless you plant something in it? Not much! I had been using the stolen cup to soak some sugar snap pea in and was now ready to plant them. This is a pic of one square foot of the back row, which is along the fence line. In each square foot I planted 8 little peas. Yes, 8. The medium is so nutrient loaded and moisture retaining that it can handle this amount. So along the back of the box are 32 potential sugar snap plants. If all goes as planned, there should be about 5 pounds of these sweet little morsels of vegetarian candy headed to my table!

There is the beginning of my little garden. Soon there will be more boxes. I shall have one for just salad goodies, one for larger crops like cabbage and broccoli and even one for my cut flowers. I love this method of gardening! If you want to know more about it, go to your local library and check out his book. He has come out with another one that takes this method to the next level and does so much more with 4 square feet. Over the summer I will be spending more time in my little garden and less time in my little room. Hey, it is spring, time to start thinking outside the box!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Perfect Hunter Gatherer Day

Since our move I have missed certain things. Most of them not things one would think of as being important.

I have missed farm fresh eggs, raw milk, enough room for a garden, getting out in the fresh air to work in the dirt.

Yesterday a friend of mine, who I cherish more each day, went a long way to filling all of those missing desires.

First, she took me to her friend's house. This friend has a son who has a hen yard filled with the most beautiful and well tended hens I have seen since mine! He gave me a tour, proudly showing off his prize hens. He handed me feathered creatures to hold and pet and coo over. He was proud of his flock and ecstatic that someone found as much pleasure in these creatures as he did. I walked away with 2 dozen freshly laid eggs and the assurance of "as man as I want or need!"

Then, this same friend of my friend, walked us a mile down the road to her brother's DAIRY! Again, the same pride, the same care taken, the same joy that someone else understood and even loved what they were seeing. Her brother explained that he was getting so little for his milk that it was crazy! The price we see in the market is more than quadruple what he is paid. He went on to tell me that he doesn't sell much milk out the back door, but what he does sell that way gives him more money than selling through the governmentally mandated channels that commercial dairies have to follow. To make a long story short, if I bring my gallon jug to his barn between 7 and 9 any evening, I can fill it up with fresh, raw, untouched by human hands milk for the paltry sum of $1.50! And he makes more from back door customers?!

After the visit to her brother's dairy, my friends and I walked back toward home. On the walk a community garden was mentioned. A new community garden. Anyone that wanted a plot just had to stop by a little church on the outskirts of town and put their name on the list, first come, first served. My eyes lite up! The church is just around the field from my home!

On the drive back to my home, we passed this little church and saw a small group of people standing in the field behind it. My friend and I stopped. We inquired. We each got a plot. My friend knows nothing of gardening. She gave me her plot. All she wants are some tomatoes!

What a perfect hunter, gatherer day! Now I just need to get a freezer.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dining Room

This weekend is paint the dining room weekend. I hate deciding on paint colors because the Boyfriend and I can never agree. We always stand at the paint chip displays and argue until I am in tears and he is in a rage. Why is this? It should be easy...but nooooo.

Anyway, this weekend is the painting of the dining room. I want a simple, 1920s/30s look leaning toward French Country. Nothing formal. Nothing over done. He wants something leaning toward the Victorian era. Ornate. Formal. Frilly. How can this be?

The dining room furniture that we currently own is definitely French Country. I love it. I will win out on this talks! Who wants to go purchase a new table when the one we have is just fine.

Listen to me! I can start an argument without him. How silly.

At this point the dining room is bare walls. The old wallpaper has been stripped away. The cracks have been plastered. The floor is covered in red contractor paper to protect the newly finished hardwood. The pocket doors are pulled back into their pockets to protect them from paint spatter. It is a bare canvas, awaiting the artist's brush. I think I will let him decide on the paint colors. Then I can decide on the new lighting and artwork for the walls. Maybe I can get away with that.

I shall leave you with the above before pictures. After the work is complete, an after picture will adorn these pages.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fast or What!?!

On the 5th of April I placed an order with Nordic Mart for several balls of yarn.
Today, the 8th of April, it arrived!
I have never ordered from an online yarn store and had delivery in such a short period of time. To say I am amazed is an understatement.
Will I order from the again?
You Betcha!!!

Now, what did I order?
Little baby Topanga Canyon Sunrise, aka Daemon, needs a new suit for the winter.
You saw the Jelly Bean suit in the prior post, right?
That is what is on the needles now.
It isn't in baby colors though. It is in manly browns, rust, gold and green. He is going to be a boy's boy. Maybe.
The suit is going together in Muskat, an Egyptian cotton yarn that has a wonderful sheen and great handle.
The colors?
Light Brown
which is a richer color than shows in the picture.
more red than in the picture
Olive Green
more golden olive, very nice, than in the picture
again, richer than in the picture.
which, surprisingly, is very close to the picture.

Although these color choices do seem odd for a baby garment, they are coming together nicely. Very boyish. Not frilly or girlie or "ahh, look, it must be a baby!" colors. Just right. One that will say, "I'm a boy, dad gum it! Watch me grow!!!"

Yes, Nordic Mart is fast, the prices are reasonable, the yarn is nice, I will return. Next time for the CottonViscose.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Finished Project!

Finally! A finished project. This is the Curlicue Coverlet, by Oat Couture. It was fun to knit, but easy to get lost in. Lots of counting. Lots. Four rows here, eight rows there...cast off 4 here, increase a stitch there. Short rows all over the place, adding new yarn! It was fun and not that bad. Wasn't truly happy with the yarn choice, but the mom to be demanded "No Wool!" So there ya have it. Bernat's Baby Softee. Next item is at least going to be in cotton.

Oh, and what is the next item? It is going to be in little boy colors! Yay! And another Oat Couture pattern. One that I fell in love with several years ago...

Meet the Jelly Bean Suit!

Coming to a set of needles near you! In Garn Studio Muskat yarns! Yarn is on the way. Needles are ready. Pattern in awaiting use. This is going to be a fun knit...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Missing Muse

Where has my muse gone? It has been so long since I have designed anything that I am beginning to think it was only a dream. Ideas are there. But, those ideas don't transfer from my brain to the needles.

I started a shawl. It was looking very nice. But, I got to a point that it became boring. Mundane. Just like every other shawl out there.

I started a pair of socks. Same thing. Just like all the rest.

A sweater? Fergit aboudit!

I have come to the conclusion that there are so many fine patterns and so many wonderful artists out their that I can spend the rest of my knitting life working their things. Is this a cop-out? Could be. But, if it is, then at least I can bury my escapist head in a pile of yarn and keep busy with someone else's labors.

After all, there is a grandchild on the way... Said grandchild won't wait to grow while Granny Me visualizes a cute, adorable little sweater set, contemplates the best yarn for the project and figures out how to get the cables just right. Granny Me can just hit up Drops or Knitty or Ravelry or even..cough...purchase a pattern. So much time saved. So many more little things that can be knit before the child outgrows them.

Sweaters for the fam? So much yarn and so little time. Don't have any to waste with the same, aforementioned little designing problems.

In the end. I am taking the pressure off and not even going to delve into that area until such time as my muse returns; if ever.