Sunday, September 29, 2013

WORKS IN PROGRESS . . .

The first fire of the season burns in the fireplace. A breezy Saturday afternoon turned into a ferocious windstorm last night. It removed my artificial decorative flowers from their pots on the woodshed, blew limbs from trees, and rearranged the furniture on the front porch. It also rained. This afternoon we have more of the same. I came with two loads of dirty laundry; I’ll return to town with three loads.

The good news is that the raspberry canes we planted yesterday stayed in the ground. I regretted not having better prepared the ground and that we had to plant in the rain but a friend gave us eight canes that needed to be set. Well – they’re getting plenty of moisture.

I regret now having put off some chores, thinking they could be done on warm October afternoons. I might be working in the cold to plant spring bulbs.

The garbanzos I initially picked – two one-gallon containers – resulted in 5 ½ cups of dry beans. It was a fairly labor-intensive project for what I got, but I did enjoy doing it. I cooked a cup yesterday and used them in baked ziti for supper. Very good! But this afternoon Farmer Kyle began to plow the fields, so that’s that with the gleaning. Kyle says he got good yield from the garbs, and he’ll plant the wheat as soon as he can.

Sometimes things just get out of hand – too many books and magazines, too many boxes, too many jars, too much fabric, etc., etc., for the available storage space. I mulled this over for several years before I suddenly saw solutions in the form of DIY cabinets. We assembled three at the town house, and last month Mike assembled one in Hallie’s room at the farmhouse.

The cabinet in Hallie’s room stores the clothing that she and Nick leave here as well as extra bedding, quilts, my sewing overflow, and a few over-sized books. I had to think about this unit for a while because it’s not great furniture, but it is reversible should another option come along. I guess I didn’t do it sooner because I liked the old table and the bentwood rocker that sat in this space. Well, the old table went to the vintage sewing room where it serves as an extension for my sewing table, and the bentwood rocker still looks cozy in the corner of Hallie’s room.

On the sun porch, Mike assembled a smaller ClosetMaid unit to meet the storage need for items cluttering the utility room. Canning supplies, disposable containers, odd jars, and my gardening gloves and pruners now have a home.

 It’s amazing how months of just kind of agonizing over these problems suddenly smoothed into solutions. KW

Saturday, September 28, 2013

CONTRIBUTING TO THE DELINQUENCY OF A SEWIST . . .



Chris sent me a link to the Pixie Faire site where various designers post patterns for the 18-inch doll, such as American Girl. The pattern in question was a 1930’s A-line dress, and she knew I would love it. As doll aficionados, Chris and I go way back. And I'm familiar with this site from which I’ve ordered a number of patterns.

As the family bookkeeper who records every expenditure in the proper category, Mike remarked that those patterns are kind of expensive. That was after I participated in the “buy ten, get one free promotion.” (And besides, then I had enough points to get two more patterns free – so really I got 13 for the price of ten. I’m affirmed by these deals.)

“Yes,” I explained, “but since I’m not buying a machine as a reward [for taking care of his dogs], I’m allowing myself to buy other things I’ve wanted but haven’t bought because of expense.” (In reality it’s not so much the expense as having to explain that I’m nurturing my inner child. The other day I had to explain the purchase of color books.)

So, as I was still digesting the import of Chris’ message, Mike was preparing the dogs for an impending hunt. They both knew what was happening. Nellie climbed on my lap to shiver in anticipation while Bess bounced off the walls. So, there I was – trapped on the sofa by Nellie when Bess bounced her breakfast right onto the carpet.

Mike was “indisposed,” so I became the clean-up committee of one. It’s been weeks since I had to clean the carpet, and I couldn’t find the carpet cleaner. Then when I did find it, I managed to grab the Swiffer spray in my haste. Finally I got it right and finished the cleaning.

“I get a reward today!” I called loudly. I ordered the A-line dress pattern –and several others as well, including the cute Halloween party dress. These patterns are downloads – and that’s affirming as well. Instant gratification! I save them on my iPad in Adobe Reader – and also on my computer so I can print out the pattern pieces.

Mike came back from hunting with praise for the “old pro’s” skills and pleased with the young dog’s interest. But if you’re rooting for the birds, take heart. They find very few this year. I’m not sure the dogs care. They just like to hunt.

After hunting we made sure the dogs were well-nourished. Mike mixed a little canned food with Bess’ chow and confined her to the kennel for her meal. He mixed the same for Nellie but also added some “after-the-hunt” senior tablets -- glucosamine for dogs or something. She doesn’t like the tablets, but camouflaging them in her food seemed to work. Left in solitary in the laundry room to eat without the distraction of “Bouncy Bess,” she licked her platter clean. And today she’s moving well. KW


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

AUTUMN NOTES



I think no seasonal change is as pronounced as that from summer to autumn. Two weeks ago it was 90 and we took the dogs for a dip in the Snake River. We discussed how the days were getting shorter and even if the temperature should remain warm – which we knew it wouldn’t – the evenings would soon be too short to enjoy at the river. [The picture here is of Bess with a male Shorthair belonging to some other swimmers.]

 Today I’m wearing a sweatshirt, and I made my first pot of spicy tea. I even lit a spicy scented candle. A brief warming of the bed with the electric blanket is nice at bedtime, using the oven is a possibility, and the little woodstove is ready for a fire.

Holiday catalogs arrive in force, saying such delightful things:
“Look inside for dozens of new holiday items!”
“Everything you need for the holidays!”
“Fall, Family & Fireside Fun. Inside: new ways to enjoy fall traditions.”
“Spooktacular Fall Savings!”
All designed to charm the money out of my credit card. And every day I receive an email from BHG.com with wonderful autumn and holiday ideas, decorations, and crafts – part of the “100 days of holidays” series.

I’ve set out a variety of Halloween decorations. Sometimes I’m lazy about decorating, especially since it’s just the two of us and one of us doesn’t much notice. But – it does help my morale.

Some things when they break or fail must be replaced immediately. Such was the case with my clock radio / iPod docking station. For several weeks I had been making it work by resetting, and finally even that didn’t work. Long story short, it took me most of the day on Monday to find a new one with adequate sound quality. I did research products online, but I wanted to buy locally for a couple of reasons:
1)    I wanted it NOW!
2)    I wanted to return it if I didn’t like it. And that’s exactly what I did with the first one.
So far, my second purchase is working well except for the fact that I have to get used to new settings.

But anyway – I told you about that so you would understand why I didn’t sew yesterday. But I did sew today, working on the little “seasonal wall hanging” that we started at embroidery club last week.

Bouncy Baby Bessie Boo went to the vet yesterday for her boosters. She looks good, the vet said, and she weighs 29 pounds now. She still pounces on Nellie and likes to roughhouse with her, but on the other hand, we have some quiet moments, like those shown here. She seems to have her big teeth now and the need to chew is somewhat reduced, but she still loves to ruin gloves and shoes if she gets the chance. KW

Monday, September 23, 2013

. . . AND NELLIE STAYED BEHIND



The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife opens an early pheasant season to benefit the old guys – give them a handicap, as it were. You have to be at least 65 to participate. At our house, we laugh a bit over the joke of giving the experienced old guys a head start on the season. Decrepit they may be, but they still do pretty darn well in the field and as mostly retired, they can schedule plenty of hunts.

Anyway, today was the day of the “old man’s hunt,” and while my old guys went and took their Shorthair pups, poor ol’ Nell stayed behind. After hunting Saturday and Sunday mornings, she was so stove up this morning that she could hardly move. If it had been up to her, she would have gone anyway. She knows the signs of a hunting day just by the way Mike is dressed. She got up from her pillow and went to the door to watch for Ken, but she knew in her heart that she wasn’t going because Mike hadn’t exchanged her regular collar for her hunting collar and bell. And she knew she really wasn’t up to it. As they drove off without her, she stretched out on her pillow with a quiet sigh of resignation.

“Nellie is just an old pro,” announced Mike with pride in his voice after Saturday’s hunt. She just works so hard in the field. But Baby Bess is coming along well with her skills, and Sunday the two dogs practiced some teamwork, where Nellie scouted and Bess retrieved. However, two days of work in a row were too much for Nellie.

Even last year, Nellie needed a day or two of recovery time after a hunt. Now we’re reading how to keep our old dog comfortable. At Walmart this morning I searched the shelves for helpful products, finding canned senior food with supplements and also some chews with glucosamine. What matters is that Nellie is able to enjoy what she loves to do as long as she can.

But she recovered some by 11:00 and invited me to take her for a walk. I had said I would and she remembered. We hadn’t left the premises when the old guys returned from a disappointing hunt (no birds found). After lunch Mike and I took both Bess and Nellie for a neighborhood walk. KW

[Photos were taken on this afternoon’s walk.]

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

COLOR IN A COLORLESS WORLD

This time of year seems colorless to me. The crops are gone, leaving tawny stubble against brown dirt. The lawn is dry -- not much green. The deciduous leaves have yet to turn but are looking dry. The vegetable garden is gone or bedraggled.The evergreens have nothing much to bring their green to life. Dust and smoke hang in the air. Just pretty drab.

Here and there, though, we see a touch of color. We got a little spontaneous bloom from the hollyhocks that march along the south side of the farmhouse after we cut them back. Sometimes I wish I had a nice country border garden there, but I guess the hollyhocks will have to do. After all, they come back on their own year after year and require very little care. What could be easier? They make the hummingbirds, the bees and the butterflies happy. And they do have country flavor.



 Here's one of my favorite settings -- red apples nestling in the branches of a pine tree.


And lastly, the rose hips on Hallie's bramblebush are especially bright and pretty this year.  KW




Monday, September 16, 2013

A GLEANER WENT OUT TO GLEAN . . .



I can hardly stand it. I’m sitting in the midst of acres and acres of post-harvested garbanzo fields, which means there are beans for the gleaning.
 
Did you know that another word for “gleaning” is “scrounging?” I’d rather be a gleaner than a scrounger. I don’t think it’s scrounging to glean in one’s own fields, is it?

Yesterday I picked up a gallon of mostly un-husked garbanzo beans. That’s hardly any compared to what’s left out there. So, I decided to get up early this morning and fill another container. I was awake at 5:00, but it was still dark. I stayed in bed until 5:45 when there was a hint of daylight.

“Do you think I’m being stupid to glean the garbanzos?” I asked Mike.

He laughed. “I don’t know. I do a lot of stupid things myself,” he said. (Hmmmm. Diplomatic answer that translates to “yes.”) We agreed that he was probably the wrong person to ask. We’re both compulsive personalities along the lines of our own interests.

So, after breakfast I took another pail and picked up more beans. The tough part is bending over and kneeling down. Soon I learned to pull a plant out of the ground and quickly remove the beans.

Thinking of the old days when threshing was done on the barn floor (at least, I think it was done on the barn floor), I commented to Mike that there must be a better way.

“Oh, there is,” he replied -- “a seven-hundred-thousand-dollar machine.”

I’m sure our farmer’s operation was efficient, but I swear there are enough garbanzos left behind to feed a small community for the winter. Okay – that’s vague and I don’t really know, but there are lots and it’s not practical to pick them up. I suspect I’d do more for the industry by buying my garbanzo beans in the grocery store.

But – as long as those beans are out there, they will continue to call my name. And I’ll continue to glean a few a day when I can – until the fields are re-planted or it rains or it snows or the deer eat them all or . . . KW