Monday, March 28, 2011

Where did it go?

There is no denying that spring is here...

... there are tomato and pepper plants growing inside...

... the beautiful mixed lettuces and the basil are up outside...

...the dogwoods are about to burst into bloom....

and yet, this morning, it is raining....

... a cold, cold rain....

sort of a cold winter rain....

...windy, bone chillingly cold.

My morning visit from the red tailed hawk, noted by his shrill cry whether I see him or not, did not happen.

My early morning wait on the porch for the pup to 'go now' was a bitter, cold, damp awakening.

And though there is much to get done, I simply do not wish to move...

... I wish to sit in my chair, pup at my feet and knit...

... in front of the fire, cup steaming beside my elbow.

Leftover bowl of cabbage and potato cream soup from yesterday for lunch.

Gardening book sort of mocking me from the table.

Every ounce of me knows better... knows the things that I should be getting done...

... but somehow... I'm thinking and knitting instead.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Trip back in time

For the last two weeks, Tank has turned up with three different old fashioned feed sacks...

the kind that were immeasurably useful on farms in days past.

Yesterday, as he went walking by with one, I decided to investigate the source.

One of our outbuildings (most of which predate the house) seemed to be the center of interest for him at times and the door to the building is down, thereby giving him access.

Going to the building is really a trip back in time anyway.

It has always been known as the Commodity house... and therein was stored many of the necessities that were not in use at the time.  There hangs three of the four boards which made up my great grandmother's quilting frame.  You'd have to wonder what the fourth board was used for, as I've searched for it a number of times to no avail. It contains a treasure trove of canning jars, both antiquated and the ones that I use today.

Anyway, sure enough, on a table, just out of comfortable reach was a black plastic bag, circa late 1960's, which had disintegrated to bits and hanging down behind the table, just in reach of a curious pup were several more feed sacks.

As I reached for the stack, the first thing that I grabbed had strings...

... apron strings....

Now in my head, I hear the great aunt that raised me "Don't go dragging those rags back into the house! There's enough dust in there to kill a person!"

Which might, indeed, be true...

But that seldom stops me.

In going through the 'rags', I found several extant garments, likely from the late twenties, early 30s based on fabrics and a selection of well used and stained feed bags.  Most were worn threadbare and many were, I'm sure, used to hang hams and shoulders which were cured.  I remember this being done in my lifetime and old soft feedbags were what we used.

A couple of garments will definitely deserve a blog post of their own. One is a night gown and I have a story of a nightgown with such strong memories for me that it's both hard to tell and wonderful at the same time.

But this story is about the feed bags and the aprons.

Ironically, I'd spent several hours cutting out several new aprons, for myself and for gifts yesterday morning.
I wear aprons... and love them and tend to have favorites.

There, in the stack of towels were 6 or 7 aprons... utilitarian aprons created from feed sacks.

Now, my great grandmother had some interesting sewing skills.  Self taught, I'm sure, her quilts were beautiful and always well made, but for some of the day to day utilitarian sewing, the work was rather "slapdash".
These aprons fall into that category.

The aprons ranged in 'pattern', which meant that she cut without a pattern, likely, making best use of the fabric at hand.  Three of the aprons were identical, meaning of course that this apron was a favorite... worth reproducing. One of this particular cut was embellished by a small amount of dress fabric, definitely 30's era.

One apron was a 'half' apron and it was obviously copied from something... a catalog or magazine perhaps.  I've found clippings from catalogs from that time period, and rather than order patterns, it's very likely that the aprons were freehand cut and then figured out.  It's likely that they were speedily done, based on need, as well.

This morning, my findings were washed and hung on the line, like they were so many countless times.

I'm gonna wear one of those aprons around and determine if I like the fit and function and then I'll reproduce it.

Last night as I lay down, I felt again that I had reached out just beyond today and touched my female relatives in a way that is both sweet and tinged with sadness.  The connection to them is palpable in my day to day life... I live my modern life in a home made of their will and strength and surrounded by their belongings that have come to be mine. It's really quite sweet.  Some days, you just get to actually touch it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I'm officially ignoring the mess in the yard.

Nope... nuh uh ....  not gonna look at it!

Hope I don't fall in it while I'm ignoring it!

Today, I'm gonna look on the sunny side....

Oh. how I love my Lenton roses... hellebores are a happy thing.

and I have a yard full of heirlooms... this one is never fails to please.

naturalized vinca... springs happy little pinwheels

grape hyacinths....

red bud trees getting on their springtime colors...

one of four types of baby's breath....

 wild violets


Spring.... ah....

Ditch witch II

I am going to change my official opinion of the ditch witch.

Unless it comes back and turns my garden to the 4 foot depth level, I'm officially out of love with this piece of heavy equipment.

Thanks to a cruel weather streak combining with plumbing hijinx and plumbing that exceeded 60 years in age, we have had to go round two with the ditch witch.

And last time, the ditch went across the drive and to the back of the house.
This time, it had to run to the 'side' house, which we use for various things.

This meant that it had to run through far more of the drive, and across the front yard of the house....

over a beautifully full bed of moss (not cultivated, but naturally occuring)

under the brick walk

through the ivy

and too close for comfort to a beautiful 70 plus year old dogwood that was planted by my grandfather, which was the first and best 'climbing tree' for the three children who grew up here last, and for countless others.

I am not amused.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Recycled plant pots

A lot of years ago, I used recycled plant pots before I ordered up a set of those amazing grow systems.

And for years, I used the grow systems to start my young plants.
I still have them, but they're getting sad and it's getting hard to clean them and various parts have broken, namely the clear plastic tops and the water catching bottoms.

This is not the time, just now, to order up a new batch.

So, I'll share here, the system that works and is virtually free.

First you need a 'mold'.  At first glance, I found a medicine bottle that was about the size I wanted.
You need some newspapers and a pair of scissors, and some masking tape.

In this case, I used some taped that's been puppy chewed, making it unusable for anything where you need nice consistent pieces of tape.  Those little teeth do a number on a roll of tape, huh?

For this size container, I cut the newspaper into thirds (or sixths, if you open it out flat).  You want about this much extra length for making your bottom.

You're gonna fold down the top to make it easier to stand, hold it's shape and fill.

And you just roll it, loosely enough that you can retrieve your 'mold'.

You want the open end of the mold on the bottom.  The 'top' is the folded down edge, and should be relatively even with the top of the 'mold'. (depending on how tall you want your little pots).

 Twist the bottom.  A good hard twist. And give it a little push up inside the open end of the mold.

 Use a little piece of tape to secure the top side.  Once it gets soil and water on it, it'll hold together very well.

So here you have to 'top'....

the bottom...

Slide the mold out and you have a little pot!

or three...

or thirty...

Cute little buggers, huh?

Fill those babies with potting mix (I used a blend of compost, perlite and vermiculite and sand) and plant them up. 

Kept watered and warm, I'm days away from a nice variety of tomatoes.

Next up, a pan of pepper starts....  the garden is calling my name!

Oh, my...

Some days... some days.....

Stormy has learned to open the wooden door to the outside...

and she has a 'baby' (stuffed animal) that she takes to her bed and sings to...

... outrageous singing... so much so that people that I'm on the phone with giggle...

... they giggle a LOT... 'What is that noise?'... they say.

It's Stormy singing. (Yes... her eyes beautifully match the 'baby'... I tried... will try again later!)

Tank is near naked... as near naked as I have ever seen a living dog.

He looks like a misplaced sharpei  in a rottweiler body.  The wrinkles of more skin than pup are evident with no fur covering.
But his spirits remain high and frisky.
And I remain hopeful that the medication is working and that he'll survive.

Yesterday, I watched a very pesky rooster continuously go over and peck on the pup's sore, sore skin.
And the pup would yelp and snap, but get up an move away.
Now you and I both know how things work in the animal kingdom.
Sometimes, the sick and frail are picked upon.

After what I would say was a very acceptable number of times of ignoring the rooster and moving to another little place in the sunshine, Tank got up quietly and followed the retreating rooster.
About 6 feet away, he snagged the rooster and one quick snap latter, it was over.
No more pesky pecking from that rooster.
Survival of the fittest.

Now, I watched all this... from my rocker on the porch.  Stormy was sleeping nearby on the porch, firmly attached to a long leash (another story) so she missed out on the moment.

What was the lesson to teach?  Don't kill chickens?  When the chicken is actively aggravating you?
Frankly, a chicken or a rooster that were to do such a thing to me would be on the fast tract to the crock pot.
On record this morning, the rooster is still present evidence of the need to 'leave Tank alone".  I'll go bury him in a bit.
I will be vigilant to see that the dog doesn't take this up as a habit, but frankly, I'm glad that Tank defended himself... and I'm glad that I saw it.  Otherwise, I'd have been more worried about predation and my flock.

Frankly, there are roosters to spare.

And the young ones are getting .... peckish.

It's spring. This is one of the reasons that I keep a spare rooster or two until early summer... young roosters tend toward self destructive behavior, that rules out 'stupid' and rules out 'genes that we don't need to perpetuate.

One of life's lessons on the farm.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Since long before I married into the name, I've wanted to weave.

Indeed, even as a kid, I watched a man weave at a loom at an antebellum mansion, during a reenactment and I really, really wanted to weave.

Every year, I go to SAFF and I play with looms, or I stand and watch.

It just seems like an additional 'fiber thing' that I NEED to do.

Most mornings, I check my emails early.  Most days for the last 6 or 8 months, I"ve checked various sites for job listings and other pertinent postings.

A couple of weeks ago, I found this post:
Antique 4 harness floor loom for sale.

And it called my name.

I went to visit it and the next thing that I knew, it was in my van and I was so excited as I drove it home.

Now, at first, my darling husband inquired as to if there was a need for such a thing.

And where, pray tell, would it be put?

And however would we know if it would actually work.

And as often happens here, my answers were these:

I need it, for reasons that I can't describe, and as I have never woven, I have no idea  if it will work, nor if I can actually make it work and I have no clue where it would go.

So, logically, that meant that it had to come home with me, right?

So, here she is:

Obviously in working order, right in the middle of my living room.
Not forever... she'll make her way to the sewing room, as soon as I get in there and rearrange and sort this out.

Crash course with weaving began when my darling husband put the thing together and we decided that the front right and rear left posts were in the wrong places.  Slowly but surely, with every little piece, it assembled.

And I rushed to the library for the 'standard' Learning to Weave book that every online resource indicated would be the 'go to manual' and I poured over the details.

Now, I was, prior to this, already working on a project that I'd simply not been to the place to share.
The aforementioned antebellum plantation house is now an historic site, and the loom has sat, unused for many years.  I've been working on a volunteer project there to get that loom up and running.

In doing my research, I learned that about an hours drive north would get me to an historic site with not only a working loom, but an opportunity to watch as the loom was warped.

Thank goodness for that... I'd have hit the panic button fast if the first time I saw that process was in my own living room.

But, the process went fairly smoothly, if you discount the fact that I decided that my first project needed to be towels of an irregular plaid. 

Oh, my goodness, it is fun...

and for a first project, I think it's beautiful.

The learning curve has been a bit of a circus ride, but a very pleasant one.

I will admit to using it to keep my mind off of things while I waited on all the test results.
I do believe that it's been therapeutic in the aftermath of the procedures.

And the loom itself is so beautiful, that I'm glad that I've never bought one of the newer ones before.

Sometimes, an old home calls for an old amusement.