Monday, February 19, 2018

Down, inner gardener!

Just as I was coming back to life with all kinds of projects and garden plans, an arctic system has dumped a foot of snow and sent temperatures plummeting.

So it's back to winter mode, stoking the fire and reading and NOT thinking about spring. That's right, I'm NOT thinking about spring. Furiously. Take that, winter.

I made the rounds, feeding and watering everybody, and hauled a wagon of wood in. That's it for work today.

I signed up for a free trial of Hulu TV, lured by the promise of D.I.Y. shows. We don't have enough wifi bandwidth, though. I'm frustrated by the pauses in every show (though the commercials seem to play perfectly) and by what passes for entertainment these days. It's really gone downhill. I used to watch HGTV, and enjoyed visiting artists' funky houses, and watching D.I.Y. shows that explained how to do all kinds of home projects – laying and refinishing wood floors, designing gardens, building furniture and so forth. Now it's all "reality" competitions that pit teams of attention-starved designers against each other. Oh! the fake drama! The judges are realtors (I refuse to capitalize that word), and the highest appraisal (all hail, almighty dollar!) is the only criteria. Dumpsters are filled – nobody recycles anything. There is crying and bitchiness. Ack. Every interior looks the same (grey is apparently the only color anybody paints anything, including children's rooms), and the women all have horrible Valley Girl voices, or maybe adenoid problems. Homeowners don't do any of their own work. And a big feature is made of "demo day," with dumbasses smashing walls with sledgehammers and howling like drunken fans at sports events.

TV has become (even more) profoundly stupid. Who would have thought it was possible?

Sheesh. I sound like an old person.

So it's back to the bookshelf, until spring, anyway.

Keep warm!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

February is the longest month

Spring is just around the corner. The corner way, way down over there. I can almost see it. Just on the other side of that pile of snow...

C. started onion seeds, and they've popped up in their skinny glory. They are Dakota Tears, from Fedco, and good keepers. We had storage problems with our usual varieties over the winter, so we're trying this one.
The wire is to ward off mice, who like to decapitate a whole flat of seedlings at a time.

Come May, C. will be humped up over the onion bed, poking these little guys into the soil. Kind of like doing a hair implant.

The kids have been up several times lately, and Liam has been happy and engaged, making lots of eye contact with his old grandmas, and having fun. We've finally figured out his sense of humor, and make him laugh and laugh. We try to stop before he barfs.

What a great kid!

I've been working on my income taxes, which is a huge and ugly undertaking. This is my first year as a disabled person, and I am struggling with the rules, the forms, the tables, and the obfuscation of any kind of sense behind the thing. I may need professional help. And therapy, afterward.

It's chilly – I think the building has finally internalized the cold, so it takes a long time to warm the old heap of bricks.

Come on, spring!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Feeling worse

Still have the bloody cold. Coughing. Watching TV. Reading. Whining. That's pretty much it.


Friday, January 19, 2018

Feeling better

I've spent days coughing and lolling in the recliner, watching television.

I've observed hours and hours of home repair and woodworking. I love that stuff.

And we've found some pretty weird shows on Netflix, like 'The Sniffer," a Ukranian crime series. The actors speak Russian, and the special effects are kinda cool, but basically you spend a lot of time watching a trendy guy with a bad attitude and a superhuman sense of smell as he puts things in his nose and takes them out. We watched one episode.

I've come to love "Brojects," a show about two adult Nova Scotian (Scotious?) brothers who make up silly projects and build them, while bickering and pulling pranks. I know it sounds dumb, and it is kind of dumb, but it celebrates do-it-yourselfishness and sibling rivalry in a charming way. For instance, they built a roof patio with ping-table, telescope stand, dumbwaiter and a station for fishing for chicken wings. I might borrow some of their dumbwaiter ideas. And they bought an old woody station wagon and turned it into a surf wagon, complete with solar shower, dressing room and grill, and converted a canoe into a paddle board (sort of). They use a lot of plywood, 2x4s (whatever they call them up there) and PVC pipe. It's inventive, goofy and mostly good-spirited.

And we've got Amazon Prime, too. "How Did You Do That?" is a sweet D.I.Y. show from New Zealand. The team takes a standard rundown old beach shack (or "bach") and transforms it into something cool over one season. The kiwi accents are very thick but charming, and projects range from paint effects to building a pizza oven, and making chairs from driftwood and twine. I might want to build that pizza oven.

And then there's "Shaun the Sheep." Great show. It's claymation, and follows the adventures of Shaun and his flock on the farm. Funny, silly, sweet.

That's what I've been doing. Watching TV, and eating a lot of chocolate chips.

And while I'm pretty much over the cold, I might sneak in a little "Shaun" or "Brojects" now and then.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


This cold, which has been no big deal, has suddenly knocked me for a loop. I'm installed in the recliner, sucking on cough drops and reading, when I'm not whining. C., bless her heart, is waiting on me. That woman can cook!

More when I recover.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

2017 in review

I suppose it's time to look back over the year and see how we did. And plan to do better in 2018!

Chicken and guinea birth control
We had zero population growth this year, thanks to keeping the birds confined during most of the summer, and hunting out guinea nests. Since we had to sequester our four extra roosters to keep them from abusing the little hens, no more roosters is a good thing! And no frozen baby guineas in October is also a good thing. And no more guineas is a good thing – 25 is plenty.

We could use more hens and eggs, though. And feeding and watering the separate colony of roosters is a pain. Also, Bob across the road says the crowing from bachelor quarters is a problem, so we'll have to move the boys this spring. We wouldn't have this problem if we were carnivores.

The garden was wonderfully productive.

Guineas kept tick and grasshopper populations down.

Worming the goats helped improve coats.

We had three hen deaths this year. Maybe due to the obnoxious guineas? Maybe separate the guineas from chickens?

Garden watering system was a fail. Again.

MS in 2017
I've had some progression over the year. My left hand is less able, and my walking a bit worse. I'm still walking, though, and still able to do wood and animal chores. And I've finally accepted having this disease, I think, so I can spend less time angry and resentful, and get on with it.

My friend Sandra sent me a book by a guy with MS, and it helped. It's "Challenging the Dragon" by Jim Havelock, and while it's not well-written or edited (sorry, but as a former journalist and copy editor, this matters to me), it is heartfelt. I was thinking about the book a lot, and on Dec. 6 I decided to be happy. Just generally. Immediately felt better in a weird way. And still do. What the hell, ay?

Plans for next year
Install a watering system in the garden. Really. A functional one. No joke.

Apply for historic-building status, and then for grants to fix the damn roof.

Get the alpaca sheared. It will get ugly. Do it anyway.

Install a frost-free hydrant in the pasture so I won't have to carry water in the winter.

Install gutters on the barn to save water for the animals.

Install heat in the studios.

Fence at least part of the lower field so we can rotate the big animals in the pastures.

Install "chunnels" or chicken tunnels around the garden fence so the confined birds can eat more bugs and be less bored.

Hire some help.

Here's to 2018. I hope it's good for all of us.

Into the new year

Here we are. It's been warmer, which is nice.

Our new neighbors, who turn out to be our old neighbors from town (which is weird), came down unasked and plowed the six inches of new snow off the driveway and the big berm at the road with their vintage blue Ford tractor. Sweet. Gave them gas money. We got to know them 20 years ago when all our teenage girls were being horrible and we carpooled to Tough Love meetings. Tough Love is a support group you join when your teenagers are being horrible. Good support, good advice, good company in hard times. Bad coffee, though.

And all three horrible teens are now nice, responsible women with kids of their own. (Evil laugh.) (Not really.) (Well, maybe really.)

A plowed driveway restored my driving confidence, and Earl and I hit Deer Park Wednesday for chicken food and other essentials.

C. is better. Thanks for your kind wishes. She brought a cold home from the clinic, of course, and we're both getting over that. One good thing about getting old is that you rarely catch the colds and flus going around, but this one nailed us.

As soon as we're all done being sick, we'll have the kids up for our post-Christmas Christmas.

The dachshund rocker is progressing, and now C. is working on furry ears and tail. I don't sew, but she does, and very well. The tail is attached in an amusing way – I'll post pictures when it's done. Still trying to figure out how to attach the ears in a way safe for a toddler. Screws and washers might not do.

C. trims the fake fur from the edge of an ear before sewing it to a silky lining, and turning it.

The base, ready for stain and sealing.

We muddle along; muddle-dee-doo, muddle-dee-doo, as Kurt Vonnegut would say.

Here are a couple of gratuitous wiener-dog shots. Though they like the old leopard-spotted throw, they are well pleased with the new super-silky grey fleece blanket we got for Christmas.