Monday, March 29, 2010

Middling Along

Seems like starting or finishing stuff is the only time that it's interesting to talk about it. So when you're just middling along on stuff there's nothing to write about so it seems like you're not really doing anything. But things are middling along nicely. I'm almost finished with the second skeleton glove. The fancy multicolor warp is slowly being woven (I'm pacing myself because I really enjoy it and want to prolong the process). The eye is healing. More branches are being cleaned up.

Somedays when we're dragging ourselves home we envy our friends in town who live 3 or 4 miles from their jobs instead of our 15. But then we look at our "back yard" and remember why. I was trying to catch the almost lavender colored sunset we had the other night.

Spring has sprung and there are strawberry stands along the road. After work Saturday I picked some up, and Bob and I sat in the swing and read our magazines and ate fresh strawberries dipped in crunchy turbanido sugar.


Greymalkin, aka "Malkie"

About 16 years ago Bob was walking through the flea market, past an old and lost-looking woman sitting on a bench, staring at the ground. She looked up as he went by, held up her hand with a tiny scrap of fur in it, and said "would you take care of my kitten?" It was very sick, and almost dead--he felt the tears come, and he took it, and said he would try.

She was a tough little thing, and to the surprise of both us and our vet, she made it. Stubborn despite her weakness, she would insist on sitting on my shoulder instead of in my lap (which made it difficult to try to be discrete about having a kitten at work)

She's still stubborn. We gave up trying to ban her from the kitchen counters (if we're lucky, she respects that we have our side and her side). When age and arthritis made it difficult for her, Bob built her a set of steps to the counter. Now her bed is up there--we know when we need to give up a battle. We got her a heated pad for it--when you have arthritis in your hips, happiness is a warm butt.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Better than a poke in the eye . . .

. . with a stick. I could have gone my whole life using that comparison without having actually experienced it. But look a few blogs back to the huge piles of branches piled up in the yard. We were doing just a little bit of cleaning up yesterday after work, and when I tossed a branch it retaliated and swiped a twig in my left eye.

Fortunately, there's no real damage, just enough to be annoying. I didn't know you could bruise an eyeball. And there's a few scratches on the cornea. It's being treated--I'll have the big pupil look for a few days because it needs to be kept dilated. And be a bit on the monocular side for a bit.

For all this I should at least be able to wear an eyepatch and talk pirate. . . .

But in the best Mythbusters tradition, the one has been confirmed: There are indeed a great many things that are better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Another few busy days. Had a party for the equinox on Saturday--celebrated by firing up the clay oven and making pizzas. Had one extraordinary sight--one of the peacocks was on the roof and displayed just as the sun was setting, so that the red glow was shining through the tail feathers. No time to grab the camera, and some things you just can't capture, but it was amazing.

For some reason the pictures of the clay oven didn't take, so they will have to follow later.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Whew! Busy week so far. In addition to the day job (this term I'm teaching textile study labs at the university and working on creating a data base of the several thousand items in the historic collection) I taught a bread-making class at a friend's kitchen supply store. Talk about a whirlwind--I had a loaf of bread to sample when the class started, and over the next hour I made a loaf of french bread, a pizza, a calzone, and skillet bread.

Was a tired puppy that night. More tired Wednesday--I had three programs at the museum that were supposed to be for 3rd graders--and they ended up being kindergartners! Me and a total of 90 kids--yeah, right. Then a dash back to the campus in time to teach color theory, and finally over to the folks for a sandwich and beer. Beer good.

And, of course, no pictures of any of this. I have a couple of programs at the museum tomorrow (the schools are starting to sweep their budgets) so I'll try to get someone to snap a shot.


During the summer, the county Mosquito Control puts chickens in cages in various places around the town. There "sentinel" chickens are monitored for diseases like West Nile virus or encephilitis. Bob, being the curious widget that he is, wondered what would happen to these chickens when the summer was over--so he called and asked. Turns out--they try to find homes for them, and come season end they delivered a half-dozen hens to us.

So here's a few members of the Red Headed league (you get bonus points if you get the Sherlock Holmes reference). They're fine little Rhode Island Red who take very seriously their two major jobs: scratching for weeds and bugs, and producing a serious quantity of eggs. Friends, family, and the occasional passing stranger are often greeted with "would you like some eggs?"

And yes, this is on my front porch. They come through the cat door to steal food from the outdoor cats.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Got our exercise today--started dismantling the downed trees. This might take awhile--there is likely a ton or two of branches and wood to deal with--a tree two feet across and over 50 feet high is no lightweight--and we had a half-dozen of them taken down (some, fortunately, were smaller). The process is to trim and lop away branches and brush until you can get a clean shot with the chain saw. Branches piled up for eventual burning, and potential firewood cut and stacked. Hard work, but also satisfying.

Here's a shot of Bob on the trunk of one tree, with half the top of the tree behind him. We cleared away the other half today. The picture really doesn't show what a huge pile it is.

And have I mentioned that I really dislike time changes? Especially Spring Forward--my body will be telling me that the alarm is going off 5:30 in the morning, no matter what the clock says. Argh.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Parades and Bones

Did the parade at Camp Gordon Johnston in Carabelle today. As usual, my Rosie the Riveter getup was a big hit. And, as usual, being in the parade we didn't manage to take pictures of ourselves.

When we got home we started tackling the downed trees in the yard. No pictures of that either--haven't been able to take one that show just how huge these piles of branches are. Just take a look back at the picture of the guy up in the tree--and imagine all of that down on the ground, waiting to be cut up and burned.

Did my usual knitting during the ride to and from Carabelle and got a fingerless mitt finished. Just couldn't resist trying this pattern. It's in a technique called illusion or shadow knitting. If you look at it straight on, it just looks like stripes. If you get the angle right, though, you see the pattern. In this case it's the arm and finger bones--how could I resist?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Arrrrghh!! Threading the Loom

Got the fancy painted warp on the loom--alternating light and dark stripes. I counted the threads. Everyone one of them. More than once. So why were two of the light stripes so much wider than they had to be, and why was one so skinny?? Can't even call it creative design. Nothing to do for it but to pull them all out and rethread--about a three-hour job. But as long as I was at it, I decided that the stripes were too wide so I split them up, and it does look better. This is addictive to weave because the colors keep changing.

Here's the old warp, with striping problems, and the new skinny striped one.

Meanwhile, Bob just hid in his room to avoid my excessive cursing, and consoled himself with his model. He is getting really good with the airbrushing--it takes many many layers of paint to get the worn look.

Critter du Jour: Thought I'd show off the other members of the household, starting with Kippie. Her feral mother thought having babies in a barrel at a hazardous waste site was a good idea. We couldn't catch Mom, but we rescued and bottle-raised the kittens. Two went to a friend, and Kip (Kipling--I was working in the English department at the time and the kittens went in with me) stayed with us. Even though we got her one of those fancy cat water fountains and put it on the bathroom counter, she still prefers to drink from the faucet, and insists on sharing the sink with me in the morning (that's not exactly accurate--she'd rather not share) She's almost 19 now--the left eye looks a little weepy because she's developed a bone tumor on her cheek. Sometimes I just don't get it--I bottle raised that kitten--how could she possibly be old?? Mom probably feels the same way about her little babies facing their 60th birthdays (Mike gets to go first). But she's still the undisputed head of the household, and on weekends proves the saying "there is no snooze button on a hungry cat."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spent most of the last couple of days watching a couple of guys take down some trees in our yard. Two were big diseased pines, and the rest were oaks that were rubbing up against Chez Wicca and/or leaning over the barn. I was expecting a team with a cherry picker and heavy equipment. Instead--it was the two guys with a chainsaw and some rope. And a lot of skill. Fascinating to watch, but made me nervous all the same. If you look closely you can see the climber up in the tree. First he would tie off the branches, then cut and lower them. Finally, when the tree was bare it would be dropped with an impressive thud.

Of course, now we have downed branches and trees to clean up. Save me from having to go the the gym to exercise.

While I had the camera out I shot a picture of our guardian dragon and his little yellow spring flower.

Meanwhile, I'm working on my next weaving project. I wound a mixed warp of smooth and textured yarns and painted them with dyes--one set in bright clear colors and one in darker ones. I'll put them on the loom in stripes. I have them on the loom now, but need to thread them. Here's the before and after shots of the warp dyeing:

Time to feed squirrels and go to bed. I might be on spring break, but Bob isn't and that alarm still goes off early. (some of the text spacing on this is a little strange--I'm still learning how to use this program.

Begin the Blog!

Trying to join the 21st century--but I just don't "get" Facebook. I want a place to share my news from the North Florida swamp that we call home (with my husband Bob and an ever-changing cast of critters). Mostly to share with family and friends.
So, to be true to the name, here's the swamp--just a few miles from home where we went hiking last weekend.
And that's the first post--it's a test to see if it works.