Monday, May 31, 2010

Chicken Coop

When we moved out here almost 20 years ago we were ready to be back-to-the-earth hippies, and built our chicken coop of recycled materials.  20 years later, it's gone from looking sincere to looking rather shabby.  Time for a new one.We're a bit older, possibly slightly less energetic, more gray in the hair and a bit more coin in the pocket, and have mellowed our idealism.  In other words--we bought a plastic tool shed to make the new chicken coop.  Somehow the idea of a chicken coop that could be easily hosed down is very appealing.  Also something that could be built in a few hours.

Bob was all for just putting it together.  I felt that the ground should be levelled first--everything we have is on a slope.  I won that round--if by "win" I mean that I got to spend a few hours with shovel and pickaxe (for the roots) levelling the area.  Then I forgot that the doors will have to open so that had to be dug out also.  Now we realize that we should probably brick in around the front door so we don't have to dig it out every time it rains.  And we still have to put in a scratch yard.  But it's cute!

Critter du jour: Apache

Apache just showed up a couple of years ago--I stepped outside and he crawled into my arms.  Must have been a drop off--the old "take him to the country and he can take care of himself."  Not this guy--he was desperate to be adopted, and is a very sweet and affectionate cat.  He has decided that the butterfly garden is his (note that my seeds are sprouting).  His name is a pun--he is white with gray tabby blotches, so he is called Apache because he is "a patchy" cat.  I refused to have a mundane name like Patches.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Made in the Shade

Or at least making some shade.  We've had this swing for many years.  The top shade cloth died after a few years.  Since then, I've replaced it several times, but even though the fabric I get is supposed to be "outdoor, sun resistant" stuff, it falls apart in a season. 

So today Bob cut wood slats and put on a permanent shade roof.  Looks good.  Next we replace the swing itself (which has held up better but is coming apart).

After all this, I reloaded the loom--my friend liked the trim samples so I'll be making some longer pieces.  This is today's piece (using the new close-up camera).

We had both played hookey from work today--it's been most satisfying!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Towels and Trims and Possums

OK--Mom has alerted me that I haven't posted for a couple of weeks. Catch-22--if I have time to post, it means I'm not doing much to write about. If I have something worth posting, I'm busy doing it and not writing about it.

So--in the last couple of weeks I've adopted two litters of baby possums--13 total. One litter is sweet, one is a bunch of hissy-boos.

Late March I found a great computer armoire at Goodwill. But to move my computer into it meant having to unplug the modem and wireless router--meaning no internet connection. I didn't trust my ability to get it all put back together correctly, and I didn't dare not have internet during the school term, so the armoire sat in the living room for six weeks or so. Now it's finally where it belongs (and I still have the internet). The armoire is a folding office--the lower half swings out to make a secondary desk (with a hanging file folder area underneath it), and the doors have shelves on them. I can't get far enough away in that room to get a full picture (my big loom is in there and it gets in the way) but here's a bit (with a before shot--Mom will remember that my teachers at school use to tell her about my messy desks):

Of course, I'm not going to mention all the stuff that's piled up on the floor out of camera range . .

I finished the set of dishtowels that I had on my smaller loom. I had them there just to have something to weave when I felt like it, so they've been there for a few months. But I wanted the little loom back, so I finished them. There's something nice about using handmade items for everyday use.

The reason that I needed the little loom back is that I'm on a kick of weaving trim. I have a friend in the SCA (medieval group) and we're kicking around the idea of selling trim--I get to do the fun part of making it, she does the annoying part of selling it. We think there's a market. Right now the choice is either using store-bought trim--which looks machine made--or authentically-woven trim (made on small, hand-manipulated looms) that runs about $30 yard. I can weave it pretty quickly on my looms--but I've felt a little silly weaving inch-wide strips on my 40 inch wide loom. I just sent some sample to her--so hoping there is a market to give me an excuse to keep playing with this. It's just instant gratification--making something simple like a dishtowel still takes several hours to set up the loom--and you have to thread almost 500 pieces of yarn. Trim takes about 40 pieces, and can be ready to go in an hour.

We made it out in the kayaks for a while this morning. Spotted a nest with three baby anhinga--couldn't get a good picture but they were quite adorable. And we drifted for quite some time watching fledging osprey try out their new wings, playing with the wind currents like kids on a skateboard ramp. And we're always struck by the incredible beauty that is just minutes from home.

And that's why I haven't been posting. After all, I *do* have a job, as well.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Done, Done, Disturbing, and Cute

Well, we indulged in yet another new camera. We have our old one, which for having a scant 2 megapixels takes really good pictures (most of the pictures in this blog were taken with it). We got a new 8 megapixel camera, waterproof, for taking out on the kayak. The pictures, to my eye, aren't as clear as our old camera--but I wouldn't want to take that out on a boat.

But Bob has taken to carefully looking at items like old cars and dumpsters to see exactly how paint fades and chips and where the rust forms and streaks--so we wanted a camera small enough to go in a pocket. Nice thing is that it has a close-up feature. I didn't have a rusty dumpster handy so the Pookha had to demonstrate.

A couple more projects have crossed the finishing line. I liked my skeleton mitts so much that I made a pair for a friend. I also finished my "nine pieces of eight"socks (I usually have a pair of socks on the needles for a mindless project). I wanted to paint some yarn in bright colors, and rather than planning I just used whatever dye I had on hand. The name is in reference to Pirates of the Caribbean, in the scene where Mr. Gibbs explains that "nine pieces of eight" sounded more piratey than "nine pieces of whatever we happened to have in our pockets at the time."

Meanwhile, Bob is starting to prepare for Halloween. We're going to base one scene on Mexico's "Island of the Dolls" The story is that a young girl drowned near the island, and to appease her restless spirit dolls have been left there. Hundreds of olds and falling-apart dolls are disturbingly creepy, so of course we want to do it for the haunted trail. There are many ways of making something look weather beaten--the best is to let nature do it. So he's been getting dolls from Goodwill, putting some paint on them (to streak nicely) and hanging them up on the garden(vegetable garden, not the new butterfly) to age. It's a bit disturbing. There was supposed to be a cute aspect to this post (the baby opossums) but the blog program is being very obnoxious this morning and what was supposed to take about 15 minutes has already taken more than an hour. Cute critters later.