Saturday, August 30, 2008

Art of Alzheimer's

When I walked in the kitchen and saw the utensils scattered about, I thought, oh, Mom's been playing in the utensil drawer again, and started putting them away.

I stopped in the nick of time. The cord for the toaster is what made me stop. Then I saw.

What I didn't notice until I was looking at the photos, was the colorized effect. It looks like a black and white, except for the green trim on the potholder. It's just that everything in the photo, except for the trim, is shades of gray, white, black.

I wonder if Mom saw that.

I wonder how many works I've missed because I didn't see.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Late afternoon yesterday, the dogs were barking up a storm. I went outside to look, and then very quickly went back in for my camera.

I should have had camera in hand when I first went outside though. Ursa, the smaller one right next to the tree, was actually up in the tree, balancing in that first crook. She really wanted after whatever it was.

I moseyed on over to have a look-see.

Hello, Mr. Woodchuck.

The dogs kept him treed the rest of the day. I finally made them come in the house around 10 pm. He was gone this morning.

The roofer called last night, so I asked him if by any chance he hadn't latched the gate. He is sure that he did. I figured that, because he knows how important it is.

So she figured out the clip. Maybe it was a one time thing, but of course I can't take that chance. I now have the clip, plus a chain that goes through the latch and then attaches to the gate. I will need to explore more complicated clips though, this one is too easy for her apparently. I seem to remember seeing one that you have to unscrew, pull the sleeve down, then unclip.

This couldn't come at a worse time. I have a huge project for work, involving, among other things, proofreading patent and actuarial translations. It hadn't been a problem to let Mom walk around outside while I sat at the computer, checking on her every five minutes or so. Now I'm back to having to check every minute, or basically not letting her outside while I am trying to work. (Imagine here a large string of loud invective.)

My peace of mind is gone again. I'm back to worrying about her every second. I thought she was safe. I may have to resort to a padlock, although I didn't want to do that. I just don't think I can handle that constant worry again. It's too draining.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I can't think of a title.

The flower is an Aster. "Alma Patschka" or Patschke or something like that. It doesn't bloom until October or so. This photo (coming soon to a greeting card near you) was taken last year.

Anyway, I got to thinking about this flower. You know what happens then.

I will blend them together slightly on the drum carder. This is the sock (or mitten or hat) yarn blend of alpaca/wool/silk/nylon.

I may make a small tag using the photo that inspired the yarn. Because let's face it, that happens all the time around here. Or maybe offer a set of greeting cards featuring the photo with the yarn. Fiber and photos. It's all in the marketing, right?

I don't want to think about marketing though, I just want to dye stuff. And spin stuff. I'm not a good businesswoman. Not that I let that stop me.

Why does it feel like Friday today?


I just went outside to find the gate wide open and Mom nowhere to be found. I was bawling as I ran down the driveway. Once I got past the tree line, I could see Mom walking down the road toward town. Thank God she was still within sight. I hollered and hollered but she would just stop, look back at me, then keep walking. I kept hollering as I ran, and she would at least pause to look at me, so I was able to catch up with her. She didn't object to coming back with me either.

The peace of mind that the gate had brought has been shattered, and I can't stop crying. I don't know if Mom figured out the clip system that I used to shut the gate, or if the roofer who had stopped in earlier (and knows about the importance of shutting/latching the gate) hadn't latched it properly. I just keep thinking about what could have happened.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Now THAT'S a Flashlight

Look at the size of that thing! My sister must have tired of hearing me say "Yeah, I could hear there was something out there but I couldn't see it." Like when the Blessed Bovine was out and about. So she sent this to me for my birthday. I saw the box, and hoped that the picture on the outside was what was actually in it. In other words, she hadn't merely recycled the box and put something else in there. I can't wait for it to get dark tonight so I can see how far I can see with this monster.

Here, this might help. The flashlight on the left is the one I normally use, and is about a foot long. The one on the right? That is 5 million candle power right there, baby! I have no idea what that actually means, but it sounds impressive.

The neighbor was over yesterday and looked at the hayfield. We are going to do a third cutting. Now the question is when. We walk a fine line here, weighing the desire to let it grow a little longer so we can get more hay, versus the need to still have warm enough weather to get it to dry, and also leave enough time for it to regrow a bit for winter cover. I need to get out to the granary and try to find (make) more room to store it. My sister might take some for her animals, but I still need to keep it dry until she can come over to pick it up. If all else fails, we'll tarp it until she can come get it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Boas and Dusters

Mom did NOT feel like modeling today, so we have Judy (I just had to knit one for Judy!) sporting hers around her neck, and Mom's around her feet.

The big excitement around here was the crop duster was back the other day.

He was spraying the sweet corn across the road from me. See those power lines? I kept fearing he was going to clip them on his way by.

He never did though.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Yesterday Mom and I met my sister and nephew (6) in Rochester for the day. We went to two stores, and I was ready to be done. Do I have to turn in my woman card? Aren't women supposed to love shopping?

Anyway, I did come home with a few things. I found a frame on clearance. Woohoo! I printed the little chick photo (digitally altered with Elements Poster Edges filter) on a natural card stock.

We were in Michael's, ( craft/art supply type store) and Mom and my nephew were having a grand time playing with some feather boas. They were having such fun, I thought I should buy one for Mom. Then I saw the price tag, and how badly made they were, and they only had pink, red or white. Wheels started turning...hey, just buy some fuzzy yarn and knit one!

I think this is the first yarn I have purchased in 5 or 6 years. I'm afraid Cookie Monster may have died to make this yarn. Waaah!

Today's episode of "Bored Hen-wives": When we last left them last night around 9 pm, "flighty" hen was watching the chicks, and "mama" hen was on the eggs. (I think we need real names for them. Mama hen is all black, and flighty hen is black with brown speckles on her breast. Suggestions please!) This morning when I went out to the coop, mama hen was watching the chicks and flighty hen was on the eggs. I wish I had a coop cam to see what goes on in there!

Friday, August 22, 2008


Asphalt ones, that is, not the disease.

Do you know how heavy a bundle of shingles is? I don't know either, other than really damn heavy!

The roofer finally finished everything up so I knew he wouldn't need anymore of the pile of leftover shingles. There are twelve bundles of them. I could have had him take most of them back, but the shed and garage will need new roofs before too long, so I decided to just keep them. I transferred them into the back of the shed yesterday.

I'm sad to admit they kicked my butt. I had to lift them into my garden cart, cart them into the shed as far as I could, then lift them out of the garden cart, and carry them several steps through a narrow path, hefting them up to about my chest to get them over all the other stuff in the shed.

I would never make it as a roofer.

Not only because I can't carry shingles. There was a piece of tin off the roof where the hay is stored, so the roofer fixed it for me. I remained firmly on the ground, thank you very much. As I was moving the pieces of bad tin into the barn to get it away from the animals, I scraped my leg on it. Just a scratch, but I figure I better head to the doctor on Monday for a tetanus shot. It is out of date, and it is probably a good idea anyway when living on a farm with animals and rusty stuff everywhere.

In "Bored Hen-wives" (Thanks, Olga!) news: The hens have switched. The previously flighty one to whom I had given the remaining eggs is now watching over the two chicks while the hen that actually hatched out the chicks is now sitting on the eggs. I was gone most of the day, so I don't know how long, or if, the nest had been abandoned while they worked out the switch. I'll give them two weeks, if a hen stays on the nest.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Arrivals

I went out to the chicken coop yesterday, and this little fella, (that's a generic use of fella, I can't sex chicks) greeted me. I looked under Mom, and there was another egg just starting. By last night there were was a golden chick too. I went out to take a picture this morning, but the battery died. I'll update with another pic when the battery is recharged. ETA: Here she is. (I'm just hoping she's a she. She looks like a she to me right now.) What a beautiful color she is. I wonder what color she'll end up.

I always thought that hatching chicks was easier with a broody hen than with an incubator. They do all the work, right? Now I'm not so sure. The drama!

I have two broody hens. Broody just means that their hormones tell them to quit laying eggs and sit (brood) on them instead. I don't know how to break them of that, and although I didn't really want more chickens, I gave each of them two eggs. (I know, how could I not want more chickens! Have you seen the price of chicken feed (again I ask why is it feed? Dog food, cat food, but chicken feed? Why? German makes a distinction between humans and animals eating. Humans essen, but animals fressen. Maybe a holdover from that? Hmmm? Sorry for this linguistic break in the middle of the story. ) these days? It has almost doubled. During the summer it isn't as bad. I don't have to feed much because they supplement with grass and bugs and such. Feeding them through the winter is another story!)

About a week ago, I noticed that one of the hens was off the nest for some time. I went out to the coop, and now the eggs were cool, and there were two more. So she was off the nest long enough for two other hens to sneak in and lay eggs. Crap! Of course I hadn't marked the two she was brooding, so now I had no way of knowing which two were partially developed. Thinking she had abandoned the nest, or at least wasn't doing a very good job of it, I put the four eggs under the other hen, and left some wooden eggs for the other flighty hen.

I don't know if the partially developed eggs are still viable. They may have gotten too cold that one day she was off the nest. I know at least one of them died, I think it got stepped on and the shell broke. Or it was starting to pip and something happened. Sorry to be so graphic, but there was a little beak where the shell had broken away. Poor baby.

Meanwhile, the hen went back on the nest and has been good about staying on. But now the other hen has two chicks, one egg that, if still viable, would be hatching soon too, but also two eggs that are only about one week into development. Again, crap! She will abandon the nest to take care of the chicks that hatched. So I took the eggs from her, and put them under the other hen. If the one egg does hatch soon, I will steal that chick and give it to the hen with chicks already, in the hopes that the other hen will stay on the nest and hatch out the other two.

That's my plan, anyway. The hens might have other ideas, and both abandon the nests and fight over the two chicks. Who knows.

Oh, and here's the sky last night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


See the hole for the handle on the bench up there? Mom has decided that it is fun to pour stuff in there. Water, chocolate milk...

I usually try to keep a cup of water or other drink available for her at all times. If she is thirsty, she can just find it and drink whatever she wants. She won't (can't) ask for it, usually.

What is the solution? I don't want my floors ruined by standing water, but I also don't want Mom going thirsty. Keep small amounts of water available, so that if she does pour it down the bench handle, it is just a little bit? Check the floor every hour? Argh!

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Art of Alzheimer's

Found this on the kitchen table last night. Mom colored the little well? thing at the adult day care she used to attend when I was still working in the Cities.

Earlier, Mom was sitting on the couch with a coloring book and what I thought was a pencil. I was tired, so stretched out on the couch next to her to get in a little rest. I could feel her fooling around with my leg, but didn't think anything of it. Big mistake.

She actually had a pen.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sock and sunsets

I actually cast on a sock on Saturday. I like how this yarn is knitting up, mostly gray but with little glimmers of blue here and there. I am using size 0 needles, and it is creating a nice sturdy fabric, perfect for socks. I am pleased.

We've had some nice sunsets the past couple of nights. Here's Saturday night:

And last night:

I never seem to tire of this view. Or taking pictures of it. I've been here eight years now, and still the sky never seems the same twice. I'm still amazed at the colors and color combinations Ma Nature comes up with.

I've been feeling a bit of wanderlust lately, but don't have a way of satisfying it. Maybe that's why I am fascinated with the sky lately. The view is the same, but at least the sky is everchanging.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Camelids are indiscriminate mowers.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Last year my sister did the Memory Walk for Alzheimer's. To help her with fundraising, I held a raffle of sorts for this yarn.

Yesterday I got an e-mail from the winner of the yarn. She had made this with it.

She does beautiful work! The scarf is going to Switzerland as a gift to mark an 80th birthday. That makes me happy.

I've been doing some plying, and actually have two skeins finished. I haven't been spinning much lately, so this makes me happy too.

I like them together. Hmmm. This was going to be two separate pairs of socks, and I think it still will be. However, I think there is probably enough of both to make a third pair combining the two. Mom needs a pair of bed socks for the winter, her feet are always cold.

Friday, August 15, 2008


My work e-mail gets a lot of spam. The latest rage seems to be fake headlines from MSNBC or CNN or wherever.

There must be a spammer out there with a sense of humor. I've actually taken to reading the headlines, because they are funny! I've written down a few recent ones, and thought I'd share.

"Breaking news! No one killed in Bancroft, WV today."

"Chinese authorities arrest, beat up Olympic panda."

"Favre gets unconditional reverse deactivation restriction preclusion." I LOVED that one.

"Scientists warn of new global luke warming threat!"

"Extreme Home Makeover host Ty Pennington's house inadvertently bulldozed."

Come on, they're funny!

Yes, Cornbread the Dude, I have been reduced to reading spam. Not eating it, though.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


The first tomatoes are being picked now. I am in a quandary as to what to do with them.

The first option, and the one I'm leaning toward, is tabouli/tabbouleh (pick your spelling) salad. I've got the fresh tomato, fresh cucumber, and I'll probably throw in some zucchini or yellow squash, because I have about ten of them in my fridge and more growing.

The next option is pasta with the tomatoes, fresh basil (also growing by leaps and bounds), zuke and squash. Fresh mozzarella was on sale at the store, so I have that too. I may even have some mushrooms to throw in there.

The third option is fresh salsa. I noticed this morning that the lone pepper plant is full of little spicy bundles of joy.

I still have tomatoes in the freezer from last year, so I can round out the last two with those, if the few fresh ones I have aren't enough.

Again, I am so lucky that this is the extent of my problem for the day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another Prototype

It doesn't look like much, does it?

Does this help?

I've been wanting to try my hand at a cup sleeve/cozy/thingy for a while now, but I don't drink coffee. I didn't know what size to make it. So when visitors came bearing what they thought was garbage, I jumped with glee, washed it, and put it in the cupboard for safekeeping. I'm sure they thought I was a nutjob. Oh well.

That was a few weeks ago, but I finally made one. I discovered that it fits both sizes (don't ask me what they are, I would call them medium and large) and it fits my drinking glasses too.

It is alpaca/wool needlefelted to a foundation fabric, then fused to another piece of fabric. This should protect well from both hot and cold.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Hay

After some false starts and rain, the second crop of hay is now filling up my barn. And granary. Yep, so much hay that I spent a good part of yesterday morning cleaning out part of another building to store hay in.

The barn is quite literally filled to the rafters. Yay!

We were baling like mad Friday night, until it got too humid and too dark to bale anymore. We got about half the field done.

Then we stacked it in the barn in the dark. (No electric in the barn) I think we finally stopped around 10.

Unfortunately, it rained Friday night/Saturday morning. We let it dry Saturday, raked it again Sunday afternoon, then baled Sunday late afternoon/evening. We again stacked in the dark Sunday until after 10, then I went over yesterday to the neighbors' to help them unload their half. Mom came along and sat in the truck right next to us with her coloring book and magazine. We finished around 9 last night.

It isn't the best, but it is certainly better than the crappy hay I was forced to buy last year, because it was the only hay I could find. The animals were snarfing up the stuff that fell to the ground when we were stacking it, so they seem to like it just fine.

Today we are having a nice steady rain. This will do wonders for the hayfield. Heck, we might even get a third cutting. I don't know where I would put it though. What a wonderful problem!

I'm tired, but there is nothing like the feeling of having my barn full of hay for the winter. Even more so since it is hay we did ourselves, so we know the quality, whether it got rain and how much, and what exactly it is made of. Yeehaw!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Yesterday my sister came over to watch Mom so I could go spend the day doing spinning demonstrations at the fair. Can you guess what town?

I have no idea what it actually was. I didn't really want to know. Pieces of it dunked in batter and fried? Pieces of it mixed with cheese curds and batter fried? They were also offering Spamburgers. I declined and continued on my way to the Dairy Association's shake truck. Yum, strawberry shake!

This is the grand sum of spinning I got done.

It is the gray llama with streaks of purple and blue roving shown in the previous post. It amazes me how it spins up into such a steel blue color. I like it. This is destined to be a pair of socks once I get it finished.

The day ended with this.

It was a good day.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Exciting Phone Call

For me at least. My mail carrier called me bright and early this morning, because I have a huge box to be delivered, and he wanted to know if I'd be home? Although my dispute with the USPO over the payment of my insurance claim hasn't been settled, I know that I am hugely lucky with my small town post office.

So anyway, yep, I'm going to be home, but we agreed that he is going to leave it at the gate, because I never know if the llamas will have snuck out of their temporary fencing and are wandering the yard. Or if Mom will be wandering the yard.

Why is it so exciting? It is some of my fiber back from the mill. I don't even remember exactly what it is, but there should be a few pounds of heathered gray alpaca/wool/silk/angora roving, I think.

In the meantime, the rust alpaca is almost ready to come off the drying rack, so I am washing some white llama to take its place.

I'll update with photos later today.

We should be baling second cutting hay tomorrow. Woohoo! It got rained on a little bit last night, but I think it will still be ok.

Edited to add photos:

Over 2 lbs of alpaca/wool/silk/angora. This should spin up to a nice heather gray yarn. Of course, there is always overdyeing too.

I had forgotten about this one. It is llama/wool/silk, mostly gray with random streaks of purple and blue. I have almost ten pounds of this one.

I also have another ten pounds of white alpaca/wool/silk/nylon roving which makes great sock/mitten yarn. Let the dyeing commence!

This was all still from last year's clip. I am just getting to the skirting and washing of this year's clip. Oh my.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Yeah, I think the screen room is done for. Almost every support connector is either completely snapped off or twisted, some both. It would take somebody with a lot of patience and welding experience to fix it.

The roof supports, the canvas roof and the screens are still good though. I'm trying to think of a way to connect the existing roof supports to 4 x 4's sunk in the ground, and 2 by 4 going around the sides. In each corner, the roof support fits into a sleeve that is then attached to a plastic cap that sits on top of the poles. One of them is broken where the sleeve attaches to the plastic cap. I don't know, I'm not an engineer. Or even constructionally inclined. I have mentioned before my troubles with angles. Now if you need something spun, I'm your woman!

Here are the two fleeces I managed to get washed.

Black and rose gray. These two are now off the drying rack, and have been replaced with two rust colored fleeces. Only a few more to go.

I bought the wasp killer. Now which of you brave souls is going to volunteer to come here and open the car door so I can spray from far far away?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Zuke bars

Here's Mom's recipe:

5 eggs, beaten
2 c sugar
1 c oil
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 T cinnamon (yes, two tablespoons)
2 c grated zuchinni
1/2 c nuts

Bake 30 min in 350 degree oven or until done.

That's it, no step by step instructions. She assumes you know how to bake.

For those of you unsure...cream together the first 3 ingredients, then add the rest except zuke and nuts. Mix that lightly, then fold in the zuke and nuts.

As for the frosting, you can use any white frosting recipe you like. Cream cheese frosting is great on these, which taste like a spice cake/carrot cake. Frosting from a can works too.
I used this recipe, which creates a very creamy almost filling more than frosting.

5 T flour
1 c milk

Stir together in saucepan and heat until thick. Let cool.

Cream together:
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c margarine (I'm not a margarine fan, I used butter)
1 c sugar
1 t vanilla

Then add flour mixture and beat until smooth.

Must be stored in the refrigerator! It is probably a good idea to store the bars in the fridge anyway, because they are very moist.

Mom got stung by a wasp yesterday. I saw that she was by the (sadly currently disabled) car and had the door open, so I started walking over to guide her away and close the car door. The cat was sitting on the roof of the car. Mom cried out and started moving toward me, at first I thought the cat had scratched her. But she was moaning a little and holding her hand, so I started running. When I got closer, I saw several wasps flying about. I hustled Mom away and into the house as fast as I could. By the time we got to the house, she was singing. She was holding her hand a little, but I couldn't really tell where she got stung. I assume it just got her a little, her hand didn't swell anywhere that I could tell, but I did hold it under cold water for a while. She was getting impatient, just wanted to get back to her puttering.

I went back out to shut the car door, and sure enough, there was a wasp nest in the door. I generally have a live and let live, tread lightly on the earth policy, but unfortunately for these wasps I'll have to change that. I can't have a wasp nest where Mom will get stung, and she likes to play with car doors enough that I know this won't be the last time she'll open the door. Sure, I could lock the doors, but they would still be in there and still be disturbed by Mom trying to open the door. I'll have to get some wasp killer. I'm sorry wasps, but Mom comes first.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fibery Pursuits

When asked my plans for the weekend, I said I was going to do something fibery while sitting in front of the window air conditioner. The forecast was for hot and humid. I hate hot and humid.

Lucky for me, the forecasters were wrong, and we had a very pleasant, dry day yesterday, and today is overcast and windy, almost cool, so far.

So yesterday I stood under a shade tree and skirted five alpaca fleeces. OK, to be accurate, it was four alpaca and one llama. I also washed two of them, and those are now on the drying rack. I'll wash more as those dry.

I also finished spinning more Emerald Lake fiber, and wound it off into a center pull ball for plying.

6.2 ounces, destined to become a pair of socks or two.

I didn't ply it right away, because I wanted to get my hands on this.

Remember the giant suri monster? This is a fraction of it put through the drum carder once. I am spinning this as finely as I can. It has a much longer staple than I am used to, but is turning out nicely, I think. The luster is amazing.

In other news, I lost my fly swatter. It normally hangs from a peg by the window, but I couldn't find it anywhere in the house. I figured Mom took it outside somewhere, but didn't want to traipse all around to find it.

This is what happens when you don't check the zucchini every day.

The one on the right is the size I want to pick them at for eating. The one on the left, a little big. So when confronted with a zuke bat, you make zuke bars!

Made them yesterday, using Mom's recipe. I turned the oven on, and almost walked away. Then I remembered to check, because sometimes Mom will put stuff in it. Sure enough, there was the fly swatter.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Art of Alzheimer's

Baby in a box. Or a plastic canister. Whatever you want to call it, I like it. The utensils usually do sit on the counter, and the canister was sitting on the draining board in the sink after being washed. I thought it was funny enough when I saw Mom putting Judy in the canister, but then when she placed the baby-filled canister next to the utensils, like Judy was one of them, I had to run for the camera.

I also like how the angle of the spaghetti spoon, with one of the prongs covering a corner of the eye, makes it look like the spoon is looking at Judy and smiling.