Monday, April 29, 2013


Northeast Indiana Fiber Festival

The information said the Northeast Indiana Fiber Festival was to be held at the Noble County Fairgrounds, in the log building.

This one?

Sign says "Closed. Call 911"

No.  How about this one?

Snack bar?

Nope.  Maybe here...




My SO and I popped in for a quick shopping spree. Despite there being some lovely roving in a variety of natural and not-so-natural colors, I resisted. It has been hard enough to get to the wheel at all, but with gardening season starting up, it is nearly impossible. And it is not like there won't be roving elsewhere.

But fiber fests have not just wool, but other goodies. Like soap made from sheep milk. I asked the vendor, "Who milks the sheep?" She does. She is quite petite with small hands, so I can see that (as I imagine the teats on sheep are rather small, but what do I know?)

Because I am growing tired of carrying a purse, I bought this card carrier. I figure I can get the bare essentials in there (bank card, library card, insurance card) and slip it into a back pocket. Now if designers would just put pockets on women's clothing.

I like to knit shawls but I don't like to wear them because they involve a lot of fiddling if one does not have a shawl pin. I've been looking for shawl pins for a while now, but this is one of the first ones I've seen that I really like.

And there were other purchases: local maple syrup and lanolin based lotion (which smells decidedly sheepy). I also meant to buy some sock yarn that was a blend of merino, alpaca, and nylon, but forgot. Ditto the finger puppets. But I think I can make my own finger puppets, from leftover sock yarn. Should not be much more difficult than glove fingers, right? (Famous last words.)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rainy days and Sundays

Look what my SO bought me

The trick to good gifting is to figure out what someone wants but would not buy for themselves. Bingo!

Brave New World

Modeling a handknit hoodie

My granddaughter just turned two-and-a-half this month. She stays overnight with me most Saturday nights, to give the 'rents a break. We have our routines (supper, games, Shaun the Sheep or Curious George, popcorn, etc.) One of our routines is reading in Grandma's bed, then falling asleep in Grandma's bed, then being transferred to the Pack n Play.

Some of the games we "play" are on my Nook. Some are puzzle games, one is a memory game, and another is a coloring app. Granddaughter particularly likes the latter.

Last Saturday, while lugging her from my bed to her bed, she woke up. I was too tired to deal with the ensuing pleas and tears, so I just put her back in my bed and we both went to sleep. The next morning, granddaughter hopped out of bed almost immediately upon waking. After a few minutes, I staggered after her. She was sitting on the couch, Nook in lap, "coloring". She had figured out how to turn it on, get past the screen saver, find her game, and start playing. It wasn't long before she was trying to get more games off the B&N site. It is a good thing she does not know my B&N password or my credit card would have some mysterious charges on it.

Watching Thomas the Train

I'm sure there were predictions of doom following the invention of the telephone, automobile, radio, television, etc. but these new technologies were all so useful and desirable. They transformed society in ways that are both bad and good (mostly good, I think - I'm a big fan of hot running water and electricity), but in no time at all, we found we could not do without them. Ditto the computer age - what did we do with all that free time we used to have before surfing the 'net and chatting online? We probably watched TV and talked on the phone. And before that, we foraged for food and tried to figure out how to start a fire rubbing two sticks together.

The world changes. Fortunately, our children and then our grandchildren take these changes in stride. It is just us old farts that resist the new (my 93-year-old dad is struggling with transitioning from XP to Windows7 on his laptop and won't text on his iPhone, but he did send me a message via Facebook the other day). That's not to say everything new is good, but that which is "new" becomes that which is "normal" in a very short time. And sometimes what is "new" used to be "old" - for example, it wasn't that long ago that we ate locally grown food because that was all that was available.

The other day my daughter and I were double-teaming the granddaughter, getting her changed from her fleece pj's (she calls them "feecies" which sounds a lot like "feces") to street clothes and brushing her hair. "It's like 'Downton Abbey'!" I exclaimed. "And we are the lady's maids." Part of that show's story line shows the changing times and warns of what can happen if one does not adapt. The trick is to figure out how best to make use of the new stuff without introducing ruinous consequences.

Some days I fall into the camp labeled "Hell in a Handbasket" but other days I'm optimistic. Significant change is coming, especially for that endangered species, the White Male. It may be a rough transition, but I think the young can lead us into a better future. At least I hope so, for their sake.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mixed feelings

Yesterday the pets and I spent a lot of time in the backyard. Nary a bunny was in sight. So later that evening, when Finn wanted to go out for his after dark wander, I let him. After a while, I turned on the patio light to check on him. No Finn but there was a baby bunny. I scared him back under the porch from whence he came and turned off the light - the better to not be seen. Finn came in about an hour later and was acting exceptionally happy. This morning I found out why - one dead baby bunny in a patio bed. I'm sorry for the bunny, but I also spent a fair amount of time yesterday rabbit-proofing my garden. If Finn helps in that endeavor, I would not be all that unhappy. When I lived in the county, my garden was unprotected and I never had a problen with rabbits or deer, but we had outdoor cats and a dog. There is a reason we domesticated these animals and it was not so we would have the pleasure of picking up their poop.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wrangler of dumb bunnies

Just because the bunnies left the nest, it did not mean they had vacated the premises, something I did not discover until *after* I let Finn out. Fortunately, he seems to lack a killer instinct, being more curious than anything. Some strategically placed boards kept his presence from turning lethal. Not to be outdone, Betsy cornered an older bunny who managed to get caught in the chicken wire lining the chain link fence. Have you ever heard a bunny cry? Sad and disconcerting. I had a pair of clippers with me and was able to free the little fellow. Meanwhile, mama was back and seemed rather unconcerned about Finn. When I took this photo (notice the tiny bunny just beyond Finn's reach), I decided it was time to go in.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gone now

Mama rabbit showed up with some babies in tow, tended to the remaining two, and now they are all gone. Whew!

I am hopeless

Last night I checked on the baby bunnies. There are six or so, and they were huddled in groups in the planter, soaking wet from the rain. I try not to interfere too much with Mother Nature, but I knew I would not sleep with their pathetic beady little eyes drilling into my brain. So I laid a board across the planter, providing some cover yet leaving room for mama to get in there and attend to them. (Where is she?!?) This morning only two remained. I don't know if the others hopped out or mama moved them or what. Just in case these two want out but can't negotiate the sides of the planter, I'll put a brick in there tonight to serve as their step to freedom.

And then a hawk will probably eat them.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cuteness alert!

Mama rabbit visiting the nest

Mama nursing the babies

A nest of cuteness

The non-runt of the litter

Exploring on wobbly legs

Ready to blow this nest

Just before making its escape

Monday, April 22, 2013


I was paging through photos the other night and realized that most of the winter shots are of knitting while the summer ones are of the garden. Those are my two main avocations, I guess.

This past weekend I tried to pace myself. On Saturday I mowed the front yard (once the snow melted) and cleaned up the beds there. Sunday I mowed the back and wrapped the pea beds in poultry netting. Today, well, it didn't feel like I spent hours gardening, but I did in spite of a slight setback.

Fortunately, my SO came to the rescue.

So what did I accomplish? Planted potatoes (while simultaneously ridding the bed of Canada thistle - I HATE that stuff!), transplanted spinach (the heavy rains washed out what I had planted from seed), arugula, and chamomile. I filled in some ankle-breaking uneven spots in the yard with cheap top soil, topped off the pea gravel by the water faucet, set the bird bath upright (the high winds keep knocking it down), and installed a timer on the grow lights in the garage.

And then I cooked supper - bok choi and panir stir fry. I'm a little surprised I am still going. I think I could do more, but I'm not going to. A gardener has to know her limitations.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Is it just me?

Or does this quote sound like a recipe for disappointment and sadness?

Expect your every need to be met. Expect the answer to every problem. Expect abundance on every level.
- Eileen Caddy

God willin and the creek don't rise

My front yard this morning, after 3+ inches of rain overnight:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My kids' inheritance is going to the vet

This past week I have spent many hours at the vet's office. One reason is, they need to hire another vet. Another reason is, my dog is old and my cat is sick.

Finn has had chronic diarrhea since he came to live with me. I have tried filtering his water and keeping the lids to the toilets down. I have tried several different brands of cat food and probiotics, I have tried eliminating dairy, catnip, and people food. I switched from a clumping wheat litter to plain clay. Nothing has made any difference. He has been to the vet several times, with no improvement. Last week he stopped eating altogether. Fortunately, an antibiotic shot helped that. He also has become more friendly, as while running a fever he had chills and took advantage of any warmth he could syphon out of my lap. Although he is still not 100%, he did go outside this morning and disturbed the mama mallard nesting in the mugo pine by the front door.

(Yes, Finn is now an indoor/outdoor cat. I got tired of being chased down and having my ankles bit, so I let him out on a limited basis, usually while I am gardening and for a few hours in the late evening, after the birds have gone to bed. He mostly just hangs out in the backyard. I have yet to see him chase anything, let alone catch anything, other than a leaf.)

Betsy has arthritis and limps a lot. Sometimes she has been so reluctant to walk, she has pooped inside the house rather than go out. She too has been to the vet multiple times (including for teeth cleaning and chem 17 blood work), with minimal improvement, until I started her on Rimadyl. She still limps, but that pinched look in her face is gone and she is actually bouncy. In fact, last night she managed to climb into the utility sink I repurposed as a planter, where she dug up a bunny nest.

I feel bad that I had not tried the Rimadyl earlier, but it is expensive. How come they don't make Advil for dogs?

Parents know that sick kids can be easy to care for because they sleep a lot and are otherwise glued to the couch. Once the rugrats recover, however, there is hell to pay. Ditto with pets.

(BTW, I checked on the bunnies this morning, and mama had covered the nest again. Hopefully, the planter drains well enough that the babes won't drown with all the rain we have been having.)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

More too much fun

Today I headed north, to the Big Red Barn, for Dye Day, a workshop on dyeing roving and yarn.

I think everyone else purchased roving and yarn for their uses, but I brought along some of the BFL roving I have been spinning and several skeins of superwash merino sock yarn "blanks" I had accumulated along the way.

Things got off to a slow start, which was making me a bit anxious because I had "grandma duty" later in the afternoon, but once we got going, we all had a blast. A couple of people sampled dyeing with KoolAid and Jello, but most of us were more interested in using the acid dyes.

And use them we did, experimenting with different techniques for applying the colors: from squirt bottles, foam brushes, and syringes, and by hand. Once done with applying color, the roving and yarn samples were wrapped in Saran and popped into the microwave for a few minutes. After cooling, a warm vinegar bath for about ten minutes set the colors, and then a final rinse in cool water, and our samples were hung to dry.

I am eager to spin and ply the roving, to see how it turns out. I was trying to achieve a "self-striping" effect with one of the sock yarn skeins, by painting with four different colors. We'll see how successful I was.

There is nothing magical about the process, just the results. And the fun.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New toys!

Usually, I like to wind yarn into a center-pull ball by hand. Besides being relaxing, it gives me a chance to inspect the skein for splices and other flaws. But in the spinning class I took last month, I learned to use a ball winder to ply my handspun yarn. So I broke down and purchased not just a ball winder but a swift as well.

The swift holds a skein of yarn while it is being transformed into a center-pull "cake". My granddaughter helped test this out.

Not sure why she looks so solemn. It used to be the sight of a camera brought enthusiastic smiles. Someone must have told her all that smiling was not cool. When I referred to the result as cake, though, she perked up and pretended to gobbled it.

This yarn, with the addition of some primary colors, is destined to become a blanket for the granddaughter. That also perked her up.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Little bit of this, little bit of that

We have daffs!

And purple crocus.

I'm surprised the crocus is still standing, as usually the rabbits feast on it by now. Maybe they are too hungry for the barely green grass.

Today is an in-like-a-lion mixed with a bit of April showers kind of day, a good day to do inside stuff like transplant the lettuce into larger containers (along with a few radish seeds), plant some spinach, also into a large container, and plant the Roma tomato seeds, in little pots made of newspaper.

Over the weekend, I planted onions - 'Big Daddy' from Burpee. As you may recall, the plants arrived along with some snow. Two bunches - 150 plants - is just about right for my 4' x 4' bed. Also planted English peas and snap peas. I thought I had enough of the former for two 4' x 1' sections, but no. So the garden plan has been amended to one section English, two sections snap.

I see I forgot to mention the zinnias and marigolds I started April 1. I also cut down the grasses sometime between then and now.

The trees and shrubs have yet to leaf out, which may explain why a robin is building its nest in the boxwood right outside the livingroom picture window, the same boxwood I plan to heavily prune and shape into a pseudo-xmas tree. Do robins reuse their nests? Maybe once the babies fledge and fly, I can get out the hedge trimmer.

And that is enough for now.

Friday, April 5, 2013