Saturday, February 2, 2013

It's a Good Day for Spinning....

.....with a cup of something warm to drink.   After a few days of 70 degree weather, we are now in the 20s.  Yesterday it was 5 degrees in Lexington (!), and we have a couple of inches of snow.   Nothing better than hunkering down to do some spinning - and maybe knitting later. Glad I don't have outside animals when the weather is like this.

Once again I have been asked/volunteered to spin some pet hair.  As always, it is an ageing pet that may not be around much longer, and the owner wants a memento.

Who couldn't love this face?  She is soooooooo sweet and cuddly
This is Mardi (as in Mardi Gras), a St. Bernard of indeterminate age.  Miss Mardi was rescued from a puppy mill, where she was used as a breeder.  Her age was unknown at the time of rescue, but her owner has had her for a number of years.  I met Mardi when I was working at Cardinal Hill Rehab Hospital, and she was/is a therapy dog there.   Since then, her owner just happened to move into the townhouse next to mine, along with her 'brother' Great Dane.  Since he works 24-hour shifts every couple of days, I am the dog-sitter, and Mardi and I have gotten to know each other very well.

Her undercoat makes great spinning material.  I plan to spin enough to make into a scarf, but didn't get it done for Christmas, so today is a good day to get back to that commitment.

On the other end of the spectrum, three of my hens are molting.  Abigail and Grace are pretty much done, and are at that tatty, half-grown-in stage. Nigella, the self-blue Cochin, began molting earlier this week.  Both of the 'buff girls' molt gradually, but Nigella's feathers have come out in clumps.  She only has a couple of feathers sticking up where her big poufy tail was, her wings only have a couple of feathers left and there are bare patches - with sprouting feathers growing back in  - on her body. She is normally very friendly and affectionate, but when I tried to take her out of her coop to get a picture, I got firmly pecked!  She wasn't about to have her picture taken when she's half nekkid!   There are feathers everywhere.  Nigella isn't very typey as Cochins go.   Jasmine is my really fluffy girl.  When she starts molting, it will look like snow in her coop!   Messy as it is, if they are going to 'pick' this time of the year to molt, I'm glad that they are inside instead of out...they would freeze!

Maybe, if they are molting now, that means they will start laying earlier in the Spring than last year.   Then they didn't start until JUNE!  - and three of them are still plenty young enough to lay regularly.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


This felted and embroidered wool brooch is on the way to me:

The fiber artist is Aileen Clarke, and I found her on Etsy....dangerous place, Etsy.   Aileen lives in Scotland and makes a variety of things using fiber and woven felted wool from her region.  (you have of course heard of the famous Harris Tweed)   This piece has fiber (or fibre, as Aileen spells it) from Orkney incorporated into it.  She was nice enough to agree to use a brooch base I also found on Etsy  - Marco Suarez - Artbase.  Is represents a small flock of sheep on the heather moors, with hills rising in the background and blue sky above. 

Aileen couldn't have been nicer, and in the "small world" catagory. she knows Nicola Brown  fiber artist, whom we are in negotiations with, to be an instructor again at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival  in May.  Through Aileen, I have hooked up on-line with all kinds of artists  - in Scotland especially.   I would love to be able to get them over here for KSFF!  

It's hardly buying local, but I couldn't resist.  I often troll Etsy looking for inspiration - never to copy directly,  but to get ideas for new and different ways to incorporate my interests in fiber and also jewelry making.  In this case, both.   

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Garden in Winter

I ventured outside today since it was so nice (sunny and nearly 60 degrees).   We have had some bitter cold lately, so I was surprised to find so much green in the garden.   A nice bunch of chickweed was growing on one of the compost heaps, and a chard in a protected place still had some green leaves, so the chickens got some vitamin-packed treats.   The Yarrow is putting out some green shoots, (so have to divide it and re-pot   1/4 of it when Spring comes) anyone local want some red-flowering Yarrow?   Brussels sprouts are growing, but the plants are still small.  It will probably be Spring before they produce anything!  

I finally put the compost bucket outdoors so I will stop keeping those scraps.  Yes, I know compost still 'cooks' in the winter, but so slowly that I still have a lot of un-broken-down big stuff when I want the compost to spread on the garden.

The 'girls' stopped laying sometime in December.   I had kept lights on them through November so I could get a few more eggs, but they need a break.   I had them out of the coop this afternoon so they could get pedicures, and it seems Emilie ( what I ended up naming my new dog) is a little afraid of them.  After all, when they get close-up-and personal they are as big as she is, and from her perspective those faces are a little weird looking.   Much less intimidating when they are behind 'bars!'

Sorry for no photos.  I'll try to do better next time.  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Very Nice Afternoon

Yesterday, friend Delores Tucker and I went to Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill  (known locally as Shakertown) for one of their "Christmas Teas."  Of course anyone familiar with Shakertown knows how beautiful the buildings and grounds are.   They were decorated subtly and naturally for the season, but I had to think that those decorations were for us today and the Germanic and decidedly un-Shaker adornments would have been unknown to the residents in the early 1800's.

The teas are held in the Trustee's house, where the hotel and restaurant are.   

At the base of one of the famous twin spiral staircases, there was a beautiful - if un-Shaker - tree decorated and lit with fairy lights.

It was gorgeous, sitting at handcrafted cherry drop-leaf tables on ladderback chairs in the spare but beautiful room.  They brought tea, scones, then country ham biscuits, cheddar pecan wafers (everything was tiny - this was a tea after all), then tea sandwiches of country ham spread, chicken salad and pimento cheese, then date bread, pound cake and cranberry muffins.  Then, as if that weren't enough, there was dessert!  Lemon bars, chocolate turnovers and peppermint meringues.

photo by Delores Tucker

We rolled out of there - staggering a bit from the sugar high - and made our way on over to the Craft shop.   We actually went there both before and again after tea, because there was something I wanted that I had forgotten to buy earlier. Both times we were greeted outside the door by friendly cats, who had the uncanny knack of posing for the perfect photo until the instant you were ready to click the shutter - then they would walk away.  

photo by Delores Tucker 

It was a very gray and rainy day, but the rain stopped while we were there.  It wasn't too cold, and made for very pleasant walking around the grounds.  We saw some of the cattle and 'took a turn' (tea was making me feel very Jane Austenish) around their herb garden, still producing, even this late in the season.

On the way home, we discovered a "bulk foods" store - Kountry Kupboard - on Hwy 127 outside Harrodsburg.  It reminded us so much of our trip a couple of years ago to Amish country in northern Ohio, and as then, we came home with bags of food for very little money.

Shopping, eating (in an incredible setting), shopping, driving through beautiful countryside, shopping (for more eating) ....... my idea of a LOVELY afternoon.

Monday, December 3, 2012

New baby

Sara has her new baby Maisie, but I've got a new 'baby' at my house too.  On Friday,  the Woodford County Humane Society posted this on Facebook:

Now, who could not fall in love with this!!!!  I tried to talk myself out of it - it's Christmas time, of course they are going to show the really appealing animals, I have plenty (some would say too many) of pets already, and on and on.  In the end I could not talk myself out of it, made the call and went over to meet her.  She is a Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix. I have never liked Chihuahuas and although Jacks are cute - I tend to think of both breeds as 'crazy,' hyper, yappy and all things negative. She turned out to be the complete opposite. 

This girl was not the least interested in cats or other dogs, did not bark, and though she looks so sad in this photo (her "come and take me home" face) is very sweet, carries her ears perked up and is SUCH a love sponge.  So...........she is now mine.  They called her Prancer (the incoming animals were getting Christmasy names) and I thought I would keep it....but now it doesn't seem to fit her.    I've been trying on names with her and haven't found one that seems the right fit yet.   Poppy?   Sophie?  Trinket?   'Have any suggestions? 

She fit right in from the first minute.  She tells me when she needs to go out, and there was no question of her sleeping with me - she claimed her spot on the bed first thing.  When she gets cold, she dives under the covers.  On her first full day, she went with me to the open house/sale at Sweet Home Spun .  She travelled several hours in the car like a trouper and was the delight of the party.   

The cats are over their initial interest, and now share the couch/bed/chair with her wherever she is - not snuggling, but no problems. She and the buns are fine with each other, and she completely ignores the chickens. 

What a lovely Christmas present!! 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Would you have been ready?

I post occasionally about emergency preparedness here, and this seems a good time to do it again.  

I love this blog, and her emergency-prep post is a particularly good commentary on things people didn't have - or overlooked - during the Sandy disaster:

Personally, I had a couple of long conversations with a friend whose son lives on the Lower (East?) Side of Manhattan, and just had power restored after several days without.  They still had water, and a gas stove, so two requirements were met, and they were better off than many. Some of the things they discovered:

  • How dependent most everyone is now on their cell phones for communication.   What do you do once the battery is dead?  Tops on their list, a hand-crank device that will re-charge a cell phone.  There are a lot of them out there, many as part of a ratio/light/recharger combo. 
  • Speaking of a radio - my friend discovered during the last ice storm - that the only radio she has is ........on her cell phone.  Add a battery and/or hand-crank radio to the list.   
  • How about a battery clock?   Do you have one? If you wear a watch it's no problem, or do you rely .......on your cell phone?  (pattern emerging) 
  • Light?  Her son only had some candles in NY.  In an earthquake zone, kerosene lamps may not be a good idea, but there are lots of battery-operated  LED lanterns available.    
  • How about a supply of batteries on hand for these things?  Try to be uniform in the supplies you acquire, and look for things that all take the same sized battery, such as AA.   You can also find hand-crank chargers for re-chargeable batteries.
  • Food - the grocery nearest them stayed open via generator.  He said they made them line up outside, an attendant at the door would take their 'order,' and bring the groceries to them at the door.  What if you don't live within walking distance from a store.  Do you have some basics stored?  Enough to last you several days? 
  • Cash?  All the ATMs were down due to the power outage and after a few days he began to run out of cash to buy what they needed.  The most heartwarming part of the story was that some friends who own restaurants loaned him some cash to tide him over.   Not what I expected in NY, but apparently every neighborhood is like a little town.   If you live in town, how about your neighborhood?   There is no way to know how people will react in an emergency, but are you prepared to share what you have stored with those around you? Or are you expecting them to take care of you?   I had someone say that to me once.  She saw no reason to prepare for herself.  She said "I'll come to your house, since you have everything..."      
The link under the photo above is based on the FEMA preparedness list, which is included in that blog post. The cabinet in the photo looks a little sparse to me, but it's a start.  If you feel you don't have room to store stuff, everyone can do something.   My friend's son plans to, and he lives in what amounts to a studio apartment. 

Think about it......... 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fall Fantasy

I don't do halloween.  I know some people love it, but I don't, so there.

However, I LOVE the Autumn, and all that goes with it. I saw this photo posted on Facebook today by the "Tiny House Blog," both as a joke (just how tiny can tiny houses be?)  and also as a tip of the hat to the season.

The first thing I thought of though was, "wouldn't that be great to make by needle felting?"