Olio-May 18,2024

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things (thoughts)

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day and my love gave me a fitness tracker watch to add to the motivation of the daily walks and workouts from my Physical Trainer. She is an great young woman and Mom who was a perfect match to work with this senior citizen with a bad shoulder and bicep. My strength and flexibility have greatly improved. On gym days, which is my training day and any day too rainy for outdoor walks, I prefer the treadmill. I can do 4 miles in an hour and push myself much faster than outdoor walks with hubby. I have more than met my goal of 8000 steps a day every day, usually more like 11500-12000.

For Mother’s Day evening, daughter and her two kiddos came and we went to the restaurant at Mountain Lake Lodge for a meal treat together. After dinner, we walked the old lake bed and up through the grounds of the Lodge. The creeks in the lake bed were full of tadpoles. Maybe someday the lake will return. It has emptied and refilled in the past but I doubt we will ever see it full again. It was a real lake when we purchased our land.

During the week, which has been a very wet one, too wet for gardening, I finished the Kantha quilt that I have been working on for the past 6 or 8 weeks. I wish I had made it somewhat larger, but it is large enough to cover my legs and lap when stretched out in my recliner on cool nights.

Work on it has taken priority over spinning or knitting, though there are projects of both being done; a scarf from my Christmas gift fiber spun in January and early February, and about 20 grams of singles spun on spindles from a sample batt that came with some other fiber I had purchased.

It still needs to be plyed, skeined, measured, and washed to see if there is enough to even make fingerless mitts, or if I will have to use it as trim on something else.

Now that there are no barn cats and no dogs meandering the farm, and with the chickens penned up to protect them from the hawk, we have been invaded by several of these adorable, destructive little ground squirrels/chipmunks. They dig up my flower pots and I keep having to sprinkle hot pepper powder on the pots to deter them. At least two chipmunks have taken up residence in the stone wall behind the deck and scurry around the deck and stone patio behind the house. They don’t like hot pepper or vinegar, so all extra vinegar from pickles or canned jalapenos is used as weed killer on the patio. Perhaps a new barn cat would discourage their residence, but we really don’t want to take on any more pets.

Last weekend, my frustration with the line trimmer we own resulted in me being near tears as it “ate” the line every couple of feet of attempted edging of the stone walled garden and stoops around the house. We ended up going out and discussing the problem with the guy at the hardware store that sells that brand and another and the consensus was that it just wasn’t designed for that level of use, but rather for very light trimming on a small townhouse or home with a very small yard. We purchased a beefier one of the other brand and in two sessions (the battery lasts about 30 minutes of use) I got nearly everything that needed done trimmed finally. It really didn’t get done last year at all because of the inefficient trimmer. I still have a small section of fence at the vegetable garden and around the Chicken Palace to finish if it ever stops raining. Though heavier than the older one, it is so much easier to use and it is a self winding model, so no trying to wind the wire on and hold it in place while reassembling the head.

The Calico popcorn that was planted in the garden did not come up and the bed, though it has peas and sugar snap peas as well as a volunteer potato or two growing well at the other end of the 15′ bed, has quarter sized holes throughout. That end of the bed has a piece of welded wire fence over the wooden frame to deter crows and other seed eating intruders, but the holes seem to come from below, so I suspect voles have gotten into the bed. This is the third year in a row of having corn fail. A little research indicated that if you aren’t planting an entire field of it, that it can be started indoors and transplanted later that will discourage the seed eaters. A few days ago, 36 seeds were planted in Jiffy plugs and set on the heat mat. There are now 36 one to two inch seedlings under a grow light. When they get some size and roots begin to appear in the sides of the plugs, a transplant session will be held. Maybe the torrential rain will end before then so they don’t float away.

Some of the sunflowers and Tithonia have come up in that bed but I think more will be started in more of the plugs and transplanted at the same time. I love having sunflowers in the garden to attract the native bees, which are so docile, they buzz around while I am gardening and show me no aggression.

In rereading above, I have complained about the rain, but in truth, it is much needed. Parts of Virginia are in drought lasting a few years and here in SW Virginia, we were on the verge of drought. This isn’t Camelot, so we can’t rule that it only rain after sundown and end by morning.

Until I visit here again, have a safe spring and good health.

Catching Up

The garden is planted except for the corn. It probably should have gone in yesterday as we finally have rain today and off and on for the rest of the week. In looking in the freezer in the basement to see what was left, it looks pretty barren. There are two frozen pizzas that were purchased nearly a year ago for a grandson that was staying with us for a couple of weeks, several quart bags of enchilada sauce I made with dried peppers from one of the local Latin stores, and a gallon bag of frozen whole unpeeled tomatoes. There was a second bag of tomatoes in the refrigerator freezer. At the Farmer’s Market this morning, a bag of beets was purchased. Since it is a rainy day, the beets were cooked, peeled, sliced and some of them frozen for future meals and the tomatoes were dumped in a sink of water so the peels would come off. While they partially thawed; onions, fresh basil and oregano from the garden and a pot in the house were sauteed in a bit of olive oil then the peeled tomatoes added. Once thawed through a quick whir with the immersion blender and a few hours simmer time and 5 pints of pasta sauce are jarred up. I had to use wide mouth pints as there were no new lids available and they will have to be frozen instead of canned, but we now have enough pasta sauce to last until this year’s crop of tomatoes begin to come in. I guess lids need to go on the grocery list. There are plenty of jars and rings to use as produce starts coming in. I think before much is added to the freezer, I need to put the items in it in a cooler and thoroughly clean the bottom and defrost the sides.

The peas are about a foot tall, but not flowering yet. Potatoes are up and the transplanted peppers look like they all set in nicely.

The 6 littles and the 4 mature hens have established some level of peace treaty. Though they still sleep at opposite ends of the perch, they cohabitate in the run and tunnel and will even eat together if scratch or kitchen scraps are provided. My best guess is they are about 10 or 11 weeks old now, so another 10 weeks to go before we start seeing pullet eggs.

My physical trainer and I had decided on a 4 workouts about 6 weeks ago and this week determined that that rotation was too spread out, so beginning this week, there will be two whole body workouts to rotate, adding reps or weight as tolerated as we go forward. There is also going to be a new beginner yoga class that I am going to attend once a week. Shoulder and bicep exercises that I could only handle a 3 pound weight on when I began, I am now up to 8 pounds, and ones I was using 7.5 or 10 on, I’m now using 15 and 20 with many more reps, so I guess progress is being made. We are still doing daily walks. On bad weather and PT days, I do about 2-2.5 miles at an average of 3.9 mph on the treadmill. When we are outdoors, it is generally about 3.5 to 4 miles, but not at that pace.

The Kantha quilt is progressing, though it is getting too warm to want to stitch with it in my lap at night.

The monthly challenge for the spindle group has me plying what I spun in late March and through April and spinning a sample I received with a fiber order on another spindle.

The local grandson has agreed to come assist me with extending the chicken’s tunnel. And I need to get the line trimmer to work with a level of consistency so that the now very tall grass up against the foundation and around the gardens can be brought under control. It is pushing toward summer and I don’t do well in the heat, so the heavier chores need to get done now.

Class groups are done for now

With the altered plan to be very hands on and low key on the history part with today’s 2nd graders, things went much smoother. I had inexpensive homemade spindles, tape bands, Lucet cordage, a small woven towel, and a small knit along with the flax and hemp fiber samples for them to pass around and handle. As they entered, I was spindle spinning and didn’t draw attention to it until I explained that by their age, they would have been contributing to the family thread and yarn production using a spindle, or making tapes on the box loom, or cordage on the Lucet. They tried to spin with the homemade spindles and were amazed that though it looked simple as I did it, they could not. I did demonstrate the Great Wheel, letting them touch the quill after a reminder of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. They were surprised that it wasn’t sharp enough to prick their finger. We had 40ish children, divided into 5 groups as today, we were fortunate to have volunteers to cover Colonial militia, and Slavery. With the museum video, the games and corn shelling, with me and very, very nice weather, it went as it was planned. It was fortunate that we had extra rotations and good weather, well behaved children, as I was operating on very little sleep.

Our last pup, the 12+ year old German Shepherd faltered last night, and passed away shortly after I went to bed, but before hubby came to bed. We discussed what we were going to do and as it was well after midnight, decided that she would just spend the night on her bed and we would load her into the car and be at the vet’s office as they opened at 7:30 this morning, to take her for cremation.

That put us in town much too early for me to make the 40 minute drive to the museum for the 10 o’clock school group, so I settled in my new favorite local bakery for a pastry and cup of coffee while hubby took the other car back home. Tonight, I will sleep well.

The Colonial outfit has been put away until needed for an event at the museum. The tools and wools I use there, reorganized in the basket with the tapes and cordage and it too has been put away until needed again. The top whorl spindle only gets used for demonstrations, at home I use my Jenkins Turkish spindles and my non historic Louet spinning wheel. June 1 there will be a living history day at the museum and I will likely spend at least part of the day spinning for visitors.

I do love the school groups, especially when they are engaged in the process. It is a great volunteer activity for me to use skills I have learned and to draw on my many years as an educator.