Category Archives: Satisfaction

From inside a NC snowstorm of vast proportions

Feb. 12, 2014

Snow!! More snow than I can keep up with. I sweep my little pathways clear every hour or so to the bird feeding areas, but I’ve given up on the ramp on the deck. That snow is over a foot high and I can no longer push it with the broom. I tell myself that after the pending ice storm, to add insult to injury, the ice will be easier to remove from the walkways if I leave the snow alone. Dirk moved his car to the edge of the road, so if some emergency arose we could at least get the car in the road, although, since they probably won’t plow out here, I doubt we’d get very far. I have a full bucket of wood ashes to bring along in the car when we do need to go out. I’ve had around 100 birds only on the deck, all at once today: over a dozen cardinals at once, chipping, white throated and fox sparrows, a gold-crowned kinglet I accidentally found in a picture:  one of my “goldfinches”–I can’t identify the pine siskins, kinglets, various kinds of warblers–they look very much alike. Below the deck, as the sparrows toss the seed around, there is a second feeding area with another hundred birds there–many juncoes and sparrows.

I’m thankful for our woodstove. I have 2 bricks on top, warming up, so that if our power goes off tonite, at least we’ll have warm feet. We long ago replaced our electric range Imagewhen one element too many burned up, so we have the comfort of being able to cook on a “real” stove, rather than the tedious process of continually stoking the woodstove to eventually get a pot warm.

I baked apple oatmeal squares from the old Mennonite Cookbook, also some coconut-walnut squares. Both are very sweet, but after shoveling, they’re just right. Besides, if we lose power, we can have some of those sweets with our tea.

Dirk has the wood holder on the deck full and covered with a tarp, and a large pile of wood near the stove. I picked up a lawn-cart full of fallen branches, pine cones, etc., a couple days ago, and now I’m enjoying the warmth of this tinder, especially since some of the firewood is wet.

When you can see my car, bird droppings decorate roof and driver’s door and windshield. I noticed today a flower from the maple tree that shades my car in summer, floating in a bucket of water beside the raised bed. No wonder the birds are there. There must be bugs on the flowers–lunch for the birds, even in the snowImage.

The crocuses are big buds, but we haven’t had the warm temperatures to coax them to bloom yet–and now they’re buried under about 8 inches of snow, and it’s still rapidly coming down–about 2 inches an hour. Usually at this time, we’re turning over the vegetable garden, getting ready to plant peas. That’s not going to happen very soon.  Last year at this time we were eating spring onions from the garden, but this year it’s been so cold they’re lying green and flat along the ground.

I’m thankful for a warm home, and that I don’t have to depend on my garden for our survival. I have tomatoes, kale and figs in the freezer from last summer’s garden, but I do miss those onions.

And now I’ll go out and put more bird seed out, because in an hour they’ll all vanish into whatever snug sleeping quarters they’ve found around the woods. The food keeps them warm, and such harsh conditions as this demand support. I do wonder where my pine and purple finches have gone this winter. I haven’t seen a single one. I haven’t seen the woodpeckers today, either, nor the nuthatches, since early this morning before the snow fell.

Mrs. Wren is walking up and down the door frame when she’s not hopping into the various feeders. She’ll have a nest nearby before long. Last year I found her sitting on a nest in the top of a feed bag full of pine cones, waiting on the front porch for us to need them for starting the fire. I never used them, even after she fledged. And a year later when I realized nothing had touched that old nest, I dumped it all out, and there had been two nests, one on top of the other. I’m glad I waited.

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Filed under Birds, gardening, Satisfaction, Weather

Autumn Sunset near New Hill

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Winter sunset through pines

Winter sunset through pines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden light reflects off the rufous breasts of the titmouses, off the white coats of the chickadees, and lights up the goldfinches. The pine trunks reflect the gold, and the pine needles, way up in the air, illuminate all the pine cones I’ll be picking up in the yard for the next couple years. A red-breasted woodpecker and the cardinals have come out to have some nuts and sunflower seed, in spite of my sitting near-by. Gold dignifies even the wings of the huge vultures flying low overhead, coming in for their landing in tops of the golden pine trees, rustling and flapping into the branches, high above the corner of our sheep pasture. I want to hold this four o’clock sun right there, bathing the world in its blessing.

I see some golden leaves that the slippery elms and oaks still hold, sprinkling gradually down to my back deck and to last summer’s garden. The gold reflects on my rain gauge, nestled in against the pansies, empty and awaiting the next rain. It reflects across the clear-cut, far in back of our woods, lighting up the weeds and bare trunks across the creek, back-lighting which sets off the bare, lofty, oak, maple, slippery elm, and tulip poplar branches, contrasting from the dense upper story of pine, and the vast tangerine and aqua sky. The giant oak at the far west corner of the pasture still holds some golden leaves at the topmost branches, which the sheep eat as they fall, also the acorns the tree drops for them. Sheep especially enjoy the tulip poplar and sweet gum leaves, which mostly are now dry, but they still enjoy the flavor. I’m thankful that we’ve gone around the edge of the pasture, outside the fence, and cut down all the choke-cherry trees, whose yellow leaves can kill sheep. A shining trail of ice stretches out behind a plane high in the sky, and the afternoon is so quiet that I can hear it roaring its passengers right by RDU, perhaps heading north to Washington or beyond.

Maeve, our Aussie, is on guard against squirrels, (one of her favorite command words, and favorite sprints). I know she once caught one–I was a witness. I hope I’m not again such a witness.

Juncoes snuggle under the canes of my mother’s rambling rose, eating millet and thistle seed in the shelter of the thicket. Cardinals contrast in a holiday way with the green leaves still on the rose bush. The birdbath is awaiting its next visitor, either bird, or Maeve, having a drink.

My fingers are getting cold, as the sun continues to descend, taking the golden light away with it, until tomorrow.

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Filed under Birds, dogs, gardening, Life is a cycle, Satisfaction, sheep, Weather, wildlife

Danger in dogs entering unfamiliar house; 17 staples fixed it :-(

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Today I learned to check out a new home I’m visiting on vacation–especially to locate flights of stairs AND railings…

We arrived last evening at the Upper Peninusula in MI, and today my cousin, Bob, toured us all around Macinac Island–lovely day! The two dogs, his and ours, had been out in the yard all afternoon, and I went to let them in. They both had to come through the door at the same time, of course, Bob’s big German Short-haired hunting dog, and Maeve the Aussie. I stepped back as they both pushed the door in, and my toe encountered–nothing!! There’s a flight of steps down right in back of where the door opens, the light was out, we’d just gotten there last evening, and I had not been down those steps to find out there was a railing behind my back… Fortunately, the steps were carpeted, but the floor below was linolium over concrete 😦   Well, Dirk responded to my scream as I fell– the last thing I remember. About half-an-hour later I began to wake up in the ER. Bob had called 911 when Dirk’s hand was covered in blood, and I was unconscious. I can’t say enough for the ambulance crew and the Newberry, MI, hospital  and Dr. Vick, who promptly took care of me, including sending me off with a CD of the CT scans & other x-rays they’d taken, for my doctor at home. Also for my cousin, Bob’s patience with my unexpectedly sailing down his steps. He’s also sent his house insurance folks to talk with the hospital to deal with my co-pay, which is most generous, and unexpected. After all, I allowed the dogs to shove the door–wasn’t anyone’s fault, really, but makes me feel very klutzy and vulnerable.

I was very lucky to sustain only a cut requiring 17 staples in my scalp to close it, and a concussion that left my head swimming for the following week. If I had not been wearing a plastic clip to hold my hair up, it might not have been as bad. One of the teeth of the clip broke off on my skull. I went back to using my cane as a “third leg” for balance, and when my pain pills were nearly out, started supplementing with Irish Creame in my bedtime cocoa so I could sleep. Splitting headache that first week was no fun at all, nor the whiplash injury to my neck that prevented me lifting up my own head without using my hand to grip some hair to lift.  I still have a colorful bruise across my lower back 2 wk. later, and plenty of pain to go with it. But hey, I’m not paralyzed, did not get a subdural hematoma, broke no bones–I’m thankful it was no worse. We continued the vacation on schedule, but came home a day early to get the staples out at my own doctor’s office, and I’m declared well by the resident who removed them. I love vacation, but I guess I need to be a lot more careful about checking my environment!

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Filed under Aging, dogs, Family, Healing, Health, Thanksgiving, Vacation

Roses

 

 

 

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IMG_1269May 22, 2013

I stand in a cloud of roses, the fragrance delightful, cutting roses for new bushes for my daughter, for a bouquet for a neighbor recovering from shoulder surgery, for myself in the kitchen, and the spent blooms filled 1/2 bucket for the sheep. It’s been raining, and the rose has burst forth this week, and is now my joyful annual waterfall of blooms. After I cut all those flowers, it looks as full of blooms as it had before I started. Amazing, such abundance.

As I pick, I see buds with outer petals beginning to curl out, just about to burst forth, the ones just flowered with the yellow stamens inside and a cloud of fragrance, the wilting ones, the ragged ones chewed on by squirrels who didn’t like the taste, the wilted ones with petals raining down, and the rose hips, flowers gone, stamens brown and dry, as their blooming time is done.

The long stems with only one bloom, with 7 leaves on the stem, are the strongest. Those I cut to dip in root starter for a new bush for my daughter. I hope at least one will survive. I put 6-7 in a container to bring up the road with me in 2 weeks. The wide open blooms smell lovely, and I imbibe their fragrance as I move among the blooms on a bush taller than I am, and wider than the span of my arms. If you were an ancient royal family and wanted a “natural” border around your property, this would do it! In just a few years it would be an impenetrable barrier to anyone who tried to enter. Even a sheep or goat would get caught in the thorns.

Wilted blossoms get clipped, and dropped in my bucket for the sheep to feast on this evening. Dirk got stampeded by our two sheep this evening as he approached the barn. Their sense of smell for good greens is fantastic. They knew what he had in that bucket long before he got to the barn! They immediately dug in to the feast of rose blossoms and leaves, and the lovely hips with all the vitamin C we also desire for jam. Except I’m not into making jam.

Are we not like roses, as it says in the Bible, that they last only a short time but are lovely in their time, and when they go by, they nourish the ground, and linger in our memories, pictures of them appearing in cards I print for special occasions all year. My roses will first perfume my deck and kitchen, then nourish my sheep, and later, the vegetable garden, where all the barn compost goes eventually. A time for everything… to bloom, to wilt, and to nourish, and round and round…

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Filed under Aging, community, Family, Friendship, gardening, Healing, Life is a cycle, Satisfaction, sheep, Weather

Spinning workshop in May

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May 18-19, 2013

Another workshop, and three more spinners out in the world to enjoy creating with wool, alpaca, silk, or dog/cat hair. Add a little sparkle, some colorful mohair and your skein has some personality! I’ll put in a couple pictures for you, but you’d have to be here to really enjoy it. When someone said they were used to having music on all the time, I pulled out my iPhone and played music from some of my favorite Gaelic musicians from Nova Scotia, great for keeping the rhythm of a spinning wheel. You can see from the expressions of success and a skein of lovely fiber the products of the weekend: competence in an old skill which can be very relaxing, and a way to create lovely things no one has ever thought of before. They have an entry category at the NC State Fair for new spinners, a year or less. Maybe some of my new spinners will have skeins to enter in that competition this year. It would not be the first time 🙂 And all those handfuls of fluff that were blowing around the floor on Sunday evening, many of those will become birds’ nesting material, or mulch for flowers that need to have cool roots in spite of the steamy summers.

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Filed under Birds, community, dogs and cats, Friendship, Gaelic music, gardening, Homespun yarn, Life is a cycle, Satisfaction, sheep, spinning, spinning workshops, State Fair

Family history–300 years of Loyalist research

Sept. 29, 2012

Last entry on the page relates to Samuel Boone–I can’t make it out

I flew to RI four days early so I could do more family research on my mother’s mother’s side of the family. Because they had been Loyalists in the Revolutionary War and were expelled from their land in RI and sent to Canada, the genealogy had some missing generations. Thanks to  G. Timothy Cranston, I found material in the No. Kingston library about my mother’s Boone ancestors, which I copied and brought to Fredericton, NB with me in the summer, to the University of NB Archives, and connected the puzzle all the way back to the original ancestor in England. On this second trip to Rhode Island, I again wandered in Wickford, and with Timothy’s guidance, found the original Boone cemetery from the early 1700’s where my mother’s family had lived, where one of the large farms had been 300 years ago, confiscated by the Colony of RI to pay for a war. There’s nothing new under the sun…

The records in the North Kingston Town Hall from the 1700’s are partly missing due to a fire 250 years ago or so. This is an example of what I was reading to correlate my records with what was in the town hall. My relative, Samuel Boone’s name is in that last entry on the bottom of the page, what there is left of the page.

I couldn’t see the cemetery from the road, so knocked on a door where the map, and Timothy’s directions from his next book on Wickford’s old homes, said it should be. A kind neighbor whose home is in front of the cemetery, lead me back to it, and introduced me to his neighbor whose home is also in front of that old cemetery. They’ve worked on cleaning it up for ten years, ridding it of brush and briars, so the stones are again visible, all still standing (except one, and they found the pieces of that and he showed it to me, put together as a puzzle, so I could photograph that, too). It mystified me to see more vertical stones without inscription than those with the person identified. If they had had slaves, that information did not come down the family story. Who were all those vertical stones marking, I wonder? There must be four times as many of those as of the inscribed stones. If children, they’d have marked the stone, wouldn’t they? It doesn’t make a tangible difference, but it feels so good to have completed the work my mother started many years ago, before the WWW existed, which allowed me to find a great deal of information from the Canadian archives, but only back as far as their census went–around the 1850’s. There was no central recording of family records before that.

Now that I understand better what the Loyalists endured in the unbroken wilderness of New Brunswick, it’s no wonder there was not that sophistication until much later. It took 40 years for them to build the first church, since there were no roads, no railroad, only a navigable river part of the year when it wasn’t frozen. They lived in tents provided by the kindness of the English, until they could cut down the forest and build a home of logs (one old journal said they heaped pine boughs on top of the tent, and when it started to snow in October, it covered them like an igloo, and they were relatively warm inside). They had subsistence rations for two years, after which time they were expected to have cleared their land, planted it, and have crops to sustain them and their livestock, have built a house and barn, and whatever other outbuildings they needed. My ancestors are buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Fredericton Junction, and some in the Tracy Cemetery, about 25 miles south of Fredericton, the capitol of New Brunswick. I wish Mom could have come with me there–or maybe she was…

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Interweave Knitting Lab, Manchester, NH

Oct. 20, 2012

We had a great time at the Knitting Lab! Thursday all day I sat and learned from Anna Dalvi how she designs shawls with a concept in mind that spins out in a lovely shawl design. She broke the class into small groups and we worked on designing a shawl, but it didn’t go together very well in such a short time. Fascinating concept, however, and one I’ll return to when I have time.

Friday I knitted three tiny socks with unique heels and toes, Lithuanian style, under Donna Druchunas’ watchful eye. Donna ’s sock techniques are helpful, since I always have socks sitting in the car on the needles for when I have to wait somewhere for something, and I do get bored with the same old heels. Saturday I learned gansey techniques of Beth Brown-Reinsel’s. The main puzzle for me was how to put the shoulder band in–I’d just ignored that part, and made my ganseys with a “normal” shoulder–but now I can use the proper technique.

Heidi’s holding Barbara’s Tarot cards

Saturday evening was a lovely dinner, followed by the Keynote presentation by Barbara Walker. She had two book signings earlier in the day, and I brought my much-used Vol. 2 of her knitting patterns, from NC to NH, for her to sign. When she saw the post-it notes sticking out from every angle, and papers falling out of it… she laughed, and signed it for me. She had designed Tarot cards, and I bought a set for my daughter, who can read them, and her book of afghan squares for my daughter, a less challenging book for her to begin to explore new patterns. I was impressed with Barbara’s talk, which was brief, and then her hour of question and answers, which was delightful. She described her learning to knit from a Bernat “how to knit” book when her children were small, and accumulating patterns over time (that was familiar) as well as yarn, since she had knitted sample sweaters for various yarn companies, about 18 hours a day! She was curious about old patterns so went to the Library of Congress (“don’t go there–it’s dusty!”) and copied old patterns by hand, one by one, and later knitted the patterns, and typed them to be sent off to be published. I had not known that after the knitting books she researched and published an extensive book on womens’ studies. She joked about her “obsessions,” and that her husband knew better than to stand in her way. She wore a sweater she’d knitted in many unique and colorful mosaic patterns to one of the meals, and also to her talk. She had also published a book of those patterns, for those of you who might want a new challenge.

Two examples of Lithuanian beaded wrist warmers, with Donna, teacher of the class

Sunday morning I was back in Donna’s classroom, this time to knit Lithuanian beaded wrist warmers, or “pulse warmers,” in Lithuanian. I’ll include a picture of the beaded wrist warmers–a technique I’d never tried before. As a child growing up in CT I wish we’d known such a piece of clothing existed–just what is needed between mittens that are a bit too short, and a coat that isn’t long enough to reach them.

My daughter had a great time, especially in the market, as did I! I found I needed more knitting needles than I had brought, and the yarn… what beautiful blends and colors were there. I bought another shawl pattern, which I really hadn’t intended to do, and bought some yarn to make one of the patterns I have at home, again, with colors that shade from one to the next the entire length of the shawl. Soon I’ll begin something new.

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