Sunday, October 09, 2016

Reboot; Let's Try That Again

So a friend read that last post and called me up to say it sounded a bit.....severe.  Not my intention really but I can see where that would be the case.  I have rarely deleted a post but after consideration did see where that one just wasn't what I was really trying to express.  Or maybe is was what I was trying to express but should not have said the way I did.  Let me explain a little.

There were several unfortunate things that converged on me last week to put me in a bad frame of mind.  The last week of September is a bad time for me to begin with.  My brother died September 25, and although it's been 23 years the day of his funeral is still a crystal clear memory. A very crisp, autumn-like day, beautiful in all other respects.  Now, the first few days I feel those cool breezes signaling the changing of the season here are forever stained with the heartache of his suicide.  I think it's mostly an unconscious thing at this point.  I don't actively think about as much as I used to.  Most of the time, it was 23 years ago.  Sometimes though.... it was yesterday.
Regrets are a funny thing.  They love company and generally like to drag others along with them.  You start doubting everything about your life.  Have I ever make a good decision?  Am I even a decent person or am I a complete sucker? The further the initial tragedy falls into the past the more numerous the addition regrets become.  It's only natural with the passing of time; you do more things, you make more decisions, some of which were mistakes.  Throw in some unstable hormones, a few health issues and you better fasten your seatbelts honey, cuz it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

We are going through a severe drought in Alabama and my area is especially hard hit. Everything here is as dry as cracker juice.  So of course, I get the 2 health issues that are greatly affected by the weather.  I have hurt especially bad the past 2 weeks, blood coming out my nose and my torso looks like someone dragged me naked down my gravel driveway.  It's getting better, I was even able to work out today, but psoariatic arthritis is a most miserable disease.  It's like Life says, "Hey, you don't feel bad enough, let's make you look horrible too!"  The other night I was awakened by a terrible, burning pain on my thigh. I was sure something was biting the hell out of me.  We have some small, brown scorpions here and in my fuzzy state I imagined one in bed with me.  I jumped out and ran to the bathroom, sure I would find a huge welt already forming from the sting..  Nothing.  I checked the bed and all around.  Nothing.  Next day, nothing.  No mark you could even tell.  Apparently it was just my skin deciding it would try to kill me.  It often feels like it is breaking and no amount of lotion seems to calm it down.  Gold Bond does help some though.  I know I should be thankful that I am actually as healthy as I am.  And I am thankful, truly.  Many have it much worse.  I mean, I used to build hospitals... I know.  But occasionally it gets to me a little.

I have never been blessed with what most people would call "a sunny disposition".  The ironic shit of Life has just always been too obvious to me and I'm afraid that the older I've gotten the more I've let cynicism creep in.  He's such a comforting friend and goes so well with my dry sense of humor, you see.  He's hard not to indulge.  The only lover I've kept around all these many, many years.
It's my personal belief that if you want to have a bad day, or hell, maybe 2...then have it!  In fact, have the bloody hell out of it.  Piss on these perpetually optimistic folks that go around grinning incessantly.  They need to be poked in the eye anyway. Wallow in your bad day and smear it's misery all over yourself.  Then get over it.  Be done with it. It's out of your system. When the time is right you'll have another. 

So.  I suspect that most of you who have read my blog for any length of time already realize I'm a lunatic.  Maybe to do the things I've done as a woman you have to have a few loose screws.  Hey, makes life interesting.  I will keep posting, although I'm not sure at what frequency.  I want to post more, seriously.  I have done some more work on the house I'd like to show everyone.  Still having some issues with the brain fog though.  In the mornings I usually feel better but tell myself, 'you need to get off your ass and work out, get outside, do art, do that welding job, and so on...instead of sitting here on this computer.!'  Daylight's a' burnin', save that for night time.  Then come night time I'm too tired, fuzzy-headed, distracted or whatever to think up any kind of post.  I'll try to do better. 
I appreciate the kind comments for those of you who left them on the last post.  I regretted deleting them but they were connected to the post.  I have often felt no one is really interested in this blog anymore so it always helps to hear from those of you still around. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Low Profile

Thought I'd share a few photos of some sneaky critters that I've spied around here lately.  I know I've been laying low too.  Not felt real good these past couple of weeks, plus, my old decrepit desktop 'puter finally gasped it's last breath and so I've had to transition over to my laptop that mostly sat unused.  It had been acting up for some time, so I had enough sense to get all my photos off the desktop and onto another drive but had not quite cleared all my documents off when it finally gave up the ghost.  Fortunately, Jack was able to resurrect it just enough for me to get that stuff off.  He's good that way.

I had a few more pics of these dragonflies but they have been misplaced somewhere in the move.  And...although I was able to transfer all my photos to this laptop, it somehow (or I did) just dumped ALL of them (a couple thousand photos) into one big folder, all jumbled up.  On the desktop I had everything in various folders, such as all chicken photos and so on, but now everything is just in a wad.  *sigh*  I may never get all that straightened out.

So anyway.  I'm here.  I am slowly making progress.  Some days I feel better and some days I feel like hammered hell.  I'll try to post again soon.  I do have a few little things to show yall.

Oh, and if there are any locals that want to drop by, I am selling the last of my pottery!  Some good deals here!  Well, no sales tax anyway..Haha!  I have mostly dinnerware type stuff...bowls, plates, a few mugs etc.  Let me know if you wanna come take a look.  It may be the last stuff I make (pottery wise) for a looong time.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Hunting Bears

 Over the last several years I've read quite a bit about numerous wild animal species making comebacks in population or starting to appear in areas that they previously were though to be gone from.  Not necessarily extinct but just far removed from those original areas.  This is all good news to me.  I'm happy to see many wild animals growing in population.  I know when I was a kid we never saw deer around the area I grew up.  That was something that existed far, far away in other parts of Alabama.  Now, when I go down in the pastures when I visit Mama, deer trails and tracks are a dime a dozen.  Unfortunately, coyotes have come with them, but so far they tend to stay far away from houses.  Fox are common now, as are ground hogs and various hawks and other wild fowl.
Knowing all this did not prepare me for what I recently found in my driveway though.  A couple of weeks ago, on my daily trek to the mailbox, I spied some very large and very deep claw marks right in the drive, which is hard-packed chert and gravel.  I came back and took several photos, as you see below.  At first I thought, it must just be a very large dog.  But after measuring them....I thought, that'd have to be one big ass dog.  There were four claw marks with the outer ones being a good 4 inches apart and about 1 1/2" between each claw.  That's just the claws, you see.  The paw would be even larger.

 There were actually several marks but this was the one most clearly defined.  The scratch was over 2 feet in length also and, as I mentioned, in some very hard gravel and dirt.. We had not had much rain in a while when this was done and the ground was just baked.  In fact, we have had several very heavy rains since I took these photos and some of the marks are still slightly visible, they were so deep.

 I suspected it was a black bear but figured everyone would think I was nutty.  I mean, Alabama does have black bears.  They travel quite frequently through our state on their way to and from the Smokies and Florida.  But they normally stay over on the east side of the state because they can make a great deal of the trip within the confines of the Talledega National Forest.  It's a little unusual to see them over this way.

 Then, I found this tuft of hair not far from the claw marks a few days later.  It's very matted and coarse.  I suppose it could very well be dog hair but it just didn't seem like it.  So.  I got all my stuff together and me and Jack paid a visit to our local county extension officer.  He's real nice and likes to chat so we dropped in his office and I showed him all my evidence.  To be honest, I expected him to laugh at me.  But...he looked over everything and said, 'Yep, looks like you have a bear!'  I wanted to not be thought a nut but I also didn't want to know I had a bear on my land!  Mainly it scared me for my chickens and for Chigger.  I don't think she's courageous enough to go after a bear, by any means, but I encouraged her to stay up by the house as much as possible and made sure the girls were locked up way before dark.  The county guy said he figured the bear had well moved on by now; that it was probably just passing through, but I wasn't so sure.  I haven't seen any signs of anything lately though, so hopefully he's right! 

In other rare sightings, I actually won 2 prizes at the art show that I was recently accepted into!  I got 2nd for the metal sculpture I showed ya'll a few posts back and got an Honorable Mention for another small sculpture.  I won a little money with that too, so that was nice!  I was very happy and grateful to finally have some success.  At the end of the reception, the judge (a professor from the U of A in Huntsville) made a point to stop me to talk and compliment me on all my work.  He claimed to be very impressed with the welding, which I thought was kinda humorous.  However, he did understand that it's a bit tricky to weld cast iron to mild steel and he appreciated my efforts.  Of course, I told him who my professor was that taught me how to weld and he understood then.  Where I went to school, craftsmanship was of great importance, as it should be.  Didn't matter how great of an artistic concept, if it looked like shit then it was shit in their eyes.  "The craftsmanship should always be appropriate to the piece".  I might as well as had that tattooed on my forehead as often as we were told in school! They weren't kidding either.  If you couldn't muster the craft of building things (or painting etc), there was none of this, "oh, it's the concept of the piece blah, blah, blah." They would tell you to get your shit and get out of their class. 
At any rate, from this show I was also offered two other opportunities to exhibit my art and I am very excited about that.  I'll tell ya'll about that in a later post.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Let Your Love Grow Tall

 As you can see, Jack's experiment with the tomato towers has gone really well this year.  This is only 2 plants but has really taken off and producing a ton of maters.  Unfortunately, this tower is planted with MoneyMakers and I have not been very impressed with them.  They are mostly hollow and the tops are not ripening well at all.  Some of them are more solid and ripe but the majority I just throw to the chickens.  I thought maybe it was the structure of the tower somehow but the Golden Jubilees planted in the other tower are fantastic.  Very full and ripe all over.  Both plants are very healthy as far as foliage too.  The maters planted in the main garden are doing pretty good but the foliage looks pitiful compared to these.

 The garden as a whole has done very well this year and I'd say it's mostly due to Jack's hard work.  He has really busted his butt this year keeping it weeded and mulched well and generating new soil with compost and such.  I started the plants from seed and planted and then have done the harvesting, but he's done the really hard stuff.  I have done some weeding but not as much as him.
Some things, like the squash and zukes, have about pooped out at this point and are not as full as this photo shows anymore.  In fact, I've pulled up about half of them.  The corn there is much, much taller though.  The corn in the new expansion has not done as well but that soil is new and very lean, so that's not unexpected.  We are getting some corn to eat but it's not real full.

 The stuff in the concrete block is still doing well but must be watered often.  We were in a bit of a drought there for a while and were watering practically every day.  Fortunately we have gotten some relief lately and are not having to water as much.

 The cukes have slowed way down but are still producing some.  Maybe I should have staggered their planting a bit.  They have been very tasty though, not bitter at all and I've heard a lot of folks complaining that a lot of the cukes from the farmer's market have been very bitter.  Lack of water I guess.

 So, we have been getting a great harvest this year, especially with the blueberries. They have been fantastic! and I've kept them all to myself!  haha!  Actually, we have given some to my mom and other family but I have frozen a bunch.  The cucumbers are Marketmore btw.  I'll grow them again I imagine.

 The tomatoes have been a mixed bag, literally.  The Snowballs are great! (that's the cream-colored ones). Very tasty, mild flavor and I don't seem to react to them badly.  The Golden Jubilees are great also but I've grown those before and knew I liked them.  In fact, I've been so happy with these because they are from seeds I saved.  The Green Zebras....well...I'm not even sure if I got the correct thing.  What I think is the Zebras taste okay but I'm not real impressed with them either.  The Black Cherries are great as usual (old favorite) and I have some other red ones that honestly...I don't even have a clue what they are.  Every plant (that's red ones) looks totally different.  The tomatoes I mean.  One plant kinda looks like Cherokee Purples or Black Krim, one looks like giant Black Cherries and then one other is just a nondescript red tomato.  Who knows?

Anyway, they're pretty!  I think Jack has kinda decided the farmer's market isn't his cup of tea but now I have all these veggies to do something with!  So, social media to the rescue!  Facebook certainly has it's drawbacks but I have found it's great for selling stuff.  So...I just put the word out on the weekends and so far I've about sold out every Saturday.  We are not making a ton of money by any means but it's paid for some of the stuff we bought to improve the garden this year.

Of course, we are keeping most of the fruits of our labors for ourselves. In fact, tomorrow is a big canning day.  I've got peas, beans and salsa ready to go, so tomorrow morning will see the ol' pressure canner in action once again.  We still have a fair amount of jams left from last year so I don't know that I'll do much more of that but I might make some pickled okra to give away.  Sadly, I really can't eat it anymore but I know several people that enjoy it and we are getting a good bit of okra this year, so...!  It's an easy gift.
How goes your garden this year?  Or do you depend on the farmer's market?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Been Caught Stealing

Hey Folks!!  it's really me!!  I am back for a little post.  I have a little bit of an excuse for being away so long this time, as we did a little more traveling and I've been busy doing a few little welding projects for other people.  But other than that I've just been a turd for not writing. lol!

I wanted to address a certain question I was asked in my last post and then I hope to get back to posting about the goings on around here (our garden is doing real well this year) and some stuff I've been up to.  But first, the question and reason for that title.
One of my longtime, faithful readers asked me if I could share more images of my art (such as what was in that last post) and if I could make the images larger.  Okay, I have no idea how to make the images larger.  When you do a post, Blogger gives you 4 different sizes of images to pick from.  I always pick 'large' so it shows up well in the posts.  I have tried 'x-large' but for some reason that makes it where the image is so large it bleeds over into the text and side stuff.  Sometimes if you click on the image it will take you to another page where it enlarges it and sometimes not.  I have no idea how to make them any larger than what Blogger will allow me here.

Now, on to the trickier answer for the other question.  I know my longtime readers are on the up and up as far as my images go and most all people are actually.  Many of you have asked me for permission to use my images for backgrounds and what not and I'm perfectly fine with that.  However, I have learned the hard way, and not just on the Internets, that you can't just blindly trust.  So, I will probably not be sharing very many images of my sculptures.  Pottery is one thing, because it is so individual.  It's extremely hard for even good potters to throw just like someone else.  Other art is different.  Now, I am not under the delusion that my art is SO wonderful that people will want to steal it or try to copy it.  However, I have had some crazy things go viral from my images here that I never would have guessed.  For instance, the post I did years ago about the rebar handrails I made; that has been shared and pinned literally thousands of times (best I can tell) on Pinterest and a number of other sites dealing with houses, DIY, etc.  Not one person ever asked my permission to share my images or information.  It never has bothered me a whole lot because, for one, the rebar handrail was not my original idea.  That's been around for a while.  And two, all of the pins and posts I have followed always linked back to my blog, but who knows how many others did not.  There was one other post I did that has also been pinned a lot but I can't remember what it is right now.  It may have been the stained glass window I made for the bathroom.

Anyway, the image below is part of the answer also and just goes to prove that some people will steal anything, either in real life or online.  This is a rock I used to have that I found here on my property.  I loved it because, as you can see, it is perfectly heart-shaped and was rather large.  Probably 6 inches across or more.  It sat in a very prominent location in one flower bed because I liked it and liked to see it every day.  Well, after a visit by some "friends" one day, I noticed shortly thereafter that the rock was gone.  Very few people come to visit me here so I remember things like that pretty well.  I remembered the rock well because I liked it so much and it stood out because of where I placed it.

I cannot prove those people took it and I will admit I may very well be wrong....but I have looked everywhere for months and months and it is nowhere to be found and the timing would be a very odd coincidence. 
When I was young I was very trusting (naive) and then when I got out into the real world I learned some hard lessons.  Not everyone that calls you friend, is.  And what's more, they think you don't notice.  Even people that claim they love you dearly will deceive you.  Repeatedly if they can and no matter how much they know it will hurt you.  And now, in a world with the possibility of total anonymity via computer, you really can't trust anyone.  Hell, disagree with a person on Facebook (or in my case, prove their false propaganda wrong) over even some trivial matter and some of them are so psychotic you will have to pull out all the cloak and daggers to get away from them.  I do not want to make my blog private due to the large amount of construction information that it contains.  If there is the possibility that could help someone out there I'd rather have that.  But that means I have to limit some other information from now on.  I will not be sharing any plans for the future either other than just very general stuff (see Facebook reference).  I do not mean to implicate anything about any of my long time readers.  On the contrary, it's the people that have never made their presence known that would probably be up to something.  Or those that just happen by.  In this day and age though, I just think it's best to be prudent with certain information.  I hope you all understand.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Cherry Bomb

 Well, once again I did not mean to stay away so long from posting but things have just been a little bit of a struggle lately.  I'm making a little progress on the allergy front but not much at all on the arthritis part.  Still a lot of pain.  I did go for a week or so with very little brain fog so that was nice; I was very excited about that.  Then we went on a short vacation down to Mobile to see some of Jack's family and the trip down and back was pretty hard.  Lots of driving which means lots of sitting.  By the time we got home I was pretty much toast and have had much trouble recovering from it.  Basically I've just been a blob.  A foggy, hurting blob.

 On some good news though...the garden is doing great!  We even had enough cherries off the tree this year for me to make a small cobbler with.  Wooo doggies!  It was good.  The chickens really love the cherries too and fortunately the tree is actually in the garden where they cannot get to it.  I suspect I would find them up in it otherwise.  I give them the fruits that the birds have picked on and they just go nuts! Even going so far as to physically knock each other down to get to the cherries first.  They are so funny.

 The peas are doing well although at this point they are kinda on the downhill side.  Being a cooler weather crop they are not lasting long in this hotter weather.  That's fine though.  I've frozen plenty and I'll pull these up and plant green beans in their place I think.

 The cauliflower and broccoli did real well also.  Jack did his first day at the local Farmer's Market and sold out of broccoli rather quickly.  We had enough to freeze some also.  I'm slowly pulling up the spent stalks to give to the chickens and am not sure what I want to plant there next.

I didn't realize until I went to do this post that I haven't really taken much of any photos lately; especially of the garden so ya'll are just getting a few scraps, so to speak.  I'll try to get out there and get some new pics soon.

And I had promised ya'll a photo or two of the new art work I am working here is one new piece.  I've actually been doing a series of these and have one more I want to do.  My new direction is not going very well though, although I am very pleased with how my new work is coming out.  I've been turned down by absolutely every show I've entered this year; photography, sculpture.... everything.  But I will not get discouraged.  I like my new work.  Hell, with the setbacks I've faced over the past few years, this is nothing.  I do need to transition to something that is going to make money on a regular basis but I will keep on with the sculpture too.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cinderblock Garden

 Our garden this year is off to a great start due to the early spring and my actually getting off my butt this year and starting quite a lot of things from seed, rather than waiting on the local stores to get stuff out.  Seems they are always late.  Plus, they don't have the greatest variety of plants.  This is my first year growing radishes and I am stoked!  They came out so beautiful and SO tasty.  I've been making a radish/ cucumber salad that is to die for.  I mean seriously good.

 Jack wanted to experiment with more raised bed gardening so we are slowly transitioning over to large concrete block beds.  We get the blocks from a local concrete company as seconds (although I can't see much wrong with them) so it's much more affordable than buying new block.  Not the most attractive things in the world but you can make them look okay.  Beautiful plants like thins growing in them makes them much more attractive!

 This is the old strawberry bed that never produced a whole lot and was terrorized by moles and wild violets.  Jack dug the whole thing out, laid mole barrier in the bottom, refilled it with enriched soil and now it's got a bumper crop of broccoli and cauliflower in it.  We have a local farm that sells the best strawberries ever, so I'd just as soon buy from them.  They are reasonable and organic.

 Seems we'll also have a bumper crop of blueberries this year too.  This is especially great because blueberries are very anti-histamine and I've found a recipe for a coconut milk, blueberry, mango smoothie that is wonderful!  I have one several times a week now so I'll be freezing quarts and quarts of these these beauties this year.  Not so much jam but that's okay.

 Jack was attempting to till up the okra space but the girls commandeered it for bathing.  They thought it mighty kind of him to make that bath space just for them.  They have all been through their spring worming and are laying pretty good right now so they deserve a few treats!

 One view of the new raised bed area.  I've planted most everything that you see in those starter pots and it's all well on it's way at this point.  Still have not finished planting the main garden but we are getting close.

We are also experimenting in planting in double size concrete block.  Seems to be going okay at this point.  This is an old photo and these sugar peas are well over the top of the fence now and making little peas!  If we have enough stuff we are also going to try selling at the local farmer's market this spring.  This was another one of Jack's ideas!  I'm all for it though, if we can produce enough stuff!  I think we'll have some different things, more heirloom veggies and stuff but whether that appeals to anyone in this area remains to be seen.  Anyway, we'll have lots of fresh veggies and fruits and it's very gratifying to grow so much tasty food!