Saturday, November 30, 2013

On A Saturday Night


It's certainly not been everybody's idea of an exciting, fun* filled weekend but we've had an enjoyable time.  First off, I hope all my American readers had a pleasant Thanksgiving with family and friends or whatever tickles your pickle.  Sorry I did not do a post for Thanksgiving and wish you all a nice day then but that's the story lately.  We went up to my family's place and I took along a Caramel Apple Blondie pie, which was very good and I'll give ya'll the recipe soon.  And some of my family actually ate part of it, but then, it was a dessert.  They'll eat that but they often regard my side dishes, like asparagus, brussel sprouts and such with suspicion.  Anyway, that was all uneventful and took most of the day and most of my energy. 
Ya'll know I don't participate in any of the ridiculous behavior of Black Friday but Saturday looked to be quiet all around Alabama because it was the day Auburn and Alabama play.  While everyone else is crammed in front of their TVs it's a great day to go shopping, out to eat or just whatever.  Unfortunately, I just feel too bad lately to trust driving myself, even on a low traffic day, so Jack said he would take me out but we had to go on Friday as he wanted to watch the game.  I had mentioned before that I always used to make a little tradition of going to the Birmingham Museum of Art to buy my Christmas cards so we decided to go there.  It's no where near any shopping malls so we knew it would be fairly stress free and it was.  We had a nice lunch at my favorite Japanese restaurant and then headed to the Museum.  If you are ever in the area the BMA is a must-see, really.  It is a first class museum with a wonderful permanent collection and numerous traveling exhibits.  I always enjoy my time there but alas, they had no Christmas cards to speak of.  I was told they had already sold out of most of them so I'll have to find some somewhere else.  We still had a fun time and Jack had never seen the museum before so that was good.
So, since we had done all that I had also hoped that maybe today I would be able to work on a little pottery.  To be able to throw just a few things would be nice.  But, I just can't seem to be able to get my head clear enough to concentrate and get my hands to go along with it.  I did clean house a little but that doesn't require much thought, just do.  And yes, I've tried throwing foggy headed and I end up recycling most of what I put my hands on.  So, I tended to the chickens a little and then had to lay down for a while.  When I woke it was towards the end of the Auburn-Alabama game and, while I am not a big football person, I did get to see Auburn pull out that miraculous win in the last second!!  Now that was FUN.  The look on Saban's face was priceless.  Most of ya'll know I went to Montevallo but most of my family went to Auburn so, War Eagle baby.

Thank you all for hanging in with me and commenting when you have time.  Thank you especially KB in Toronto for your comment, although I do appreciate them all.  It's just that, because of my ill health lately ya'll know I just don't feel like I'm giving ya'll much to read or look at.  It's been a downer year to say the least and sometime I start to wonder if it even matters if I post anything.  So, KB's comment was timely to say the least but then it always seems to go that way.  One of you will always comment on something right about the time I need encouragement.  Thank you.  Ya'll know I hope to be posting more and of more interesting things but I'm not sure when that will be.  I thought maybe things were improving a bit a few weeks ago but I seem to have relapsed a fair amount and many things are difficult for me now.  It has taken me a long time to write this post for example; so, that's one reason I don't write more.
 And if this post is kinda rambling ya'll just overlook it for me.  I know I'm not writing the best these days but I will get better some how.!

* FUN is Haley's word from the "word" post series! your word may be next!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Still Raining, Still Dreaming



 The girls made short work of the 3 broccoli plants I pulled up for them today.  Now that the cold weather has already descended upon us they really go bonkers for any greens.  We've had a few fairly cold nights so far but this whole week looks to be darn cold.  We are even expecting some snow tonight, or at least icy weather, so I spent a bit of today trying to cover the remaining broccoli in hopes that they will continue to grow to full size heads before I have to cut them.  I harvested 3 pretty good size ones ahead of this cold, pulled up a few spent ones for the chickens and am crossing my fingers I can eek out a few more heads from the rest.
  

All the fall crops are doing really well this year if I can just keep them from getting too icy.  Above you can see a few that need to get just a little bigger before I cut them.  However, push come to shove I'll cut them small just to keep from losing the whole thing.


One of the years I'm going to be organized enough to get these planted earlier and harvested before it gets this cold!  You know, I started some from seed but then bought most of these starts from the feed store just as soon as they put them out.  Seems like to me they would offer them sooner.  I don't know if it's the fact that most of these come from a company in south Alabama, and they are going by their growing schedule, or it has just been getting abnormally cold here for November these past couple of years and stores have not adjusted to that.  Well, either way I must get the hang of starting seeds myself and going by my own schedule.  I've got to get a better set-up for such things though.


Jack has also been working diligently on insulating the pump house.  I had a few sheets of 3" iso-board left over from the roof and it was just enough to insulate all of the pump house including the ceiling, which is where most heat loss occurs anyway.  This was waaaay overdue and I feel like a sorry slug for not having it done years ago.  Oh well.  Anyway, the pump house should be great now with this and considering that it is half underground also.  He also installed some shelves so we could store some extra coolers and a few things.  I have also thought it might half work for a small root cellar but I'd have to look into that a bit more.

I know these posts lately have been fairly boring but not a lot going on still and I don't have the mental where-with-all to think up a post about much else.  All my recent tests have come back fine so I don't really know what's going to happen next.  I still feel like hammered crap.  I have been trying to kinda take notes and see what, if anything, makes me feel worse or better etc. and I have noticed that I generally feel really bad after I eat, especially if I eat much protein.  Like about an hour later I can barely function.  This is the same exact thing that happened to me after I got food poisoning several years ago and I can't help but think it is somehow related.  And, if I take ibuprofen, I will generally feel fairly good.  Or at least, not like crap.  Trouble is, I hate to take the nsaids because of what they can do to your kidneys.  Sort of a damned if you do or damned if you don't.  So, I'm trying to go easy on the proteins and see if I can get somewhat functional again.  I appreciate ya'll bearing with me and maybe I can get back to doing some actual work before too long.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Plant Life


Continuing on in the theme of subjects you all have asked me about...I give you Christmas ferns!  I believe it was Erin, maybe, that asked me about these prolific native ferns.  I have always adored the look and feel of fern glades and so to have land so imbued with them is very enjoyable.  If you enlarge the photos you can see a little better just how thickly they grow here.  I have about 5 or 6 species of ferns but the Christmas ferns are by far the most populous.  Several of these "clumps" grow fairly close to the house also, so I don't have to look far to enjoy them.


I thought this article HERE, on the ferns was well done and interesting.  I do often use the fronds for decorations and additions to Christmas wreaths but I'm wondering if they are going to make it that far this year.  We are already having lows in the 20's at night so they may go to sleep before Christmas this year.  Or not.


I tried to get a real good close-up of the shape of the little leaves but I had let it get too late in the afternoon for taking photos like that.  These ferns, of course, like shady areas and it was overcast to boot so the lighting was fading fast.  There are so many of these ferns here I have even thought of potting up some to sell at the farmer's market.  But, that's a chore for days much farther in the future when I have fewer, more pressing projects and hopefully more energy for such.
If I can ever get the landscaping started behind the house and some flower beds going, these ferns will be featured heavily.  I love to go up in the woods and just sit amongst them.  They emit a very peaceful and ancient air.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pick Up The Pieces


A good while back one of you dear readers had inquired about the "creek glass" I happened to mention in a post.  So, I finally got around to getting a decent picture of said subject.  I had actually misplaced my collection briefly and had to find them again.  I've gotten quite forgetful lately and usually am only reminded of things when I inadvertently stumble upon something.  At any rate though, this is some of the creek glass I was telling you about.  Now, much of it is not actually glass at all but rather ceramic pieces or natural rocks or formations I find interesting, such as the two objects in the top right area.  See, every time it comes a pretty fair rain, enough to get the creek up a bit, new objects always wash down the creek and settle in various places as the water drops.  If I go down and wade around in time I can usually find a few things of interest.  Of course, it's usually just broken dishes, beer or Coke bottles and various liquor bottles but I have found some cool old pottery shards and a few really cool pieces of unidentifiable glass.  They are normally quite worn and smooth from tumbling down the rocky creek bed, just like it's more famous cousin, sea glass.

I don't really know what I'll ever do with the stuff.  Some of it may be of a size and shape enough to fit into a mosaic here and there.  If I can ever get back to working on those things that is.  Or maybe I'll just mix some of it into some stone mulch for a little color.  As you can see, green, brown and clear are the most common colors.  Blue or white is quite rare, although I have found one piece of each of those.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pipe Dreams




So, nobody was able to guess what the object was in the last post!  I kinda figured that might stump ya'll.  Many, many years ago (another lifetime almost) I used to work on pipe organs and the object is one of the larger wooden pipes from one of the organs we took care of.  (If you enlarge the photo in my last post you can see the stopper in the top and the mouth of the pipe down near the plants) You can see smaller versions in the photo above.  For each key on the keyboard there is a corresponding pipe and they descend in size according to the note.  Each set of pipes is called a "rank" and they each are tuned and voiced to a certain sound, such as the 8' trumpet, viola, etc.  And, the largest pipe of, say, the 8' trumpet, really is 8' tall.  Now, some ranks go all the way up to 32' but those pipes are normally not really 32'.  They will use electronics or other techniques to get that sound out of a smaller pipe.  As I said though, the pipe in my house is about 10' long, which was actually one of the smaller pipes in that rank we took out.  If I remember correctly the largest pipe in that rank was about 18'.  The pipes go from this size all the way down to teeny, weeny ranks where the pipes are about the size of a pencil.  Most of the pipes are lead or zinc or a combination of the two but about 1/3 of an organ will be wood pipes.  You occasionally see copper pipes but not often.



The pipe came out of this very church in Birmingham, although the pipes you see there are part of a new organ that was installed last year.  The guy I worked for maintained this organ and we had to restore it after a large fire destroyed everything but the sanctuary.  Supposedly, the large wooden pipes had cracked after being soaked by the fire hoses and so were replaced.  Unfortunately, the rank was replaced electronically, not with real wooden pipes.  The pipes are somewhere around 75 years old and of such beautiful wood a number of us saved all we could.  I only ended up with one but I guess that's better than none.  Of course, it's a challenge to come up with room for them.  Anyway, back then the pipe organ was valued at over $1 million: I'm not sure what this new one goes for.
The job didn't pay too well but it was interesting for sure and we had a lot of fun.  The guy I worked for was a good friend, and a unique fellow to say the least.  Sadly, he passed away a number of years ago at only 49.  A bad heart and drug use will do that sometimes.  He was a good guy though and I miss Howard.  But, as I said, that was a lifetime ago.


And did you know where the old saying, "pulling out all the stops" comes from?  Well, from pipe organs of course!  Each of those white knobs you see on the sides of the keyboards controls one rank of pipes and is referred to as a "stop".  When you pull a knob out it activates power to the air and valves of that rank, allowing it to speak and the organist can thus control the sound and fullness of the music.  So, if you pull out all the stops, the whole organ is playing and that is usually an astounding sound! 

See, ya'll just learn all kinds of interesting crap on my blog.  And, as ol' Howard used to say, you know what's better than roses on your piano?..........tulips on your organ of course!


Another update:  all my bloodwork has come back at this point and of course..it is all perfectly normal.  According to the numbers, not a damn thing wrong with me.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Simple


I haven't done much of anything around here lately but Jack has been busy as usual and he came up with a couple of things I thought ya'll might like to see.  We had seen this PVC pipe chicken feeder on the web and he thought he'd give it a try because the girls just seemed to throw so much out of the standard feeders you buy at the store.  We had tried a couple different sizes and stuff but they still threw food everywhere.  They would often clean it up off the concrete but still, I'd rather they not eat dirty food.  So far, these are working great.  Jack was happy enough with the first one that he built another one as a matter of fact.  The parts are pretty cheap, you might even have most of the stuff laying around, and it's easy to put together.  HERE is directions if you want to try one and because I am too lazy right now to take ours apart and take pictures etc. etc.  It's pretty straight forward. 


Here's another view in use.  The girls took right to it and you can see there is no mess on the floor.  Now, that's not to say they don't occasionally throw a little out but it's nothing like what they used to do.  Only problem is only one chicken at a time can eat, so you might want to make more than one but they take turns or just peck the one when they feel they've waited long enough.



This was the other non-conventional thing I wanted to show ya'll.  Now, Jack did not come up with this.  This was all my doing, or thinking, as he and Allen did the toting.  I have had this object for some time but only now had to make room for it in the house somewhere.  After a little head scratching I decided it made the perfect table, bench combo.  Three guesses as to what the object originally was.  Well, it still is the object but no longer functions in that capacity.  It is made of full 1 3/8" totally clear white pine planks, about 12x14 inches wide.  I don't know that you can even get wood like this anymore so that is one reason I insisted on saving this.  It fits in perfectly and makes a great conversation piece.  And yes, don't look at the ugly floors!!  One day I will have finish hardwood floors down.

On another note: some people have been asking so I wanted to post a little update on the health stuff.  Basically, I'm still waiting on test results.  I went in last Monday to have a bunch more blood drawn and the tech said some of those tests that had been ordered for me can take up to a full week to return.  I hope I know something soon!  I guess whatever makes blood in your body is the one thing working great in me because they've sucked so much out lately I'd be in rough shape otherwise!  Once again the trip to Kirklin was pleasant (well, you know what I mean) and those people are SO nice.  I mean, even the parking lot attendants.  I bet they make all those people take classes on being nice or something and it's all amazingly efficient.  I've never waited very long for anything. 
I was feeling a little better but then seem to have maybe had a bit of a relapse on the fatigue lately.  Everything just tires me out.  I had been trying to get back to my pottery but have finally decided just to take it easy.  The stress of being so behind for the holiday season seemed to even be making me worse so I just said the heck with it.  I wanted to have a studio open house and such but it's just too much at this point.  I just try to putter around and do a little each day but nothing too strenuous.  I absolutely HATE being like this but sometimes you just gotta let go I guess.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Spicy Moments


Aha!!  I bet you all thought I had forgotten about the "word" posts, didn't you???  Yep, yep.  But I did not!!  I actually remembered.  Of course, I have the list sitting in front of me every time I sit down at the computer, but that's beside the point.  So, we continue through the list with Ed's contribution of 'salsa'.....
Well, I had to think about this one for a while because I wanted to use the word in the not-so-obvious way, for one, and secondly, because I'm not so good at making salsa, so I didn't really think I could give ya'll a decent recipe or anything.  I only halfway succeeded in coming up with a different presentation.  Now, my homemade salsa is okay, I mean, I like it.  But I know lots of people have like this obsession with making some kinda avant garde, foo-foo, nouveau cuisine salsa, and mine just ain't that.  It's kinda plain.  But anyway...this year I did find a nice pepper for making salsa!  In fact, the variety was listed as "Salsa".  I have no idea if that is it's real name, if it's a hybrid or what.  See, neither Jack or I are big pepper connoisseurs.  He doesn't like hot ones and I think ya'll may recall my loathing of bell peppers.  I do like to cook with a little bit of pepper though that does have some heat, but not scald your face off hot.  Also, because a couple of plants are plenty for us and the fact that pepper seeds just don't stay viable for much more than a year, I usually just buy a couple of starts from a local feed store. 
This variety is about the same size as a banana pepper but fairly warm; about like a cayenne.  This summer I roasted a few of these on the grill, pulled off the blackened skin and sliced the meat up for my salsa.  I thought it added a nice flavor although I was cautious using them and, in hindsight, probably could have used more.  I also used some rings from these peppers in some of my pickles.  I canned more this summer than I did last but still didn't get to put up as much as I wanted of several things due to just not feeling well towards the end of summer.  No pickled okra!! which is just a travesty.  God forbid I guess I'll have to buy some.
So anyway, if you happen upon any of these peppers in plant or seed I recommend them.  I may even try to save a few seeds and grow some more next year.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Autumn Changes


I wasn't sure we were going to get much color this year but then we got a good cold snap and all the leaves started changing.  In fact, we've had a very colorful fall, which is always nice.  I mean, I still always hate to see summer go but at least when autumn is pretty it helps my feelings a little.


The creek has just about been clogged up with all the leaves falling and we, unfortunately, still haven't had much rain to clear things out.


The drive is pretty though.


A moderate hike up behind the house just to see the ferns and rocks.


 Some areas of these woods are literally carpeted with the Christmas ferns.


 Here the chickens are enjoying some color of their own.  The baked pumpkin was a flop but they really like baked sweet potatoes.  Those don't last long.


The garden is doing really well this fall but then, I really amended the soil again before planting with lots of chicken poo and compost.  All the broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts etc. are knee high at least and the broccoli is starting to head up.  I'm having a devil of a time with moles and voles this year though.  Gonna have to see what I can do to run them off.


This burning bush that gets a lot of sun is really fiery this year!  The other one is pretty but a more subdued red.


Another question for you other bloggers:  I have noticed recently that Blogger has started condensing my oldest posts by removing my photos.  I suppose to save space.  Have any of you ever encountered this and what did you do, if anything?  I think I could pay Blogger for more storage area but not sure that I want to do that.  I know the photos are still out there, because I can call them up from the depths of my account, but I hate for them not to show because so much of my blog is about doing and showing what or how I'm doing something.