Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Not This Year


So!!  It's time for the all traditional Blogger's Year in Review!!  Wherein we see what all was accomplished this year and bask in the warm glow of our sufficiency and abilities.  Well, I'm gonna need to sit by the fire 'cause there ain't no warm glow coming off anything else around here.  This year has been a miserable disaster.  It just flat out sucked.  But, you know what?  Crap happens.  I actually went back through the blog to see if I could even find enough stuff to make a list of accomplishments...and well, it was mighty pitiful.  But, you either cry and feel bad about yourself or you just have to laugh and poke some fun.  It's nobody's fault either; it's just life.  Sometimes you're the bug and sometimes you're the windshield.  This was the Year of the Bug for me.  I did manage to scratch together a few things that were done this year though.  Hey, at least I have plenty to look forward to doing in the coming year...haha!
This year though I did manage, despite much crap, to:
1.  Pour the hearth in the living room.
2.  Start the slate and mosaic on the dividing wall.
3.  Installed the drop lights over the kitchen counters.  (Jack did this mostly)
4.  I finished the east side of the chicken coop.
5.  Pump house finally insulated.  (Jack did this also)

See?  Pit-tee-fulll.  We did have a good garden again this year though and I was even able to can quite a bit of food, even learned to pressure can, so that was no small feat.  I was rather proud of that and we have been enjoying the fruits (and veggies!) of those labors lately.  We also planted 3 new fig trees in a new cleared area (again mostly Jack) in an effort to move the figs out of the fenced garden, thus giving us more room for crops there.  We had a successful asparagus crop this spring, albeit small. 
In addition to all the other downer stuff ya'll already know, we also lost 4 or 5 hens this year to predators or sickness and the voles ate up yet another apple tree.

In other statistics that I just happen to notice; this post will only be the 90th this year.  One less than my previous low year, making this year my least prolific on the blog.  My readership has also dropped to an all time low; about half of what it was before I got married.  As you might imagine, the US is where most of my readers come from but I was surprised to see that Russia was a very popular second.  France is a distant 3rd followed by China, then Canada, Germany and Australia way at the bottom.  A few other countries pop up in there too.  Most of my referrals come from Google, the Pure Florida blog or Hermit Jim!  The most commonly Googled subjects that lead people to my blog are, snap ties (how to use them), concrete, rebar and footings.  I do occasionally get the odd subject though, such as, "where do I put the dishwasher?"  I would suggest, in the kitchen, but that's just me.
I have also discovered that 2 subjects on my blog have just exploded on Pinterest, sometimes receiving literally hundreds of hits in one day.  Those would be the rebar handrails and the mailbox in the garden

So, there you have it.  I will continue to limp along though until the day I can start running again.  I will get there.  I have been able to go on a little longer walks lately and continue to clean and purge around here, getting my studio back in order for working.
Tonight however, is for fun and relaxing.  I've made up just a gluttonous assortment of finger foods and treats for me and Jack and we are going to kick back and enjoy ourselves.  I hope you all are able to do the same!!  Happy New Year to all of us!!  May it be prosperous and healthy!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cold Day In The Sun


Although we didn't get any snow around here, the frost was heavy enough that if you squinted just right you could kinda see a white Christmas morning.  Ha!  We'll take what we can get.  Thank you all that left Christmas greetings and I hope all you that celebrate had a wonderful holiday.  Ours was fairly quiet but enjoyable.
Sorry that I have not done my usual Christmas postings but the little bit of reprieve I had from this illness or whatever was short lived and I have just not felt up to it.  I have continued the routine that I thought was making me feel better but it just isn't working anymore.  I don't understand what is going on and no one else seems to either so I'm just kinda floating along.  I managed to do a little cooking and a tiny bit of gardening but most efforts leave me very weak now and I have to nap or lay down a couple times a day.  I feel like an injured herd member that just keeps falling further and further behind.  Jack hangs back with me at least.  I appreciate those of you that continue to come here despite the lack of posts and in spite of my whining about being sick.  I thought maybe I could just go to showing photographs.  I still walk every day no matter what, so I can take a few pictures here and there.  I think in some ways I've dragged this blog out way longer than it needed to be, but then, I have lots of projects I'd still like to show and I like to hear from ya'll.  We live kinda "out" and I don't see a lot of people most days.  And let me tell you, when you're sick, you'll hear from and see even less.  But I'm sure most of you know that.  At any rate, I enjoy having people to communicate with online and to me, blogs are nicer than other social media.
I've been trying very hard not to get discouraged or depressed but it's kinda hard at times.  Still, I think I've actually been doing pretty good on that part.  I've been planning a good bit that I want to do when I get to feeling better and that gives me something to look forward to.  Next year HAS to be better.  Not just for me but for lots of folks.  Seems like there has been a lot of sadness and difficult times this year all around.  But, life has it's ups and downs and I guess most bloggers would tell you that is what they try to capture in their writings.  So they can show other people that they are not alone.  If we are honest about things, well, sometimes they just suck and there's not much else to be said.  But, things always get better, one way or another.  Maybe it's not in a way we imagined or hoped, but things do get better.  So, here's to next year!!  To that irrepressible human tradition of Hope.  If I'm not back by Tuesday I wish all of you and very happy, safe and prosperous New Year!!  May the sorrows of 2013 be drowned in the joy of the coming year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Time Is Here


I wish all of you a lovely holiday, in whatever way fits your description of such.  I still seem to be stuck in a cycle of feeling pretty good and then bad again so Jack and I are taking it easy.  We visited his family briefly today and then enjoyed a relaxing lunch at my favorite restaurant on the way home.  Hopefully I will feel better tomorrow but our plans remain fairly simple either way.

I don't have any mugs completed yet but I do have some in the works, so, I do still plan to have my annual Christmas give-aways.  Hopefully I'll complete them before the12 days are over! lol!

So, a peaceful, joyous Christmas Eve night to you all and I hope Santy Claus is good to you and yours!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

And Winter Came..


Chigger donned her festive apparel so that she could properly wish you all a happy Solstice!  She's not quite as enthusiastic as Grendal was but she is sincere nonetheless.


I gave the girl's house a good cleaning today while they decked it all out in greenery for the occasion.  They are enthusiastic...if food is involved.  Santa will have to remember to bring treats to all the critters around here.  They've all been good and mostly behave themselves.  Well, except for Susie.  She's been trying to be Ms. BossyPants around here lately, jumping on all the younger hens for no good reason.  Bertha caught her red feathered today though and gave her a good trouncing.  She needs to behave.  Bertha is the oldest hen and has taken to keeping all the others in line, kinda like a rooster would. 


This was taken a few days ago when the weather was mild.  Tonight things are a little rougher as we wait for this cold front to pass through the unseasonably warm spell of this week.  I think it is a little unusual for us to have tornadoes in December but not unheard of.  Hopefully this longest night will be mostly uneventful. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lately


I caught Chigger in her Sam The Sheepdog mode today, watching over the girls as they go about their late afternoon forage.  A lot of people that meet Chigger in person kinda laugh at the idea of her being a real guard dog but she takes herself pretty serious!  And she does a good job too.  Just last week she alerted me to a large, stray dog lurking up in the woods behind the house.  I ran out and yelled and it ran off so I didn't think much more about it.  Well, a day or two later I was inside once again (as I have been a lot lately) and I heard her really having a fit about something.  Looking out the window I could see Chigger was right close to the house just barking her head off.  This was fairly odd so I immediately ran out to see and lo and behold that dog had come back.  It was trying to get around the corner of the house and head towards where the chickens were huddled under the deck but Chigger wasn't havin' it.  In fact, she had that dog, which was bigger, hemmed up against the wall.  I did not kill the dog (because it had not killed anything of mine) but I did scare the living crap out of it and I have not seen it back.  Chigger got a good treat and much praise. 

Other than all that there still has not been a lot going on around here but things are improving.  I went to see the new internist and that went well I think.  She thinks perhaps I have a severe case of gastritis from the nsaid use.  Now, how my stomach could affect my brain and all so much I don't really understand but the treatment she suggested seems to be working.  Perhaps my stomach was so inflamed it could not absorb nutrients from food???  I don't know.  All she prescribed was 1 baby aspirin and a low dose Nexium just long enough to get my stomach healed up.  Now, I have also added lots of kefir (for the probiotics) and I'm still laying off animal proteins a great deal.  No pork or red meat in any form.  I can have a little cheese, goat milk, and a little chicken occasionally.  No spicy food either but I do take a little raw ginger every day because it's supposed to help heal your stomach.  We are still waiting on a little more bloodwork results but for now that's what I'm going with.  I'm not back to 100% but I am much improved.  I can drive myself now and think much, much clearer.  One other curious thing I've noticed is that since I've cut so far back on meat, I have a much happier, more positive mood.  I think those of you that have read here for a long time know that I can get kinda low at times and just basically pissy.  Well, I'm not Mary Poppins or anything but I've just kinda had a better attitude about things and a lot more motivation.  I imagine that no matter what my stomach does I will continue to go light on the meat (or not at all) from now on.  As the doc said, it's not a bad way to go!

So, in light of all that I've been cleaning like crazy, purging a bit more junk and basically trying to get caught up around here and get my studio and basement cleaned up and more organized.  And I started decorating for Christmas!  Got my front door wreath made today and hopefully will get one made for the chook's house this week.  Yes, I decorate for them a little.  Why not??  Makes the place smell nice and I think they like it.  Once I let go of the guilt for not having been able to produce much of any pottery for the Christmas season it has also helped me to feel better.  I also used my new mixer!!  I love that thing and plan on cranking out some yum Christmas cookies before too long.  Well, I'm off to decorate the tree!!  I hope all of you are doing well too!  Enjoy the full moon tonight!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It Ain't Easy Being Green


Actually, this fall it has been kinda easy because I just said, the hell with it.  I usually fuss and fret over my fall crops, not wanting them to get frosted or too cold and all that.  This year I just haven't had the energy and they have done fine.  Better than normal really.  Now, I did cover them one night when it got down around 20 F and I covered the broccoli tonight because it's supposed to be about that cold again.  We have also got a plenty of rain this year. (I heard one town not far from here was 22" above normal).  And I used a goodly amount of composted chicken poo and mulch on the plants this year, so that could also account for their success.  At any rate, I think I've harvested 6 or 7 big heads of broccoli so far and hope to get about that many more plus maybe a bunch of side sprouts, which some of the stalks are already producing.


And I may actually get some sprouts this year!!  Yayy!!!  These are getting close.  I have been pulling the lower leaves off, hoping the plant would put more energy into the sprouts and not leaf growth.  The hens have been profiting by that also as they gobble up any greens from the garden.


I'm really hoping for a nice batch of sauerkraut this year too!  I won't have it by Christmas but maybe by the end of January??  As little as I've been able to tend the garden this fall I'm just happy to have anything coming in from there.  We also have regular salads from the lettuce I harvest although it's time to sow a bit more of that.  I did sow some Bibb lettuce seeds a couple of weeks ago but I think they were kaput.  Second time with that pack and still nothing.


And lookie!!!!!  I got an early Christmas present!!!  I've wanted one of these for a long time now.  And I'm ashamed to admit I've had it for about a week and still haven't used it.  I just don't feel up to much cooking lately but I must make something with it soon.
And speaking of cooking....I'm not so sure about the vegan thing.  I do feel some better by minimizing the amount of animal protein I eat but finding an adequate substitute has been difficult.  I will spare you the gory details but let's just say my stomach has not bee happy with some of what I've offered it lately.  Mainly I just have NO appetite, especially for meat or cooked food.  I've just been getting by on fruit, tea, crackers and salad.  Oh, and a little oatmeal and some nuts.  Peanut butter is pretty good protein and for some reason cottage cheese doesn't make me feel bad, so I have that with some fruit.  I'm not gonna complain though because in the past few days I've seen a number of heartbreaking things in the Blogger world and I am thankful for what I do have, even if things aren't great for me right now.  And I'm still hopeful that one of these doctors is going to figure out what's going on.

I also hope to do my annual Mug Giveaway for Christmas too!  So ya'll be looking for that later also.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Begin Again


Over the past 3 weeks I have managed to scratch out enough pots to do a complete firing, so what you see here is the results from unloading the kiln this morning.  Well, what was left of it anyway.  Had a few accidents, got to grind a couple of shelves.  Actually, I had enough stuff to fire again tonight.  Hopefully the second firing will go a little better.  All things considered though, I'm doing pretty good to have gotten this far.  I'm also scraping the bottom on pieces and glazes.  What I mean is, I'm firing everything I can get my hands on and using up everything because this new year is going to bring a major change in a lot of things.  If some of these pieces don't make the final cut then the hammer gets them.  All current glazes will be used up and not remade.  A total and complete renewal.  I've had a number of new ideas and forms come to me over the past little while and I've fired enough of the new white clay to see that I really like it!  So, expect a big change in the pottery.  In my mind I see it stepping up to a new level.  We'll see,.


This is one new form I may keep, or something kinda like it anyway.  I'm so very tired of this year and all it had to offer and I intend to make next year count.  Next year is going to be a good one.
On the other front, after a number of experiments, I can say that I am definitely having difficulty eating any animal protein.  As in, that seems to be what is making me so sick.  I have basically gone vegetarian and do feel some better.  Even my longtime buddy Heartburn is gone.  However, it's extremely hard to get enough protein from nothing but plant sources 'cuz I mean if I eat cheese, eggs, milk or any similar product I feel crappy.  I have one last appointment with an internist next Friday and I'm hoping that maybe she can find out exactly what is going on and maybe it can be fixed.  I really don't want to go like this the rest of my life but I guess you do what you got to do.

So, that's about all I have to show ya'll.  I have been feeling better but that's not saying a whole lot in a way when you consider how bad I felt earlier.  However, I am thankful for any progress and that I have been able to do a few things lately.  I'm also excited to feel a bit better with Christmas coming.  Have to start decorating soon and finding some vegan goodies to cook! ha!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Less Is More


I recently found a really great site I wanted to share with ya'll that are on the "simplicity" bandwagon.  Or even those who are not!  The articles are not all written by the same person but they are all very well written and really express the motives and ideas behind the Minimalist or Simplicity movement.  Right now they have some especially relevant articles about the rampant excesses of the holidays and how to avoid that. So, if you are of a mind, hop on over to Becoming Minimalist and thumb through the great articles.  There are many helpful tips on, not only decluttering, but deowning.  Just how to get rid of so much stuff!!  And how to explain to other people why you don't want more stuff to replace it!  (I know I have had a really hard time of that with some of my family).
Lately, when I feel too bad to successfully make any pottery, I've been tootling around boxing up stuff to get rid of.  I either sell it on a local online yard sale or just take it to Goodwill.  I've been working on this for over a year and still have a bunch to go.  Mainly it's my studio space although I do have a bunch of stuff around my desk and such that needs to go.  My goal is to get my studio, and basement in general, much less occupied and more organized so that cleaning the area is easier.  I don't know about ya'll but I can't stand to try and work in a messy area and I think sometimes I get discouraged from my pottery because the place is not comfortable to me.
Anyway, the website has some really great articles on living with less and why to live with less.  How to not be possessed by your possessions!  Have any of you been working on paring down your things or living a more simplified life?