Monday, November 28, 2011

Ten Green Bottles

The other evening I spent a bit of time putting up and organizing many of the herbs I have grown over the summer and had drying.  Wooo!  the excitement of my life is just too much sometimes I know!  I take it a little at a time so I won't be overwhelmed with it, you know? lol!  Anyway,  I have been working from the beginning here to grow as many medicinal and culinary plants as I can and have a fair collection going now.  Most of them are perennial, so once established I really don't have to worry about them anymore.  Just make sure I harvest and dry plenty before winter to make it through.  I ran through my clear jar collection before I ran out of herbs, so I must go searching for some more jars.  Ooh, and I made some way cool labels for the jars on Word and printed them out on individual stickers. You can kinda see if you enlarge the photo.  If you have any available dirt it just makes so much sense to grow your own, rather than buy all these herbs.  Most are super easy to grow and of course, fresher if they are just outside your door, therefore the taste is always superior.  As of now I grow or wild harvest peppermint, catmint, catnip, lemonbalm, passionflower, feverfew, echinacea, dill, parsley, vitex, oregano, basil, chives, sage, mountain mint, beebalm, lavender, red clover, thyme and probably a few more.  I use these for cooking and teas, usually medicinal or just relaxing.  For example, sage tea is a great cough suppressant.  I hope to add many more herbs to my collection in years to come.
I thought it would be funny to label a few jars Eye Of Newt, Bat Wings or some such because it never fails that when newcomers see my pantry they say, "wow, are you some kind of witch?"  At least, I think that's what they're saying......witch?  b......?  Anyway!  It cracks me up that so many people think that if you use stuff like this you're like, "really out there"!  woooowoooo and all that.  Pfft!  Of course, I guess in all fairness, the animal skulls laying around don't really help my rep but they are just decorations.  Seriously.

Hey!! We are supposed to get snow tonight!  Snow!!  in November in Alabama?  Must be that global warming... Really, I don't believe I ever remember it snowing this early in my time.   Hey, I think I said that last year around the first week of December??  Hhhhmmm.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

You Talk

I've know I've rambled on lately about how busy I've been and bad connections and such, and that has definitely been the case, but I have a small confession to make too.  I've been a little burnt out on blogging lately.  I think it's been a combination of all the above and well, sometimes you just run out of things to say, I think.  Any natural conversation ebbs and flows and I look at blogging as a bit of a conversation.  But don't ya'll feel like you're going to disturb me if you ramble on at me a bit or ask questions or just have stuff you want to say!  And I think ya'll know that often times, when I have stuff brewing in my head, it takes me a little while to put it into words.  I think working out of town, away from my home, has made me confront how differently I live (and how different my belief system is) than most people and that has thrown a lot of thoughts into my head.
I'm sorry that I have not always answered ya'll's comments lately either.  I appreciate your feedback very much but really did often have trouble getting online while out of town and then by the time I got home I would forget or such.  But I'm back now and am trying to remedy that. 

 I have also not been making the rounds of your blogs as much either.  This is simply due to time constraints, I swear.  By the time I got home I had so much to cram into two days that I just didn't have much time for reading.  I also know there are some blogs I read that are not on my blog roll and some old ones that need removing.  I hope to update all that soon.  I will admit though, due to time constraints, I have narrowed my blog list down to those mostly dealing with homesteading or similar.  Plus, I don't know if it's been the routine of hard work again or what but I have been quite motivated to finish many projects around here lately and have been working on that.  I plan to start the kitchen soon; just as soon as I can get these pottery orders out to the stores, so that will cut back on some 'Net time.  But I am still out here!
I know ya'll are probably sick of chicken pics but ya'll also know I hate to put up a post without photos!  and, I couldn't remember if I ever showed ya'll the nesting box arrangement we built.  It has worked well I think.  We have 5 boxes for the girls and they have all taken to them great!  We put a fake egg in each one but I don't know that we really needed to.  I was concerned since we let the chooks out in the yard for the day but they all come back to the house when they get the urge and lay in the box.  Most of the young hens are laying now so we are getting lots of eggs.  From right to left is Sylvia, Pretty Hen and way down you can just see Emily's butt sticking out.  The cage area beneath is for when we get bitties.  They stay in there and have a hatch out to their own yard so they are never mixed with the big chickens.  Oh, if there are any local people that might want fresh eggs we are selling them now.  Just email me or such if you would like to purchase or stop by if you see the gate open.  They are $3 a dozen or $2.50 if you bring your own carton.  Of course, they are fresh and completely free range.  No drugs, hormones etc.

I might sell a couple of these too, when they reach harvesting age.  They are much more active than I thought they would be.  They can fly and jump around and enjoy roosting.  I like to see them snoozing in the sunshine.  They seem to enjoy that so much.
Okay, so back to work!  I don't think my kiln has cooled off for the past 3 days and won't for another few!  That's good though; the money is going towards my kitchen cabinets!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fowl Weather

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!  However you celebrate, I hope today finds you in good company with a full belly.  I am very thankful to be home on this weekend and to be able to stay home until next year.  I am thankful that I did have the work though because of that big box you see sitting on the back on my truck.  That is my new stove.  They were having a very good sale the other day so I went ahead and bought it.  I had been hovering over this thing for about a year now, hoping for a sale or something.  It is a Whirlpool Gallery series.  Not the Viking that I wish I could have but hey, it looks like a good range! lol!  Now, the big push to finish my kitchen begins!!

The meat birds are growing and doing well.  I am thankful that I have the land and ability to grow my own healthy, clean food.  Jack sowed an adjoining pen with grass for them and they are in there today.  I'll try to get some pics.

We finally took the big step yesterday and harvested the excessive rooster population here.  They were just really getting out of hand as there were just as many roosters as hens.  They were eating tons of food and being a general nuisance.  It took most of the day but we have 12 chickens for the pot, a bunch of necks for making stock and I saved the livers, hearts and gizzards to make Chigger food.  Things are MUCH calmer and quieter this morning.  I think the hens are much happier now and it is much easier to keep the coop clean and orderly.  We did keep this Rhode Island Red, Rodney, and one other.  We'll see how they do.  Rodney has a crowing disability.  I like that.  He basically sounds like a broken squeaky toy.  We try not to giggle in front of him.

The broccoli is doing well and already starting to make heads.  I have been picking off some of the lower leaves to feed the meat chickens.  They LOVE them.  I hope they, the broccoli, mature before the really cold weather begins because I am not going to go to the trouble I went last year, building a tunnel over them etc.  For what I got it was just not worth it.  I would just replant in the spring.  So, there's short update for now.  I'll try to post on a more regular basis now that I'm home.  I've just been swamped with stuff since getting back and trying to get my head above water.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Topped Out!!!

 Actually, we topped out a couple of weeks ago.  That is to say, we poured the final roof slab at the highest point of the building.  So, according to ancient traditions, we had our Topping Out party to celebrate.  I'm serious when I say ancient too.  As you can see, we drug a large evergreen up to the top of the building and strapped it in place and placed the university flag nearby.  I thought we should have had an American flag too but we do have those on the cranes.  This is an old Scandinavian tradition going back at least 1,000 years.  The tradition was brought to the United States several centuries ago and we try our best to keep it going although this is the first full Topping Out party I've ever been to.

Now, due to the time of year, many people would assume that is supposed to be a Christmas tree but it's not.  The tree, being an evergreen, symbolises good luck and growth.  Actually, it's there to appease the woodland spirits that we may have pissed off when we chopped down the trees to clear this site.  But you can't say that in public anymore.  LOL!  Sometimes the tree will be decorated with streamers.

 Anyway, there's lots of speechifying by several people that really have nothing to do with the job actually getting built (except for Daddy Rabbit) and food.  The food was okay.  Normally it's pretty good and we stuff ourselves.  Then they give away door prizes offered up by tool rental companies and such.  That was really good.  I won a gift card to Lowe's, a hat and a pair of safety glasses.  I gave my hat to one of the fellers that didn't win anything.  I have a bunch anyway and it wasn't a style I liked but he did.

So, it was fun and we got off with pay about an hour early.  Some jobs you get free lunches several times through the course of the building and some you don't get squat.  Just depends on the owners.  This will probably be our only free lunch for this one!  We had a real pretty day for the party too, which was nice.

So, I have today off because Jack is still out of town and somebody had to be here for the animals but he'll be back tomorrow and I'll go back to work.  I am going to cautiously tell you though, that I should be coming home after this week.  I'm not going to point fingers or such but it seems that the project managers on the job have let me run out of steel to weld up and they are not willing to pay my wages (their words) to do other, less skilled work.  So, I'll be coming home for a break and am supposed to go back after the first of the year when a new batch of steel comes in.  We'll see.  I'm happy to have the holidays off and this will allow me to catch up on many orders for pottery.  I have not forgotten ya'll if you ordered something so bear with me!  I am working on it!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Scenes From Home

Hey Everybody!  Didn't mean to be away quite so long but it seems my Internet connection out of town has just about become non-existent unless I take my laptop out somewhere and this past week I just have not had much time.  I know, same ol' story.  Time at home is packed full of chores and such and just trying to rest a little.

I wouldn't say I've had writer's block also, but I just haven't been able to get my mind around a specific topic to write about either.  There has been much to think about lately and the fading of summer to autumn always makes me a bit melancholy too.  Things are changing in many ways.

 There is a lot of discontent around.  Not here mind you.  Out in the world it seems though and at work.  Things are changing and not all for the good.  My valley seems immune and I guess I am reluctant to dwell on things while I am here, lest I bring discontent home with me.

 I will tell you more soon however.  I guess for now we'll just enjoy the sights of home.

Ya'll know I am at heart a restless soul, although I love my time at home.  Not sure where the wanderlust in me comes from; certainly not my parents.  Must be from much further back.  I suppose the travel with work has stirred the desire to explore once again but without the opportunity to indulge it.  Go to work; come back.  Repeat.

These leaves have faded now but with the job being a good distance further south, I get to enjoy a second leaf changing when I go back.  Funny that 100 miles would make that much difference.

I need to make some established hiking trails in my woods to better enjoy these sites.  The deer trails make a good starter trail but need a little clearing to make them less trouble for humans.
I couldn't help but to feel my isolation last night as I went downstairs to check the fire.  The full moon illuminated the black forest around me and in the not so far distance the coyotes were singing their awful, joyful hunting song.  I shivered.  I stoked the fire and ran back inside to snuggle in the bed alone.  Things will be better in the morning.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Cold November Rain

Well, I'm on a roll here, posting twice in one week!  Unfortunately, it's mainly due to the fact I've come down with a massive case of tonsillitis and had to take the day off.  I worked all week with it but when I woke up this morning I was just feeling too bad.  The fact I had burned my chest badly again, got something in my eye, so it was swollen and matted up, and got my back acting up again from lifting that heavy steel just didn't help matters either.  And it was going to rain and turn cold, which it did.  I'm waiting on them to find the drawings for my next project so today would have been a sort of slow day anyway.  I hate to sit down here out of town and not get paid but sometimes you just gotta look after yourself or you sure will get run down and injured.
I know from the above description it might sound as though I'm on death's door and I do feel like I've had the hell beat out of me.  It's going to take me a few weeks to recover from this excursion when it's over.  All of this has really opened my eyes to how radically I have changed my life since being laid off this last time and how differently other people live.  It's not that I got soft from not working.  I think the well project proves that!  It is just a completely different type of life due to being so much in the city I guess.  As I've mentioned before, I have tried to eat right while here, and I do for the most part.  I buy partly from a local organic grocer and bring food from home but it's not the same always because I can't cook much.  I get a lot of good natured teasing from the guys about my lunches and snacks and it is worlds apart from some of that stuff they eat! *shudder*  They would die, I guess, if they saw how I eat at home, where I can cook!  Now, I do try to cook several meals over the weekend and bring much of it with me to eat during the week but it doesn't last long and I end up eating out once or twice a week, sometimes more.  I have to be careful to avoid the city water down here.  It is putrid and has given my stomach hell since I've been here.  I finally figured out what was doing it and strictly use bottled water, or bring my water in jugs but it was tough back when it was hot because you have to have cold water and they fill our water barrels with the city water.
The air here is awful also.  There is a stench over everything as soon as you enter certain parts of town and it really gets to me.  I'm so used to my fresh country air.  Plus, for some unknown reason, it seems that 80-90% of the population smokes in this town.  I have found it rare to go many places without smelling the stench of cigarette smoke and that stuff really bothers me.  That and the fumes from welding mess my sinuses up and have caused the tonsil issue.
Well, I didn't mean for this to become a whiny post and I'm sorry if it sounds just like every other post I've done since being here.  I have just been surprised at how much of a struggle this has been for me.  Not the work but the cultural and social parts I guess.  No one lives like I do.  It's hard to find recycling facilities and fresh, natural food.  Wal-Mart and smoky bars are the big spots to go!  The ladies that work at the hotel where I'm staying hold me in curious regard and one has been brave enough to ask me a few questions about what I do.  (Due to the hi-viz shirts we are required to wear we are all branded to the public as construction workers and many people avoid us.)  From their attitude it seems that maybe they were never taught women could do anything but be secretaries or clean. God help if she ever asks me about how I live at home!
My superiors at work hold me in a curious regard also.  They know I didn't ask to come here.  They know I have not enslaved my self to a life of servitude (debt) and therefore don't have to work for them.  They treat the guys like crap but they know they can only go so far with me or I'll tell them to cram it.  And they know I will too.  Interesting the extent of the freedom no debt gives you.  I do my job and I do it well but I can't help but be a little smug about it and flaunt the fact they don't own me. LOL!  Not much though.  I still remember the company ours used to be and out of honor to the guys I tow the line, for the most part.
The bottom line is this job has served to reinforce the idea to me that this type of life is nowhere near what I want or will have.  There are malls and shopping for anything you would want around here but it holds nothing for me.  I admit I have bought a few nice pieces of clothing, on sale, because I got down to not having much in the way of nice things, but other than that, I just mostly stare at the windows and wonder how people can be so obsessed and excited over a new purse?  A life of stifling, frustrating hard labor where you only get 2 days a week to do what you enjoy is out also.  I want to enjoy every day.  I used to enjoy this work; we all did.  We talk about how fun the jobs used to be.  Micromanagement, bureaucracy, disposable society and the death of common sense has killed all that.  It has however, brought to life some images for art that I have had floating in my head for years that would never quite crystallize.  They are very clear now.  That has been very interesting and I am excited to get home for good to start producing these works.  They will be unlike anything I've shown ya'll before.
So, it has been good and bad, as most of life is.  I am making some money though and am actively searching now for the stove I want, as my main goal from this is to finish the kitchen.  I should be ordering cabinets before too long also.  If I get that and get to work with my fellas on a big project one last time then it will be worth it.