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.
4.  I finished the east side of the chicken coop.
5.  Pump house finally insulated. 

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 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 Allen 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. 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. Hopefully I will feel better tomorrow.

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


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?

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.


I have 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. I 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


  I had seen this PVC pipe chicken feeder on the web and I 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. I 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.  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.   This was all my doing, or thinking and me 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. 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.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


I woke up to the most perfect Halloween morning I believe I've seen in some years.  There is a storm front approaching our area, so the skies are overcast and an insistent breeze urges the leaves to take flight in showers of scarlet and gold.  Inky black crows occasionally pass overhead as they go about their mysterious duties.  Though I've always been happy to have left my childhood years behind, Halloween is the one holiday still able to conjure the spirit of nostalgia for me.  Keep in mind, Halloween when I was a child bears almost no resemblance to what occurs today.  At least, what I see.  We took great delight in making our own costumes or getting our parents to help a little.  Though we were right on the cusp of different times, children could still roam freely about their neighborhoods at night with little adult supervision, and it was okay.  There was no rampant paranoia, no PC and thank God, no Trunk or Treat crap.  You actually associated with your neighbors, although the one creepy house in every neighborhood was staunchly avoided, that night in particular.  All the houses kept at least one pumpkin alight on the porch, the universal symbol for available candy, but most of our decorations were simply the drying fields of corn silently watched over by real scarecrows, not the garden variety bought from Wal-Mart.  Swirling clouds of leaves against a twilight sky are remarkably hard to differentiate from hordes of bats.  At least, in a child's view of that night.  Maybe, because of those times, Halloween was the one night a kid could look forward to being freed from the oppression of, well, over-enthusiastic authority, let's say.  No matter how creepy a candle lit house was to approach with it's glowering black cats, those terrors could be easily outrun and laughed about later.  The fear and anxiety of what sometimes awaited at home though, was a different matter.  But for that one night... we were the wild creatures.


I thought I'd also repost another Halloween edition from way, way back.  Most of you probably have not read this one.  It's an oldie but a goody, to me anyway.

In honor of Halloween I thought that I would post something a little different for you all. Most of you know I have been working on a restoration of this very large house in Birmingham. Some of my early posts show some details of the house. I've been so busy lately I have not put much up about it in awhile so, here we go. There is a very large room on the bottom level (it has 5 levels) of the house that is actually a hall taken from a castle in England and shipped over here and reassembled. The weapons and armor and other decorative items (there are some jousting lances in the corner) have all been authenticated to be from the Middle Ages. The man who built this house was a little eccentric and loved anything to do with England. Unfortunately, he didn't get to live in the house very long before the Depression hit and he lost his fortune. He tried to conserve his money by living down in these lower levels and eating creatures he caught on the property as he was a pretty good hunter and his trophies from his big hunts are still displayed all over the house. But, alas, it was not enough and he could not make his last payment, so the bank took the house and all the contents. Some say he cursed the house when he was forced out and something horrible has befallen every owner since him. Some say that the wife of the 4th owner haunts the house because she was murdered in her bedroom.

Let me tell you what I know and have heard. I haven't seen anything since working in the house but I have heard plenty that I cannot explain. I was working on the outside of one of the windows to this room one day. The room is half below ground so if you are outside you can walk right up to the windows. I had the window open to work on it and therefore I could see and hear what went on in the room. For the most part, we are not allowed in the house and the exterior doors are kept locked. Well, I was just working along and I distinctly heard someone walk across the room. The floor is limestone and so it's hard to walk across it quietly. It was so audible that I just casually looked down into the room to see who was in there, because it's a little unusual for people to be down there. No one was there. A few more minutes passed and I heard them walk by again. This time I leaned in the window all the way so that I could get a good view of the whole room. As before, no one was there. There is a back door to the room but you can't open it from the outside and it makes a horrible noise when it is opened so I would have heard if someone came in that way. About 20 minutes later one of the other carpenters came to help me get the window put back together and as we were working on it we both heard the footsteps again all the way across the floor. We turned, without saying anything to one another, and looked down into the room and of course, didn't see anyone. We looked at each other and I said, "You heard that too!" Stubbornly he said "I didn't hear anything!" but we threw that window back together and hauled our butts out of there.

Later, I was down in this room on another occasion with one of the masons cleaning up after a storm because the ceiling leaks some now. This is one of the items we are in the process of repairing. Most everyone else had left and the owners were not there. We suddenly started hearing this woman talking and just going on and on about something. At first I thought someone had just called and I could hear the answering machine from upstairs but I realized that is impossible. The walls are 2 feet thick for the most part and all the phones are way up on the top levels. It was so loud we thought maybe some neighbors had walked over so we went out the back door to see who was around. No one was there. It got quiet for awhile but then started back up after about 5 minutes. We looked all around the back yard and when we came up to the main levels we looked around to see if the people had come home but no one was there. Neither experience was really frightening, which is surprising to me because I can be a real scaredy-cat sometimes. When I went down this afternoon to get these photos though, I made one of the guys go with me. Halloween....in this house... I'm not taking any chances!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wrack My Brain

I can so relate.

Well, before we even got home Friday the doctor had gotten my MRI and reviewed it and sent me an email to tell me that my brain looks great!!  No lesions or tumors and it was nice and full.  Of bullshit probably. haha!  Those last words are mine by the way, not his.  So, that's great and I'm thankful but it does leave me scratching my head still about what's wrong.  I'm not sure what to do next, if there is anything to even do or try.  You know, nobody wants to have something wrong with them,  but as bad as I feel at times it's kinda hard to believe there's not something outta whack somewhere.

So, I just wanted to leave a quick post to let ya'll know what the results were.  I'm especially glad my noggin is healthy because I never want to go through one of those test again.  I had the MRI of my neck you know, and it was no problem, but something about this one was very different.  It was all I could do to lay still and not freak out.  I was happy to build the structures for those machines way back but that's as close as I ever want to get to one again.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Someone Out There

So...I owe ya'll the story of just how I got in to see a decent doctor....Now, if you've been reading this blog for a bit, you know I've written of some fairly, umm, serendipitous events in my life and I know that some of them might have seemed a bit far fetched.  However, I assure you that they are all true, as with this story.  I honestly don't think I could make this stuff up if I tried. 

A few days after I had announced that I would be suspending my blog, I sat here in this chair one morning with a Birmingham phone book in my lap.  My tunnel vision had opened up enough that I could see that my kidneys probably were not the issue after all.  And I know that laypersons should never try to diagnose themselves, but I had to try something.  I mean, the doctors I had seen weren't battin' any higher.  Might as well do a little research and in the course of that I thought maybe I should try a neurologist.  What the hell?  It seemed the only thing left.  I know many of you have had your own wranglings with our wonderful health system and know you don't just waltz in to see a specialist though.  A few phone calls that morning proved that once again.  I sat at the kitchen table on the verge of tears trying to think of which doctor to beg for a referral and hoping I could get in before November.  I decided to take a shower, because that always makes you feel better, and on my way past my desk I saw I had received a new e-mail.  Half-heartedly I sat down.  It looked like spam because it started with "Edifice Rex..."  Spam usually does.  I opened it anyway and read the short email. .  This is part of what it said:
" I am the head of Neuro-oncology at UAB and a neurologist.  Don't worry, I don't think you have a brain tumor but I would be happy to see you or review your records to help get direction on solving your health problems."  I guess you never can tell who might be reading your blog.  He suggested I Google him to check his background, which I did, but are you kidding me?  I would have been tickled to get in to a doctor at Brookwood or somewhere but the head of the department at UAB!!... Yeah, I'll take that.  After I was able to pick my jaw up off the floor, I replied with the requested info and within the hour a very nice assistant called me to verify an appointment 2 days later at the Kirklin Clinic no less.  Now, for those of you who don't live in Alabama, being asked to come down to Kirklin is, in the medical world, like being asked to come to Carnegie Hall.  It was a totally different experience to me.  I was treated like a person and the doctor listened to me!  For a long time!  I know it doesn't take much but my mind was boggled.  I have hope again.

So now.  Another round of blood work done, 15 minutes or so of funny exercises to see if I could touch my nose, touch my toes and Friday morning I go let them shoot dye into my veins and take pictures of my brain.  So... we'll see.  Will these new tests reveal anything? .  Either way, I know that every once in a while we encounter an individual that teaches us not to despair.  There are good people everywhere.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Color My World

I'm not sure we are going to get much foliage color this year so I thought I'd concentrate on the other beings that lend their color to the autumn season.  I love mums.  I think probably because they are so tidy and they last a long time. 

 I think they prefer pumpkin sushi to baked pumpkin.  I thought maybe it would be easier for them to eat and enjoy a mushier gourd because raw pumpkin can be kinda tough.  They didn't seem particularly impressed.  The raw, squishy guts however, initiated a lot of squawking and feather pulling to see who could get to the goodies first.  I was proud to see the Americaunas are getting over some of their shyness around the older hens though.  At least when there are yummies to be had.

And they finally started laying their pretty aqua eggs!  They are not yet quite up to size but it shouldn't be much longer.  We'll take what we can get right now, as all the other hens are on molting strike.  Hopefully they will get over that soon.  We don't have enough eggs to sell right now!

It's been beautiful weather lately but we could use a little rain.  Funny, we had so much back in the summer and now just nothing.  I started to say the chickens are enjoying it but the past couple of weeks they stay holed up under the deck half the day.  Seems a large deer died over on the other side of the big creek and the buzzards have been frequenting the area more than usual and at a much lower altitude than the chickens are used to.  Poor things, they can't easily distinguish between a buzzard or a hawk.  They only know a large shadow from above can mean death, so the buzzard's careless meanderings over the yard sends them scurrying for any cover they can find, usually the deck.  Apparently the hens do realize that I offer some protection for them, however abstractly, so I try to sit out in the yard each day for a spell and that usually brings them out to graze and scratch.

Hey, a question for other bloggers:  What is the easiest way to repost old posts?  I know many people come here (or did anyway) to read about home construction and building and due to being sick I just have not had anything new on that in a very long time.  Thought I might dredge up some old projects that might be of interest. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Good Friday

Hello Everybody!!  (you have to read that with Grover's voice by the way.  You know, from Sesame Street).   Just a note from me to express my deepest appreciation for all of the sweet comments you left for me on the last post.  I'm sorry I did not answer each one like I normally do but it's not because I'm not grateful for them.  It's just that typing has been rather difficult for me lately and can be pretty frustrating.  I have to really concentrate and then I still make so many mistakes it takes me a while to correct them.  I can't quite tell if it is the brain fog not letting me think well or that my hand coordination is that off.  I do have some good news, although I can't elaborate on it much right now.  I can say that I did get in to see a doctor this past Friday, a specialist, and you are going to get a real hoot out of it when I tell you the story.  I am waiting for permission though, to know just how much I can tell you.  Many institutions have policies against blogging or social media stuff so I don't want to get anybody in trouble even though I have nothing but good stuff to say.

So.  I do also know that even though I think the nsaids did affect my kidneys, they are not the problem.  I was just stuck in neutral on that one as I can often do.  I have had more blood work and am awaiting my appointment for an MRI of my brain.  Or at least, an MRI of the hole where a brain should be.  I am feeling a fair amount better physically.  The shadow of exhaustion is slowly drawing back up into the cavern from which it came.  The malaise.  That's the word the doctor used and you know they love those descriptive terms.  It is a good one however.
Through all this lately my friend and neighbor Fred has had heart surgery for the second time, so I have taken time to go see him.  I was at the hospital some of the time anyway so it was no big deal to go up 3 floors.  Allen and I kinda look after Fred (he's 86) but Allen has done the greatest part of the work on this episode.  I feel bad about that.  They have released Fred to stay in a nursing home for awhile, so I was able to redeem myself today by going to purchase new bedclothes and such for him and getting him set up with all that.  Allen will hardly buy new clothes for himself and God only knows what he would have picked out for Fred so it was probably for the best.  Men shopping for other men often resemble deer frozen in the proverbial headlights.

So, thank you all again for all the well wishes and prayers.  Erin, your comment made me laugh out loud.  I love all of you too, in a non-touchy, non-creepy way.  Especially Pablo, who's a sweetheart.  Rita, I don't have any bowls made at the moment but hope to be throwing again soon, maybe tomorrow, and I will throw some.  Tell me what color you might want.  Oh, and thank you Bea for the card!  It was sweet and beautiful photo on it.  I will try to be back soon with another post and some photos at least.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Give Out

The continuing saga of Edifice Rex will now pause for intermission of an undetermined length.  For the very few of you that are still reading I apologize but I am at the end of my rope.  My health and energy has continued to weaken to the point I stay in bed a fair amount or just lay on the couch.  Yes, I tried a number of doctors but they are simply of no help.  They do a little bloodwork and then say you're fine.  The soonest referrals to a specialists are mid November.  I went through this same episode years back after an especially bad case of food poisoning and the docs were of no help then either.  Exact same symptoms but they just don't listen to me.  I don't know.  I don't want to keep yammering about how bad I feel, I've lost enough people so far over health issues, so I am just going to opt out for a while.  I'm having trouble thinking straight enough to write much and nothing going on to write about anyway.  The last episode took me about 2 months or so to get over so it may be the same this time, don't know.  I apologize to my few, new readers but there's 6 years worth of old stuff that may be of some interest.
I'll be back at some point I imagine.  Ya'll take care.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fresh Aire

 I think it would be nice sometimes if you could just click a button and refresh our lives in a matter of seconds like you can your computer.  Instant download of new changes and upgrades, or downgrades as it may be.  Well, maybe things are fine the way they are....Sometimes whole new seasons must roll around before we begin to feel progress or contentment.  The past 2 weeks have brought a distinctly refreshing feel to the days and nights as the cooler air of fall rolls in, nudging out the stagnant, humid air of summer.  That bright, clear quality of light only fall sees has arrived also and I couldn't resist trying once again to capture it in a photo even though my view of the horizon is rather limited here. 

 The flowers of fall are jarringly bright and fresh also.  A welcome addition to the gardens as late summer had just about blanched everything else out.  Yellow is the predominant theme but there are some oranges and burgundys thrown in.

 The garden has also seen a refreshing as the old, ragged crops of summer have been torn out and replaced with the vivid green of new fall crops.  A few peppers and tomatoes remain and the fig trees eke out a few ripe fruits as the days pass but these things are winding slowly down.

The cool days have refreshed Chigger's willingness to play.  Frisbee is still one of her favorites.  She's pretty good at catching it if I can throw it right.  I got her to sit by the ferns so that she could serve as a sense of scale.  I don't know that these ferns are native but some of the native ones get as large as this one.

She does find the creek quite refreshing also, as do I.  That cold water will wake you up in a minute!  Every walk must include a wade through the waters for her to get a drink.  Sometimes I wade too, looking for "creek glass" or other treasures that get washed down by most of the large rains.

Our main flock has been refreshed by the addition of the young Easter Eggers into their midst.  They have not begun laying yet but it shouldn't be too far in the future.  I wanted them to get used to the main henhouse and nesting boxes well before they were expected to deposit their colorful eggs there.  So far they are fitting in well.  Not too many pecking fights.  As usual, the older New Hampshires hens are the first to warm up to the new girls and welcome them in their afternoon dust baths.

And in their normal autumn ritual, most of girls have decided to molt all at the same time.  This poor little brown leghorn being about the most pitiful looking of the bunch.  I can't help but think she looks like she had it out with a lawn mower and the mower won.  If you look closely you will also notice she's wearing a "boot".  She got a terrible case of bumblefoot, which required some surgery, and this is the only way to halfway keep their feet bandaged and clean while it heals.  I have to change it every few days.  Hopefully though, she will be refreshed in foot and feather before winter and back to giving us a few white eggs.  These 2 are not my favorite hens but in her condition it's very hard not to feel sorry for her, especially when she comes up begging for a few crumbs of treats in her nervous, fidgety way.

A little update on the health issues:  After taking the new NSAIDS for my foot I became quite sick after a few days and went to a clinic for bloodwork on Friday.  I explained my situation and the Doc was agreeable and sympathetic, so I go in first thing in the morning for a kidney ultrasound and should get the results of my bloodwork too.  I dug out some tests results I had from my yearly exam back in July and those counts showed the possibly of early kidney damage (I checked this several times with multiple sources btw).  I had not really looked at them before, trusting my doctor to alert me to anything and no, he never said a word about it.  That pisses me a tad, especially considering he continued to advise me to take the NSAIDs.  I'm feeling better tonight but still not great.  I assure you I will press this matter until I find out everything I need to know.  At any rate, no NSAIDs ever again and very little salt, etc. and hopefully all internal will be refreshed soon and chugging right along.