Monday, December 30, 2013

Year 14, Week 49, Day One (week 695)

Year 14, Week 49, Day One (week 695)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
12-28-13 Saturday
    80 degrees at ten, 84 degrees at noon, 81 degrees at three. The morning started out looking like it might give some weather, but after ab

out ten, the heavy stuff moved out and left high plates and feathers overhead for most of the day. Around two, heavy stuff started showing up in the area of the sun and the temps dropped once the sun was behind them. The breeze was good and strong, but the house blocked the worst of it where I was working. This weather report was brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department Of Tourism.
    I had work off on Thursday so I spent most of the day packing up a gift to be mailed to a friend, trying to figure out why my main computer would not start, and my secondary and laptop refused to talk to the modem.
    One thing was I had borrowed a scarf from the package I was mailing, so I had to concentrate on finishing another scarf before I could mail it out. It looks good.
    I also rearranged the lower part of my fridge. That is hard as I did not have anything low enough to sit down on to work properly.

    We saw signs for three yard sales, but only found one. It did not have a lot of stuff I don't have, but I did find a little folding seat. That is perfect for the fridge project I worked on. It was cheep enough.



  Last weekend, I gifted a pair of drum sticks I made a few weeks ago. I decided I wanted to make a couple more of them. I dug into my "Mahogany bin". Years ago, I got hold of a whole bunch of Mahogany cuttings someone got from a furniture shop. There is other wood in there but much of it is Mahogany. A friend asked me to make a wooden ladle. I had two projects to look for acceptable wood for. While digging, I ended up finding plenty of wood for both projects. I decided to make more than one set of drum sticks.
    The piece of wood for the ladle was long enough to where I was able to also get two drum stick blanks from where I trimmed the excess wood from the sides of the handle. Two other board were split in half to make pairs of blanks for drum sticks.
    I saw a WOODWRIGHT SHOP program where he had someone who made spoons and ladles and he showed his carving methods. I got some good ideas from the program.
    I marked the ends of two drum stick blanks, and then used my carving knife and techniques from the show to remove the worst of the corners of the wood. I then dragged out the lathe and started working. I was careful to work lightly with the wood since I broke some oak last weekend. I removed the remains of the corners, got the stick round, and then carefully started shaping the stick. I really need to sharpen my tools. I should be able to get a surface so clean it really does not need to be sanded. That is not what I was getting. I was getting a lot of vibration which added ribbing to the surface. I got out some 32 grit sandpaper and cut down the surface so it was clean, and then went to finer sand paper to clean up the surface till it was smooth.
    The second one went faster, but since I was trying to make them the same, I had to work with a bit more care to get the diameter right, the taper to the end right, and the ball on the end right. I was not measuring diameters, angles or distances, but going by the look of it. It is close, but not absolutely perfect.
    I used the disk sander to clean up the ends, added a little bit of hand sanding, and then used spray varnish with light sanding between coats. The sanding after the first coat was heavy, but after that it was more to just clean up the surface.
    They look good. These are lighter than normal drum sticks and I doubt the wood is as hard. At the meeting I go to, our drummer is gentle with the sticks and drums, but the drummer next morning breaks sticks and has damaged a cymbal. These would not last more than half a session with him.
    I finished my turning put everything away as my legs were wore out. I tend to stop work when my legs are tired, and then there is the project of putting everything away. That wears me out. I went inside to rest and watched the second of a two DVD set I gifted to my mom's husband. it was very good. While that was going on, I crocheted three rows on a six foot long scarf.
    Later in the day, I headed back outside to feed and pet the cat. I decided to work on my ladle project. I looked around, but could not find my SCORP kit. A scorp is basically a chisel that works side to side rather than down the end. I saw it a few weeks ago, but cannot find it. I decided to use regular chisels. There are a whole bunch of them in the garage, but a whole lot of stuff has to be moved to get to them. I have made it a point to NOT learn how to use chisels till now. I figured it was a lot of work to learn which chisel to use when. I have used knives or power tools except for just a couple projects.
    I do have two chisels in my carving basket, one is a straight blade and another is a curved blade. I started with the straight bladed chisel. It is not for what I was using it for as ut us a thick blade, sharp angle and not really sharp, but it mostly got things started, breaking the surface. It has a wide flat end for being hit by a hammer so that was why I started with it. As I got wood away, I shifted to the curved bladed chisel. This one can be pushed by the hand, but I used the hammer gently on it to dig into the wood and start gaining depth. I had made good depth and pushed it by hand along the surfaces to clean the shape. I made for good depth on the bowl
    The outside has remained square which allowed the vice to hold it. I won't touch the outside in any way until I get the inside of the bowl exactly the way I want it. Then I will shape the outside to match the inside.
    I had to stop after about an hour because my left wrist did not like how it was being used on holding the tools at various angles and the pounding. My legs were just starting to complain also.
    I was happy to get some work done on the ladle.



    I tested out the drum sticks at a meeting and they worked nicely. Being a little lighter than the oak sticks I used before. They worked better for me. I am more tapping that really drumming so they will last a long time.
    I brought the cards I made over the years and photographed them. These are samples I kept for myself so I could see what I had done before. None of them are high quality but most are not too bad. I do always intend to have better pictures but I am always rushed to get them done.
    Tomorrow I hope to work on the ladle some more.

    I will see what I actually do tomorrow.
Year 14, Week 49, Day Two (week 695)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
12-29-13 Sunday
    84 degrees, brisk wind, lots of clouds. Radar showed a blob of weather coming from the west coast so I had to try to get some work done before the weather turned. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
    I got a real late start as I was updating my secondary computer to work comfortably. I had to add links I usually use and sites I visit but did not have since I last used this computer regularly.
    I stopped at a yard sale on the way to Mom's. These people have had yard sales before and it is all tools. I ended up getting a set of router bits, a Stanley plane, a medium sized metal square, a small pipe cutter and a clamp. The router bits are for wood, but will work with aluminum. they will fit in my UniMat metal working  lathe when set up like a milling machine. I do have several routers and will work with them too. With the rest of the stuff, I really don't need them but got them anyway since they were available.

    I arrived quite late compared to when I normally get to Mom's. We went out to CRACKER BARREL restaurant. That was a cool place. In the store part of the place, the ceiling is hung with all sorts of antique tools and parts. We were identifying all sorts of things up there, and discussing their use. There were a few things we were not quite sure of. Several of the things I would love to have. I really don't need them or would use them but they would be cool to have. One was to remove dried corn from the cobs. It was simple in design but looked quite effective.

    I had brought up my 1949 cook book and was handed a FOOD TIPS AND COOKING TRICKS book. I just went through a couple pages. It is cool.
    I finally got outside and after petting the kitty for a while, I got to work on the ladle. This piece of wood is a over two inches deep. I was only about half the depth I was after. Using the curved chisel, I dug into the middle of the bowl to nearly double the depth and worked my way out.  I did get the sides with my knife, cleaning the shape, and rough smoothed the bottom. Other than some fine smoothing, the inside of the ladle is about right. I really need to find the scorp set so I an finish the inside properly.

    It dawned on me that I had a Wednesday gathering with some friends before Christmas and did not have any cards even close to being finished at the time. It dawned on me that I only have two cards left from this year to give out and there are like eight of them! I have started painting another ten cards. I will use the same image, with little corrections. Since we are not meeting this Wednesday as it is the first, I have time to get the cards finished.
Our waitress is really special and it dawned on me that she should have gotten a gift. I have started a scarf yesterday and have time, especially since I have a day or so off this week, to get the scarf finished really nice.
    I will finish the scarf and the cards, and hope to find my Scorp set so I can finish the ladle, and will see what else I might accomplish next weekend.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Year 14, Week 48, Day One (week 694)

 First batch of Christmas cards.
yard sailed  yarn and case
 My completed collection of scarves
 Crochet and knitting books
 My newest scarf.
The colors of my newest scarf

Year 14, Week 48, Day One (week 694)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
12-21-13 Saturday
    84 degrees, strong southerly wind with some gusts, clouds racing North over the Everglades, blue sky above. What clouds there were in the morning past noon were too thin to effect the sunshine. I did see some clouds to the north of me heading west, riding the off-shore winds into the Everglades northerly train. By about three, the Everglades clouds got heavier, and moved East and started blocking the sun. This weather report is brought to you by the City of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
    I've painted some of my Christmas Cards. I planned on painting 48 cards at once. I found I only had flat space to allow 40 cards to dry. After 2 colors, which gave me the tree on the card, I realized that my legs and my time would not allow me to do all 40 cards, so I set twenty to the side and painted on only half the cards.
    I finished the artwork Friday night and then rushed to letter the backs of the cards before I went to bed.
    In the morning, I picked out five cards and lettered the inside. I figured out that while I have a couple hundred envelopes, I did not remember to bring them with me. Later in the day, I lettered the inside of the rest of the cards. I ended up with only a few cards left when the evening was over. People seemed to like the cards.
    We did two sessions of yard sailing. With one session, we stopped at one yard sale and I ended up with a handle-less suit case with some yarn in it. The good thing was that the yarn had some wool in it. I love wool. Those might be used for my "stuffies." I hope to make this next year. Stuffies are stuffed animals, stuffed ornaments, dolls and so on.
    I headed out later in the morning and hit another yard sale that netted me some good crochet and knitting books.
        I took an oak slat and prepared it for turning, squaring it slightly cutting it in half, finding and marking the centers, and mounting them on the lathe with the intention of making drum sticks.
    This is old oak. It was originally a wine or beer barrel and was cut in half and sold as planters. Mom had a bucket inside it and had it part of a wishing well. When the metal bands rusted through and broke, I got the slats to work with. Being old and weathered, there is a lot of surface checks in the wood.
    Both pieces I tried to turn, split in half before I got them completely round. I decided to pack up and let discretion be the better part of valor.
    I brought all the scarves I had and with Mom, I picked out who would get what scarves this year. Later in the evening, I gave away two scarves at a fellowship I go to. Both women loved them. One wore hers all night long and the other just happened to have a shirt on of the same color I gave her.
    I spent much of the day finishing a scarf. It was close to being done, but just had a little more to do. I brought the wrong yarn for the tassels that dangle off the ends. it was the right color but too much lighter than needed. It happens that the yarn I purchased had something that was very close to the right color, just a dye lot off and I used that. The scarf came out perfect. I will eventually gift it, but for now, I have it hanging next to me so I can enjoy the color shades I developed in it.
    I spent a lot of time petting the momma kitty. I put her on my lap and she would melt into my hands as I gave her the attention she loves. All three times I had to put her on the ground, she looked at me with a very disappointed expression. She is not quite ready to sleep on my lap yet. The rest of the day, she was right nearby sleeping on the ground.
    Tomorrow, I won't be going to Mom's house to work wood. I have a bunch of projects to get done. I don't want to be doing them Christmas eve or really early Monday morning before I head off to work.
    I will see what I actually do tomorrow.
Year 14, Week 48, Day Two (week 694)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
12-22-13 Sunday
    I really have no idea what the weather is like as I have not been outside. I do know it is sunny out and warm.
    This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Sunrise Department of Tourism.
    Besides catching up on sleep, my main project was to finish the rest of my cards. As of the time I am writing this, the painting is still in process. There is one really good advantage of doing the cards in batches rather than all at once. One can correct for "mistakes" in the first batch, doing things a little different.
    Little design changes can improve the looks of the picture and one usually does not see them until the first batch is done, so the second batch, by nature, is always a little better.
    Of course, I will likely be up late tonight lettering the cards to give out tomorrow.
    I started some bread dough today. Again, I used some frozen dough as my starter, breaking it into small pieces after it had thawed, and mixed it in with the liquids before I added the flour. it is rising nicely right now. I really don't need to bake it until Tuesday so I might let it rise over night, work it in the morning, let it rise all day long and then let it rise over night again. I learned previously that while letting it only double is quick, it does not hurt the dough to let it rise longer.
    I dug out some items that will be gifted. These items I got FOR ME over the past year and have decided someone else will enjoy or use them as much as or a lot more than I do. Those are really fun gifts to give.
    A couple months ago, I had knocked my stand mixer on the floor. It seemed all right then. I found that there was damage, but I am not sure how it got damage at the base of the handle rather than at the top. That spot is protected. Of course, I don't use the stand mixer at all. It is more a shelf ornament. If I had a break hook attachment, it would be better. I tried a different beater style, which I was not sure what it was used for. It did not work well as a bread hook. The hook releases the dough and throws it around. This one caught on the dough and spun the dough around. not useful. I went back to kneading by hand. The mixer does work well. It is one of those things where I had seen another of these mixers at a yard sale a couple months ago and did not get it. At this second, it would be nice to have the second one.
    I've done some other cooking projects while I was at it. I am ready for some sales on meat so I can pack my freezer again.
    I don't plan to do any woodworking until the weekend, even though I have days off between now and then.
    I will see what I actually do next weekend.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Year 14, Week 47, Day One (week 693)

Fresh risen dough at full rising.

 fresh dough after I punched it down, showing how much the dough rose.

Hot pads

 Alaskan chopper

 charger and stuffy dog given to me..
Cornucopia and turkey ornament that needed to be painted.

Finished cornucopia and turkey ornaments. Pixy/Elf figure now ready to paint.

Dress vase I reparied

barrel slat to become drum sticks.

Broken and two completed drum sticks.

Year 14, Week 47, Day One (week 693)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
12-14-13 Saturday
    82 degrees, breezy, mostly sunny, mostly blue skies with fast moving large puffs. The puffs were thick and heavy in the morning, and became lighter, and a bit more sparse as the day wore on. This weather report was brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
    During the week, I baked some bread. The bread came out to be the best I have made to date. I used a frozen batch of dough as the yeast starter, adding the yeast to the new batch. It came together easily and I did not over bake it this time. I also made what was supposed to be cinnamon rolls. I made two mistakes that should have totally ruined them but the results were not all that bad even so. I know what I did wrong and the next batch SHOULD be right.
    It will be a bit before I make bread again as I have a full loaf in the freezer waiting me to make sandwiches out of the slices. I have a few experiments in bread making to do yet. I want to make some of my own flour from the many grains I have and make bread with that.

    I have to make Christmas cards. I dug through my stock of card supplies. I came to a big surprise. All I have is envelopes, with a few cards that are unusable because they are designed to hold photos. I was all up and ready to start painting images and could not start.
    Friday, I was out and about, so I stopped and picked up a couple packs of 48 cards. This time I made sure they were cards, not envelopes like I got last time and just learned about... it took some doing but I finally came up with a card design. Now it is all a matter of painting them. I paint my cards production style. I paint one color on all the cards, then the next color, and keep doing that until the final image is done. I usually let them sit and dry between coats. It is a lot of work but I can do a whole lot of cards quickly. I don't want to be painting cards on Christmas Eve like I have done the past three years I pained cards so I must start on them now.
    We hit some yard sales today. I kept my spending down quite a bit. I ended up with a set of five hot pads for 35 cents and an Alaskan cutting knife for two bucks.
    Mom was in the market for a two shelf shelving unit. A woman had a three piece set. One piece was the two shelf unit, then there was a three shelf corner unit, and then a unit with a door and drawer. She picked them up cheep and once she stacked them, took all her husband's books and then some. He emptied all but one box of stuff and that had very little left in it.
    From him, I got a little stuffy dog and a couple chargers that fit my phone.

    I finally got to work on some projects. I wanted to make some drum sticks and since I have some slats of oak from an old whine barrel that was used as part of a fake wishing well for years. I picked a good one, trimmed the edges so they were square, then after a bit of time on the disk sander to clean it up and get rid of a tiny bit of the curve, I cut the slat in half length ways.
    I mounted the piece of slat on the lathe, and started rounding. I figured out quickly that when I "centered it" I should have moved the center closer to the edge that the slat curved out from. I rounded the piece first, then started shaping it like the cracked drum stick I was given to copy. This old oak does not cut nicely. I am way out of practice so my technique is not great, and I really need to sit and sharpen all my tools properly as I have not done that in a while. Sharpening is one of those things one should do every time you start working, and it is usually something that one avoids like it comes out of your allowance. I do have a time allowance and did not want to spend it sharpening.....
    The second drum stick broke in half while working it. Since it was half of the slat I made the first stick from, I have no idea why it broke. I took a narrow slat (The slats are different widths) and after preparing it, cutting a thin piece off to get my width. That one became rounded nicely. I shaped it also, but the surface was really rough. I swapped sticks and corrected the shapes a little, and sanded them. I finally decided they were done enough for tonight as my legs were bothering me from being on them so long. I gave them a spray coat of varnish.
    I tried them out and found I did not like the shape or the balance between them. I will correct them some other time.

    While trying to let my legs rest, I painted two ornaments I found while looking for Christmas Cards. I found a Pixy/elf figure I made from some tree mom had trimmed. it had some long shrinkage cracks. I filled the cracks with white glue, since it was available. I gave it a coat of varnish after it had dried a while to seal the glue. It is now ready to paint.

    Tomorrow, I doubt I will have a chance to do any woodworking. Some of Mom's painting students are in an art show in a park so we will be going there tomorrow.

    I will see what I do tomorrow.

Year 14, Week 47, Day Two (week 693)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
12-15-13 Sunday
    85 degrees, breezy, mostly cloudy and getting heavier as a squall line was crossing the state, heading this way. The clouds became solid later in the afternoon. It is supposed to get COLD tonight, like in the 60s.  This weather report was brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

    The Elevator in my Condo building is not working. That means I have to walk up stairs to get to my fourth floor apartment. I was always told not to stare..... This morning, my legs let me know they did not like all the standing and walking, along with stairs, that I did yesterday. It was not until I was really getting going that they quieted enough to ignore for a bit.

    I got to Mom's house earlier than I thought I would. After petting and feeding the Momma kitty, I took out some of my ornaments and did a few little repairs.
    Some of my toy soldiers had little flaws in their faces. I fixed the face, adding a nose on a couple, carved off the eyes and placing them where they were supposed to be, removing some paint that was not where they were supposed to be.
    One of my leaping fish looked more like Jimmy Durante than a sword fish or Marlin. I trimmed down the "Beak" quite a bit and repainted it.
    Finally, I gave these ornaments a coat of varnish, which someone had mentioned that they did not like that they were dull looking. I am calling all of them done.

    After Lunch, we headed out to the art show. It was quite a bit of fun. The popular art they were showing was three dimensional paintings. They would build up some of the surface in relief, and then do the painting. One painting Liked had a courtyard scene. Pots were actually partly there, some of the building was raised up from the surface. She then painted it with bright colors.
    Another artist made resin figures and applied them to a background. Excellent!
    There was cloth art, dresses, lots of jewelry, regular painters.
    There was a necklace I really liked. I could have purchased it but it is not something I would wear. It was a bunch of leaves and flowers in an arc that a chain would have when dangling on a chest. He had several colors, but I really loved the blue one. I forced myself to walk away.
    I had walked a block to and from the art show, then walked around the art show itself which was two loops. Along with all I did yesterday on my feet, and the walking and standing I did today, plus going up the stairs, when I got home my legs complained loudly. It took several hours of resting to get the legs to quiet down.
    Because of the condition of my legs, I gave up on even trying to work on the Christmas cards, which will take a whole lot of standing.
    During this week, I have made headway on my scarves. One scarf is a carry-scarf. That one is about a foot from finishing the yarn. it is sort of a race to see if the yarn or the row will end first. I am sure the row will end first. There won't be very much yarn left. I decided that this scarf will remain narrow.
    I had started a scarf at home. This one started with bright orange yarn. It lasted one and a half rows. I ripped out the half row and changed colors. I used a medium red on both sides of the orange. it looks good. I finished two rows of red on each side and just started a Burgundy yarn which will be two rows outside the red on each side. This may well be my favorite scarf.
    These two scarves are being made where I decided the length and am choosing the width by how many rows I do.. I refer to this as working end to end.
    In the truck, I am working on a scarf where I decided the width, and the length will be decided when I end it. On this scarf, I already have like 18 inches in length. Some is done at traffic lights, some is done while waiting for the office to open in the morning. Unless something changes, I doubt this scarf will be done by Christmas.
    During this week, I will be painting Christmas cards. I figure I will be doing two batches. The first batch will be mailed out or handed out. The second batch will be more for family. I've got to start packing up ornaments and cards to mail out to various people.
    I am not sure what I will do next weekend. I might fix the drum sticks, make new ones, or someone gave me a ladle project and I think I have the right wood for that.
    I will see what I do next weekend.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Hello Everybody. Lee Houston, Junior; the relatively silent member of this triumvirate here.
I'll be the first to admit that it has been quite a while since I was here last, let alone posted a book review. That doesn't mean I haven't been reading books. You know us bookworms. I just  haven't had much time to write reviews, or anything else for this blog, on top of my other creative responsibilities.
But let's take care of both situations right now with a fresh review of a recently (re)released book.

Mulholland Books/Little, Brown & Co.
The Cuckoo's Calling was originally released as the first book by a new mystery writer named Robert Galbraith. As such, it received decent reviews and some reader interest. Then came the spilling of the beans when the author's real identity was revealed. But we'll get to that in a moment.

First book or not, The Cuckoo's Calling is a good mystery, with plenty of suspects when private detective Cormoran Strike is hired to investigate whether or not high-fashion model Lula Landry really committed suicide or was murdered. The reader follows Strike as he sets out on the trail, at first believing his time is being wasted but in need of the money to continue investigating. However, when things begin to add up towards proving that Landry did not shuffle off this mortal coil willingly, greed and grief seem to go hand in hand as Strike deals with his own problems while trying to discover the identity of the killer and prevent any more deaths in the process.

I must admit, that while the solution made sense, the ultimate culprit was not who I thought it would be at all. The author does play fair in regards to letting the reader discover the clues as Strike does. There is no deus ex machina, whether it be specialized knowledge in a particular subject that only the detective knows or something totally out of left field that would have made absolutely no sense otherwise.

My only quibble with this novel is that the author seemed to overuse semi-colons ( ; ) when a period would have been more appropriate to create separate sentences. Otherwise I would love to read further adventures/cases of Cormoran Strike, provided they are done in the same quality of this debut novel by author Robert Galbraith.

But therein lies the rub. While the book did well enough in its initial release that it probably would have earned a sequel on its own merits in time, over the late summer of 2013 it was revealed that Robert Galbraith is (allegedly) author J. K. Rowling; creator/writer of the Harry Potter series as well as her first stand alone novel: The Casual Vacancy.

You can imagine the public's reaction and book sales since then. A couple of reprintings, with at least one bragging about the big reveal right on the cover. Since then, the information is more subdued and limited to the proper places: the inside cover flap and the "About the Author" page.

Now then, the big question (to me at least) is this: is J. K. Rowling really Robert Galbraith?
In all honesty, I don't know.
The initial release/first edition was honest and admitted that Galbraith was a pseudonym, but allegedly for more professional reasons, to keep the real author's military/law enforcement background discreet if I understand the situation correctly.

ALSO: Rowling had already released The Casual Vacancy, so why use an alias now?

I have read the entire Potter series, although not The Casual Vacancy, yet. Based upon that, I can honestly say that in my humble opinion, The Cuckoo's Calling just does not read like a J. K. Rowling's novel to me.
I don't have any explanation as to why this is so, just that it is my personal perspective on the matter.

But whether Rowling or Galbraith, I repeat my earlier position: to see more mysteries featuring Cormoran Strike, provided future volumes maintain the quality of Cuckoo.
Lee Houston, Junior is the Editor-In-Chief of The Free Choice E-zine, the Story Editor of Pro Se Presents magazine, and the writer/creator of Hugh Monn, Private Detective and Alpha the superhero.
In what he laughingly calls his "spare" time, he wishes he had more spare time.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Year 14, Week 46, Day One (week 692)

 My ornament display as I have it at work.
 Griddle side of cast aluminum grill/griddle.

 griddle side of cast aluminum griddle/grill

 Carved soldiers and finished penguin.
almost finished soldiers with penguin Tall soldiers were carved Sunday.

Year 14, Week 46, Day One (week 692)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
12-07-13 Saturday
84 degrees, strong breeze, blue sky overhead all day long, thin puffs of various sizes all around the horizon. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
    A cold showed up Thursday and bothered me all Friday. While working outside today, I only had a few signs of the cold. It showed up strong when I would go inside, especially when I napped in the afternoon.
    We hit four Yard Sales. Mom's new husband is hooked. He went on and on about how much fun it was. I think he is going to be an addict soon.
    I picked up a cast aluminum griddle/grill that spans two burners on your stove. It is in mostly good condition. There is one spot where the non-stick coating on the griddle side has come off, but that, I think, is totally ignorable. BRANDSMART had a cast iron griddle/grill for like twenty bucks. this one is three. I will not complain at all.
    Later in the evening, Mom picked up a trumpet for five bucks. It is not a type I am used to. The valves have to be turned just right for them to work. I have some ability still to play something after not playing the trumpet more than about five times since high school, and only to make a little noise in one.
    I showed off my ornaments this week at work. I got a lot of "cute" but that was it. People will think about them for a while before they buy. Many times they have to collect the money first.
    Friday Night, I got an idea for a quick Christmas Ornament. Today, I tackled the project with full gusto. The big difference between this and the penguins or leaping fish, is that the actual carving on this is minimal.
    I got the idea of tin soldiers. I started with a twelve inch stick of two by two. I measured for three pieces out of it and put the spacings for the brim of the hat and the top of the hat and the base.
    I tried to be careful used thin parting tool to cut in at each point, top and bottom of the brim, the top of the hat, the top of the base. I then used my bowl gouge to whittle down the corners of the wood in between before shaping the form. I went in deep at the head, high at the shoulder, then tapered in to the feet.
    Whitewood 2x2 is a brittle wood. One big problem was the brim of the hats would shatter when I caught it wrong. The brims were cut down a lot, but many kept breaking off. I even glued one piece back on to keep from removing too much.
    I had one piece, because of a "slight error" split in half. I cut that off and finished the rest of the pieces, which were pretty close to being finished turned.
    After I had the pieces turned, I sat down with the knife and shaped them, flattening the front and back, cutting in the arms, and then cutting in the cross belts.
    After I had these made, It dawned on me that they would be better if they were taller. Tin soldiers tend to be shown really tall and thin. Mine are not tall nor thin.
    I made these a bit more detailed than I intended. It is just the carver in me.
    I had Momma Kitty on my lap twice during the carving session. She melted under my hands as I gave her the attention she thrives on. The first time, I set her down because I had to do something. She was not too happy about that. The second time she finally decided to get down. It is very hard to do anything else when one is petting a cat!
    Tomorrow, I intend to make taller tin soldiers. The ones I made today are four inches tall. I want to make six inch tall soldiers and see if I can make them better.
    I will see what I actually do tomorrow.
Year 14, Week 46, Day Two (week 692)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
12-08-13 Sunday
    84 degrees, blue sky, brisk breeze, soft puffs around the horizon. This Weather report is brought to you by The City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
    I arrived and without even getting coffee, I dragged out the lathe and started on my six inch tall tin soldiers. I used the disk sander to erase my pencil marks from yesterday, then re-measure and mark the wood. I mounted them in the lathe and started turning. I used the same shape idea as I used yesterday, but I stretched it out a bit more.
    On my second stick, I bumped the base end of one, which was at the tail stock (I was doing these head to head, where the tops of the hats were together) and the wood shattered. There was very little left. I worked on the rest of the two pieces, and then was trying to round the bottom. It popped off and fell to the ground. I was "finished" turning them.
    If I make any more, I will go even thinner than I have. They are still too stocky.
    I carved them and got them done. I then started painting them. My plan was to make the pants blue, then I remembered that they were black pants with a white stripe up the side, red shirts, and black hats. I remembered the hats after I painted a couple hats orange.
    I have one with a blue shirt, all the rest have orange shirts (red is too dark and blends too much with the black). I was using the wrong brush at first and then had to go back and correct my mistakes.
    While I am writing today's woodworking diary post, I am correcting little errors and adding eye hooks. I will have them on display tomorrow at work, and then, maybe, correct them next weekend.
    I have three scarves in process and each is making headway. One scarf I work on in the truck is now over two foot long. It is worked side to side and the length is determined by when I decide to stop. A carry scarf I work on when I am out, is coming along nicely. It has several rows on it. It is being done end to end where the length was determined by the starting chain, and the width is decided by when I choose to stop.
    I third scarf Is what I am working on at home. I started on it when I could not sleep one night. I am working in fluorescent orange right now. I am in a race between getting to the end of the five foot scarf, and running out of yarn. I will finish the row, if necessary with another orange, and then go with a dark red on both sides.
    I figure I will get two of the scarves done by Christmas if things go well.
    I have no idea what I will work on next weekend. Unless I come up with an idea, I doubt I will be carving ornaments. If I sell some, I might make more. I will have to see.
    I do need to start making my Christmas cards. I have a whole lot to make as I have some fifty people to give them out to. I will do them in batches. Hopefully I won't be painting cards on Christmas Eve. I still have no idea what I will be painting. Ideas tend to come on the spur of the moment, usually when there is no chance to get them done on time.
    I will see what I actually do next weekend.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Year 14, Week 45, Day One (week 691)

Penguin ornaments

 New camera
 back side of laptop
 front side of laptop
leaping fish ornaments.

Year 14, Week 45, Day One (week 691)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
11-28-13 Thanksgiving Thursday.
Blue skies with light breeze. 48 degrees at eight. Here is South Florida, the frost temperature is 56 degrees. There was ice on the inside of my windows and the world was a winter wonderland, covered in the frost. there were reports of accidents caused by cars slipping and sliding on the ice on the roadways. It was gone before I got out of the house.
74 in the afternoon, a few puffs rushed over the blue sky but they were gone quickly. It was a perfect afternoon to be outside. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

I arrived at my brother's house at eleven and was outside the entire time. Like usual, inside the house was dark and extremely busy. It was best that I stay out from under foot. It was bad enough the times when I went in for coffee.

I worked on a crochet scarf, watched my brother weld a project, and talked a lot to family. A while back, I gave my nephew who had computer training a laptop to see if he could make it work. he solved the problem of the low space on the computer by adding a extremely low profile thumb drive. The operating system is on that thumb drive which gives me enough space to operate comfortably. It is a very low power computer, quite slow, but it will be good for writing. I am a little giddy about getting it.

The dinner was fantastic. I learned ages ago that you should go for seconds first. Usually, you get a little bit of everything, then your seconds is the stuff you liked best. I figured out that if you go for seconds first, skipping all the other stuff, you will eat less. Now if I can learn to go for thirds first, it would be great.

I will be going to Mom's house tomorrow and will see what I will do then.

Year 14, Week 45, Day two (week 691)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
11-29-13 Friday
    79 degrees, Lots of clouds, a bit of weather later in the day. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

Too much coffee yesterday caused me to wake many times at night. Many months ago, I picked up a blanket for a couple dollars. I thought it was flannel. I took it out last night and it turned out to be an electric blanket. It did not seem to heat, but being between two quilts, it made them toasty warm. You can believe my shock when I found it was an electric blanket. I had considered getting one for several months but had not seen them when just walking the stores.

We went to BRANDSMART. Mom wanted to get a gift for someone who helped her with the wedding. This gave me a chance to drool, I mean look around at the wonderful kitchen toys.
I know what I want for Christmas. It is one of those sandwich makers, but it has a set of plates, waffles, griddle, sandwich maker. I would love to get that for work. It would be kind of nice to drive people crazy by making waffles some time for breakfast.
While looking around, I saw they had their cameras at nearly half price. I thought about getting their $49 digital camera, and then found out they use micro SD chips. Those chips are smaller than your fingernail. None of the computers and none of the attachments I have can read those. I ended up going with a $75 camera, and would use an SD chip I already had.

I ended up not doing anything else for the day. Tomorrow, I must finish some ornaments.

Year 14, Week 45, Day Three (week 691)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
12-30-13 Saturday

74 degrees early morning 78 around Noon. Mostly cloudy with light winds early morning. Weather developed towards noon, with strong thoughts for some precipitation. The weather got wet off and on shortly after noon. Mom's plants loved it. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

Last night, my electric blanket made things so warm I had to turn it off. The quilts held the heat for a long time which was nice. Next time I use it I will try it on low and see what that does.

We only saw one yard sale and it was all Christmas stuff. She said she simply accumulated stuff over the years and one day realized she had way too much so was trying to move them. I saw a metal ornament that would make a good scroll saw project. It had the "pointed bulb" outside ornament shape, then a little reindeer dangling inside the space. It was cute. I don't have time to do scroll sawing this year.

I sprayed my penguin ornaments with varnish, finishing them up. I then painted my leaping fish. I used three colors, white over the entire thing, then Aqua band down the side and darker blue on top the fish. Other than the first one I made, I dislike these. I won't make more of them. After the paint dried, I added an eye, signed them and varnished them.

I started carving another penguin. I had a very good start and was working on detailing the hat. I accidentally popped the end of the floppy hat off. Because the air was wet, the glue did not dry fast enough so I ended up setting it to the side and packed up for the rest of the day.

I finished one side of a scarf I am working on. I had used a strong Ombre yarn that went from dark blue, light blue, white and back. It only lasted three rows of this five foot scarf. I then went to a yarn that was basically light blue-aqua to white. I decided that this side was wide enough. When I pick it up again, I will use the rest of the yarn on the other side.

I played around with the laptop computer. I had used a thumb drive to back up my important files on my main computer and am working on that with this one to give me even more "disk" space. the only moving parts in this is a fan I found it has.
I started a new story. Very little of what I wrote today will be used in the final story, but it is helping me work out what the story will be doing.
My main problem is getting used to where some keys are and getting used to the small keyboard. Backspace, right shift, and delete are the hard keys to hit. I will get used to it and this writing helped, but I have a ways to go to be able to use it without having all sorts of problems undoing mistakes. A couple times, I ignored some misspelling typos just to keep going.

I played around with my new digital camera. I figured out that I was using it at too high a setting for simple snapshots. I tried E-mailing a couple pictures and it looked like it was going to take hours. That was when I knew they were two big. There are other things I will have to get used to on it.

I hope to work on ornaments tomorrow.

Year 14, Week 45, Day four (week 691)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
12-01-13 Sunday
76 degrees, wet morning as a line of cells rushed through. Mostly cloudy in the afternoon. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

I went outside and fed and petted Momma kitty. She was hungry for attention so I had her on my lap and gave her attention until she was ready to get down on her own. Satisfied, she went out into the back yard.
Later, I came out to the compost bin. I heard a rusting and there she was, looking to see what I was doing. I turned to leave the corner and heard a rustling. Moments later she was at the end of the walk waiting for me. When I got to the end of the walk, she bounded over to under the awning, waiting for me. Mom has told stories about that happening with her. I think Momma cat likes me now.

I went inside and settled down. I worked the scarf until the yarn ran out about a foot from the end. I considered many options, including removing a row on the other side to add here. I tend to like symmetry in my pieces. I decided to add a bit of yarn that was "reminiscent" of one of the colors of the yarn to finish it off and am leaving it at that. I am not even going to add tassels. It is done, a lot narrower than I planned but not bad. I picked some yarn for my next scarf to carry around. It is similar to the first yarn I used in that scarf, but a bit darker. There is more of it so I should get several rows before I have to use a different color. It would be nice to get a couple more scarves down before Christmas.

Next week, I want to make a few more Penguin ornaments. I can always use more. Tomorrow, I will bring my ornaments to work to put on display. Unless I can make more ornaments this month, only a few people will be gifted an ornament.

Because I got the digital camera this weekend, I put away all the film camera equipment. One of the reasons I was considering using the film cameras was for the quality of images one can get off film. The reason I got the digital camera is that the film is costly to process. With the digital, as long as I have a computer to transfer images to, and disks or thumb drives to store the images on, digital is almost free.

I will see what actually happens next weekend.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Year 14, Week 44, Day One (week 690)

Year 14, Week 44, Day One (week 690)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
11-23-13 Saturday
    78 degrees loads of clouds with lots of sun, light breeze. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach department of Tourism.
    On the yard sailing front, I hit quite a few.
    Mom had given me all her Manolta Camera equipment. I had an SRT-101 camera that has a good battery and still works. I visited a Elk's Club yard sale before it was officially opened and a woman had an SRT-201 Manolta camera and a couple lenses. I made a low offer to her for the camera. She decided to wait for the show to go on. I said I would drop by later in the day, before the close, and if they still had the camera, she would sell me the whole set for the price I asked for. I passed by there and did not really have time to stop and buy it. This is one of things where I would kick myself if I purchased it, and will kick myself for not getting it. It was a LIKE TO HAVE, not a WANT or a NEED.
    At another yard sale, I saw a few small skeins of yarn were sitting lonely in a bin. They came home with me. I am learning that even if you have two life-times worth of yarn, you never have enough. What I have to do is not buy any yarn unless it is the right color or the right material. I am interested in wool or cotton, and in bright colors such as yellow, orange, green. Usually what people are getting rid of is their earth tones.
    We went and got the wedding cake. We were a little early and was able to watch them decorate it. This was at a Publix Store that was a superstore, bigger than the big store I normally go to. It was a good walk on the isles. The flowers we were getting there were not ready. The white roses had not arrived yet.
    We took the cake to where the wedding reception was going to happen at. I helped taste test the sandwiches and a few other things.
    One problem they had was they had several trays of sandwiches that had to go into the fridge without getting smashed as they were stacked. They had little containers of cherry tomatoes. I suggested that sandwiches in the middle be removed and the container be put in the center to hold up the next platter. It worked perfectly.
    Mom worked with the decorations of the hall.
    I got a lot of crochet done, several rows on a five foot long scarf. It is coming along nicely. It would be nice to have it done before Christmas. Long before would be really good.
    Before we went for the cake, Mom went to a hair appointment and found her stylist was in the hospital. She was able to get a later appointment with another stylist.
    She had left when I went out to pet and feed the kitties, and she came back before I was done. Momma kitty loves attention. Scarface is still hanging around, but he is looking healed now. He will jump down from the work bench where we feed him on his own. His leg is a lot better. He does not beg for attention like Momma kitty, but he certainly does appreciate it.
    Mom went and got her flowers while I napped, and then got her hair done. By then it was time to get ready for the wedding. The suit I got a few weeks ago fit nicely and I was complimented on how I looked.
    I drove separately and that was when I went past the Elk's club yard sale for the second time.  My feet still twitch a little on the urge to kick myself. Not quite but the urge is there.
    The wedding was very simple, but really well done. We had practice last night and both the ministers and us were figuring out what was going to happen and how. Things changed as we were working with it. The placement of the soloist moved from before the ceremony to near the end and the result was natural.
    Mom gave me her camera and I shot a whole bunch of pictures of the event after I gave her away. This was Mom's wedding, by the way. This was one really impressive wedding. I am really proud.
    After the wedding and pictures, we went to the site of the reception. The decorations, as guided by Mom, was simple but very effective. the food was great. One of the women doing the food had training in cooking and she said she was not in shape to do it commercially. It was a whole lot of work.
    I took pictures of everybody there. There were people who could not make it to the wedding that was there, and there were people at the wedding that could not make it to the reception.
    At the end of the day, I was wore out. both my legs were bothering me from all the standing and walking around, and my back did not like it either.
    While I did not get any woodworking done, I did get some crochet done and really had a good day.
    Tomorrow, I am staying home other than a run to a few stores. No wood working and I am pretty sure there won't be any crochet done. I will have to see what gets done tomorrow.
Year 14, Week 44, Day Two (week 690)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
11-24-13 Sunday
    High 70s or Low 80s, light breeze, mostly sunny. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Sunrise Department of Tourism.
    Last night before I went to bed, I took some frozen bread dough out of the freezer and stuck it into the fridge to thaw.
Early this morning, I did an experiment I have wanted to do. I used my frozen dough as the yeast starter for a new batch of dough. Since it is cooler today than the last time I made bread, it took longer for it to rise, but is working nicely. This was how bread was made before instant yeast. You kept some of the bread dough from the night before to start the rising of the new bread.
    I split the dough into portions, two small bread pans, and some for cinnamon rolls. I also kept a couple pieces which are now in the freezer to start the next batch.
    I have no idea if this is the right way to make the cinnamon rolls as I basically winged it. It is the way I am making it. If it does not work, I will be the only one who has to eat it. At the moment, the bread and rolls are sitting to rise up before they get baked.
    I went to Home Depot to get some new blinds for my windows. The one in the kitchen will be easy to change out as everything can be moved. The one in the train room will be tough as the train table and a lot of junk is in the way. I cannot climb, or do very little of it and I am thinking that climbing will be necessary to install the window shade.
    Next weekend is Thanksgiving. I will have a little bit of time to do some work, but whether any will get done will have to be seen. I have no idea what is planned, and I also have no idea what the weather will actually be, though they are saying it will be nice.
I really need to finish up some ornaments. The penguins need a coat of varnish to be called done. The four leaping fish I had made will need to be painted. I could use a few more penguins, but doubt I will get them even started, let alone done.
    I will have to see what I actually do next weekend.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hey Nancy—it's been a while!

I keep promising I'm going to post here, and things keep getting in the way. So here I am with a bunch of pictures to catch us up, starting back in August and moving up to recent days.

A late summer view through my kitchen window, with my cluttered table. I had just brought the geraniums and coleus in. All are still doing fine and they've grown quite a bit.

I did a little bit of thrifting this summer!

 This was a find. Both are complete audio cassette versions of Tolkien's finest work—unopened. Yes, I have a portable player and can listen to them.

 Found a small case for my netbook, since the mice chewed into the tapestry bag I was using. Fortunately they did not get the neoprene sleeve inside, or any of the cords. The rodents here are extremely aggressive. 

 You know me and my tins. This one now stores twist ties. The bowl got a lot of use during cherry tomato season. 

 OK, I'll be the first to admit, I am a sucker for kitchen gadgets I'll likely never use. This is some kind of dessert mold. 

 No trip is complete without some books. I love Piers Anthony's Xanth stories, and all those adventures of Anne Shirley. 

 Andre Norton is one of those writers who set the stage for us latter-day ladies who pen speculative fiction. She was a wonderful writer, and very readable. I'd never seen this book before. Thrift stores make owning hardcover editions affordable.

 Where else am I going to get two laundry baskets for a couple dollars? They're small, but nice for people to transport their stuff to their rooms, where the baskets are likely to sit unloaded for a while...

Batting is something I use for small felt or crochet stuffie projects. It's certainly not cheap anymore!
 There was enough in here to make it worth the .99¢!

 This little basket now hangs on the barn board wainscoting in the dining room, right near my computer desk. It holds an assortment of things I reach for on a regular basis. 

My love affair with baskets goes on as well...

 This yarn is already in use. It's 'crispy' and should wear like iron, so I am making a rocking chair back cushion for an odd size rocker we keep in the kitchen. My mother likes that chair, but it could use something padded to lean back on. I did a lot of work on that during the baseball playoffs and World Series. 

Yay RED SOX!!!!!!  

 Paper twist and doll hair because I am a craft geek and they looked lonely. I passed up a lot more paper twist, just grabbing the fall colors.

Yeah, they see me coming...

 These aren't thrifted, they came from Roger, who sends me the kewlest stuff! An ebelskiver (pancake balls) pan and two teeny skillets—all good cast iron. Sqeeeeeee!!!!!

Late summer through frost, I was busy with veggies to put up.

 We lost the zucchini early again but did very well with yellow crookneck. I put a lot up for the freezer. I slice and cut it small and completely cook it in the microwave, then drain and mash. Once it is cooled, it goes into zipper bags and gets laid flat on the freezer shelves. You get tired of it in summer, but it sure tastes good in the winter. Rewarm, drain again, and add your seasonings and butter. Yum!

BTW, that big amber Pyrex Visions casserole dish and the colander behind it were thrifted. That knife on the cutting board—which is now my favorite utility blade—was left in a drawer in this house. 

 The tomatoes were generous this year, though the big guys were lumpy and a bit late. Oh, but the flavors! We had a great year for tomatoes. 

 Yes, I picked broccoli all summer. The initial heads were not huge but the side shoots were plentiful and they really held up even in the heat. 

I paid a premium price for a large 6-pack of Orange Bell pepper plants, but they were worth every penny. They produced reliably all summer and turned the most brilliant orange. Sweet as a tangerine too; everyone who tried them remarked on that. They continued producing right into the cold weather, and the peppers kept well both in and out of the fridge. I had a very good crop of peppers this year.

Both pole and bush beans did very well. We grew our pole beans on stakes made of two 7' green metal fence posts bolted together. Not many saplings on this property, so we had to find an alternative.

Try and ignore my ugly, shabby, vinyl kitchen tablecloth. It started the summer as new, but many days of meals and veggie prepping has it showing its age. Those pans came from a thrift store.

More squash to put up. Our friend Willy, an elderly gentleman who lives a mile or so away, gave me a couple of the bigger ones in this batch. I tend to pick mine smaller, so you don't get hard seeds. I provided one of his daughters with my excess cukes and got several jars of bread and butter pickles. I country folks! 

 And more tomatoes too. Those Lemon Boys were absolutely delicious—the best yellow tomatoes I've ever had. Very juicy and not too low acid, they had a refreshing taste. The orange cherry tomato is Sun Gold, my hands down favorite cherry. Salads and sandwiches were delectable and I ate tomatoes as snacks.

 Yep, more broccoli. The salt water soak kills any caterpillars or bugs, which float out. I'd rather find the critters before they get processed. Use a little Kosher or another unprocessed salt, soak a half hour, and rinse well.

 More beans to put up. The purple ones don't hold their color when blanched, they turn sort of a grayish green. That old kettle is thin aluminum, and a flea market find from years ago. It's picked a lot of veggies with me!

This was the first of our potatoes to come in. Nice clean looking Yukon Golds with just a minimal amount of wireworm damage. Very thick skins and the taste and texture was far better than store bought.

'Better than store bought' is why I do this. It's a lot of work to have a garden that produces like ours. You're not even seeing the lettuce, celery, winter squash, pumpkins, eggplants (they were small), and melons we had. We gave away some produce too. There's always something growing here.

Speaking of growing, the family has gained a new little member this year. Meet Mr. Zachary Connor Hansen; born Sunday, September 1st. Isn't he adorable?

Big brother Ben and Zack come visiting at Grandma's house. What a pair of heartbreakers these two are going to be huh?

My #2 son Brian and Zack's big brother Ben share a quiet moment in my kitchen. Brian has been part of Ben's life since he was two, and he's now nine. I have no idea why we didn't get the lovely mom Stacey in any of these photos! 

Ben wanted to grow his hair long, but his runs to curls, so it got cut a week or so later. Too bad, I kind of liked those wild curls.

BTW, all those molds were either thrifted by me or Roger, my other 'enabler'. The iced tea sign is from a Goodwill store.

 I'll tell you, this is one quiet and easy-going baby who doesn't mind being handed around. But when it's mommy time, he lets us know.

Right here I think he is either planning his stock portfolio or contemplating world domination—maybe both! Such long fingers.

Just one more bit of joy added to a world where we can use a lot of that.

As a lot of you know, I am a writer, and fall and winter are my busy times of year. I did get out and take a few snaps though. The pond and the hill over it were an early blaze of beauty.

Wild asters blooming in early October as I walked down by the pond.

Looking over the marshy end of the pond, the foliage is still so thick, you'd hardly know there's water in there.

I love the layering of colors here. It makes me want to paint or crochet something. It's hard to do a lot of other projects with the writing and housework. If I only didn't have to sleep!

Maybe I should just give up the housework?

 A random toadstool that poked through the weeds. Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one who sees these things. I write for my town's newsletter and these are the kinds of sights I mention. There's so much we overlook each day.

 I have not been able to identify these plants yet, but I found several clumps of them. This was a Colonial era settler's house and a working farm for over 100 years, so there's a lot here I've never encountered in the wild before.

 Some common wild yarrow, sticking up through the grass. I've seen a lot of that over the years.

 On the far side of the house, looking toward the nearest neighbor's property, and across the road. 

Like I said, layers of colors. Doesn't it make you want to sigh? My grandmother, when she was getting very old and a bit senile, had lost all sense of time passing. She would look out the nursing home window in the fall, and remark about all the pretty flowers on the trees. We just smiled. Now my mother is starting to lose her memory too, and we sit and talk a lot while we still can. One of the reasons Ma loves to come here is it is a change of pace from her home in the woods—my last house, the one where my kids grew up. She lives with my sons and DDIL and grandsons now, but comes over most weekends. I don't write or go out on weekends, in order to spend most of the time with her. At 79, she is in the late fall of her life, headed toward the more silent days of winter.

 Yes, it's only goldenrod, but against that grassy plant that turned ruddy violet, it looks pretty sharp. Goldenrod does not cause allergy sniffling BTW, it's the inconspicuously flowered ragweed that often grows alongside it.

More delicate asters in the tall grass. If we left the field uncut it would be spangled with them, but the ticks love that too. This has been a banner year for ticks, so the fields got cut pretty often.

 October has a lot of blue sky days that are buttery warm in the middle and crisply cold at night. Fall is a lovely season here, and I don't find it at all melancholy. Reflective yes, but not sad.

The farmhouse, seen from down behind the barn. Yeah, that lawn needs cutting. We haven't done a lot with the place yet, but it sure feels like home now, inside and out. I thought I'd never move again; not after over 28 years on my wooded hillside, but I find I love it here. It helps that the kids really wanted the other house. I go back there often, and see my younger adult years playing out for me every place I look. But now after 2-1/2 years here on my old farm, I have new memories being embedded into the home and landscape. 

Life is full of changes.

Sometimes you view the same thing from a different angle and it all seems brand new again.

Sometimes you get a new perspective by glancing up and then looking ahead.

We're making lots of new memories here. Most of the family gatherings and holidays get spent here on the farm, and it seems to be a place where people enjoy being together. I've never lived in a home that was so open and sunny, or one that seems so welcoming. I thought it was just me, but the kids say the same thing. You just walk in and it feels like the house embraces you. I think this old place is just glad to have the sounds of love and laughter within again.

While I am busy with my writing, I do take a little time for myself. Sitting with mom on the weekends, I sometimes drag out the crochet stuff. It keeps me calm and centered when she gets a bit irritable at some imagined slight or repeats herself. I like having my hands busy.

 These double sided hot pads do come in handy too. This is Peaches and Cream crochet cotton. Yeah, that seam wandered a bit, but everything doesn't have to be perfect. These do get used, and Thanksgiving dinner will tax my supply of them.

We had our first little snow of the season a few days ago. It was cold enough to last in the big field overnight; mainly because the day remained overcast. November has a lot of short, gray days. 

Time to put that lawn furniture in storage for the year. 

That frosting on the brush and trees is a prelude to what will come later in the winter. It's also a signal for me that it's time to think about emptying all my flower pots, putting the hoses in the barn, and sealing up the windows for the year. The heat is on now, either the wood burner or the oil furnace, and we need lights indoors after 4PM. The days are short and nippy, and the nights longer, and far colder. 

Fortunately writing knows no season, and this year we have cable TV, so there are programs to watch in the evenings. I also got myself a new Kindle, a Paperwhite, which has a backlighting. I love it! I can read again in bed without disturbing anyone. I can't always see the print in books but my Kindle lets me increase the print size and choose how strong the backlighting will be. I had forgotten how much I love reading. I have a lot of free or low cost public domain collections, and have been selectively reading those, with Anne of Green Gables and some westerns having been the most recent. I splurged on and blew through the first of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books. Oh was that good! Not cheap, but once in a while, you need a treat. I managed to get the first four of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire in a collection that was steeply discounted. Shortly after the paperback for Book 5 came out, that also got discounted on Kindle. I've read the first one and am working my way through the second, and while they are grim, this is fantasy at it's finest. I actually look forward to going to bed now, even with the three eye drop medications I have to take every night. 

Yeah, my eyes are bad, both glaucoma and a nasty cataract in the left, coupled with my ever-present severe nearsightedness. In order to have the time and less eyestrain to write, I all but gave up recreational reading. Now I can read again, with my glasses off, the Kindle two inches from my nose, and the font turned up. Small joys.

That's what life is really all about you know. It's not the big and overwhelming crises, or the day-to-day drudgery. It's not being a superstar and impressing all kinds of people. Forget all the highs and lows, put the lofty dreams and the heartbreaks to bed. String together a few pearls of joy and wonder each day—weather that's seasonal beauty, garden bounty, loving family, or something you made with your own two hands. Live in the moment. I may never be a celebrity because of my writing, but I have written books and stories that got published and entertained people, and that's well worth the time and effort it took. I still have my old farm and my family, my faith and the knowledge that while winter is around the corner, spring comes after it. Should I be so blessed, I'll see it all happen many times again. Life's wheel keeps spinning us up and down and up again.

Make the most of your time here too, even in the simplest of ways,