Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Year 13, Week 13, Day 0ne (week 690)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
04-27-13 Saturday
    Mid 80s (forgot to get the real temps), small thin puffy clouds, bright sun, nice breeze to carry away the heat. This weather report is brought to you by The City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
    Yard sailing in the morning. This woodworking diary is becoming more a yard sailing post more than a woodworking post. At one yard sale, which was a church yard sale, I picked up two books, a Asparagus steamer pot and a cast iron pancake ball maker. The last was advertised as a egg cooker but the pockets were way too small.
I went to http://ramblingsoncastiron.blogspot.com/2010/10/its-not-egg-poacher-or-muffin-pan.html and learned what it was.
I saw a manual meat grinder and mom talked me out of getting it. Later, I had to do some running around. My truck pulled a trick on me and stopped in front of that yard sale. I just had to walk over to get that meat grinder. I had no choice. It had the original box. When I picked it up, I damaged the box. Darn. The grinder comes with several bits that snip off the strings that come out while you are grinding. It was something I wanted to have and finally got one. Now to get around to use it.
At a different yard sale, I picked up a children's bicycle. I had to go to a children's birthday party so I got it as a present for him.

Because of the birthday, I had some running around to do so after relaxing a while, I headed home, making stops along the way.

At the party, the children played with balloons, the adults talked and ate. I had walked to the birthday site which was half a block away. With all that I was on my feet for during the day, I could feel it in my leg on the way back home. Once sitting at my computer, and soon after going to bed, rested my leg so there was no problems after that.

Tomorrow I must do woodworking. I must.

I will see what happens tomorrow.

Year 13, Week 13, Day Two (week 690)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
04-28-13 Sunday

84 degrees when I got outside, 87 late afternoon before clouds blocked the sun. Good breeze carried the heat away. Before the larger afternoon clouds over the everglades, the clouds were cottony puffs that the sun did not notice. This weather report is brought to you by The City of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

I hit a couple yard sales on the way to Mom's house this morning. I fond one that had cake molds, and those wooden woven bowls. At another yard sale I got a woven basket in the shape of a cornucopia and a brief case. She was just giving stuff away but that was all I needed.

The piece of Mango I worked week before last (that long ago?) remained in the lathe, ready for another session. I looked at it today and found a big shrinkage crack in it. Had I finished the piece then, it would not have cracked. The thick still wet wood moves a lot as it dries. Since the pith ran through the piece, that is where the movement is strongest and tends to cause the most cracking.

I learned last night that the meat grinder needed a plunger to push the meat into the grinding mechanism. It did not have one. I now had a serious woodworking project to work on.
I don't have maple or ash, which are usually used for such projects. I chose some Popular as it was the right size and was at the front of the shed. This popular stock is not square. A check showed that the narrow dimension was just wider than the oblong hole. I carefully marked the dimensions on the end of the wood and started off center turning. The wood is placed off center so the cutting is only on one side of the project. You then reset the center for another side. I finally placed the work centered and touched off the tops of the ovals so I had the shape of the opening. I checked the size several times until it just fit.
It then dawned on me that one would not have a plunger that filled the hole exactly. They would use something that could be rocked side to side to get clumps down all over, so what I did was to turn the piece round. I then shaped it to fit the hand, and rounded and flattened the ends before sanding. I then removed it from the lathe, bandsawed the waste wood off, and disk-sanded the ends. Finally I hand sanded it by hand. I soaked it in water for a minute to raise the grain and sanded it again. It all it needs is some cooking oil rubbed into the surface and it will be ready for use.
I finally completed a woodworking project.

Mom has several tons of sand left from her sewer project. Last week, she built a bin to hold some of the sand. I followed my brother back and forth, from the sand pile in front, to the sand bin in back, talking to him. I did at least a dozen trips before my leg and feet started complaining. I felt guilty not helping him but there is very little I could do.

I do hope to do some woodworking next week. I have no idea what it will be so,

I will see what happens next week.

                                                                   SUNDAY FINDS

meat grinder with extra "blades"


Asparagus steamer unassembled

Asparagus steamer assembled

Pancake ball maker, commonly sold as a egg cooker

One of two books I picked up.

One of two books I picked up 

Children's bicycle gifted Saturday night


yard sale finds on Sunday


marking diameters for off center turning of plunger which I ended up not using in the finished product

Plunger on the lathe

the project from two weeks ago. See the crack?

The finished plunger. The big end is the push end. Just needs to be oiled for use.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Year 13, Week 13, Day 0ne (week 689)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
04-20-13 Saturday
    85 degrees, high humidity in the morning, mostly cloudy with high plates, good weather most of the day. A line of thunder bumpers, part of a front passing over us, came from the Everglades and rushed to the coast in the afternoon. dropping enough liquid sunshine for water to be flowing off the walkways. This weather report is brought to you by the City of Pompano Department of Tourism.
We hit several yard sales right after breakfast    and I picked up a soup mug cup. Later, we heard that a friend was having a yard sale so we went to her house and I picked up a kitchen knife sharpener. I really did not need it but for a friend and it was cheap enough, it was worth bringing home. I do have some knives that are not as sharp as I would like them to be.
I used the knife sharpener in the evening but did not quite get the knife right. It is sharper but not with the edge I am after.


 My soup bowl mug. It says "Pick me  up." I use these all the time both at home and at work.

My knife sharpener. 

 Mom found a gas station that had gas for $2.39 a gallon when other stations had $2.45 a gallon. I went there and gassed up also. I have a habit of thanking shops for being open. The guy admitted that they were shutting down this weekend, and will be closed for three months for a complete remodeling. My guess is that they were selling their gas cheep to empty their tanks as much as possible.
I then went to a restaurant supply store. I was kind of hoping for the equipment, but what is was was the food in commercial quantities. I drooled all the way through the place. Most of the stuff would take me a couple years to use up, but they did have stuff I use at good prices. I did pick up a few items. I do not know how the one pound bags of chips appeared in my basket at check-out but it was too far to walk to return them to the shelves and I don’t like having them put it back on the shelf so I purchased them.  When I need stuff that I know they have in my sizes and prices, I will go back there.

Mom had a project she wanted to do. I ended up laying down for about an hour, she laid down for a couple hours.
She will have plenty of sand left over from the sewer project and needed a new  bin to contain the sand. She will use the sand for her plants. She uses the sand in her pots and zaps it up fairly quickly.
She had a bag that she rescued from the back of my truck when I purchased it and put it over a four by six plywood sheet with a frame on the underside that was once a model railroad. We fitted the bag, just barely fit, over the plywood and stapled it in place. Mom checked after the heavy downpours we got in the afternoon and she said there was five gallons of water in the folds of the bag. She wants the plywood to last a while
We were getting drips as we were finishing up the bag over the plywood.
That ended our day outside.

Saturdays tend not to be good for woodworking. Too many things going on.
Tomorrow, I figure Mom will have me help her with the bin, but I do want to do some wood working. I have somewhere in my house some plastic sheeting. If I can find it, I will bring it to Mom's for her to use.

I will see what actually happens tomorrow.

Year 13, Week 13, Day Two (week 689)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
04-21-13 Sunday
    87 degrees most of the day, good breeze cut the heat, some humidity. Mostly blue sky that became solid in the afternoon as thunder bumpers formed over the Everglades. At that time, the temps dropped to 83.
    I stopped at HOME DEPOT on the way to Mom's house. I have an old gift card burning my pocket. I also could not find what Mom did with the roll of plastic sheeting I had when she cleaned my house while I was in the hospital. I could not find it. She moved everything so it was not in any of the three likely places or eight other possible sites. That gave me the excuse to go to Home Depot.
I walked three quarters of the store. I found the sheeting I needed, six mils, and then found feet real cheep for my quad cane, the cane has four feet at the bottom so it stands on its own. In the tool area, I then found some bits for my dremmel and for my drill. I REALLY don't need more but you know how it is. One was a pair of bits.

 feet for my cane, dremmel cutting bits, drill grinding bits.

I gave the pair of cutting bits a test in my dremmel, carving a few moments on my dragon carving. It cuts pretty good. I lost one for a while but as I was packing things up, I found that it rolled under the handle of the plastic case of one of my dremmels.
the bits do eat wood, but being square bottom, requires some handling to avoid leaving a straight line in the surface as you work.

I had to diginto the shed. Mom needed a staple gun and I knew exactly where it was. I have a tool box in there that is covered with tools, wood and junk. I pulled everything off of it. It has a small box locked on top and I unlocked and removed that, no the staple gun was not in there.
I then unlocked the lid of the larger box, which required prying some folded up Nagahide sheeting back to get to the latch itself on the back side. I found the staple gun on the top shelf. I did look below the shelf to see what was in there that might be of use. Nothing. I then had to reverse the process and put everything back.
Of the wood that was on top of the pile, I checked for bugs having fun in them and only one was bad. The rest was all right. We have some sheeting up in the "rafters" and I can see signs that the bugs are having fun up there. I really need to take all that down and toss the sheets that the bugs are loving and put the rest back.

My brother was up and was filling the septic tank with

Mom and I took the sheeting and the staple gun and added another layer of plastic over the framed plywood. that I think, will last a while in the weather. The plastic will degrade and come apart, but the plywood will last quite a few years before it starts showing signs of rot. The longer, the better.
I helped mom get the plywood back to where the bin is, at the back fence. We positioned it where she wanted it, then I took the post hole digger and started digging a hole for a post. She had me move it and I had to cut some plants to get to the dirt. then she had me move it again. I dug down a ways and she decided to pound her stakes into the hole I dug rather than have me dig farther. She packed dirt back into the hole around the post .We positioned another smaller sheet of plywood for the side and by then my leg was starting to complain and I was puffing.
I am not used to any kind of work and am completely out of shape.
I rested a bit, then laid down and napped for about half an hour.

When I got up, My brother and mom were done with their projects. There are still several tons of sand in front of Mom's house. My brother finished filling the septic tank. More sand will be used for grading and whatever is left will go to mom's dirt bin.

I did not do the woodworking I planned on doing. I did grind just a tiny bit on my dragon carving, but accomplished nothing as I was just testing a grinding bit.

Next weekend, I have a children's birthday party to go to. That will cut the day short. I will be less apt to make a mess on Saturday. Sunday, though, I do hope to send sawdust flying, either on the lathe or on the dragon.

I will see what I actually do next weekend.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

March Art show

     It has been over a month, but I finally received pictures of me and my display at the art show I did  on the 10th of March.

Me and my display. All work is either carved or turned, or both.

My display from the other side.
fruit on the corner are high fiber and low Calorie

    My dad and mom did the art show for several years before I became involved. In the year 2000, I had started carving in January and in May, when the art show happened, I had quite a few carvings. Dad gave me the end of the table to display my work as a guest. In the years after that, I ended up with half the table. When my dad died, I took his place and have done the art show since.

My display with some scarves I made also on display.

    I try to have new work on display each year. this past year, I accomplished nothing new. Between health problems and weather, among other activities, I displayed the same work I showed last year. Nothing wrong with that, but I do prefer to have new items for the people to see.

 I was giving out the shaving lowers on the back corner  to little girls that came by.

    Because of my accident last year, I have gone through a series of health problems. This year, I was having a period of discomfort. I usually practice my display several times before the show, seeing what will not fit on the table and what should get the most attention. This year, I was afraid of becoming exhausted to easily so there was no practice at all. I did look over my work, washed a bunch of my turnings, and otherwise consider what to show.

wooden flowers and fairies

    At the art show, I made the decision of what went on the table at the time, having nearly everything with me. I remembered how I displayed my work last year and did a rough copy of that display. It worked out fairly well.

    The big thing was that my small figurines were what were selling, not the turnings. The only turning that sold was a spin-top I had made. I had a lot more figurines I could have pulled out had I known they were what was going to sell.

    In all, the art show was a success in spite of myself....

 A parting shot of me and the display.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Year 13, Week 12, Day One (week 688)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
04-13-13 Saturday
    Mid 80s, Cloudy, spotty showers, threatening to shower, luckily, most of the heavy stuff was in Palm Beach County, rather than where we were. This weather report is brought to you by the City of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

A scarf I finished. I worked it end to end rather than back and forth across it.

The back yard beginning to look normal again. Still loads of work to do.

    I planned on working wood. Mom had other plans. There were no yard sales. We went to a church yard sale but there was nothing there. 90% of the people that were normally there, did not show up. There were only those inside the building.
    I have a lawyer meeting coming up and mom decided to get me all decorated up. First we went to the Festival Flea Market, which is all indoors and all vendors. We hit the DOLLAR AND UP stores, there are two of them, and I got a number of things I wanted or needed. I also went to an AS SEEN ON TV booth and got a wedge pad. these have a cut-out for the tail bone. I am keeping that in my truck for when I go places where I have to sit for long periods of time.
    We went to Walmart first. Their styles were not what mom needed. We then went to the local Salvation Army store. loads of clothing but not too much in goodies. The kitchen section kept drawing me but there was nothing there I needed. I already have two rolling pins and enough stainless steel bowls for a life time. they did have a nice set there, though. Mom got what she was looking for.
    We got back and we were wore out so we napped and that killed any thought of woodworking.
    Tomorrow is supposed to be better weather and I WILL do some woodworking. I just don't know what.
    I will see what I actually do tomorrow.
Year 13, Week 12, Day Two (week 688)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
04-14-13 Sunday
    88 degrees when I got out back, 90 degrees soon after. With the ground still wet from yesterday, the humidity was high. A strong breeze helped some. There were clouds in the sky, thin puffs mostly, sunshine the entire morning. This weather report is brought to you by the City of Pompano Beach department of Tourism.
    I stopped at a yard sale on the way to Mom's house. I got some bowls, which I did not need, for a dollar, and some colored sand. The sand can be used as inlay in my wood turnings. I cut a groove and with SuperGlue, load the groove with the glued in sand. With the right pieces, the effect can be really good. The sand was a quarter.
bowls and decorative sand

    I was determined to work some wood today. Two months ago, I was given some branches cut off the neighbor's Mango tree. I cut a piece off the largest branch I was given. I took extra time to center the wood properly. I had to change my markings twice.
    My plan was to turn the wood from the side rather than the end. I was making a form of what is called a BANANA BOWL. A real banana bowl would hold a banana as they are long and thin.
    I mounted the wood backwards in the lathe, the bottom at the tail stock. I flattened the bottom, and then made a tenon that my chuck could hold on to. 

working the bottom of the bowl.

I then flipped it around and started shaping and evening up the ends that were flying around.
    One problem is that the trailing edge of the wood split a little. I stopped several times and used my carving knife to cut the splayed out bark. I got a nice shape on the ends, but will have to use power to smooth out the tool marks. It is hard to do when you are cutting the ends of a propeller.
    I started working the inside of the bowl and made some headway. Mom called out "lunch." I stepped away from the lathe and my leg said "I am tired." I cleaned up the work area after lunch, having accomplished something.
partly done bowl, working on the inside.   


    I took a few minutes and sorted my crochet hooks and chose a hook for my next project. I will do a scarf in bright red yarn, and will work the length of the scarf rather than side to side. I made about ten stitches and put it away.
    I had been working on a fuzzy green yarn and somehow about half way through the scarf, I lost several stitches. This is not a yarn one can pull out. The fuzz interlocks, making it fixed. I essentially gave up on that scarf. I may have to cut the scarf where the mistake happened and work from there, but I won't worry about it now. I have other yarn to use up.
    Next weekend, I would like to finish this bowl and possibly work on other things. I have a lot of wood that is begging to be made use of. I have crochet hook rods to machine in Black walnut. I want to make a complete set of hooks. I have a dragon to carve on. I have a face vase with ten knots, that need to be made into five faces. I have a bin full of Mahogany trimmings that are begging to be made into something. I should try to do some Christmas Ornaments while I am at it.
    I will see what I actually do next weekend.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Whole Bunch of Catching Up...

I've been going to write this blog post for a while, but things keep getting in the way. Besides writing and editing, my health has been kind of out of whack lately, and I haven't quite pinned it down. All kinds of crazy symptoms with fatigue, insomnia, trembling, racing heart, and being out of breath. I had to change my diet completely and start getting away from the computer more. Things seem to be coming back, albeit very slowly.

So here you have the pictures of what I've been up to the last couple of months, when I wasn't writing or trying to get enough sleep.

Back in February, we bought an old dump truck to use around the yard. It has a plow and a hitch, 4WD, and all that good stuff. Dumpy is a bit rough and needs some TLC, but it runs and should come in handy. We have mountains of topsoil and mushroom compost in the back lot that are going to build beds around the house and bring up the soil level in my garden. 

I went thrifting again! Yes I have a thing for glass or ceramic baking dishes. I have to stop here, my cabinets are stuffed.

The purple ones you don't see often. The Cornflower Blue Corning Ware is a classic. I'd love to find a lid for that.

The cabinets here on the farm have been generous, they seem to swallow everything I put inside them. Sort of like that Dr. Who Tardis. Gee I miss having cable TV!

Just before the big snowstorms hit I had gone to a couple craft stores. Call it cabin fever, because I really don't need this stuff.

I think I just needed to have something colorful to play with. The white cording is supposed to fix some chair cushions that lost their ties. 

I don't get much time for crafting anymore, writing has sort of taken over my life. That may have to change, because I need to do more with my hands than type. 

I bought a few books too. I don't do that often anymore as I have tons of them packed up, but now and then, something speaks to me. I have always loved reading. 

The romances I got because I have been thinking about expanding my writing repertoire and attempting to write a few. You should read a genre to write well, and I've read so little of this. 

The O'Brian book is because I love swashbuckling tales. When I was young and single, and supporting myself with odd jobs, I babysat a lot. One of the mothers was an aspiring writer who wrote romances with a seafaring backdrop, and her tiny living room was decorated with pictures of tall ships, naval bric-a-brac, and books galore. She was an inspiration because she talked about writing a lot. She had a big black ringback notebook filled with the book she was working on, all hand written. Never forgot that.

The cookie cookbook... well it's cookies! Does that need any further explanation? 

I could not resist this picnic basket. 

I have to fix a hinge but it is going to house my dishtowels and potholders 

The kitchen has plenty of cabinets but there are no closets in the place. I have baskets all over the kitchen now.

I grabbed the towel because it was cheap and we go through so many of them.

It is that half size, between hand towel and bath towel, that I like. With the renovations  ongoing, and everything else that happens here, towels get dirty fast. A slightly bigger towel doesn't get soggy as soon either. 

Always liked that style of spatula, even if I'm moving away from nonstick pans. I never have enough of those either, we love to cook! I have ceramic and enameled metal holders in a couple of spots in the kitchen filled with big utensils like this. It seems like the one you need is always in the dishwasher.

When I walked through the thrift shop door, there it was! A big old turkey platter!

This one is plastic just like my old one, which 25 years later is still in use on the holidays. They don't chip like ceramic or weigh as much, but they will hold over a 25 lb turkey with stuffing inside. We had a second one in the past, but found out the hard way that if dropped from a height they will shatter. Since we sometimes do a bird along with a roast or ham, this sure does come in handy. Takes up very little space as far as height too, they are thin but strong. That's why I nabbed it!

I finally found a casserole dish that will hold a quart bag of my home frozen veggies before they get thawed. The bags tend to be rather boxy and the veggies all freeze together in a clump so they were hard to lay out and have the cover closed.

This one is wide and flat, and so the contents can stay frozen until you cook them. It's already seen quite a bit of use and went from, "What's this for?" to "Where did you put my favorite dish?"

Sometimes you see something, and you just know it will fit in. I wonder what other family used this one, and what they cooked in it. It's been used, but gently. 

February 8th through 9th, we had a blizzard that dropped 30" of snow in my yard. The National Weather Service called it 'NEMO' but here in Connecticut, where we've been naming winter storms far longer, it was referred to as, 'Charlotte'. Well Charlotte was no lady, lemme tell ya!

That's a drift on my barn roof, with the howling wind blowing fine snow off. Blowing and drifting snow was a huge problem with this storm.

Classic Nor'easter, the winds were from the north, blowing south.

This is looking south, you can see I didn't overestimate the snow fall, and it was still coming down.

Dumpy, unfortunately, refused to start or stay running. It was a very inconvenient time to go 'Diva'!

Poor little birds, they still have to eat. Couldn't get out there to clean the feeders off for a couple days. Surprisingly, a lot of that caked stuff blew off, though the mesh feeders took a hard hit. They got to 2/3 that seed anyway, and the wet stuff got dumped into a tray by the porch. The suet was popular. 

I figure I spend less on birdseed and supplies than some women pay for hair and nail appointments. This is my winter therapy, because seeing something alive and moving out there is heartening. 

That is the big white lilac bush between the house and barn. It's a hotel for a lot of the birds who hit the feeders in the yard.

They look cold, don't they? It makes you appreciate how hard they work to survive.

Yeah the icicles were impressive, but they all fell off over the next couple of days. Most of the snow blew off the roof the following morning. 

It snowed all day. Cleanup efforts were futile. The state shut down the highways to regular traffic. We were lucky and never lost power.

Yeah, another bird feeder picture. That green feeder is close to 20 years old, and it was one of several I had at my other house. These used to have a wire spring mechanism and snap shut for squirrels or larger birds, but it's shot and I have to prop it open with a piece of stick. 

The big feeder has mixed seed with sunflowers, the mesh one is all sunflower seed. Those are juncos (snowbirds) underneath and a cardinal on the feeder.

Yeah, it was a winter wonderland. That sure is a lot of snow! I do feed on the porch as well, sunflower seed, suet, mixed seed, and thistle. We put a tray on the table for bread and cracker scraps, small bits of suet cakes, nuts, and wet seed.

The little table was originally the base of an old gas grill that I asked to have some plywood nailed to. It still has the wheels. I've used it at my other house for holding baskets and clothespins by the clothesline (less bending), and over here as a potting table. One of those stupid little things you find very handy, I love re-purposing items that other would just throw out.

Poor little guy, he looks so cold! We still have a few juncos with us even this month. It's been a very cold spring this year.

Winter is a great time for soups, stews, and casseroles. This one's got green beans, chicken, potatoes, lots and lots of cheese, and is topped with French's onions. Just something I threw together when the chef from the night before fell asleep before anything thawed got cooked. 

That Chantal dish is one of my favorite pieces, it is huge and everything in it cooks so well. Not thrifted but I got it at T.J Maxx for $12.95, a third of what it normally sells for. Yeah, I love me a good bargain much! 

Lemme tell you about this little angel...

We go thrifting maybe once every 3-6 weeks, if and when I can afford it. In February, after the big storm, I had major cabin fever and needed an outing. I saw this little gal there. I figured she would fit in nicely in one wall space I have between kitchen and dining room. But I didn't like her price, because she is a little banged up. So I passed.

She haunted me all the way home and every time I looked at that spot on the wall. This is a shop where things turn over quickly. But I sent Lee out several days later with money and a description because I wanted her if she was still there.

She was still there. I have yet to put her up, I can't find the durned step stool! But she lives here now, and my home is protected by a $2.99 wooden angel. And that is good!

I love my basket collection! These came home during the cabin fever thrifting session. They are très Shabby Chic—non?

I always have some books on hand for #1 grandson Ben, not that I see him that often. He has a very busy social life for someone who will be 9 on the 16th, and lots of loving family. The harbor book might come in handy in writing.

Yeah, more kitchen stuff. The mold is going on the wall with others, the Farberware cover fits a pot I got at the same shop last year that had none, and the little prep bowl is happily nesting with two dozen other metal bowls in the cupboard. 

OK, I am a bit excessive at times...

I had several of these little baskets at the other house and used them for everything from gathering eggs to hauling a few clothespins, to picking cherry tomatoes in the garden. You can rinse stuff right in there with the hose. It was only 99¢, so that the hey...

And then someone found one of my old ones and brought that over. So now we have two of them.

I had some grandiose idea about a plant teepee when I bought these, and I guess I missed the price. I still took them anyway. They will get used somewhere and save us many dollars, and then my spendthrift ways will be vindicated!

Because you know, I needed another one of those soup mugs! We do use ours quite a bit.

The glasses are Tupperware, and very lightly used. A good size for juice, or milk for my tiny appetite mom. 

Now that spoon looked interesting and I was glad I grabbed it because...

It actually belongs to the canister below. They are reunited at last!

There is a loop on the other side of the canister that spoon fits perfectly into. I dug the spoon out of a bin of silverware and found the canister three aisles away. It smelled like coffee. I didn't realize until I got them home that they were a couple. 

That little ceramic bowl is now officially my mother's soup bowl whenever she visits. 

When I brought my goodies to the counter, the elderly lady at the register picked up the plaque and said, "You always pick the nicest things!" Do you think I go there too often?

Meet Chippy, our other acquisition this winter. 

We are very fortunate to have found people who will sell us items like this we can pay off over time. This place is full of brush as is the lot we own next door, and a chipper will make quick work of the stuff that is too small to cut up for firewood and kindling. Dumpy has the kind of hitch that allows you to tow this.

Yes, we will be very, very careful. Chippers can be quite dangerous. No long sleeves, sloppy clothing, reaching inside, children or pets nearby.

We're in mid March now, and the ice is finally off the pond. We have ducks again! 

You can still see the lingering snow, we got another fairly substantial snow storm after the big one all melted away. That happened a couple of times in fact.

He looks serene out there, that mallard drake, but I can tell you, it was COLD!

That hill behind the pond shades the area, lots of pine trees up there. The snow tends to linger.

He was eventually joined by his lady love. It's always good to see the returning wildlife. Mallards don't migrate that far, but they do need open water to feed it. They head for the shoreline where the salt water doesn't freeze over.

I was very fortunate and privileged to win a free Galaxy Zento post card featuring artwork by fellow writer Dave Wilde. Dave has got quite an imagination and he has an entire ongoing series with a pantheon of characters on his site: http://galaxyzento.blogspot.com/ You also should check out his other blog: http://thewildeman2.blogspot.com/ because he really is an amazing guy, and this book he wrote http://www.amazon.com/Chessmen-Opening-Moves-Volume-1/dp/1481952021/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365729853&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=Chessmen+by+Dave+Wilde which I am reading and it is very good!  Dave is on FB and Google+, so you might want to friend him or put him in your circles. This is a guy well worth watching, he is an inspiration to me.

The blackbirds started returning last month, we began seeing them at the feeders. First the grackles, then the redwings, and finally the brown headed cowbirds. They've had to put up with windy, cold days, frigid nights, surprise snow storms, and miserable cold rain. They make pigs of themselves at the feeders, and squawk all day long, but they are entertaining and a sure sign the weather is turning at last. So I welcome their arrival. These are redwings down by the pond, staking out territories and singing their little hearts out. 

One final shot of the pond, as the snow is receding even further. 

It's been a long winter for me, and not always an easy one. There have been the lingering health issues, which until it recently became severe, kind of crept up and took me by surprise. And then we got into a situation where we needed big items and had to charge them, and the payments got punitive. Not serious financial trouble, but it was a setback, and time to pull in the reins. 

We have always lived frugally, and so we sat down to reevaluate what we want and need to do, and what's possible or practical. Everyone agreed, family and household comes first. 

I had been planning on attending the third annual Pulp Ark, the convention put on by my mainstay publisher right now, Pro Se Press. We usually book well in advance, but this year, things kept getting in the way. Besides Dumpy and Chipper, which were cash deals budgeted for, we put in two furnaces and ran into some snags requiring extra building materials and a snowblower. A family member is possibly facing surgery, and I have no idea what the heck is making me feel so fatigued that I can't get out of my own way. Clearly it was time to scale back.

We cancelled on Pulp Ark. About broke my heart to tell the folks in charge. But I think it was the right thing to do. The expenses are something we don't need right now, and I'm just not up to that kind of trip.

I've spent the last three years chaining myself to the computer to pump out as much fiction as I can create. Because of that, other things in my life have gone by the wayside, including my health, and now that is coming back to bite me. I love my writing, and I'm proud of what I've accomplished, but there is so much sedentary computer time that goes along with it, in self-promotion and supporting the companies that have published my work as well as the other writers I'm associated with it, that it's virtually taken over my life. Right now I am paying for those excesses of too much sitting around while I work, too many meals on the fly, and other added stress. 

My doc is warning me to get away from the computer more often and get active again or I am going to pay some stiff penalties in poor health that will go downhill rapidly. I've had to tinker with diet and push myself at times when I feel ill to get back on my feet and move around more. It's a slow process and I've had good days and bad ones, but I want my health back. Until I started getting up and getting moving, I never noticed just how crappy I was feeling.


4-12-2013 update

As an addendum to what I wrote last night, I have news.

I felt so awful this morning, I called the doc's office and they insisted I come in. We did all sorts of interviewing and testing there, including an EKG, and other than my blood pressure being elevated, nothing conclusive came of it. They sent me to the local hospital for a lab panel and CT scan, and found nothing at all amiss other than a few crushed lung sacs. No blood clots or pulmonary embolism, no pneumonia, my white cell count was normal, my non-fasting blood sugar was excellent... We're mystified as to why I have episodes of racing heart, shortness of breath, and shakiness. I do have a followup appointment in a week where we will discuss what to do next. In the meantime, at least I know I don't have a ticking time bomb in my chest. 

Knowing what I don't have is a relief! Now we have to figure out what is going on, treat it, and I can get on with my life. I have stories to write, and a garden to plant.

Yeah, I never give up.