Saturday, January 31, 2015


Once again, I've been so caught up in school that blogging just became too much.

Having written that, I suddenly realize that the blame cannot all be directed at teaching -- there's another activity that's taking over more and more of my time.  I'm walking (occasionally jogging, but that just messes up my feet and legs, so I'm steering more and more to the slower pace).  My FitBit has motivated me to get moving like nothing else has been able to do.  I'm now averaging seven to ten miles a day and have lost six pounds since Christmas.  For me, that's monumental as this weight's clung to me for 6 years.  I thought I was going to have to keep the little waist-muffins that had settled around my belt line for the remainder of my life.  But now (Huzzah!), the muffins are ever-so-slowly shrinking.

This is all due to this small plastic band around my wrist.  I found that I'm very competitive with the other people I've joined in an online FitBit group.  I will walk for an extra hour in order to beat out a person (man? woman?) named Leenie who I've never met.  All 500+ people in the groups stats are posted and automatically updated throughout the day.  Last I checked, I'd moved up into 113th place. Leenie has me beat, but I don't mind and feel a sort of camaraderie with him/her.  I love walking alone while linked to a group.

I'm so enthusiastic about this that you'd think someone was paying me bonus money for doing well.  Instead, I'm getting nothing except a little stronger and a little smaller.  I'll take that gladly.

However, all of those hours (yes, hours) of walking takes...hours.  It also takes a lot of energy.  Hopefully, when I get my body back in shape (4 pounds to go), I can ease off a bit.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Owl House #3

The last of our gopher hunting cats passed on several years ago, and the current crop of five felines is useless at capturing anything larger than very small mice (which they bring in the house and release).  The gopher population has risen with every year and they chew off the roots of trees, vines and flowers and leave their nasty little holes everywhere.  Trapping them is nominally effective, but it takes a lot of sweat and effort digging holes, setting traps and rearranging things when they need to be moved.

It was so much easier when the cats just did the job and all that was left for us to do was gather up the carcasses strewn about the driveway.  I think back on those days wistfully.

We already have two owl houses set in trees in the far corners of our property.  However, because the owls don't seem to want to swing by the house where the gopher's are quickly gnawing through my plants, we decided to place one right outside the garden fence.  Last autumn we bought a new owl house at a native plant sale that had been built by a nice elderly gentleman from the Audubon Society.  He does good work -- the house is sturdy, but not too heavy.

We got it hung easily enough.  I dropped one screw in the dirt, but Bruce found it.  The owl house didn't come crashing down and I didn't fall off the ladder at all.  Success.

Now we hang out a "vacancy" sign and wait.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Western Gray Squirrels

Two (at least) Western Gray Squirrels have taken up residence in the pine and oak trees around our house.  Everything about them is adorable, even though I read that they fight, have rough sex and the babies hound their mamas unmercifully.  All I have to say is that if one has a magnificent, bushy tail, big ears and clever little paws, one is adorable.  I'll just ignore all that other stuff.

They also are messy eaters.  The foothill pines bear very large cones and this year we're having a bumper crop.  One pine stands at the end of our barn and every morning there are chewed pieces of cones as well as entire cones strewn across my path to the chicken coop.  I pine cone can knock you right over if you're not looking.

We also put up a new feeder for squirrels, jays and anything else that likes bigger food.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A New Decade

Yesterday was my birthday, so today I'm sixty years and one day old.  I was a bit apprehensive about going into this new decade -- I don't really mind growing older, but am not looking forward to aging. So on Christmas Day I set out to do what I can to keep this body of mine strong and functioning for as long as I can keep it going.  Enter my new buddy, the FitBit.  It's a bracelet with a chip in it that tracks my steps, activity level and miles walked (also calories in and calories burned).  I've only used it for 17 days, but I'm already hooked on it and walking 5-6 miles a day.

My energy is increasing even though I'll admit to still being sore from all this new activity.  Today I planted one tree and a bag of onion sets, walked 6 miles, wove ten inches on the scarf I've been working on forever and wired a five foot stretch of branches to the garden fence.   I'm eying Corny and my saddle and should be mounted up on him again very soon. Being sixty and a day is okay.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Only 16 Inches More...

I've been working on this project for over ten months:  two silk/alpaca scarves in a modified twill that just can't seem to get woven.  This second scarf is turning into a real charmer for me.  The black weft is really bringing out the diamond pattern in the stripes.

I wove over the Christmas break and really wish I'd finished weaving these.  Now that school is back in session, I'm out of steam by the time I get home and don't want to sit at the loom.

But with only 16 inches to go, I'm setting my mind on getting these woven off and finished up by this weekend.  My next projects are impatiently waiting in the wings -- placemats.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Max the Nip-head

Max has an inordinate fondness for catnip.  We have a wild variety that pops up all over the garden. After our recent rains, it's springing up all over the garden.  Max is in heaven.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Point for the Geese

Archy appears to have left for good.  It isn't often one gets to know a fly.  He will be missed.

Moving on to other things... I woke up on New Year's Day with a sorry little whoosh from the taps when I went to brush my teeth.  We knew it was going to freeze but still didn't make ourselves get around to wrapping the pipes.  I think that after a summer of water-deprivation, we can't believe that what little we have could be a bad thing.  It was.  Fortunately, no pipes cracked and they were up and running by noon.

The surface of the pond froze too.  I followed the geese out when they marched down from the barn in the morning.  I expected to get some pictures of them skating.

This was not to be.  They seemed to immediately have it figured out that the pond wasn't swimmable.

They spent a brief time looking at it and then shrugged their wings and went off to do other things.

I think they were laughing at me as I stood in my bathrobe in the cold clutching my camera.