Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Happiness Is....

Healthy dogs. Snoopy would agree I'm sure.
Stella, smiling for the camera with two good matching and working eyes.

 And brother Robin, now bored with the whole camera affair.

Happiness is also having wildlife AND camera available at the same time. The camera person really needs to practice holding steady with the zoom.

Monday morning Mr. Grey Fox strolled through to snatch up some sunflower seeds the birds had scattered. He was obviously on a mission, in constant motion and I was wishing like all get out he would hold still for just a few moments.

 It was hard to time the shots exactly with the digital delay and the constant movement.

And then I got my wish! Not quite the great wildlife action shots I was hoping for, but, action shots none the less! I'll take it and am not in the least offended. And where else are you going to get a chance to see a pooping wild fox I ask? ;) Hmmmmm.

 He is refreshing areas of his territory. I often see fox scat on prominent rocks around the property. And there is one place in the woods that everyone seems to use.  It all means he's here for the long haul and hopefully when he is gone it will have been passed onto another family member.

Happiness is, solving a poor cutting job as regards to pattern matching.

 I just didn't allow enough fabric for good matching of this large print and should have cut each piece in a single layer.

Sometimes, mistakes lead to pretty good creative solutions.  I consider this one of them.
Dark brown linen leftovers to the rescue.

Still needs hemming but this duster (Indygo Junction Retro Raglan), will see a lot of wear this fall. The others I've made are in constant rotation except in the hottest of weather.

Valerie had asked in the comment section of a recent posts if I was riding. I was, but then the extreme heat hit and now the choking drift smoke. This is what our afternoons have been looking like.

 The smoke is enough to make you cough outside and provide a little sting at times for the eyes and nose making it awful and dangerous to ride especially for the one doing most of the work, the horse. I feel bad enough that I can't get them out of the smoke for some relief to eyes, noses and lungs.

 The good news is the wind direction should be changing and clearing us out, the bad news, thunderstorms are again in our forecast area. For those that might  be stopping by for fire updates, the incident reports are available on the web here. This shows resources on the fire, size, percent contained etc. of all fires in Oregon. Those that are closer to these fires in SW Oregon and the Douglas Complex are in our thoughts, daily. Our little volunteer fire department is keeping abreast with all the activity.

Stupidity is....going into a smokey wilderness area, after passing numerous signs and postings stating NO FIRES OF ANY KIND, likely hearing on the radio and TV about extreme dry conditions and out of control fires, and then.....building a campfire. That is exactly what one asshat did yesterday in the rough terrain behind Howard Prairie Lake. What are these people thinking?

Parting shot: Happiness is, old friends. Miss Bea is sporting her usual bad summer haircut, so looks a bit thinner than you may remember. She's holding her own though for right now.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Local Plumage

High summer is here in the mountains of Southern Oregon and it has been hot. The promised cool down arrived yesterday but like everything, it was good and bad. The front that brought the cool down moved in over the last few days with isolated thunderstorms.
Douglas County took something like 3000 strikes between Thursday and Friday, Josephine, Jackson and Klamath Counties also took many, many strikes. Fires abound in wilderness areas right now and ODF (Oregon Department of Forestry) is hopping. That link gives you the local current fires.  With our cooler temps comes fanning winds and heavy drift smoke. Good grief the news was comparing this fire season to the one in 2002 when we experienced  The Biscuit Fire, and that is news no one wants to hear. Resources have been much quicker getting to these small smokes but even at that, what we really, really need is some rain and cooler temps.

It hasn't stopped the local characters from coming out. Who knew a little garden with some water and a feeder or two would garner so many summer visitors? They must have been here before but without a deck and a garden, not to mention a bench in a shady spot, I have only seen glimpses of them over the years. Without further ado, lets get to the feathered beauties.

Black Headed Grosbeak. Not the greatest picture, but something. This might be a first sighting for me. I also have some sort of warbler visiting but have been unable to get a good enough look see for an identification.

Evening Grosbeak. Such a regal bird, we have a few pairs around or maybe a mated pair and older fledglings. I had seen a male feeding another smaller male. Likely these parents will help out their young until migration time.


Stellar Jay. Hard to tell if this is a youngster or the birds are moulting. I have seen blue feathers around and it would seem to make sense this would be the time of year to get new feathers for fall migrations and winter. Breeding is done, babies raised and on the wing.
Our jays stick around and provide winter entertainment and color.

Western Tanager. Bonus, eating a bug! This is a non-breeding male. He loses the bright red head after breeding season. Still a pretty flashy bird that I was thrilled to get. I thought they had left the area by now.

All pictures were taken Fujifilm Finepix camera. This is the camera of choice for outdoor photos. The Panasonic Lumix takes a better indoor picture.

Spied but not captured in the field have been some Mountain Bluebirds, Flickers and  assorted woodpeckers and I swear I caught a glimpse of a Magpie. Hard not to recognize that long black and white tail.

My own plumage is not near as pretty, but practical. You know I have no t-shirts, not liking jersey much and the fit and finish on commercial t-shirts in general, so the Scout pattern using wovens has been a godsend for easy, cheap and decent fitting cotton summer tees. Here are the two most recent.

Back detail on the green. Old, old linen bridge cloth with Dutch windmill scenes.

 I have four all together, one of which has already been well used and is now lightly stained. Stella's eye ointment was the culprit I think. I had obviously given her a big hug after treating her. :) BTW, she is looking beautiful as ever
and both eyes match perfectly.

Parting shot. The tribe.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Corners are Meant to be Turned

I have often wondered at the origins of well known platitudes. Turning a corner on something is usually a good thing, but going 'round the bend isn't. The last few days either one would have applied, but this post is about the turning the corner and coming back from around the bend. To all who commented publicly and e-mailed privately, THANK YOU for your comfort, prayers and good karma. Stella is on the mend, released for light Timmy (ball) fetching in particular and normal play in general. Other than antibiotics, we have dropped off pain meds, prednisone and special meds for stomach protection. Whew! Am I happy and relieved but it is nothing compared to how I think Stella feels. For those who like the technical stuff, Stella had a retrobulbar abscess with a bacteria (pastuerella multocida) that was resistant to Clavamox, the antibiotic of choice for most things dog.
Baytril seems to have "done the trick" for this nasty infection.

Bea is also eating a little better. The food of choice right now is Basmati rice and chopped roast beef. We can slip in a few cooked veggies here and there, and she is happy at times to finish what Peter might leave in his dish, usually the kibble. Is it balanced, probably not, but at this end game it is all about comfort and quality of life. Miss Bea can have whatever her little heart desires.

I have been sewing, not as much as I would like but some. It was easy enough to plop the dogs up in the air conditioned bedroom and keep an eye on everything while I kept my hands busy. It was also easy enough to pile everyone on the bed and just cuddle and nap.
We did equal shares of both. ;)

I finished up a bright fun modified Grainline Studio Scout Tee.

 Fabric of Vision has had this bright yellow-green linen in taunting me. It is not a color I can wear well, but Sandi came up with the brilliant idea of color blocking it with the red linen. Done! Oh and it also provided a chance to use this fun robot print.

 Classic colors really, red, yellow and navy. Where is my yacht?

The next offering came again from the Bold & Beautiful book. I am sewing my way through it and tackled the Wrap Front Tunic. I did the first version in rose linen.

 I liked it, but I didn't love it.

 Please forgive the awful pictures. I wore this to the vet with Stella on our worst day, last Friday. It was cool, comfortable and comforting when I needed it most (as was Dr. Gurney and her amazing staff!). It was pretty wrinkled and kind of grubby by the time I thought to snap a picture or two.

I hated the inset gathered panel. Why would I need or want a bunch of pleats hanging off of one boob? I didn't, so for the next version we ditched that detail, lengthened and straightened the bottom, made the neck a bit smaller, used self bias binding instead of facings and changed out the tie (which small dog paws kept getting stuck in) for a simple dark grey metal snap.

 I lined the wrap part too in some fun fox fabric (Of course!).

Added a lined pocket. This was an old linen tablecloth. The fabric, very fine, the color amazing, free of stains and holes. I bought this years ago at a place in Vermont that sold fine antique French linens. It graced my dining room table on holidays way back when I had a big drop leaf table in a formal dining room. It was time to put it back into service in another form. In cutting, much of the beautiful hemstitching was kept in tact.

There are some more simple cotton tee shirts cut out from the Scout pattern, a black woven tank and I am piecing together Grainline's Archer shirt PDF pattern for a try out.
Mostly I am looking to get out of the house and not have to head for the vet or worry about the home front while I'm gone.

Parting shot: On the mend and finally resting comfortably. The abscessed eye is up and while there is still a little swelling, it is NOTHING like it was.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Liking July-Not So Much

Summer is never my favorite time of year and this July has been trying to say the least.
In fact, this post finds very little joy in it. In late June Pilot, one of my parents lovely Golden Retrievers was diagnosed with lymphoma. Yesterday, he was put to sleep. I got the teary phone call early in my day, although I'm sure it seemed liked the longest day ever back in Massachusetts.

 Pilot was a big sweet handsome goober of a Golden, polite, friendly and the canine equivalent of a Teddy Bear. Never pushy, but always close enough to receive a pet or a cuddle should you so desire. I know he will be greatly missed, not only by my parents and myself but also by his companion since puppyhood, Marigold.

On the home front,we've had our own challenges. Bea continues to try me with her on again, off again eating habits. Otherwise she is spunky for a 17 year old, and if she thinks she might get a car ride, is right there by the front door, looking hopeful. I'm sad to say, it has been WAY too hot to do anything more than a drive around locally with the A/C blasting.

Stella also has been off her game. With her, we are battling a deep seated infection behind her eye. Likely a result of a small pocket of resistant infection traveling from the dental extraction site two weeks ago. Could have even been brewing before too. And yes, she was on antibiotics pre-surgery. In any event, I won't go into details of how ghastly the eye looks. But we are keeping fingers crossed that while the swelling goes down on heavy duty antibiotics the retina doesn't detach (resulting in blindness and loss of the eye). Not that Stella wouldn't wear a patch with panache, but we'd like to keep all the parts working thank you very much! ;)

The temps have been running in the high 90's here. I know many people would scoff at that, but for us, it's hot, and dry. REALLY dry and still only July. The garden is about as stressed as I am, maybe more so. The heat just makes everything a little harder, a little slower.  This too shall pass I know, but for now, our hearts are heavy.

Parting shot: Calliope Hummingbirds in a rare sharing moment.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In the Garden

We hit the books and now it's time for some garden updates.


  Even though I planted during the hottest time of year so far, most of the plants are thriving, and that includes the deer nipped/stripped ones. I've made some plant additions and added a little stepping stone path and a cobbled together bird bath.

 This year is like testing spaghetti, throw it at the wall and see what sticks. I don't expect every plant to make it over the winter (some might not survive the summer!), but gardeners are a hopeful, patient lot and I'm no different.

The Mugho Pines are doing exceptionally well as is the bearberry, the bayberry and the woolly thyme, the agastache (hummingbird mint) is mostly doing well although one plant always looks a little dry and wilted. The vinca was doing well but got nipped badly, again, so jury is out on its recovery. The lavender is all thriving as is the maple tree and the curly top cypress. Coreopsis (tickseed) is happy

and even has it's own gnome setting up house near it.

The pieris is showing bright red new growth after a serious nibbling when we first planted it.

Some salvia of different varieties have been added. Black and Blue and some hot red numbers, I am told that these may prove to be tender perennials. I'll mulch in the fall, and hit those heavily.

One new addition that Gene brought home is a stunning weeping Colorado Blue Spruce, variety "The Blues" and it has added a certain excitement to the garden.

 I placed it where the mock orange was and replanted him in another area that might just prove a better fit anyway.  DH also made a simple rustic bench out of his last big Madrone log.

It sits under the cedar tree (can you find the 3 ceramic swallows?)

 by the deck and I get a lovely view of the garden,

the lower driveway and the barn area. It is a shady spot so a great place for a quick rest from watering or weeding.

The roses are not happy! The one that was badly nipped is stressed and going down hill, the other, maybe on a slower decline. Wild roses are plentiful in the valley but here at elevation it may not work out for them. We'll have to see. We have also added some deer deterrents in the form of wireless electric fencing.

 Basically they are baited posts that give one heck of a shock when the deer go to investigate them. I have staked them out by some of their favorites having taken off the cages. This one by the witch hazel, the second of the three by the pieris. So far, a few deep deer tracks as they beat feet out of the garden after getting zapped and no nipping. Deer are a seasonal problem up here, when times get really desperate (winter), they have already moved down to lower elevations.

Goats Ben and Jerry have really come around. Ben is a pest, friendly, in your face and the one you have to beat off with a stick, Jerry is still the shy flighty one, but he bolts less and not as far, comes right up to me for his little bit of pellets and minerals daily. We've made TONS of progress with him and I'm pleased.

Parting shot: A proper garden cat practicing for a proper garden! ;)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Portable Magic

Stephen King is quoted as saying that books are portable magic and I would have to heartily agree. I am mostly listing what books I enjoyed, a thorough synopsis can always be found on Amazon. So without further delay, let's get to the recent magic.

"Tell the Wolves I'm Home" by Carol Rifka Brunt. A story about family, loss and coming of age all wrapped up into one wonderful thoughtful package.  This was my travel read on the plane and I don't think I could have done much better. I found myself wrapped up in the lives of the two sisters and the flight passed almost in the blink of an eye...ALMOST!

I read a lot of period mysteries while I was in New England. I save them up in my wish list and allow myself some serial reading. C.S. Harris's enjoyable Sebastian St. Cyr are set in London in the early 1800's.  I am always kept guessing until the end.

In the same vein, Mel Starr also has a great series of historical mysteries. The Hugh de Singleton - Surgeon collection is so engrossing. The crimes well thought out, the period details exacting as to what was known about forensics in the mid 1300's and the writing
puts you right there. I stayed up quite late a few nights with this author and read each book in the series. They are all good!

Next up was "Wool-Omnibus Edition" by Hugh Howey who took me into a post apocalyptic future and what a ride it was. The story was imaginative, intense and almost impossible to put down. If you only allow yourself one fiction book off this list, make it THIS ONE!

For non-fiction, I again visited with my old friend Paul Theroux on his travels. Finally his books are available on Kindle and I downloaded "Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown. I was not disappointed. I never am getting to go on these off the beaten path journey's with Mr Theroux. In fact, I always wish he'd go on more, but I suppose he does need to spend some time writing.  Like "The Great Railway Bazaar", when he revisited his route years later in "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star",  Mr. Theroux has a new journey out advancing his Cairo to Capetown trip. " The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari" came out in May of this year and is a first rate continuation of his 2004
Dark Star Safari. Paul Theroux is now 72. I don't know how many more travels we'll go on together, but I hope for a few more at least. There isn't a journey yet he's gone on that I wouldn't want to come along for. Truly, portable magic!

Parting shot: Handsome male Rufous Hummingbird.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Peek-A-Boo, I See You!

SCORE! Last night, one of the fox family appeared and was comfortable enough for me to grab my camera and get some pictures. Of course the low levels of light at dusk and the distance between deck and fox at the garden edge didn't make any shots easy, let alone sharp ones, but here's what I got using the zoom and flash. Thank heavens she didn't feel the need to watch me the whole time. Talk about glowing orbs of light!

I'm assuming this is the female being the smaller of the two. She was picking up sunflower seeds that had been scattered for some of the ground birds. The juncos like to pick seed and in the early evenings I often toss a handful or two out for them.  I was pretty darn excited to see her.

 I had not had a clear look see at any fox for what seemed like weeks. Now if I could only catch a glimpse of those kits......

In the sewing room, the second linen Scout Tee has been completed and I love it. It took some time to add the little extra touches; pocket, flower details, sleeve hem etc. but it's worth it.

 I mean I sew because I like custom clothing. It certainly isn't cheaper to do so when you consider an off the rack top from China can be bought for as little as $10.00. I'm also finding, that while I love many cottons, cottons made specifically for shirting, last longer.
DUH! The linen pieces I made from last year and the year before, going strong.

 This year I have selected more linen and finer or heavier cottons for my garments. As older tops fade and wear, I am taking them out of rotation. My tastes have changed too.

 I'm enjoying many more independent pattern company offerings than the big 4. I have the Archer Shirt printed down for myself waiting for a go and another selection from Bold & Beautiful earmarked for some lovely rose colored linen.

And I'll be painting this summer. I picked up some samples for our dining alcove and back hallway. The back hallway especially takes a beating with the dogs coming and going through it. I swear, on a wet day, each one waits until they hit the hallway to shake and splatter! And no, I haven't forgotten the book post, but foxes trump books almost every time!

Parting shot: Contentment in the lap of luxury. ;)