Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ten on Tuesday- Books

A bit ago Valerie updated her blog with a Ten on Tuesday list of books that have stayed with you long after they've been read.. Now this sort of post always appeals to me. I love book lists, I love piles of books and at least a page of unread titles waiting on my Kindle. It is quite challenging to pare down a list of memorable books but this is what you got! I'm not going to elaborate on them except for the first one, Beautiful Joe, which is the book for me that would be at the top of any list.  I have included  links to Amazon  for all the books so you can read the short blurb and reviews and decide for yourself if they are something you would like or not.

Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders

When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Where Rivers Change Direction by Mark Spragg

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCathy
In all honesty, you can't go wrong with any of McCarthy's books!

In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux
again, any of P. Theroux's travel writing old and new, could be listed here.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Now there were many books left off this list. Classics by Steinbeck, Dickens, Hemingway, and a whole host of other books. In fact, looking back I may read a lot but my counting skills are lacking I guess, I've slipped in an eleventh book. Oh MY!

Parting shot. Squirrel!
And this little guy was yelling out "Cat!" for about 45 minutes from this branch.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Sometimes our perception of something is, simply put, incorrect. I have been avoiding using a basket muzzle on Marigold because of my perception of them rather than the facts.

 It is a lighter, more effective and comfortable appliance in the fight to keep her from eating rocks
 (and the resulting surgeries to remove them), than an e-collar. She appreciates the autonomy the muzzle gives her and after the first few initial wearings with the e-collar on too (to keep her from trying to pull it off), ignores it. Today, she can go out with all the other dogs, bark at the UPS man or the deer and do it all without someone following her. It is the fifteen minute solution. The one that allows me to throw her out at night for last potty without having to follow with a flashlight, or the early morning outing before breakfast. It is of course, not something for a dog to be left unattended in, ever.

 She waits at the door, sticks her nose right into it and stands while I buckle it on and tie the tail to her collar ring in case she should try to pull it off. Not even one attempt so far.  And because of that Marigold has connected with her inner terrier. She loves to dig.

 Who knew? Not me. She can sniff to her hearts desire without someone checking to see if she is actually snatching up pebbles or rocks. I can keep an eye on her from a window while she enjoys just a little freedom to be a dog with the rest of the pack. Win, win. My vet was right and she didn't even say "I told you so". ;)

So what is the state of the wildlife around here? Well, slim on pics since most of it we see or hear at night. The fox family is around and active. Those babies are now just about adults and at some point soon everyone will disperse. A couple of mornings a week I have a "3rd cat". Its actually one of the foxes. Follows well behind me and the cats on our way to the barn and then watches from right outside the barn while I get the buckets of grain and supplements ready for the horses. Okay, I put a dog biscuit on the ground too when I head into the barn. He or she follows me up to the paddock and then into the woods to continue their day elsewhere. Monday morning there were 3 foxes, two waiting well up the driveway and my one curious follower.

The deer have done a fine job of predating half my garden. With things so dry, and the garden so succulent and the deer pretty skinny this year, it is no wonder.

 Food stuffs for them are all long past dry and heading to dead. These pics were taken early in August. There was still a bit of green around.

 One of the fawn twins didn't make it. As often happens, it was hit by a car or truck not too far from our driveway head.

 Let me repeat, at this time of year especially, if you see one deer there are likely more. The one that made it to the other side of the road from you may be just the first. Be vigilant and go slow, because number 2 or 3 might be just about ready to follow. Oh and the bucks are starting to get stupid.

Skunks and raccoons have all been active around here this year. I had a Momma and two babies in one of the trees close to the deck one dark morning. It's always surprising when I catch eye flash in my light above me. On the deck it was just about eye level! Another morning I caught the two young masked scamps clinging to the corner deck post. I had popped out the door so fast they didn't have time to make their getaway from walking the railing. They froze. I said a few words to them and went back inside to allow them their escape. No sign of them since. The skunks root under the feeders for seed. It is thankfully on the opposite side of the deck than the steps.

Most of my songbirds have left and the chickadees, nuthatches, juncos and jays have retaken their home range. The nuthatches in particular are delightful with their constant little cheeps and scratching as they move up and down the trees.

 The hummer numbers have dropped and soon they too shall be buzzing their way to follow the nectar trail south.

So, even though the weather is still hot, dry and smokey some days, the sun sets earlier, the nights are getting cooler and the animals are all following the seasons in their prescribed way.

Parting shots: For Martha. Geez, my boy Jack is starting to grey up isn't he?


Friday, September 12, 2014

Hair is All Around Us

It's even in our clothes....

Oh yes, shedding season is upon us and everyone is getting in on it.  The beautiful summer slick coats
the horses have been wearing is giving way to the start of whorls, waves and curls. The goats do the least shedding but their pelts are thickening up and it is time I do some wrangling and hoof trimming.
The worst indoor offenders are really the two Russell's, Stella and Robin. Those short white hairs fall out easily and lodge into just about everything. Marigold is adding light fluffy undercoat to the mix, which blows ahead of you on the wood floors like dandelion fluff, a lot of dandelion fluff! At this time of year, I see the vacuum much more often than I like! :) As you can see, she is unconcerned with my plight.

Gene finally got a railing on the steps to the deck. Since we often move big things in and out through the front door, we only put on one, leaving the other side open.

 If we ever sold this place we would have to bring it all up to code, but for us, this works.

There have been some fibery things done! I am well over half way through the 5-6 yard warp on the new Gilmore Gem, and plotting and planning the next warp. The additional heddles are waiting to go on harnesses 5-8 and give the warping wedge a go. Friend Cindie made the journey from Grants Pass to the Greensprings to check this little loom out and throw the shuttle a bit. We had a fun morning and a nice lunch down in town. Thank you girlfriend, loved having you!

The gift warp threading is almost done on the Murphy. Today I hope to finish it off and start in on the sleying.  The long warp for the AVL has been at a standstill, but we'll get there sooner or later. Once it is on and threaded etc,  it will make for pretty fast weaving.

Up in the sewing area, a pair of pants has been completed (and worn!) and a tunic for the fall that has been dubbed, the Birds & the Bees.

 The main fabric is a recycled hemp and either cotton or linen. I just can't remember which. It appears a medium grey but there are flecks of all colors in there, much like an old fashioned Melton wool. Each roll can be quite different, some are light, some seem to have a lot of blue in them, others darker and more multi color bits. They are all pretty and a great fabric for every day garments that get a lot of wear and a lot of washing. The coordinating fabrics are a Japanese linen and cotton. These were precut pieces, a half a yard each so required a bit of plotting and planning on how best to use.  A fair amount of time went into this garment, most on planning and executing the embellishments.

 The top itself goes together easily. The binding is leftover fabric from the ticking stripe pants BTW.  Next up will be some work with a lovely wool I have. I liked my bright red linen duster so much, that I want to duplicate the style in a light wool I've had in stash for a year or more. Line it with the beautiful fox print silk I purchased this spring. Both fabrics were pricey so a little thought will have to go into the details before either of them hit the cutting table. I'm hoping after the folks arrive and the moving trucks pull away, I'll have a bit more time to contemplate and concentrate on this garment.

I apologize for the lack of pics. I'll do better next time.

Parting shot: The Uninvited.
And no, we do not practice catch and release with scorpions. Squish-bye bye!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

So, How Does it Weave?

Well, let's just say I now understand why so few of these hit the used market. The Gilmore Gem II weaves as well as it looks, and probably better. First warps are never my strong suit. I'm impatient to try the new arrival out and I'm on a learning curve. Every loom is different and what works for one may not be the best for another. Case in point, warp sticks.

 I would be better served by a thinner material, heavy paper or as Bob Allen at Gilmore suggests, those slats from mini blinds, cut to fit. Yep, that certainly would avoid the bit of lumpiness I have in my warp. The warp beams on my two other looms are solid, and narrow wood sticks work well on them. The Gilmore warp beam is 4 wood fins, much like a sectional beam without the sections.

Anyway, back to the review. The loom was extremely easy to roll the warp on.  Standing to the side of the loom I can put a little tension on the warp with my left hand and wind it on with my right, while it goes through the raddle on the castle. Threading was pretty easy too. Neither back nor front beams come off, so you are reaching over them, but it isn't a far reach. The hardest part is getting the lease sticks the right height so you can see through the shafts easily for your next thread. This may be a non issue if you warp front to back. Gilmore sells a little tool to called a Warping Wedge. I certainly think it would be useful and will probably order one when I place the order for the additional heddles. There is a piece of wood that acts as a beater lock.

 If you sley your reed in the beater this is very useful. It also held the beater well while I rested the reed on it since I sley with the reed lying flat. Tying bundles directly to the cloth apron rod/stick on the front was painless. At some point a metal rod and lashing might be used but for now this worked fine. Tie ups where straightforward and easy. The lamms are nicely numbered ( as are the shafts).

 Gilmore includes precut Texsolv and arrows and gives perfectly succinct directions as to the height and range of the treadles for a good shed.  And it is a very good shed. I was surprised and delighted. One might even say smitten. There is nothing skimpy about this shed even though it is a small loom. How did they do that?  This loom has a big loom shed and it holds tension well and has a pretty generous weaving space. You are not rolling the fell line forward every two throws. The front foot brake for the warp beam releases easily and smoothly.

 If you roll too far it is easy enough to get up and snug the warp back onto the warp beam. And look, a rear brake release too!

 The front ratchet and pawl system compliments well for steady tension and ease of use. The castle nice to have. The loom is not overly noisy either and I like threading those inserted eye heddles. The shafts are well made, and super well set up for threading and spreading your heddles. And so many pretty touches like these knobs instead of plain screws and such.

 There isn't anything I don't like about this loom at this point.

Oh, and it was easy to fold up and wheel outside for a little weaving plein air!

The bonus here is also Bob and Judy Allen, owners of Gilmore. I had a few questions, and fired off an e-mail Tuesday early. Mid morning of that same day Bob called to answer them. Both of them are a joy to work with.

Parting shot: Spies at the gate!

Monday, September 1, 2014


You can all say "Hello" to Marigold, the first Massachusetts family transplant to arrive here in Oregon.

 This has been in the works for a while. When I was on my July visit we secured a travel agent for her. Last Friday she started in Boston, had a six hour layover with day accommodations at a kennel in Seattle and then got on the shuttle plane down to Medford OR. where the "limo" awaited her. Alaska Airlines did a fine job BTW, as did Jet-A-Pet. She will be staying with us permanently. The two cats, Foxy and Omar will be taking up residence with my parents and of course, accompanying them on 9/18/14 flights here.

She is settling in with the crew well.

 They are accepting and she is easy going, but everything is different and at 12 it can be a daunting to suddenly be in a new place with a whole passel of busy terriers.  And did I mention she eats rocks?

Well, she does, so on her trips out to the pen to hang with the peeps she has to wear this get-up. So far, so good.

Marigold wasn't the only arrival Friday....

The new Gilmore Gem II loom arrived mid afternoon and all I can say is WOW!

 This is the second loom I've purchased new and first impressions couldn't be more different. Instead of pieces of basic dimensional lumber, this loom is truly hand crafted. The fit and finish impressive with quite a sturdy feel to everything. It has a solid wide stance and instead of skinny little metal bars for beams, he has nicely made beefy wood beams.

  It is well thought out and has the looks of a show horse and I'm betting the ethics of a work horse. It does not fold, instead, the breast and back beam swivel to fold against the loom body, tucking the beater in and then sensibly locking everything into place.

The add on high castle is easily removable for travel and worth the additional cost to have that upper storage for shuttles and wound bobbins and pirns etc.

 I managed to get a warp wound and spread on a rattle yesterday and then had to stop.

 I had no warp/packing sticks short enough to use for winding on the warp. DH will cut some today for me and we'll carry on.

Now I will say, that in general loom makers do not include near enough heddles  This has held true with Louet, Glimakra and also Gilmore. They allow 50 heddles per shaft ( and it was pretty slick and easy getting them on BTW!). That seems to be the standard for a smaller loom, but I think it should be 100. I put the 400 heddles on shafts 1-4 and will have to order 400 more for shafts 5-8. They did give me the option on the kind of heddles though, flat steel or inserted eye. I went with inserted eye and a 12 dent reed.  Gilmore does not include warp sticks with the loom at all. Louet and Glimakra do. Now this is really splitting hairs, many people use cardboard or heavy paper for winding on the warp and sticks may be a Swedish/Scandanavian method. In any event, they are cheap and easy to make.

The warp is my favorite Foxfiber organic colored (Buffalo, a dark rich coco color) cotton.

 It is 6/2 weight and I've mixed it with two thin edge stripes of cream organic cotton, also 6/2, for a simple towel warp. 16 inches at 16 e.p.i. for plain weave with a standard rose path threading, 5 yards long plus a little more for waste. This fiber makes beautiful thirsty towels and the darker color really is more practical for every day use. We no longer have any commercial towels in the kitchen BTW.

Needless to say, it has been a busy, fun and exciting weekend so far and who doesn't love a long weekend. I hope you all enjoy your Labor Day doing whatever makes you happy.

Parting shot: Supervising.