Thursday, December 31, 2009

Must Read Books

I picked up a couple books when my daughter and I were on our way home from Spearfish with our computer. When I opened the sack to put them away I thought, ' Wow!' you really are odd Holly. Yes, I talk to myself and sometimes its out loud. But then most days I spend fourteen hours alone with an occasional phone call from our children but mostly its just me and the critters. Don't get to thinking I talk to myself because I'm lonely. I'm not. My favorite person to be with is me - mostly because I'm a big time introvert. Don't mistake introvert for being shy. That is one thing I am not. An introvert is someone who gains a sense of well being and energy from being alone. That might be part of my Autism. Though I love people, being in physical proximity to them quickly drains my energies and a odd thing happens if I've been around people too much. It doesn't take much to be too much. I begin to dislike myself and everyone else even though I can't think of a thing they've done wrong. My head is full of negative thought. The consequence is that I rather enjoy my own company.

As you've noticed, I also get off track easily but now where were we? Oh yeah, we were talking about books. I love to read. Going off into another world lets me travel, meet people without the stress of actually being with them, and fuel for my need to always be learning. But why are those new things in such a broad spectrum has always puzzled me? I have the fixations that most Autistic suffer from. That's why my doctor teases me that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I don't. Of course I had to look exactly what that was and study it first to come up with that conclusion but in the end, I decided it was just my Autism. Yet, in that odd disorder I'm not even normal. Where as most Autistic people become fixated on one thing. I have a myriad of interests. Maybe I also have a little ADD. I'm studying gardening, cooking, and medicine at the moment though I'm also wanting to fit in some quilting and spinning.

So one of the books I bought when I was with Toni was a culinary book in which it explains different methods of mixing the same ingredients to come up with different results and other Alton Brown like science of cooking along with some recipes I want to try. It's this weeks reading.

The other book I bought was On Call In Hell, A Doctor's Iraq War Story. That's what prompted the, your really odd thought. A cookbook and a story about war - how are these alike in tastes? Yet, it is a story about medicine, one of my favorite subjects. Then again, I've also read Black Hawk Down and In Company of Heroes which is about Michael Durant's story during the Black Hawk Down episode and a bunch of other war stories.

I read the book last evening when my body ache pain level drove me to my bed. The story was interesting but not one I'll keep on my book shelves. After my husband reads it, our son will want his turn, and I'll donate the book to the local library.

But the book I bought when my husband and I dropped off the computer had me so enthralled I read it while I ate and even took it into the bathroom with me. The New Organic Grower had my brain all in a whirl. Now if that doesn't tell you how odd I am, I don't know what does. Most people would say that about a murder mystery but a gardening book? But now I have all kinds of ideas in ways we could change our garden to better nourish the soil naturally, eliminate weeds - which I don't do much of (I weed about four times in all) -, and change the growing zone in our garden area 1 to 1 1/2 zones. We are in zone 4 with lots of wind. Wind is one of our big enemies. That and about an inch of top soil which is only called top soil because it's on the top, not because it's any better than what's down below.

The book is geared for serious gardeners. Those wanting to make a living growing a commercial garden for high end restaurants etc. It still had loads of information and food for thought for my self-sufficient endeavour. My mind is still trying to figure out how we can tilt our whole garden 5 degrees south toward the sun which Mr. Coleman said was the same as transporting your garden 300 miles south. I of course am sure he means not 300 miles South into the Colorado mountains but more like where my daughter lives in Loveland where the grapes hang in large clumps over her neighbors fences. I'm so envious.

The Lazy Gardener is another wonderful book. It's one already on my bookshelf but since we were talking gardening books I thought I'd better tell you about this gem I picked up last fall. I'd recommend you start with it. It is packed full of information, much that isn't in The Organic Grower. For instance, good soil is 25 percent air, 25 percent water, 1 to 5 percent organic matter and the rest is mineral matter. Our soil may have nutrients but they aren't available for the plants, so improving the soil has been of particular interest to me this past couple years. Some sections of our garden when you walk on it feels like your stepping on a mattress. That is the really nice sections that have lots of air.
The last brain teaser is Weeds And What They Tell. It's a pamphlet that got me to really thinking some years ago. I noticed that where I had enough Sulfur in my garden the Canadian thistle didn't grow. They should flourish since in our lawn they do. My budget just doesn't stretch far enough and our lawn is neglected so eventually what I don't put into garden is going to be rocks with a small lawn area. Water is expensive and so I want it on my garden, not a big lawn. This chronic fatigue I suffer from doesn't allow for much more than brain power and I'm trying to learn to garden smart not with a lot of physical exertion. This year, I'm going to pay extra attention to what weeds do grow in our garden, identify them, and the soil conditions in which they flourish. I noticed a few new types of weeds in a section of my garden that I've not had before so something is changing in the soil.
In the weeks to come, I'll share with you the plans for our garden and the things I've learned in hopes we can inspire one another to work more closely with the earth to obtain a bountiful harvest next fall.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Portrait By a Four Year-Old Artist

Our oldest grand daughter drew this picture of her Uncle Kalob.

What do you think? Could you tell it was him? Kalob took one look at her drawing and said, "Hey, I'm a lightbulb." She looked at him like he was crazy. But Kalob liked it so much he requested that the picture be put on his sisters phones so when he called them the true likeness appeared. Note all the details she has included, the beard and mustache. Pretty good for a four-year-old.

I'll admit this wasn't quite the blog I started with today but the one I had written was lost into cyberspace. We had to quit the internet browser we had to see if it was the problem with the incapatibility with Kirk's web-site and when I took off the browser we were using and went back to the old one the computer went wacko. So I updated the old browser and then I was having some other problems as well so I went in to tweak some more. For this computer illiterate it has been a very painful process learning all this technology. I'm the animal lady not the computer geek. So please be patient. I think I have the problems solved but when I go to blogging tomorrow we'll find out.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm Back! Yeah!

I'm back!!! Oh, how I missed blogging. We dropped off the computer in Spearfish, South Dakota and then a snow storm burried the town. I think they said they recieved over thirty inches of snow fall and with the wind blowing, I-90 to Spearfish was closed for several days. I'm a big chicken and won't travel on icy or snowy roads if I don't have to despite the fact I am a Wyomingite. Maybe, it is because of the fifty years of harrowing experiences on Wyoming's roads that prompted the healthy respect. If your curious read about my adventure just trying to get across town to take my husband to his work bus stop last winter.
Making gingerbread cookies for Santa. Our midddle daughter told me years ago that Christmas was not a passive noun but an active verb, otherwise it's boring. Since then, I've tried extra hard to fill it full of meaningful activites. Christmas Eve, with the wind howling outside and the snow swirling in drifts, that meant indoor activites.
And am I ever glad we waited, for as we meandered through the walls of snow trying to peer over the tops to find a bright blue house it was a bit nerve wracking, especially the intersections. You could see a four wheel drive truck but a car was pretty iffy. So we cautiously slid into the intersections hoping there wasn't anyone coming. I wished I'd driven our four-wheel drive truck instead of the car but I'd chosen the gas economy of a four hour trip in a fuel efficient car versus a diesel truck.
Toni brought home these cool crayon markers for glass and everyone (but me - since I'm taking pictures) went around the house drawing on the windows.

The little grand daughters love the large area to draw on.
When we spotted the little bright blue house of Jon's, there was no place to park. There were several others picking up their computers also so we stopped in the middle of the road. Then I couldn't find the emergency flasher button on the car. Ever resourceful, Toni grabbed the car manual out of the glove box and did a quick search. Another reason I wished I'd driven the pickup as it is my usual mode of trasportation as Kirk drives the car.

Most importantly we got out the children's nativity set and acted out the sacred story of Jesus Christ's birth.

But it was worth the trip as it feels so good to have the computer home. I can't believe how many times I became curious about something and went to look up the answer on the computer and then remembered it was in Spearfish. That's when I realized just how big a information junkie I am.

I did read a fatastic book on gardening we bought at a health food store when we dropped the computer off and I'll share some tid bits from it next week but for now we had a wonderful week filled with family and I want to share a few of the things we did. Then later this week I'll begin some informational blogs on the many different things I've been studying. One major one is gardening as it is time to get those seeds ordered if you haven't already. Most of mine are already here. And I've some serious changes for our garden in the planning stages. I've also got lots of new goat things I've studied. My how I've missed this blog and conversing with you. Not to mention reading what's happening in your world on your blogs. But if I don't be quiet I'll never get all those pictures off my cameras and on to the computer for up coming blogs.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yesterday, when I did the story of the Nativity with the children at church five girls wanted to play the part of Mary and so it was at our house when the kids were little. Both our daughters insisted that they wanted the role in our family nativity scene. When they were about two and four years old, in the name of Peace On Earth good will towards men or siblings rather, we allowed two Marys figuring accuracy over the story line wasn't as important as peace in our home.

The picture above is of one of the years when my parents were here for Christmas. Kirk is Joseph, our youngest daughter, Mary, and if you look carefully at the bottom of the picture, that's me the donkey. I'm wearing the donkey ears and tail I made years ago for the part since the girls insisted that Mary rides into Bethlehem. My mother was taking the photo and she always cuts someones head off. But then she did catch the star actors and so I don't mind.

This year we will do the scene with our grand daughters. I wonder if they will both insist on being Mary? Last year, I bought a Nativity for the grand daughters to play with and we acted out the story with the figurines. Our two year old grand daughter at the time loved the part of the Inn Keeper and shouted, "No room!" when I knocked with my fist on the our wood floor in representation of Joseph knocking on the door of each Inn. Then when we came to the part of the Shepherds, she grabbed the donkey and ran to the field with him insisting that each shepherd was to ride to the stable where the baby Jesus lay.

I can't wait until Christmas Eve to see what happens when they play with the Nativity and act out the scene.

Have a Merry Christmas!! I'll probably not be blogging for the rest of the week. This morning our computer is going to the cyber doctor, as I call him, for an update and to find out why when I put a picture on my husband's web-site it stays for a few hours and then drifts off to cyberspace never to be found again. He'll have the computer for a few days and with storms coming in I don't know when we'll be able to pick it up. It is a two hour trip to reach his house.

But I'll be back next week.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Time Tradition

To you it may seem like a strange Christmas tradition but for these guys getting together to forge metal for a day is a real treat. And so it goes year after year that they come to our house right around Christmas time to spend a day sharing knowledge and doing what they all love -- forging knives. Each of these men has there own style and types of knives they prefer to make. My husband likes everything from building hunting knives to fancy art pieces. He is unlike most makers in that he does a very diverse variety of styles.

There were no knives completed yesterday. It takes too much time. So I'll show you a few of the knives my husband has built the last few years so you get an idea why these gentlemen have become so engrossed in knife making.

No, this folder is hardly your common every day knife and I wish the photo was crisper. I had to take a photo of a photo due to technical problems with our computer. (In fact this blog was written and though I saved it. It was lost into cyberspace.) It needs to see the doctor just like me and I hope to get it in to our computer guy next week as my husband's web-site with a blog of his own is not up and running well due to the glitch.

This is what we call a theme knife as the whole piece revolves around buffalo. Notice the bold pattern on the blade with the boomerang shaped pattern to reflect a buffalo's horns and the rope file work along the back bar and blade picking up once more this shape. The handle is made of a water buffalo horn and the scrimshaw of a cape buffalo coming out of the mist is by Lori Ristinen. The engraving on the bolster is by Darren Reeves. And though other artisans embellished the knife, all but the screws were precision built by Kirk. His folders open and shut like smooth metal gliding over a soft buttery surface and his fit and finish amazes me.

This knife like all of Kirk's custom pieces began in his shop where you can see the flames spewing from the forge and Kirk's hammer pounding the glowing hot metal in the same manner as the blacksmiths, centuries ago.

The results are incredibly beautiful. I wish you could see the intricate herringbone pattern on this blade called Turkish Damascus. It was made by layering two types of metals - one high carbon and the other a lower carbon steel. These layers are heated, drawn out by pounding, and folded back onto themselves until there was approximately one hundred and fifty layers of metal. This hot bar was then tightly twisted. In this manner four bars were created with alternating twists - right, left, right, left -, surfaced ground for precision fitting, and then placed side by side and forged together into a blade. Hundred of errors can occur in this process, any of which would demote the blade to the trash bin. It never ceases to amaze me how few blades ever end up there. I guess that is partly why Kirk holds the rank of Mastersmith.

This theme knife we call the Don't Fence Me In - bowie and the blade started out as metal cut outs of cowboys on bucking horse stacked in a four inch metal tube and surrounded by powdered metal. It is forged down into a one inch solid metal tube. Then a barbwire looking strip was created and encases the cowboys. This knife which is made up of at least sixteen pieces not counting the screws, won the metal category of a prestigious western art show. Note the handle. It is walrus ivory that sat on the tundra for centuries absorbing minerals from the soil which gives it its varied color.

This is a knife in progress that Kirk worked on yesterday. The bison were also created in a four inch metal tube and now are about an inch in height. The similarity in how this knife and the Don't Fence Me In - bowie stops here. For the tube was cut into tiles and these placed in this frame of metal to forge weld them together.

This picture shows the bison as a rudimentary blade and the firestorm damascus bars my husband forged to go around the blade.

Here is a picture of the bison blade with the firestorm damascus pieces shaped around it and
being put into a metal suitcase of sorts to be forge welded together by heat from the forge and pressure of the hydraulic press and blows from my husband's hammer. The excess mild steel suitcase will be removed. Some of it will be cut off with a band saw and two large sections will tap off with a hammer.

Not all Kirk's knives are what we called Theme knives and this fancy. Some are pocket knives to be carried and used. And of course since we live in Wyoming, hunting knives which hold their sharp edge due to design, Kirk's knowledge of metallurgy, and heat treating methods. Your right. I am a bit prejudiced but I'm also his greatest critique. Long ago, Kirk learned not to bring anything to me that didn't have exceptional fit and finish. If I don't like the design or care for his choice of handle materials, he'll hear my honest opinion. We design all the theme knives together and I relish the artistic creativity.

Yesterday, was a day spent with friends we seldom ever see or hear from but come next December the phone will once again ring and they'll ask, "When's the Hammer-In" and they'll gather around the roaring forge and loud pounding of the trip hammer or haudralic press shouting to one another above the noise and ear protection. Let's hope the site is soon up and in full operation. It's not helping my grumpy attitude.

The day was topped off with a performance by our oldest grand daughter. We grinned for forty minutes as group after group of three or four year-olds paraded across the stage singing and acting out the songs. It was incredibly precious.

Sorry about the lateness of this post but a clinic doctor and I went the rounds today. Grumpo here spent the afternoon writing a Put You In Your Place letter to give to the man who called himself a doctor. Only a few people have ever receive these. But this Know It All young punk who I'm guessing was fresh out of medical school crossed way over the line and was calling my doctor to chew on him about my thyroid treatment plan which I never even told him hardly anything about. He had no test results - nothing. Not that my doctor couldn't have cut him up and chewed his butt while talking medically way over his head but my doctor does not deserve to have this young, full of himself person harassing him. I stopped him.

This was all over me wanting a little medicine since I felt my sinus infection going south which invariably means bronchitis or pneumonia. He said I wasn't too sick. I'm not but what he doesn't know is if I wait until Monday it will be ugly. Been there done that over and over for a period of years and if I get to that stage its hard to turn me the other direction. He did say my ears were too clean. Are you listening Mom? Wiping the outside every time I take a shower and the inner edge with a Q-tip twice a month is over kill. I almost burst out laughing. But you'll be proud of me I held it in.

I've already told you I rarely get sick - once every four or five years now- I just happened to be off my thyroid treatment for a period of time for testing, my system is way down and I got sick. Since I was treated for a Hobo spider bite last summer which he glanced in my chart and latched on to going on about what a strange name etc. like I'd made the spiders name up even though it is quite well know that it is one of the three most poisonous spider in the USA and can cause tissue damage similar to the Recluse spider. It has its own unique bite trademark which any ER in a hospital or emergency clinic will be well versed in. But I'm now a hypochondriac who makes up spider's names. A frequent visitor. Yup, that's me a hypochondriac who comes in every what - eight years on average? Yet this man wants to chew my doctors butt but doesn't know about the common Hobo spider.

He then asked me if I was having company this weekend. I said n, next week, and grew even more confused when he advised me to wait to take the medicine next week when everyone was here. How does having company determine when I'm to take medication? Shouldn't I be on the mend before they get here. Strep throat is the only disease I'm aware of that is killed within twenty-four hours with antibiotics. The rest are gone when all the symptoms are gone. He then proceeded to tell me penicillin is a toxin but I should take, and he listed a long list of over the counter drugs like cough medicine over the counter pain medication, and decongestants - like they're safe as candy.

My medicine which he prescribed, is for a very high powered antibiotic, along with a steroid, along with a breathing treatment. I refused the breathing treatment. I wasn't going into the fact I was allergic to plastic and I'd only get worse, much worse. One incidence after surgery with a pulmonary personnel and I've never had to deal with pulmonary in the hospital since. But I wasn't going in to that with a closed minded person. Yet for one who is not hardly sick, so he says, I'm sure getting the high powered treatment like I've got pneumonia already. Now which is it. I'm sick or not?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who has a sweet tooth worse than Santa Claus?

I got up at 5:00 a.m. this morning and I've been hustling about doing laundry, dishes, etc. like any other morning but somehow I just can't seem to make myself get dress. I'm still in my pajamas, wool sweater, and the snow boots I put on right before my husband left for work before six this morning. Yes, snow boots.

I couldn't find my house shoes and when I spied these comfy warm snow boots on my chilly wood bedroom floor, they began calling to my cold feet. It was only suppose to be a temporary fix but when I slipped them on and they enveloped my feet in soft pillowy warmth, I just couldn't take them off even when I finally found my house shoes underneath the computer desk. Then as I've carried my Kleenex box from work station to work station, I've come to the conclusion that some part of me deserves to be comfortable. Right now, that's my feet.

If your wondering why the major photo cropping. It's because I don't want you to see my messy Kleenex strewn room. I haven't gotten around to straightening it yet.

Your right. I'm a big baby. I'm never sick with flu or colds. In fact, a little over a week ago, I spent two days holding my grand daughters who all had the swine flu. Did I get sick? No! So this cold is all my doctor's fault. He took me off my thyroid medications for a week to run some tests and my systems down. Now I feel like the elf, Grumpy. No, that was a dwarf wasn't it? Oh well, Santa amongst his throng of elves probably has one that's pretty grumpy like me.

If my writing sounds rather plugged nosed and nasally. Please ignore the sniffling sounds in the background of my clicking keys, I'm doing my best. And those of you that are out and about today, if you see Santa Claus be sure and tell him my doctor deserves to go on his naughty list. I'll supply the coal for his stocking. My husband is bringing a load home today for our stove.

Oh, my look at the clock! It's time to do chores. Ten o'clock may seem a bit late but I'm only milking once a day now. The fresh water I give the critters freezes up immediately if I go any earlier. Plus, the hens haven't all laid there eggs until mid morning. Depending on where they lay them, they have a chance of freezing so I have to gather eggs before night. So pardon me for a little while but I'll be back to talk about the title, And You Thought You Had a Sweet Tooth!

Now should I keep my pajamas on or put on my wool Swiss Army pants, with my wool hat and my...

Oh dear, I just now noticed. The Santas in the photo say NEOL. When I checked to see where the photo was that spelled the word correctly- NOEL - it was missing. I must of deleted it when I was clearing out some of the photos in my blog files. My brain is getting foggier my the minute. Just a quick note. These Santas were given to my husband and his brothers for Christmas by their Aunt Mabel and they'd fill them with milk. Along with a plate of cookies these mugs were set out for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Now that leads me to my subject for the day. What has a sweet tooth worse than Santa Claus? No, not you or me. Definitely not my second to the oldest sister no matter what she claims. She's too skinny.

Why honey bees. Our two hives had a really rough summer. Just as the blossoms got going along came hoards of grasshopper devouring everything in sight. This fall we brought the hives off the prairie and began feeding them sugar water. Yet, I don't think they will have enough even with my help last fall so I ordered feeders that go inside the hive.

Feeders for inside the hives. I hope they fit.

It's only forty degrees outside but our forecast is for colder temperatures and this day is probably about it. So despite it not being fifty or over like recommended in I go. Wish me luck. When you get into a bees hive in the winter they aren't often friendly since they think you're a robber. If it gets real exciting, I'll write about it Friday. Oh, I hope not.

I'm back. Just thought I'd tell you. It was like being Santa and handing out candy canes to a room full of children. Those bees came alive when they smelled the sugar water and raced for it. So much for the literature telling me to leave a honey trail to it. These girls know what sugar water is!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Caroling Reingoat Style

Goat caroling was a family tradition when our children were young. A few years ago we had a friend thank us for including his family in our unique style of caroling. It was at least fifteen years ago when we stopped goat caroling at his home. He is not alone in his repeated expressions of gratitude for the five year assault on his ears. What made it so special? It definitely wasn't the quality of our voices. Was it the fact we had Santa hats on or could it be we we were trailed by a reingoat? You've never heard of a reingoat? Then I had better explain.

We would smear red lipstick on a dairy goat's nose, place cardboard antlers on her head, and string bells around her neck. She'd lumber down the street after us haphazardly hitched to the neighbors dog cart. Not exactly a sleigh but then she was no reindeer. We'd knock boldly at a friend's door and when it opened burst into song, typically a Christmas carol adapted for the occasion such as... Angie the dear old reingoat. Had a very shiny nose.... And then end with, We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a merry Christmas ... and a Happy New Year. Upon which, we'd return into the night and stumble on frozen feet through snow banks to the next home.

Routes were short as our reingoat, at the waddling stage of pregnancy, panted with exertion as she hauled the cart down the snow blanketed streets. The choir plowed a path and hefted the cart up and over drifts, fearful lest we overtaxed the kid's 4-H project, the reingoat. Our fabricated representation of reindeer horns refused to remain fixed and flopped to deformed angles. Either we frequently adjusted them or our reingoat looked like she'd had a little too much Christmas cheer.

Of great delight were the surprised expressions of the casual observers who chanced to look out the window to the wonder of five Santa hat clad carolers and a reingoat pulling a dog cart. Predictably, they hastily retreated then returned with the entire household to press against the window pane for a gander.

After the second year, we seldom altered our paths. Disgruntled words had followed the failure to repeat visits. There after, reminders to stop by were issued with, "We're expecting you." One of our most dedicated fans, the dog cart owners, moved but left the cart in our care for two years. Its loss ended our caroling as a family. But who knows, the Rexroat Choir may rise again someday if we figure out a new form of sleigh. Our granddaughters should have the opportunity to carol reingoat style for we still have the reingoats. Yet, time has passed and The ole gray mare she ain't what she use to be. I think their parents had better come along to heft the cart. Meanwhile, we'll keep our eye out for a one goat open sleigh.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy Saint Lucias Day

As I looked for the goat caroling pictures I found this photo and took a trip down memory lane.

Having Swedish ancestors, our family celebrated Saint Lucias Day. Kalob is suppose to be the star boy but we improvised and the oldest, Toni was to wear a white dress and have a wreath with lit candles on her head - I don't think so. Instead we improvised and had Josie carry a battery operated lantern, that way all the children could participate. And instead of just serving their Dad in bed, we all piled on to have breakfast with him. Kirk isn't Swedish and insisted we alter the traditional menu to include eggs. Each year brought its own changes but we kept the spirit of this special holiday.

Today is once again Saint Lucias Day but it is also church so with my husband needing to go to a meeting an hour early ... and livestock chores to do... once again we'll improvise and have French toast that most of which will be fixed the night before -Alton Brown's way- but our thoughts will still be on this joyous Swedish occasion.

What countries traditions do you celebrate?

For Christmas when our children were young, we often chose a foreign countries to learn about their traditions and incorporated the activities and foods. One year we did Mexico and Kirk and I built a pinata. It was a sorry looking duck and the kids took turns bashing on that thing for what seemed like an eternity without it breaking. Finally someone knocked its head off. Too many layers we deduced.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Creating Yarn Balls

I'm wanting to shout, "Calgon take me away!" Boy does that date me. For you youngsters, Calgon was a bubble bath that was advertised years ago. Supposedly, every mother and business women who'd had a frantic day, longs for a luxurious bubble bath all to herself and I'd love a non smelly one right now(Do they make such a thing?) with a good book. I'd even settle for time to work on Christmas but Kirk's new web-site is up in Wordpress and I've no idea how to do anything in that program let alone seven or so pages of things. So far I've managed to dog pile three different, of varying sizes, knife pictures on top of one another. Then I spent over an hour trying to figure out how to fix the problem. Shortly before that I down loaded and lost a knife picture six times before I figured out where they all were. They were in the Media Library of course. If Blogspot has one I haven't stumbled across it yet. One would call me computer challenged but that would be an extreme understatement.

On top of that hurry rush job that's taking me forever, a magazine from Greece contacted Kirk and wants an interview, "Great!" -- for him -- but I'm stuck with the list of questions in which to make up answers. Ones of course my dear husband would reply if he spoke that eloquently. We've learned if you give the magazine writers lots of good quotes to use in their articles you have a better control over what's written and from the writers stand point a easier article to write, and a more interesting read for the subscribers. I dread the task profusely and drag my feet every time. I guess that means I'd make a terrible ghost writer or a very reluctant one anyway.

Child's size hat with a double thick layer around the ear and lower head section that I spun ultra soft Merino wool for and knitted. It sits in the drawer for any grand child brave enough to go out with me in this weather. The wool is ultra soft Merino.

But I promised you, dear readers of my blog, a continuation of things to do with toilet paper roll centers, specifically for knitting and crocheting. So though I should be shooting knife photos for my husband's new web-page and knife photos with guns as the writer requested for the magazine, I'm putting you first for the moment. After all, you are very important to me and a whole lot more fun to visit with than what awaits me when I finish.

So here we go. The yarn I' working with is part of an Alpaca fleece I spinning into a fairly fine yarn. It is sitting on my kniddy knoddy ( a spinners tool for yarn). Yes, it sounds like something demoted to the corner and it often sits there waiting for me. Sorry, I forgot to tell you what I'm going to make with the toilet paper core didn't I? Oh well, I'll leave it a surprise. Don't you just love surprises? No --well just keep reading and looking at the pictures it will soon all be revealed. Those of you who already know, be quiet and let the other ones guess. Now where was I? Oh yeah, I passed the yarn through a toilet paper hole and clipped it to the other end with a large paper clip, a small one will do.

Then I pulled the yarn around the body of the tube wrapping it around and around for about a third of the toilet paper roll, use a smaller area if you haven't much yarn. Then I kept winding but in a exaggerated slant position to the right, covering my wound yarn. ( /// like this only more slanted than the computer sign would allow me to show you) I did this for about ten winds and then wound around the tube straight up and down in the middle for about three rotations, and switched directions with the yarn winding to the left for ten rounds. (This will form an X.) Next, I turned the toilet paper core a quarter turn so that I was winding in another spot. In this manner the ball remains even. Now was that "clear as mud"? - one of my husbands sayings.
When done it looked like this. Okay, I'm not done. I'll admit there is more yarn to wind on and you can see it in the corner but homespun yarn needs to be stored in a no stress loop, not in a ball and I'm not ready to knit with it yet. I've still more Alpaca to comb and spin so I've got to wind all this yarn back off when I'm finished with this blog. See how dedicated to your education I am.

If I were done then I would tuck the kniddy knoddy end under a wrapped yarn.

The other end fastened with a paper clip is released from the clip and then I pull the tube out. This form of ball with an open center allows the yarn to relax rather than remain under tension - important when working with natural fibers and beneficial with artificial ones as well. This also allows you to pull your yarn from the center to knit and crochet leaving your ball stationary and not rolling all over the floor enticing the cat to play with it. The yarn keeps from tangling also.

My daughter, who is the assistant editor for Crochet, a magazine published by Interweave Press, has a lovely commercial ball winder which does essentially the same thing but a whole lot faster. It cost a whole lot more than my toilet paper roll cores too. I'd say I was cheap but I just bought some camel down to spin and I've chosen to spend my money on fibers. She on the other hand needs hers as she's lots of store skeins to wind into balls to do projects for the magazine.

If your tired of dealing with tangled skeins then try a toilet paper ball next time for your knitting and crocheting projects. Now that sounds like a advertisement.

Don't forget to check out the comments at the bottom of the Roll On blog. Joanna tells about using toilet paper centers for seed starters and Jenny explains how to use them with dryer lint to make fire starters. I've learned a lot this week. Thanks for sharing!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter Through a Macro Lens

(Image of our Olive tree taken two weeks ago)

Doesn't look like a toilet paper core used for crochet or knitting does it? I'm getting to that.
I've been putting off some honey do projects that my husband needs of me and they have to be done while he's home to guide and assist. That's now so I'll make a good dent on those and tonight I'll work on the toilet paper crochet and knitting project.

In the meantime, I thought you might like these new photos. Most were taken yesterday with a great deal of patience while my fingers about froze off. Our camera gets to decide what it will focus on and takes a year and a day to do so. I swear it has Attention Deficit as it focused on the car behind the cherry tree, the branch three over from the one I wanted to shoot, the next one and finally the one I want but not in the spot I want. Communication is a major issue with it calling the shots. But hallelujah a new camera should be arriving today. Then I'll have to learn how to use it but at least it comes with instructions. The one we have did not yet is very complex, slow, limiting, and utterally frustrating to use. I told my husband when he wanted to buy it on e-bay it wouldn't do what I needed. He bought it anyway sure that when I got it I'd change my mind. - I used it a few times -hated it- and the for three years, maybe it was four, he had to pay someone else to do the higher end photographs for his knives.) Then I broke down this summer missing photography too much to let the camera stop me. Hubby witnessed over and over the limiting frustrations and the other day invested in more than I could of ever hoped for. The new camera set should arrive today, yeah!!! I can hardly wait. I hope you like the photography blogs cause if you don't speak up now and voice your opinion, you'll be suffering more than usual.

It was in the low single digits and snowing when I took these pictures.

The neighbors Rose hips
She barely knows who I am and she may not have recognized me bundled in my wool hat, heavy coat, snow boots, and Swiss army wool pants, when she came driving out of her yard. When she spotted me with my camera aimed toward her house at this rose bush on the edge of her property, she gave me a, "What are you doing?", look.

I just gave her a friendly wave, the one that says," I'm not doing anything wrong." I've perfected that reassuring gesture as my behavior is often deemed out of the ordinary by others.

The fact she'll probably be telling her friends, "Do you know what that strange women up the street was doing the other day?", doesn't bother me. I'm use to it but if you see her you might give her the thumbs up on the innocence of my activities. I'd hate for her to call the cops on me. Then again if they are a local cop, I know all of them. No, it isn't what your thinking. I just often happen to be in the vicinity of something of question. Okay, maybe that didn't come out right. For example, two days ago one came by to ask me if I'd seen any usual activity since the neighbors vehicle had been broken in to.

The shriveled apple is from our newly discovered crab apple tree. Once a regular apple tree (It think it was a MacIntosh) stood in its place and the deer shredded it with their horns and it died down to the ground. When a new tree sprouted from the roots we figured it would be a crab apple tree since we'd heard apple trees were usually grafted onto crab apple trees. We've been waiting for years to find out if we were right since trees grow extremely slow in this part of Wyoming. This is one of the handful of crabs it produced this summer.

Monday, December 7, 2009

On a Roll

Yup, your seeing it right. Toilet paper rolls. Our family has come up with a myriad of ways to use them beyond wiping our nose and our ..... Shall I say tush? ( Pronounced as in push.) That's what our grand daughters call it.

We recycle when possible. For those of you who's mind has drifted off course, get back here. No, we're not recycling the toilet PAPER but the cardboard roll. And in case you see me digging through the bathroom trash - beware, it isn't for some used gum like in the case of our three year old grand daughter, What a pistol she is - it's for the invaluable cardboard cores.

Whew! I almost strayed way off course. The doc took me off all my thyroid medications in order to run tests in a week. My brain wasn't doing well on them let alone without them. So I'm counting on you to keep an eye on me, will yuh? There I go getting lost again. Oh yeah, we were talking about my forages through the garbage.

It was for these invaluable little cardboard rolls. They have so many uses -

to control the cord on your curling iron...

your hair dryer...

and the small extension cords that come in so handy at Christmas time.

And, then there is the small banners like this Trick or Treat one or smaller sections of crepe paper rolls that need a neat way to roll them up.

Don't stop there but head on into the kitchen and use them to control your kitchen appliance cords.

If you think they look a little ratty with a little toilet paper hanging off them, then cover them. You can use pretty fabric and lace or some colorful contact paper but don't make them rigid because there give and flexibility is part of what makes them work so great. As for me, I'm just not a fancy type of gal. I like the fact that I can use them and abuse them. Then throw them away and dig in the bathroom trash for another.

When our children were small, they put two together and taped them to make a pretend pair of binoculars. A paper towel cardboard center became a telescope. Our son made lots of scopes for his home-made hunting guns. One rifle was made from the cardboard center of a wrapping paper roll and it had a paper towel core on top for a scope. Then way back when I was little, I arts and craftied a totem pole with one. Thinking of that, how about using a toilet paper core for the body of a scarecrow or just letting your children or grandchildren loose with a stack of them and see what they come up with. Your sure to be surprised.

But I'm not going to stop there. By Wednesday night, I'll show you how to use a toilet paper cardboard core to help you with your knitting and crocheting and then I'll photograph how I use toilet paper to make a quilt. No, it won't just be to wipe the blood from a poked finger -or two -or three. Though I have had to do that a number of times.

Then I promise by Friday I'll of found those goat caroling pictures I promised to share with you. Meanwhile, does anyone else have a great idea on how to use toilet paper beyond the obvious and the toilet paper cardboard core.

And before I forget. Pudge's eye is looking much better but still red so the doctoring continues.