Monday, June 20, 2011

Fixing to Get Ready

I took this picture of Desert Peach in early May and just didn't get around to posting it. It's just about the first sign of spring that we have, not that we actually get spring. It's a teaser.
I took a picture this morning when I walked the dogs. Desert Peach, in addition to having peach-colored blossoms, actually gets little peach-like fruits on it. The birds don't eat them and haven't found any mention of Natives using it - I'm not sure they're anything more than pretty. Laura tells me that as a fruit any dye would be fugitive. No thank you.
I grew up in San Diego, accus-
tomed to whole fields of California poppy, the California state flower. We assume these "volunteers" are courtesy of migrating birds - the state line is a mile west of us. It started with one plant and now the bank is filling. They're such scrappy plants. I've tried to cultivate them, to no avail.
If you were reading my blog a year ago, you'll recall that I posted about spotting and reporting a fire. Actually, there were more than one, as a man pulling a trailer north on the highway had unknowingly left his safety chain unconnected and had sparked several, two major.
The area is coming back, though too much is from cheat grass and the junipers are gone forever. I cried over this fire as did many of my neighbors. Nevertheless, our beautiful rocks stay and for them is our Red Rock Valley named.
The colors this late afternoon were golden. If you click for big you'll see my neighbor in a pink blouse walking her Min-Pin (miniature doberman pincher) on a leash. She's the best neighbor ever, but her dog is psycho. It makes me feel so much better about my dogs, especially Buster. At least he minds me, groaning and muttering all the while. It's all relative.
We have a small front yard though with all the native grasses and weeds, it's suddenly become huge. I originally thought I'd get it in hand with a half hour a day. Hah! This is on the east side of the house, away from the prevailing winds and where we've been able to put bird feeders - away from the prevailing winds. We like to hang out here in the summers. I think summer just started here - today. Yesterday it was too cool to sit outside.

Today was our last leisure day of June. Prepar-
ations and packing begin in earnest tomorrow. We won't be home until July. How did I suddenly become such a home body?! I have lists and piles on the dining room table to keep me on track. We are Oregon bound.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How Green Was My Valley

I drove over to Mim's today to get eggs. They only live three miles from us, but the south end of the valley is higher and has a higher water table. I thought the wild iris were too pretty not to share. Their house in high up on the right (you have to click for big) - that's their road and it's a bear in the winter. It's mid-70s right now and I'd love for it to stay that way.

Balsam root is also blooming at their end of the valley. I find it a little difficult to distinguish from Mule Ear - the difference is in the leaves and it's not as common. You can see it coloring whole areas of the hillside. The sheep love it so there's none in their pasture.
Mim noticed that this Lacewing Wyandotte was broody, sitting on golf balls meant to urge the hens to lay eggs - you can see an orange one inside the crate. She decided to see if she would accept these eight Araucana pullets and she has, so one of the days I'm going to open my carton of eggs and find some blue ones!
We were looking at this little guy, born a week ago. Will be grow up to be shaela? She's been hoping for some interesting color and is trying to introduce into in her flock. She has shaela in Limerick, one of her ewes, but so far she's not sharing.

This is the latest addition to her flock, born just this morning. It's the first time her guard dogs have been present at a birthing and they were perfect. She's thrilled as she sees her flock and dogs develop - she blogged about it here. I cheat and enjoy it through her.
I saw on Facebook that Birdsong said she was experi-
menting with rhubarb mordant so I went to her web page and read the whole report and I'm adding the link here. Mim and I were looking at her rhubarb today and plan to use it during our natural dye day in July. I'm excited to try it. We'll use propane burners outdoors so won't have the stink that Birdsong commented on.

Birdsong is one of those people I met through our blogs about five years and has become a real flesh-and-blood friend. I know they say blogs are going away, but if and when they do, they will have left me a whole lot richer.
I'm spinning with our dye day as my goal. This is Ollie from last year and now I'm spinning Mickey, a light oatmeal, and then I'll spin pure white Robby. I figure that with three values of fleece, I'll get three hues from every dye pot.

In answer to Cindy's question, the Nevada Bar is rosemary, sage and a hint of mint. It's meant for dry skin but I think it does smell like a Nevada. The name was originally a pun on the attorneys' test since we were working proximal to the law library, but that's gotten lost with time.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Who Let the Cows Out?

Ian and I were out doing yard work this morning when our neighbor Nancy drove her quad down onto our property. She's on the Greenbelt committee and was trying to find the cows that had just been unloaded there last Sunday to graze. (The Association benefits from this money for snow removal in the winter.) Ian and she walked down to our pinnacle which overlooks the greenbelt and she found her cows. Ian told her there had to be a hole in the fence, but to leave them alone and they'd go back to water. Who knew the hole in the fence was on our property?! It's the original Dickinson Ranch fence, which we don't keep up - no one does. I think they need a Plan B.
Ian came back this morning from Mary's with some more of the downed wood. I'm sure we have over a cord here, and that's after sharing it with Harry. There are some huge rounds that he is going to split with Joe Winter's splitter, which Joe has for his wood-fire kiln, and then he'll leave half.

Ian told me yesterday morning that some of this hardwood is absolutely gorgeous, to contact our Dale Pappas, who is not only a potter but a woodworker. He met Ian at Mary's this morning and was so happy with the pieces that he 's going to turn bowls for both Mary and us!
As for knitting, this is the state of my little summer sweater. I made the pattern up on Sweater Wizard, but their idea of a sleeve width is much different than mine. I ended up with something I couldn't reconcile and thus I am back to step one. I'm working with what I know: Circular Design From the Top Down, pp 192-193 of Vogue Knitting and glad to be back in familiar territory, even if I only have six rows done at this point.
We had two days cross the 80 mark and now we're back in the mid-60's. I think I'm going to be relying on the farmers markets for tomatoes again this year. We have one hopeful tomato but we're taking no chances - they're still in walls-of-water jail.

I never tire of our beautiful skies and clouds. Today was cool but we're going to stay in the 40s overnight which means we won't have to use any of our new lovely wood in the mornings - just put on a sweater or two.

Soap of the Day: Nevada Bar. I covered it up to keep it hot and then took this picture after about six hours. When I poured it, it looked like butterscotch. It changes so much as it cures. I think you'd be surprised at how much heat the curing soap emanates in the first 24 hours. Soap is created through a process called saponification and I think the best explanation if you're interested is here.

And if you're interested, this is the most popular of my soaps and I'm always a little apologetic because it's noticeably smaller than the other bars. I asked MJ at Soap Saloon, my long-time supplier, why that could be. She explained that the oatmeal I use in this recipe actually cooks up and reduces the moisture, reduces the size of the bar and makes it harder than my other soaps. So now I know.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Soap of the Day

I made Juice Bar this morning, which is orange from carrot juice and scented with sweet orange and cinnamon essential oils. I'm so happy to have stumbled onto the fun of small batches. I'm going to make one more batch before vacation and then just enjoy the fruits of my labors for a while.
I took this picture of our woodpile last week, when we were still making fires. This is all pine that Ian brought out of the Sierras and it's a little green. You have to get your kindling going good before adding one of these and then you constantly have to put one on top of the burning one to dry out so it can become the next burning one. It's June for crying out loud!
It's been four days since it's rained or we've had a fire, but Sammy is so used to this being the coveted warm place to sleep, that she's still sleeping here. She trains well - really. She's such a good accidental dog to own.

Friends of ours in an older part of Reno lost several large trees in a recent storm. They hired someone to come in, clean up the mess and cut the trees into lengths, and instead of having them haul it away, they called us. Ian and Harry have been collecting the wood and splitting it between our houses. There's close to 3 cord and it's all hardwood. I share this story because there are good people - they just don't make it to the news page.
We're still in this cycle and I think the highest it's gotten here is 76. This morning I didn't have any direct sun for my caffeinated spinning time but I did have lots of birdsongs. I walked the dogs in short sleeves and was uncomfortable.

Carol and Harry and their housemate Kerry came over for potluck this evening. We shared our tamales and salads, plus I made Japanese Mexican rice. Carol wanted to eat on our front porch - it sounded like such a good idea yesterday when I dropped off their tamales. It was 71 this evening and we all had to wrap up. I'm starting to worry about camping on the Oregon coast next week.
The loss of the sun chased us indoors, but it sure is pretty when it goes down.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

International Yarn Bomb Day

Melissa is installing the bombs on the first tree of the River Walk - we had selected three trees to bomb.
This is the finished tree.

I'm tying on the finishing flowers of the second tree.
This is the finished tree. If you click for big you see that the top one says Mom, but it's facing off to the left and I forgot to get an enlargement of it.
This is the third tree, also the largest. I realized that the strips I was knitting wouldn't fit around it but only had time to make this one before today. I think with the crocheted flowers that it is very effective - just wish I had taken the time to make more flowers. It took a surprising amount of time for each one.
Two teenage boys came along, quite loaded, but one was so curious that he struck up a conversation and ended up taking this picture of us. He asked if we had done all of them and then made a sweeping motion. Apparently there were many in the park. We had already seen a small one.
I didn't have time to look around - I had just enough time to scoot out to St. Michael's in Stead to set up our booth. That's a local joke. Someone says, I live in Stead, and someone else asks, Instead of where? This was a first year event with 30 booths, this is the one I shared with Carol and Kerry. We didn't do well but we had a great time. Homemade tamales were on sale for $1.00 and we each ended up eating three! When Carol knew that I was going to church tomorrow and went to place a order - I did too. I've never gone to Spanish mass, but I've always wanted to. Tomorrow is the day.
Afterwards I met DD Chris and Alexia for dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Stead. I had missed Alexia's dance at the studio recital, for I felt very sorry, but Chrissie said it was over in three minutes and ended with Alexia sobbing because of something that happened at the end. I got the best part of the deal. The girl in her gown. She does cute very well.

Oddly, when I pulled up to the house and opened the gate, the Mexican ranch just west of us was having a riding event and I could hear their Tex-Mex music all the way up to the gate. Ironic.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day Three of Summer

I've finally finished my Lady February sweater. Ian says he likes it. I'm not in love with it but I think part of the problem is the wool I spun this yarn from - Targhee. I think I need to wash it again and instead of blocking it, I need to stretch it. Targhee is so crazy boingy stretchy that it doesn't drape. It would be great in a pullover. Know thy yarn, or I should say wool! Lucky on the buttons - they came from something Melissa got at the Goodwill and didn't like.
I cut the soap after lunch into bars and now the three week curing count begins. I'm such an impatient person - my mother would never believe that I do this. I can't believe it either!
I used a medley of citrus-like scents. I didn't want to smell like a lifesaver. I didn't know if my shredded peel would show in the soap but I think it looks marvelous.
Ian went up into the Sierras about four more times last year than the year before and it's a good thing. All the hardwood is gone; this is pine. Today is the third day without a fire in the woodstove. It got up to 75.6 and we both spent a lot of time trying get yard work done. Between that and moving Melissa, I'm sore tonight.
I packed the car earlier today and I'm ready to leave in the morning at 7:00. Melissa sent me a message this morning that the park we're installing the yarn bombs in is having a Reno Block Party at 10:00. I don't know what that means exactly, but I do think at would be the best International Yarn Bomb inauguration ever.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Reading on the Deck All Day

It was 66 degrees and so beautiful this morning that I took my wheel out onto the front porch and spun using the "real" happy light, accompanied by a full birdsong chorus.
I walked the dogs later for the first time in weeks and took along my camera for pictures of wildflowers. I realize that most of them came and went during the rainy weeks. However, these are still here - note the clumps of white.
Each clump is actually a cluster of flowers. I have no idea what they are - they're not in our wildflower book.
Here in an Indian Paint-
brush, negotiating for living space with the sagebrush. The banks are dotted with these little scrappy survivors. May is the season, except for this year. I don't know what the season was.
I've never seen so many galls on sagebrush before and in looking online for a source, I learned that they are from a parasite. We live on land the Paiutes formerly roamed during hunting season and have found arrowheads in our creek bed. I thought you'd enjoy Judy Trejo, a Paiute storyteller tell about sagebrush. It's quicker to read the transcript but I loved hearing it in her American Indian voice and her songs. It's true. It does burn and is great kindling.
We have a Brown's peony that just keeps getting bigger every year. I kept meaning to get a picture of it while it was in bloom, but while it was in bloom, it was in mud.
I'm too late -the blooms are exhausted - but isn't it interesting that they hold their heads down, not up. I've never seen another plant like it. Mim says her sheep won't eat it, so what's its point?
I'm telling on Charlie - he's reacting to the eggs I boiled and was chilling with ice cubes. As the ice melted, the cubes began to shrink and rotate in the pan. He won't back down from the dogs but was freaked out by this. Hehe.
I know I told myself I was going to spend the day reading, but all the time I was spinning this morning, I was thinking about making a different soap - a lemon soap. I had shredded the peel which was dried on a cookie sheet. I decided to use the juice - don't know if it will contribute anything but why not find out?! I'd have to throw these away otherwise.
There it is. I think I'm going to call it Lemon Bar. The miserable thing is that I'm not going to know what kind of a soap it is for another three weeks, which is how long it takes to cure. I'll been been gone and back from vacation by then! Click for big - it looks positively edible.