Archive | August 2013

This and That

We have had a few days without rain, the first couple were most comfortable and had us sitting on the screened porch, enjoying birds, butterflies, and the dogs who are currently temporary or permanent residents with Sharon. It has now heated up and gotten a little more humid, so I guess we’re closer to more rain again. It is sprinkling as I write this, but shouldn’t last.

butterfly1

We’ve had so few butterflies this summer, but now that it is nearing the end, a lot more are now showing up, maybe just born this year? The butterfly garden in the center of the drive does a nice job attracting them. It also is popular with the hummingbird. So far, I’ve only seen a female, who likes both the feeder and the red salvia. There have finally been a goldfinch pair to find the feeder. At her last house, Sharon had a small flock, and this is the first to show up here. Still in the bright yellow summer plumage, cheering the place up.

butterfly2

It will be a while before the cottage is painted, as my foreman injured his back on a roofing job he’s been doing. It will be a few more weeks before he’s ready to get the crew over to tackle that. It should work out with good timing after I’m back from my family vacation/reunion.

I’ve been keeping myself busy with checking out beading websites with various demos. I decided to go ahead with some wirework I have been wanting to try. I have some thin copper wire and started to crochet it with beads. It worked up fast and I am quite pleased with the result. I am also trying some work with coiled wire – a neat little tool called a Coiling Gizmo makes it very fast and evenly spaced. I like the look it gives, although getting enough beads on the wire prior to coiling is tiresome. I even have a bead spinner to make it faster, but it is boring, but, it also results in a very pretty coiled beaded bead. I got a basic how-to booklet on chain maille. I am not sure if this will suit my interest, but want to give it a try. It has many variations with added embellishments.

After tasting some excellent scones from a restaurant in Greenville, I decided to try baking some myself. Although my mother’s parents both came to this country from Scotland, she never made them. She was an excellent baker and we have enjoyed other traditional Scottish baked goods, so I don’t know why she did not make them. Of course, I started searching the Web for recipes and tips, and find they are extremely similar to drop biscuits in this country, but usually slightly sweet. Living in the South, I definitely have made biscuits, but I prefer yeast biscuits. The variations of things that can be added to scones are amazing. We are experimenting with different ingredients and taste combinations – with a half batch on Sunday afternoon when we watch a movie. After a couple of tries with sweet fruit, this week will be cheddar and bacon bits for a savory taste. I don’t think we can miss with these. I expect to be making these for my family soon, too.

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Hobbies

Lately I’ve gotten back to being more interested in my beading hobby. I really enjoy beadweaving. This is not weaving like fabric, although sometimes it is done on a small loom, but just stitching of tiny glass beads on thread. There are many stitches that have been used over the history of this art, and lately new bead shapes are being developed to add yet more interest to it. Czech beads have long been the standard, but in recent years there have been a couple of Japanese companies entering the market and refining the product. I think this has helped with new colors, then shapes, and overall interest. Here’s a couple of my favorite necklaces.

bead necklace

bead necklace

beaded  pendant

beaded fuchsite pendant

As much as I enjoy working with beads, it is another activity in a sitting position, so I have to limit myself to prevent sore joints. I find I am not as interested in spending time on a necklace, since I’ve retired I don’t often dress up enough for wearing them. I am working on earrings, though, with an occasional bracelet. Once the house situation settles down, I hope to do more designing of my own items. I am also exploring wire working with beads. This has been something I’ve not had time to try until a recent dabbling, and I am enjoying it. I definitely need new tools for this.

This is as bad as yarn for knittersĀ  (another hobby of mine) – acquiring the pretty beads or yarn is a terrible craving, and we all have big stashes. I tend to prefer to knit in winter, partly because the colder weather inspires, and partly because I want off-season from cat shedding. I don’t want pre-knitted cat hairs in my clothes, as I pick up enough normally. I have a beautiful blue mohair yarn for which I am looking for the right pattern for me.

The next hobby I’ve promised myself is to learn to spin yarn. In October, near the Asheville airport, the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair is held. http://www.saffsite.org/ I would like to be able to take a class there this year. I do not plan to acquire a large traditional spinning wheel, as there is no space left for it. There are smaller devices for spinning that I’ll investigate. Unfortunately, all are a bit beyond my budget for now, so I’ll save and look for used equipment if I enjoy the process in class.

Reunion Plans

Two of my siblings, their spouses, and I are meeting in northern Ohio after Labor Day, near where we grew up. The primary draw to that location is a race in which my brother is participating. He has become a super athlete as he reached middle age. I truly admire his determination and ability. The race is a triathlon of Ironman distances, not of that brand, but Revolution3, (140.6 miles – which is 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking, and then a full marathon of 26.2 miles) and being held at a great amusement park we’ve all enjoyed. I worked at Cedar Point two summers during college. After the race we’ve rented a house across the street from Lake Erie and a beautiful city park in Lorain. We plan a few outings, lots of talking (we always do), and rest time. We hope to catch up with some friends who still live in the area, too. My family has always enjoyed each other’s company and even since our parents have passed on, we still try to get together from around the country every year.

We found we like to rent a house in an area we want to visit, giving us a living area outside hotel rooms, which is good for anyone who tires and needs to go off to sleep. Cost is usually less than a hotel, too. It has made me plan ahead for a larger home on our Soul’s Ease property – after I sell the house in Roanoke. I will be building another dome, as I do like living in one. The next one will benefit from my testing the smaller cottage and making a few changes. I plan to put up two domes connected by an entry with mudroom, pantry area. This will have one dome with a laundry room, 1 1/2 baths, and three bedrooms. I can leave it closed off and minimally heated or cooled when no guests are visiting. As I age I sure don’t want to add a lot of space to clean regularly, and closing it off should help that. Happily, I have found a new house needs lots less cleaning, as there is no dust accumulated over years of wear. My living area will be a little larger than the cottage, but still one bedroom, bath, kitchen, and living / dining room. It will be enough room for all siblings under one roof. Additionally, Sharon and I want to have space for visitors – she has a large living room and entertainment center, I will have the sleeping quarters. She also has a large room where I spent last winter, that will easily hold three double beds, for more guests.

typical cat afternoon

typical cat afternoon

I do plan to be working in Roanoke before heading to the reunion and stopping back to load the car with more of my stuff. The cats will be most unhappy with my being gone for such a long time, but they’ll just be more clingy when I return. Sharon is kind enough to pet, feed, and medicate as needed every day, but they really want my presence. Cats are not as indifferent about their humans as some people think, but they do adjust back to normal behavior easily.

Slow Progress

I’ve been back another time to work on preparing the old house. I feel I am making slow but steady progress in packing and sorting in the main level of the house.

I don’t know if I’ve been pushing things a bit too much, or if my achy bones are readjusting themselves into a more correct alignment, but I’ve been so sore lately. I have been training to build strength and hope it will help ease pressure on the spine. After so many years with a desk job, I found I had developed a curvature that makes my hips ache. It makes walking difficult at times, and sitting too long can hurt, too. I know standing on a ladder is not good, so I’ve been figuring ways around it for the work ahead of me.

I bought a step-stool style ladder with a large flat top step. From there I can reach the ceiling and work on the wallpaper border. I found that one of the paper scoring devices is essential in getting the paper to loosen. I don’t need to use steam, just water. If I wipe hard with a cheap washcloth after I peel off most of the loosened paper, I can get all the residue. Now that I have found a good technique, I should make progress.

A friend came to stay with me on my last visit to Roanoke, with plans to help me sort out my crowded basement. We worked well on it one day and she helped me make some decisions, but she became ill and we spent another day getting medical treatment to make sure she was okay. Thankfully she is, and it is an ongoing ailment that she is learning to keep under control.

Between a trip to Goodwill and a full load back to Seneca, the basement is much roomier. I had thought I’d do a garage sale, but was convinced (rather easily, as I didn’t really want to do one) to donate rather than waste time on little $ return. Next trip I plan a couple of loads to Goodwill, hoping to nearly empty the basement so some construction can be done.

rough-in plumbing for basement bathroom

rough-in plumbing for basement bathroom

I had rough-in plumbing done when the upstairs bath was remodeled, so it should not be too much work to finish it for a second bathroom. Using shelving units, I will suggest walls for both a den and an office/bedroom, but leave it for the next owner to add walls as needed. The neighborhood is small ‘starter’ homes, and can lend themselves to a lot of remodeling in attics and basements. My basement is fairly dry and I plan to use a waterproofing paint on the walls, so it should feel quite good. The garage is attached at that level and I used the paint there with most satisfactory results. Additionally, a few years ago I had a French drain dug around three sides of my house, and it has taken away the moisture from the back (uphill) wall.