Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Recognizing what's important

Every now and then I get a wake up call.  "Oh Karen, stop focusing on trivial things that aren't worth worrying about or giving another thought to."  I find things to lose sleep over that I hardly even remember thinking about a week later.

Eighteen years ago I lost my best friend and running partner, Jean, to breast cancer.  It was the first time I'd lost someone very dear to me.  I can remember much of that time so clearly.  We ran 5 days a week together.  We knew each other's families, worries and joys.  She called me when she found the lump.  I'll never forget that day or some of the things she shared with me about her feelings about  dying.  Even though I no longer run I still cherish that little gold runner necklace her family gave me when she died.  I wish I could talk to her again.

Tomorrow another dear friend, Ruth,  is having a very serious surgery.  I can't get her off my mind.  I feel confident she's going to beat the beast.  I really do.  She's probably one of the toughest women I know and I'm not just saying that because she's ill.  She truly is tough, in a good way.  Ruth was my neighbor when we lived in NC.  Sometimes she pisses me off because of our differences of opinions and I'm sure I do the same to her.  You know how neighbors can be.  Ruth had Chem-Lawn do her yard.  She thought we had too many weeds and dandelions.  I love dogs, she doesn't (though I think she's coming around to my side). Politically, we don't agree.   Most of the time though we have good laughs and share our ideas and love of fixing, building, remodeling, painting, etc.  When we're together we drink coffee or wine and bitch about whatever and crack ourselves up about who knows what.  We know each other - like good friends know each other.  Do you know what I mean?

Times like this when I'm worrying about something that truly is important, it helps me to look at the big picture.  Who cares if I'm 10 lbs heavier than I'd like to be?  Yard work will get done eventually - or it won't.  If I have a disagreement with someone it will pass.   Tonight I'm feeling thankful to have my health, my family and my friends.

Ruth, I know you won't read this, at least for a while, but I want to say thank you for our talk yesterday and for helping me put things in perspective.  You're important to me and I know you know I love you.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rainy day play

We've had 4 days of rain, with very heavy stuff today.  We needed it desperately but it would be nice if we didn't get it all at once like this.  Being stuck indoors is a good excuse to do some fun things and  some things that needed doing but I hadn't gotten around to.

We had Windsor butchered in August and I asked the butcher to save the suet for me.  As a friend said to me, "You loved Windsor and now he's loving you back".  He sure is.  We filled a whole freezer with his meat and we're loving it.  I suspect he was still nursing because he had more fat on him than I would expect from a grass fed animal.
See all the fat in the doorway.  That's not even all of it.  Some is in another freezer.  The good stuff - the suet or tallow, is what comes from around the kidneys.  It's very clean and wax-like.  The past 2 days I've been cutting it up and rendering it for use in soap.  Most all my goat milk soap is made with beef tallow these days.  It makes for a very hard soap and has great moisturizing qualities.  This is what it looks like after I render it and let it harden.  It looks like white chocolate and feels like it too.
I still have more to do but 2 days in a row was enough and my ADHDism led me to other projects that seemed more interesting.  I have no idea how I ended up in our garage attic but I did and discovered I had ideas for an old art deco style chaise lounge that was waiting for someone to love it again.  It used to be in Adam's bedroom and had some damage to the veneer from him and his friends draping wet swimsuits or towels over it.
I was able to chisel off the remaining veneer, sanded it and have put one coat of stain on it so far.
If I don't like the way it looks stained I may paint the wood instead.  I don't want to spend the money having it reupholstered since I don't know what we're going to do with it.  Last night I discovered a spray paint (Spray It New) for upholstery.  I ordered some and will give that a try and if it comes out ok I'll post a picture.

We also have some Victorian chairs that no one seems to want these days.  I've tried selling them on Craigslist at a pretty low price with no luck.  So what should I do with them?  I wasted lots of time on Pinterest getting ideas.  I have lots of creative crafty friends -what do you think?

This is just a tiny portion of pieces of furniture we should probably find homes for.  Do other people accumulate stuff like this?

Another thing taking up space is a few hundred vinyl albums and 45's.  I Googled "uses for vinyl records" and saw lots of fun things.  Much of it is stuff beyond my capabilities or tacky stuff.  I didn't find anything to do with them yet but I had to try melting them in the oven like so many other people have done.  It only takes 2 minutes to make a bowl for chips out of a 12 inch album in a 350 degree oven.

Here are some cool things people did with records.
I also put a 45 on a custard bowl and this is what happened.
 I have no idea what you'd do with something like this but I guess you could paint it and make it into a Christmas tree ornament.  And what to do with album covers?
More rain to come this week.  Outside projects will have to wait.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Escape artists

I'm not the only one dealing with an escapologist.  Yes, that's a word.  We're goat-sitting 6 mini lamanchas while our friends deal with fencing issues.  At least 4 of their goats found their neighbors' garden much more appetizing than their own pasture, much to their curmudgeonly neighbors' displeasure.  It's no fun worrying about whether your animals will stay put when you're not there to watch them and whether your neighbor will make your life miserable.  

I'm enjoying our guests' company.  They're very quiet goats who mind their own business.  Mostly they keep to themselves and our 2 herds haven't mixed much.  They don't fight, but they don't sleep together either.  I'm pretty sure my boys would be happy to sleep with the new girls and I think the girls would be happy to oblige.  For at least 48 hours the mini lamanchas have been cozying up to the bucks against the fence.  Of course Cooper and Cato are more than happy for the company.  The bucks seem to be in full rut already and the smell is permeating anything nearby.  I don't even need to touch them to feel sticky and stinky.  The only reason the girls aren't vying for Cooper's attention in this photo is because I just gave them apples.  Look how happy Cooper is.
This next picture is from their first morning together when they were trying to figure out how this happened.  It looks like a lot of goats, doesn't it? 
Rex looks like the sweetest, well-behaved guardian in this picture.  Yes, he's sweet and he's very mannerly with me and all the animals but when it comes to staying where he belongs, he's very much like my friends' goats.  He's clever and a royal pain-in-the-butt.

You may remember from a previous post I covered the gates with barbed wire first and then tarps in an attempt to keep him from going over.  I also electrified the wire above the fence and put electricity over the one gate he had climbed.  This past week he decided he could climb the gate down by the river and visit folks.  We were out of town and our friends kept returning him to his fence but he'd just climb back over.  Later in the day we got 2 calls; one from Home Again, the service that stores his micro-chip number and helps him return home.  The other was from the campground one mile down the road.  Rex decided to pay a visit to the campers.  Luckily we have a good friend there who was good enough to put him in her car, drive him back home and tie him on a cable in our yard until we could get home an figure out what to do with him.

On our return we installed more electric wire over the 2 remaining exterior gates so now the entire perimeter is electrified.    So far so good.  I think I said that before when I covered the gates with tarps.  Short of locking him up in our house and only walking him on a leash, I think we've done all you could possibly do to contain him.  Perhaps if he learns to dig we'll have to put a concrete footer below 3/4 of a mile of fencing.  Is it terrible to wish your dog would put some age on and not be strong enough to climb gates?  Micro chipping can be a wonderful thing for animals like Rex.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

How to demolish a hot tub

I Googled how to demolish a hot tub and then watched several videos of other people doing just that. They made it look so much easier than it actually was.  That's what my project was today.

Our hot tub died several years ago and instead of getting rid of it we let it sit there and be an eyesore. Some of you remember I transformed it into an aquaponics garden of sorts.  It was successful for a brief time but became harder and harder to keep the water pumping and fish alive.
In one how to video the man used a Sawzall to cut the hot tub in 4 pieces which he was able to load into his pickup and carry off, easy peasy.  HA!  I bought that hook, line and sinker.  I got my Sawzall out and got to work.  In case any of you Googled how to demolish a hot tub and stumbled upon this blog, please be sure you disconnect all power before becoming a crazy person with your saw.  I don't want anyone killing themselves because I neglected to remind them of that.

I began to cut.  Videoguy told me there'd be rebar or angle iron in the tub so I'd need to use a blade for cutting metal and thought it best not to use a chainsaw.  I never did see any rebar or angle iron but at times it felt like I was cutting through some.  The saw got hung up numerous times and I became frustrated.  After a few hours of seemingly getting nowhere I resorted to something no one else mentioned in their videos - destroying it with a tractor.  I pulled it off the patio so as not to damage the house or pergola.
Then I lifted, tipped, crushed then cut some more with the saw.  Eventually it looked like this.
And after cutting MANY tubes, pipes and hoses I was able to get it into pieces that will fit in our pickup.
So if you've read this because you have a hot tub to get rid of I recommend you either buy a tractor or pay someone to remove it for you.  If you're smart you'd do the latter.

Friday, September 4, 2015


Last week I got carded when buying wine.  I know, I know, the young clerk was just trying to make an older woman feel good.  Seriously, I have no idea why he carded me.  Anyway, I couldn't find my driver's license in my wallet anywhere.  I was embarrassed but I don't know why.  I wondered if he thought I'd lost my license for a crime or something.  I have no idea when it disappeared because I never use it.  No one has asked to see my ID in years.  When I got home I went online and ordered a new one.

Yesterday my new license came in the mail.  I felt better just knowing I had it again.  You know, just in case.  Well, this morning I had to show it to the nice state trooper.  I almost told him he was the first one to see my new ID but I didn't think he'd be interested.

In my defense (I have to make an excuse for myself) I would have been going the speed limit if it was just 50 yards up the road.  The speed limit changes from 40 to 55 just after where he caught me speeding.

When I got home I was actually ashamed and a bit embarrassed to tell James - like a child presenting a bad report card.  I know it's silly.  I'm a grown woman, right?  He thinks I should go to court to see if I can get it reduced.  To be honest, I'd rather pay an additional $50.00 or whatever to not have to show my face in court and get stressed out over it.

James just popped his head in the living room and told me he still loves me even though I'm a criminal.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

James and Karen's Farm - 24 Hours

This is my great niece, Piay.  She's quite possibly the coolest teenager I've ever known.  Not only is she adorable but she's also very talented, smart and one of the kindest human beings you could ever meet.

The past few times Piay has come here she's brought her GoPro.  After her last visit she made this 15 minute video about her time here.  I've watched it at least 4 times already.  I expect she'll be a great film maker one day.  Don't forget about us when you're famous, Piay.