Tuesday, July 19, 2016

And With This Season Comes. . .

Well, this otta make your day.
We have had a couple of pretty busy weeks.
Mr. LB went to Alaska and made it back with his four king salmon,
and two halibut (yum!)
I told him he wasn't ever allowed to leave me that long again.
I missed him - especially with no cell phone service
for the majority of the trip.

We had 3 days of rain! In July!
We had more rain by 8:30AM the first morning than we had
all 3 summer months combined last year.
I am hoping that means fewer fires this summer.

Wednesday and Thursday evenings after work were spent setting up 
for our annual ice-cream social which was Friday night.
By this point Mr. LB had his post-airplane cold.
He held up pretty well though.
(There was ice-cream involved after all.)
We invite friends and neighbors for ice-cream,
they bring their favorite topping.
This year we ended up with everything from huckleberries,
to brownie crumbles, to rum sauce.
And sadly, I forgot to take the camera out with me.
So you'll just have to take my word for it that it was a lovely evening.

The following morning, I awoke early to pack and head over to
the Baker City Quilt Show.
I was to be at the folks' house at 8AM so Mom and I
could travel over together and meet my S-I-L there.
(She comes from a different direction.)
Part of the reason I had to wake so early was so I could stop
on the way to pick peas.
I did and made it to their house at 8:03,
put peas in their fridge, and we were off.

This was the first BCQS in two or three years.
It was so good to see the beautiful work and old friends.
Mr. LB texted while I was there to ask how it was.
I told him good of course, but that one dear gal
is now in a wheel chair and another passed last week.
Many of the members are aging, and
there don't seem to be younger members to carry on the art.
This is among the most talented group of quilters 
I have had the privilege of getting to know.
Their work is exquisite!
I find it sad that the knowledge and skill they have isn't
being passed on and appreciated.
Like so many other things, folks seem to want instant gratification
and don't want to spend the time it takes to produce
a true work of art.
The sweet ol' gal in the wheel chair is who taught me how to do
needle-turned aplique.

This morning, after eating and claiming quilts (Mom showed a few)
we parted and came home.
Once home, I got to work.
Within a short time, there were apricots on the dehydrator,
and I was shelling peas.
We ended up with 7 pints from that one bag.
You can read about how we can peas here.
As we were shelling the peas, a storm rolled through.
It brought marble sized hail.
Mr. LB was worried about it damaging the rigs and the fruit on the trees
but luckily all seems fine.

Hopefully, now we can get back to our "normal chaos"
rather than all of this sporadic stuff.
I don't think we have anything eventful going on for August.
It's canning season~
you didn't know there were really 5 seasons, did you?
So we will be hopping every evening.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Tanning / Pelting a Hide

There's always more to learn.
Yes, I am one of those.
I have to be learning something.
Some things I learn and promptly forget, or learn and don't really
feel connected to, or learn and enjoy so continue.
When we butcher the lambs, I want to pelt their hides.

We don't like waste and the fact that each year so many
deer, elk, and other critters are hunted and the hides left to rot
in addition to the waste of such parts as ribs or shoulder meat
kinda irks me.
I've never done any tanning of hides - actually never considered
that it would be something I would be remotely interested in.
I have a feeling it will be one of those things
I learn but don't do much of, which is fine.
I like having the knowledge and experience even if I don't often use it,
just in case.

From what I've read, rabbits are great to learn on.
They are small so they don't use a lot of solution, and are typically
rather plentiful so are not difficult to find.
We didn't happen to have a rabbit, 
but we did have a raccoon coming in devouring entire bags of cat food
and causing the dog fits in the middle of the night.
We trapped it, and I figured I could learn on a raccoon
as easily as on a rabbit.
If I messed up - oh well, no great loss.

I found various instructions, using various methods and solutions.
Being novice, I chose the one that seemed the safest to work with.
It's alum, salt, and water.

First rinse the hide in cold water to both clean it and cool it.
In a 5 gallon bucket mix:
 1 cup alum, 1 cup non-iodized salt and 2 gallons tepid water.

Then add the rinsed/wet hide and stir making sure all parts of the hide are exposed to the solution.

Stir at least twice per day.
After two days, take hide out of solution.
Squeeze as much solution out as possible (back into bucket.)

Then "flesh" the hide.
This is removing any fat or meat material from the hide.
This picture isn't great.  I was losing light but had to get it done.
Add another cup of each the salt and alum to the same solution
and stir well.
Then add fleshed hide back into the solution again stirring to make sure all parts of the hide are exposed to the solution.
Stir twice per day for another 5 days.
Then remove hide from solution and rinse well.
Stretch hide on a frame or board so it can dry.

When it is almost dry, it's time to "break" the hide.
This means working it by hand in small sections to soften it.
*Note: no, I am not going to chew on it as certain tribes were know to do and as my mother says I should to be authentic:)

(This is where life came at me.)
I have my hide stretched and dried.
I will have to re-wet it, let it partially dry then break it.
As far as the fleshing, I want to ask a neighbor who has done tanning
how I did and if there is a method better than my very slow tedious one.
Mr. LB left the head on thinking it would be "cool."
Again I am learning - I will have to just cut it off since it's inside-out
and hard as a rock.
Any ol' trappers, tanners out there,
feel free to offer advise.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Where God Hides

Well folks, there are just times when life seems to come at you
like an octopus with boxing gloves.

Though generally speaking, life is good and we know that,
lately Mr. LB and I have been dealing with a few challenges 
on a variety of fronts.
The most difficult parts are not the tasks themselves
but dealing with "professionals" such as
lawyers, realtors, estate sale personal, and large charitable organizations.
In addition to all this, Mr. LB is leaving for Alaska Thursday.
He will be gone for 10 days.
He deserves the break and is giddy as a schoolgirl about the fishing,
but we've not been apart that long since we met.
I think I'm struggling with it a little more than he is.
I'm not afraid of being alone; I'll just miss him.
We have been trying to prepare for the trip as well as the things that need to happen while he is away, making lists, crossing T's and dotting I's.
Did you know lawyers in particular are surprised by efficiency?
-almost to the point of not knowing how to respond.
It's crazy, I tell you.  
I know our (my) whining is pitiful compared to what others may be facing.
Without going into all the gnarly details,
it's like everybody is talking but no 2 people speak the same language.
If I could observe from a spectator seat, it might be entertaining-
along the lines of a good ol' Abbot and Costello show.
I am not a spectator though.
Each little turn in navigation requires my signature.

I know we are supposed to thank God for our trials 
as well as for our joyous times.
And I try, but admittedly, those prayers go something like,
"Really God?  Okay, yea, I know, thank you - but really?"
That's not real gratitude.
I am more grateful than that when Mr. LB hands me my coffee in the morning.
It's easy to wonder where God is in all this.
And it was at the very moment that I questioned God 
that a childhood storybook came to mind.
"Danny and the Dinosaur" 
It was about a little boy and a dinosaur as they play a game of hide and seek.
The dinosaur hid behind a couple large items like a house or bus, 
but the children still found him.
Finally, he hid behind a telephone pole, and they couldn't find him.
I won't ruin the story and tell the why's or how's:)
But, it dawned on me.
We are (or I am at least) like those children.
Great big God is hiding behind a telephone pole, or a call to the lawyer,
or a paper for the escrow company, etc.
He's right there in front of us, but so often we chose not to see Him.
Tell me He didn't put that in my head.

I've learned and am learning a ton in regards to various legal processes,
about "professional" people, and large "charitable" organizations 
on top of coping with loss.
The biggest lesson however, is in dealing with stuff.
People are so enthralled with the monetary value of an item or items
that all sense seems to exit their heads at once.
At times I've felt like yelling, "I don't care if it's worth 2 bits or 2 billion.  My friends are gone, and you are worried about stuff!"
(I have not done so - just for the record.)

I really think it's God's affirmation that I am on the right track as I continue to declutter and reevaluate items we have based on their usefulness 
and weather or not they add quality to our lives.
As I've said before, I'm no minimalist,
but it's becoming increasingly easier for me to let go of items 
that no longer add value to our lives.
Relationships add value to our lives not things.
I'm thinking more and more about family members and friendships,
working on maintaining those connections, and less on maintaining a 
huge volume of "things."
It's by these measures I hope to be judged when my time here is done
not by my net asset value.

Whatta ya know?
Perhaps. . . just perhaps,
God knows exactly what He is doing by hiding right in front of me.
Is He hiding in front of you too? 

Somewhere out in the shop, I have my original edition.
The cover wasn't as colorful.

Friday, June 17, 2016

How and Why We Are Preparing for Winter Now

Yes, it's spring here too.
Because if we wait until winter, it will be too late.

We have our wood in.
It's not all split and stacked, 
but we can do that over the span of a couple weeks.
The most difficult part is getting it off the mountain.
We began getting wood in spring because they close the forests
for fire hazard and often don't reopen them until late in fall
which is about the time we start using the wood.
This picture is of the back of the shop.
And yes, I'm letting you see the whole messy truth.
It didn't really dawn on me how much was there until I saw it in the picture.
The large rounds are from the pine we took down last fall.
(That's the link if you would like to see it.)
We are stacking it a little differently this year to see if it makes a difference in keeping it a little dryer ~ the section we will use first is that which is closest to where the rain can hit.
And the other thing we'll watch to see is if it keeps it a little tidier.
I know it's a wood stack, 
but it seems like a shedding cat at times.  
We'll have to wait and see.
The other thing that has been a focus is fishing. 
I know that sounds pretty leisurely.
Fly-fishing is a passion for Mr. LB. (I don't fish.)
Spring fish tend to be best - at least in the Pacific Northwest.
This year has been a little slower since we haven't had 
as many opportunities to hit the rivers.
This will hopefully be made up for at the end of the month.
Mr. LB gets to go to Alaska.
This has been something on his bucket list for years so
he is giddy as a schoolboy.
We are also hoping that our fish supply is bumped up a bit.
Due to the distance, it will be frozen rather than canned.
But gee. . . let me think if I can manage - yep!
That's how long I have to think about that one:)

One more thing we usually have going on in May-June is morels.
This year was a bad mushroom year.
There are usually enough for sautéing and for dehydrating
but not this year.
I will have to get the flavorless store-bought kind and 
dehydrate those to have on hand for winter.
Morels only have one season per year so we're are out of luck until next year. 

By taking care of these things now, far enough in advance,
we not only get to "play outside," but we won't be left scrambling to get
wood in before the snow flies and can kinda ease into the seasons.
It's won't be long before the pea harvest and we'll be back
to having the pressure canner out 
as a semi-permanent part of the kitchen decor.

This is Mr. LB's absolute favorite for salmon on the grill.
We have actually given it as a gift:)