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:)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Learning to Weave with a Floor Loom

It finally happened.
I was almost giddy.
Some time back, I posted that the loom was in the house.
I had it in the shop aging like a fine wine
gathering the proper vintage of dust.
I finally found someone to teach me how to use the thing.
Living this far out, it's not like someone can just pop over after work
and offer a few hours in an evening.
It's also not practical to put it in the car and stop by your place.
This weekend, Silva was kind enough to drive out here and teach me
how to get the thing rollin'.

After vacuuming all the dust bunnies and untangling 
giant wads of cotton string,
we were in business.
Whoever had warped it, must have been good and had it threaded
to produce a pattern.

I just wanted a basic every-other thread (for learning.)
She agreed, and we (she) figured out what was needed
so we didn't have to re-thread the entire mess - I mean width.
Dumped from the bag ~ one big tangle.
I found two bags of wool salvages at a yard sale a couple years ago
so got them hoping to make a rug.
There are more than this, but you can see I really did wind it up.
It's so much easier this way.
Well, as of writing this,
I have made two rugs that are each about 2'-2.5' X 4' and
have enough for about 6 more that size!
What's shown above is only one bag worth.
The green yarn is so I know when to stop.
I can see how one could end up with a hallway runner:)
Silva also brought me a warping board.  
She said this one was given to her and was "a spare."
I have to figure out some kind way to repay her for such generosity.
I got it hung up after she left.
This room is a light buttery yellow but photographs just awful
so please excuse the muck color it appears to be.
And after the little weaving party is over, the floor shows
just how much fun was had.

This is a very helpful book.  It is far beyond me a this point.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Daily Homestead Life

Every so often, it seems like if I don't just share all the random
things that are going on,
you might wonder how we got from point A to B.
In that light, I'd like to share a few things
that are just 'a day in the life' so to speak.

Last weekend, we had a huge hail storm.
The larger than pea-sized pellets seemed to be shot strait down
from the sky.
It thrashed our rhubarb, breaking stocks and shredding leaves.
The volunteer borage was also shredded.
Luckily, most of the other things in the garden were barely sprouted
so suffered minimal to no damage.

The tomato plants are still pretty small, and I had not put them in the garden
yet so was able to tuck them under a bench to protect them a bit.
Some of the leaves appear to be bruised,
but I am thinking they will recover well enough.
Nearly all of the garden is in and sprouted.
I will add a few more things as we go - 
like radishes that are quick, or a second round of green beans
so they aren't all demanding canning at one time, etc.

The chickens (pullets) are getting braver.
They think the sitting area is there for them.
So far they have been good and have not discovered the garden.
I was told that if we don't give them kitchen scraps
they won't bother the kitchen garden since they prefer bugs and slugs.
So far they have been on an organic chick ration and free range. 
 I move their little coop to follow the lambs.

We have been having a raccoon come in and clean out the cat food
so we set a live trap for it before it discovered the chickens and garden.
At 12:45 AM Saturday night/morning we caught it.
I am venturing into tanning the pelt.
Will have to share more about that in a future post. 

Yesterday, was attack on weeds day.  
I weed-eated, pulled weeds, mowed weeds - whatever it took,
while Dad and Mr. LB went after a tree.
A little after 4pm, they still weren't back so I headed up the mountain
to make sure all was well.
It was a tree Mr. LB went to fall last year then ended up getting his wedges
stuck so left it hoping Mother Nature would take care of it for him.
It was in a place only a crazy person would climb to 
so he wasn't concerned about someone else getting it or them.
Mother Nature didn't do it so he had to.
They were just finishing up when I arrived (good timing:)
It was a heavy load, and puts us that much closer to having enough 
for next winter.
We like to get wood in the spring before they close the forests down
due to it being dry/fire hazard.
Many folks wait until fall then are rushed to get enough in before the snow flies.
We usually have plenty to do come fall with trying to get the harvest
all taken care of and preserved for winter.

It really is a cycle.
As we move through this season, we are preparing for the next. 
Peas will be coming on within a month, and we will begin the canning season.
We've been on the go from one end of the day to the other
and still have plenty to do when we call it quits for the evening.
It's a good tired though, and we sleep like rocks.

I've read both books and this is the same canner I use year after year.
A good all-round homesteading book and a couple "tools"
are all you need.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Antique Sampler

Sometimes, it's just meant to be.
Another gal and I have been handling the estate of some dear friends.
There was so much stuff in the house that there are two estate sales
off site in order to accommodate the pure volume.
We had cleaned and sorted a ton of 'stuff' before the estate sale folks
even entered to begin their process.
During all that sorting and even at the pre-sale browse,
I never saw it.

It wasn't until after the first sale,
when we got to go through the leftovers to see if there was anything
we wanted at half off, that I saw it.
I am guessing it was made by Shirley's mother
which is a little odd since it was Bob's mom who did more stitching.
But Shirley's mom liked to cook and appreciated food.
I don't know this ~ it's just a hunch.

The other fun bit is that the fella has a fish on his line.
Mr. LB being the avid fly-fisherman he is was pleased to see that.

There are so many things that were hiding, packed away.
I would have loved to have asked questions.
(including who was in many photos we found)

Obviously that's not possible.
At this point, I figure the best I can do is appreciate the item,
remember my friends with fondness,
and clear out or give away the things that might turn into 
forgotten relics from our own home.

I am thankful to everyone who looked at this piece and passed it by.
It is now hanging in our kitchen ~ right where it belongs.