Saturday, January 31, 2009

Farewell, first month

Coming up the hill towards home last night.

Going down the hill to church this morning (click to biggify and better appreciate the "sea of fog").

Tomorrow's another month!

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ready, set, SPIN!

Before starting on the 5 1/2 pounds of white alpaca top, I wanted to have three empty bobbins - two for singles and one for plying. That prompted me to finally skein off this lovely stuff, made from a white alpaca single and a single from the luscious merino/angora/glitz batt Allena gave me (taken in natural light).

After washing it, I have this oh, so soft two-ounce skein (taken with flash). Any ideas for what I should/could make with it? The thought occurred to me that it would make a lovely stranded project combined with the sample skein of white alpaca - a hat, perhaps? But seeing as how I haven't tackled stranded work yet (although I have a fantastic tutorial saved from the Traditional Knitting list), I am hesitant to use such wonderful stuff on my first attempt. I know, I know, it can sit in the stash until such time the perfect project presents itself....

With bobbins at the ready, I just had to wait for some time to start spinning. That was handed to me yesterday afternoon, when Rick took Brian with him to the office while I gave my friend Debbie a dressage lesson. When I got home, I was able to make one pass up the bobbin (covering the core always seems like an accomplishment to me) and start back towards the orifice. I weighed out 8 oz. of top to put on this bobbin, and will do the same for bobbin #2. Then I will ply off two 8-oz. skeins for Barbara at the alpaca farm and be more than a third finished with my obligation to her. At that point I may take a break from the alpaca to spin something else if I feel the need.

And finally, a frosty sedum shot for Karla, taken this morning:My sedum suffered last year from browsing deer and dashing dog; I'm hoping to nurse it back to a healthier state of growth this year. I may have to use the puppy exercise pen as a barrier to redirect traffic for awhile, until new traffic patterns become habit.

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy anniversary?

Russell has been acting uncomfortable during recent rides, which has really bummed me out. Today Rick had time to examine him, and determined that Russell's neck was the likely culprit. Rick couldn't remember which cervical joints he injected last winter, so I checked my blog to see if I had documented it. Sure enough, I had - and also saw that it happened exactly a year ago today! See, a blog can be a very helpful tool! :-)

This time around Rick didn't have to shave Russell's neck, which will be nice if we get to any shows this spring. It's probably more comfortable for Russell, too, not having "cold spots" on his neck at this time of year. Hopefully by Sunday I'll have a chance to ride him and see if the injections have helped.

Jumping to a totally different topic.... I finally broke down and joined Ravelry. I have avoided it like the plague because it sounds like an enormous time pit, but so many other bloggers were linking to patterns there that I decided to join just to access them. So far I haven't even done that because of all the other things on my plate, so I don't think it's going to be a problem after all. I'm "sheepmademedoit" - a fitting name, I thought, since getting Shetland sheep precipitated re-learning to knit and learning to spin.

That's it for now at . . .

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What a snowfall!

Yesterday mid-morning it started to snow. The flakes got bigger and bigger until it looked like snowballs falling from the sky! I don't think I've ever seen such big clumps of snow in the air! It didn't stick long, though.

THIS "snowfall" will be around for awhile! That's five and a half pounds of white alpaca top that I didn't spend a cent on - and a used bobbin I picked up at Woodland Woolworks.

Yesterday I finally had a chance to take my sample skein (above, with a couple shots of the yarn drying last week) by Wings and a Prayer Alpacas to show the owner. She was delighted with it, and sent the rest of the white top home with me to spin for halfsies. She would like her half of the yarn spun the same way I did the sample skein, and is in no hurry. That's a good thing, with my limited spinning time! I've never spun for anyone else, nor have I spun anywhere close to this much of one fiber, so it is a new and exciting undertaking for me.

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Of birds and books

Have I told you lately how much I enjoy our chickens? Well, I do. They are personable, pretty, and productive - what else could one ask for?

Speaking of birds, the other day from the car Brian and I saw a big flock of starlings on the power lines. Brian commented that starlings are pretty, and I told him they are smart, too, and able to mimic sounds, even the human voice, just like a parrot. I mentioned a book I have about a real starling who learned to talk, and told him we could start it as a chapter book if he would like. And so we have.This is one of my favorite books, a heartwarming story of real affection between one of God's less-appreciated creations and his human rescuer. I'm tickled to be sharing it with Brian. I've never been one to re-read books, no matter how much I enjoy them; sharing favorite tomes with my son may very well change that. Hurray!

That's it for now at . . .

Monday, January 26, 2009

Paying it forward, again

I read about something on The Back Forty blog, and thought it sounded like fun, although strangely familiar. I decided to join in, and then looked back through my archives. Sure enough, it is very similar to the Pay It Forward challenge I picked up from Adrienne. (Type in Pay It Forward in my blog's search window above and you'll pull up the original post and the gifts made and received.) This time I have a few more ideas of things I can make, so I'm looking forward to participating.

Here is the most recent incarnation:

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me.

I will try to make something tailored for each of those five people in some way or another.

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:
- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make!
- You will have no clue what it’s going to be.
- It’ll be done by the end of June (a small change I made).

I was going to limit it to residents of the United States, but changed my mind. Why keep the fun in one country? I will, however, be making something lightweight if any of my farther-flung blogpals respond - no homemade apple butter for you!

Wanna know the catch before you respond? The catch is that you have to make the same offer on your blog!

Last time I only had one "taker" - and another who hinted that she'd like to do it, so I included her, too. It would be fun to have this spread farther this time; surely I am not the only person who enjoys making and receiving little gifts!

That's it for now from . . .

Snow dog

Brian has been wanting to try his snowboard out on a "real" hill, so yesterday Rick took him up into the Cascades to find some snow. I wanted to stay home and get some jobs (and some spinning) done, but Rick really wanted me to come along. On the condition that Jackson got to come, too, we all went.

It is fun to have a fluffy dog who likes snow! It would be even more fun if I could show you the way he looks at me with his goofy, happy face after running around shoveling snow with his nose. But no-o-o; I point the camera at him and he goes all "flat." Click on the picture above to biggify and look at Jackson's eyes. He's clearly checking; "Are you STILL pointing that thing at me?"

There were few other people out and Jackson's recall is good enough that I could turn him loose to play. He thought Brian and Rick were sliding down the hill just for him to chase. That frustrated Brian, so I kept Jackson away from him for most of his runs.

It was cold and blowing snow; we weren't out there for long. That is one of the wonderful things about living here; the beach, the mountains, the city, and even the desert are all within driving distance. And right here in the middle, we live on our little patch of paradise I call Boulderneigh . . .

Friday, January 23, 2009

Muskrat love

Oh, um, I mean "musket love." Above are my lovely musket girls, Butter (front) and Brava. At least I think Brava is musket; I've gotten differing opinions on her color. Maybe I'll get a definitive answer at this spring's shearing. Since Brava lost all her wool when she got sick last May and has been covered ever since, I expect her clip this year to be fantastic, whatever its color. Sadly, Butter appears to have a break in her fleece from when she got sick this winter, so her buttery-soft lamb fleece may be trash. I will have to decide whether to shear her early and leave her uncovered so I can show her as a yearling at Black Sheep Gathering and/or Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival this year, or keep her at home and cover her fleece for maximum cleanliness and value. It will all depend on whether lambs arrive early enough and look good enough to have a "show string;" Butter is not for sale and would only be exhibited because it would be interesting to get a judge's opinion on her.

Switching gears completely, here are the first flowers of the year at Boulderneigh. I happened to spot them on Inauguration Day, looking like the inspiration for the ball gown Michelle Obama wore later that night. Can you imagine a ball gown inspired by this morning's sunrise?
Finally, lookee what Kristi gave me: the Wonderfully Wooly award at right. Thanks, Kristi!

That's it for now at . . .

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's been a busy week...

...what with Brian joining a bluegrass group class Monday evenings in addition to his weekly private violin lesson, the Inauguration, the start of our homeschool co-op winter term, and getting together with TWO friends that I rarely get to see.

Can you tell the dog feels neglected? (Sound track to photos: BARK-BARK-BARK-grrr-BARK-BARK-BARK-BARK-grrr-BARK-BARK-BARK-grrr....

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A new day, a new look

Brian and I watched the Inauguration this morning, a momentous occasion in history no matter your political inclination. I was thankful to see President Barack Obama sworn in safely, and pray with the official "invocators" for his continued safety. The crisis our country and the entire world would be thrown into should he be assasinated would make the L.A. race riots look like a daycare squabble. I am not naive enough to think that mere mortals, no matter how intelligent and idealistic, can fix all the problems in our country. Indeed, the Bible says things will continue to go downhill until Jesus comes, destroys Satan and all those that cling the devil's principles instead of to God's, and recreates our world into a peaceful paradise. Still, I believe that while we are here, we are to follow Godly principles, the greatest of which is the kind of love described in I Corinthians 13, and do our best to combat evil in all its obvious and less obvious forms until "all these things pass away."

In honor of Inauguration Day, I have jumped on The Cutest Blog of the Block bandwagon. I've admired other blogs which have used their backgrounds, but the website was down for awhile. How fitting that it worked this morning! I am not a person who is always looking to "mix things up;" I put my furniture where I think it works best and leave it there, for example. And I consider decorating my house for every holiday and season too big an investment of time, money and storage space - although I certain enjoy the homes of others who do. But decorating my blog takes no money or physical storage space and very little time, so expect to see occasional changes of background scenery to go with my photos and ramblings.

That's it for now at . . .

Monday, January 19, 2009

Frost & favor, stick & chick

I just love "frost art;" who can improve on God's beauty? When zooming in on the above, I inadvertently captured details I didn't notice until I downloaded my camera to my computer. See the droplets on the blades of grass in the photo below? (click to biggify)

In spite of the overhang Rick added to the roof of the sheep fold last year, the wind still blows the rain in through their gate, soaking the bedding at the south end. Yesterday without telling me, Rick put up some translucent panels to block the rain but not the light. I don't know if the sheep appreciate it, but I sure do! My DH is a good egg, even if he does grumble about my little sheep sometimes. :-)

Jackson "helps" us clean up the branches lying around the property. Our burn pile is getting big - crowned by the Christmas tree we finally hauled out yesterday!

Tawnie is our shiest hen, so I was surprised to get some decent shots of her dining on the daily "salad greens" I provide.

Happy MLK Day from . . .

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A perfect afternoon

At Rick's suggestion we headed to the coast yesterday after church and potluck. Rick wanted to see whales, Brian wanted to build a sand castle, and I was just happy to be going to one of my favorite places. We drove to Depoe Bay, which boasts "the world’s smallest navigable harbor" and touts itself as the "Whale-Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast." What an incredible day! It was warm and sunny, with no wind and impressive seas. The only whale we saw was the sculpture on shore, but we were hardly disappointed.

We watched the waves until the sun slipped over the watery horizon, then visited a beach with sand for Brian to play in for a short while. After eating at an Italian restaurant, we headed home to do chores, our souls refreshed, our tummies full and our memories vivid. It couldn't have been more perfect.