Saturday, November 30, 2013

Don't Cough on the Turkey

Several days after Johnny returned from the kids up north, he came down with the flu bug that Kevin and Jessica had brought home from their trip to Las Vegas. I, of course, was sure I would not get it because I took lots of preventive stuff that has never failed me. Until this time. A week before Thanksgiving I succumbed to the fever and chills and coughing that is the hallmark of this year's flu. I'm still not over the tiredness and the coughing.

My routine has been to drag myself out of bed in the morning, stagger out to the barns to feed, stagger back and flop into my reclining chair until I have enough energy to stagger back out, turn the horses out and milk the goats. Then go to bed until it is time for night chores. I do not do sick well.

I was well enough to cook the turkey and etc. for the few people brave enough to enter the House of Coughing. But the traditional hike after supper disappeared. At least we have plenty of leftovers so I don't have to think about cooking for days. Fortunately, Johnny seems to be recovering faster than I. At least, he doesn't sleep all day anymore. Of course, he had a couple days head start. The family up north are recovering, although still tired and some of them still with coughs. It's a nasty bug.

As a consequence of this Thanksgiving week flu, I took virtually no photos. Just before the last of the guests departed yesterday, I took a photo of David lovin' up the llamas and his friend Josh giving Shirley Puppy attention.

Our animals loved having these young men visit for a couple days. And so did Johnny and I... but I sure hope they don't get this bug. I don't think we were contagious anymore... and I tried hard not to cough on the turkey.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Wreath Project

While Johnny was up north hanging out with Ian for a week, I was home making wreaths.  Here's hoping I'm better at this next year. Of course, Jim, from whom we've bought wreaths for Christmas gifts for most of the 25 years he has been making them, may not have a statice flower crop failure two years in a row and could be back to making lots of wreaths next year. But now that I've sort of learned what I'm doing, I may want to do it every year. Or not. There have been setbacks.

All the flowers from our garden that I dried this summer are not going into my wreaths. They look like, well, dead flowers. But the greens are all from our farm and look fine. I just wish I had more than one Noble Fir. Besides Noble Fir, I am using Douglas Fir, Giant Sequoia, Modoc Cypress and a pine that is not Japanese Black Pine but I thought it was. The cones are Sitka Spruce from an area on the coast where I survey Black Oystercatchers. Since I have no flowers or holly to complement the greenery, I am incorporating rose hips from neighbor Irv's wild roses. He has a variety that I don't have... bright red and huge.

But, alas, the hips started to go soft after I had them in wreaths so I had to pull some out. I planted those in the arboretum in hopes of getting them started here. My wild roses have little, rotting hips. I researched on the Web and learned that I could preserve rose hips for wreaths by coating them with clear furniture wax. I rummaged through the cupboard and found some... from who knows how long ago. (I can't remember the last time I waxed a floor.) Since the rose hips were already in wreaths, I could not dip them as recommended. I painted them instead. Here's hoping it works.

My workshop is my dad's stock trailer that he gave me years ago. Johnny created a work table and shelves and a way to hang the wreaths from the side. It's a wonderful place to work.

Each type of green had to be cut from its branch in lengths and sizes appropriate for a wreath. That was done outside the workshop, then I brought the boxes with each type of green inside.
My non-conventional method of adding rose hips is to use an entire branch and wind it around the wreath ring, then add greens on top. At least, that's how I started. After awhile I started with a layer of sequoia, then the rose hips, then the rest.
This was before I wired cones into the wreaths.
The production line after twenty wreaths were done... and redone... and redone...
Johnny modeling a finished wreath. At least, finished for this day. I can't seem to stop messing with them.
I read that with a wreath ring clamping machine, a person can make 80 wreaths in a day. My wreath rings are lightweight affairs with easily bendable closures needing no machine. I average an hour per wreath and have made no more than four in one day. As much as I like working in the stock trailer, my patience wears out quickly, as does my body.

Family and friends who get Jim's wreaths from us each year will be a little surprised at the difference this year. My wreaths are, um, unique. I just hope those rose hips don't rot before January.

Johnny Up North

Less than two weeks after Johnny returned from helping out the kids in California, he took off north to help the kids in Washington. Kevin was at a conference in Las Vegas and Jessica was joining him for a few days. Johnny went up to ferry Ian to school, gymnastic practices, and horseback riding lesson. Plus, of course, he went up to work on a project: rebuilding the back gate on Traumhof's dump truck. Jessica's big horse boarding and dressage training facility produces a lot of horse manure that has to be cleaned up and hauled off to the local garden center. The dump truck is an essential piece of Traumhof equipment... and it definitely needed a new back gate.

Although Johnny had orders to get photos of grandson Ian, he did not take many. Here are a few from Ian's gymnastic practices.

The day before Johnny came home, Ian's gymnastic class had group photos taken. Johnny went with Jessica and Ian, but this photo was taken by Jessica and posted on her facebook page, where I stole it.

No photos at all of the horseback riding lesson. Sigh.

Johnny had a great time both on his train rides up and back and with Ian. And he finished his dump truck project. Now I'm ready for him to stay home for awhile.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Johnny's Projects

Johnny just returned from a week with the California kids, doing projects. He loves helping his kids. The first assignment was fixing the front door so Munazza, with her current arms ailment, could open it. He had that done in no time. Then he trimmed out some windows and the front door, replaced a back door, put up an outdoor light, insulated and dry-walled one section of the garage/shop/exercise room, fixed some wiring, and probably other things I've forgotten. I had asked him to take lots of photos. I meant of the grandkids. Here's his photo of the garage wall project.

One project I didn't know he would be doing was talking to Kestrel's class about our farm. Johnny didn't know he'd be doing it either. But he told me it went very well, in spite of his lack of preparation. The kids asked lots of good questions, especially about "animal poop" so he was able to talk to them about composting. I liked Ava's question best, though, as reported by the teacher...

"We had a special visitor this week, Kestrel's grandfather, Johnny.  He owns, operates and lives on a small farm with his wife.  Johnny spent some time talking with the kids Friday morning about what it's like on a "real" farm, and answering a lot of interesting questions, mostly about animals.  At one point, Johnny explained how his wife gets up early every morning to feed horses, milk goats and muck stalls.  At this explanation, Ava raised her hand and asked, "So what do YOU do?".  We all had a good laugh at that. Johnny defended himself, explaining the division of labor on their farm, but Ava still wasn't too sure... :o) "

Johnny did take some photos of the grandkids. Here the boys are in their Halloween costumes: Kestrel as Superman and Cedrus as Michael Jackson.

Here is the whole family... and friends... on the Goblin Walk.

The boys did their trick or treating on the Goblin Walk with their respective girlfriends. Kestrel is getting kissed by Miss Piggy... again.

 Then Johnny took a whole lot more photos of his projects... but also these two wonderful pictures of the boys practicing their music lessons... Cedrus on the keyboard and Kestrel on guitar... I look forward to hearing them play next time I get down there.

Back in Oregon, Johnny has had plenty of projects, too. In the community service line, he replaced the Grand Ronde Library front doors. What an improvement! From this...

to this...

The most intriguing project he has had lately is salvaging a hand-painted silk wall mural from a house being remodeled. The story behind the mural was that it was a gift from the Japanese consulate to the previous owner of the house for his serving as a judge at the Tokyo Olympics... in 1964. The current owners recognized its value but the design did not fit with their decor and they wanted it removed. They offered it to the director of the Japanese school in Sheridan. She called Johnny.

It was not possible to get the very thin silk and its paper backing unglued from the wallboard behind it so the wall had to be cut out with the hanging... in pieces. Carefully. Here are three of the salvaged pieces.

Although the ultimate destination is the Japanese Charter School in Sheridan, at the moment the pieces are still under cover in Johnny's shop, waiting for other more knowledgeable people to decide on framing, etc.

Another "art" project was hanging friend Monica Setziol-Phillip's spectacular new commissioned wood sculpture and tapestry weaving piece. It will go to someone in southern California. Lucky folks!

Of course, here on the farm I have lots of projects for Johnny, too: repairing, rebuilding, fencing, and on and on. The old barn is not completely dismantled yet, either.

For someone who is "retired", Johnny sure keeps busy. I think he wonders how he ever had time to work.