Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Voyage of the New Holland

OK, it's official.  We are all farmers.  All my guys work in agriculture.  My children were all in FFA.  My grandparents were farmers.  My mother tried her hardest to get all the farmer out of me, but I'm still happiest barefoot and with dirt under my fingernails.  So this next story should not come as a surprise.

When it was time to cut our hay the first time around the swather was non-functional.  Knowing that swathers are expensive, I asked my husband how he planned to fix it.  His response--drive the tires under a new one.  So they have been looking for a new swather for some time.  Naturally not brand new, just new to us.

Brent found a swather for sale at our local New Holland dealership.  Eveyone went and looked at it and pronounced it perfect.  Brent was able to get financing and last Friday he went to pick it up.  I somehow got roped into helping to flag on the trip to the field.  For those of you who don't know, flagging is when you drive either in front or behind a large piece of equipment with a yellow flashing light and a huge sign proclaiming "oversize load" at a rather reduced rate of speed.  Lots of fun!

We all met up at the dealership where Brent had somehow managed to acquire a trailer to aid in the effort to get the swather to the hay field.  The first adventure was trying to get the swather on the trailer.  It went up the ramps slowly, settled into the first wheel slots and stopped.  After some back and forth it finally crawled up the next ramp and settled into place.  Then, of course, everyone had to take pictures and congratulate each other on such a fine purchase.

Finally, the lights were in place and the signs were up.  And here begins the second adventure.  The signs on the truck I was driving had been cobbled together quickly the night before and attached to the truck with C-clamps.  They wobbled alarmingly.  However, everything seemed to be in place, so we proceeded.  The swather and trailer started out creaking and groaning and wallowing much like a ship at sea.  The turn-arounds were somewhat alarming, but we managed to get through.

The fun began when we actually got on the highway.  We had not even gone a hundred feet when there was this awful racket.  I looked out to see my "oversize load" sign flapping wildly around with one of the posts completely loose and trailing dangerously behind.  I quickly stopped before anything could be damaged.  Obviously, the brackets weren't going to work.  What to do?  Meanwhile, the swather is blissfully travelling away from us and our radio wasn't functioning to inform Brent of the fact that we were stopped.

I managed to get the sign unscrewed from the posts and finally decided the best thing to do would be to attach it to the tailgate with baling twine.  We did this and then proceeded to rush down the highway in search of our wayward swather.  Brent, in the meantime, is trying to get me on the phone while the only thought in my head is to catch up with the rest of my caravan.  We finally caught up with them some fifteen miles down the road.

The rest of the trip was mostly uneventful.  The narrow bridge doesn't count and everyone managed to fit just fine.  It was when we went to unload that things again began to be interesting.  The swather would go so far and then refuse to climb out of the wheel slots.  Finally, the front flagger got out a large chain, attached it to the swather and proceeded to pull.  The swather followed, the trailer followed, and the truck towing the trailer followed...After watching this for some time I finally decided that maybe some judicious application of brakes on the truck would keep everything from following.  This actually did the trick and the swather then docilely drove off the trailer.  The final  assessment was that it would have been easier to drive the swather rather than tow it on its nifty trailer...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Repurposed Bullet Casings

 I recently picked up the current copy of Jewelry Affaire.  There was a picture of a pair of earrings that looked like they were made from empty bullet casings.  I don't think they actually were, but my imagination immediately went into overdrive.

I told Kent that I needed some empty casings.  I didn't want them too small and I didn't want them too big.  I thought that the shells for his .44 might be just the right size.  They weren't.  They were much too big.  He thought that I probably actually wanted 9mm shells.  That turned out to be the case.  I know lots of people that target shoot--however, they usually do not shoot 9 mm pistols.  But as my good fortune would have it, my sister-in-law had collected some 9 mm shells when she was at the shooting range.

Naturally, I'm going to have to have a hole in these to connect the earwires and everything else together.   Instead of drilling a hole my sister-in-law suggested that I just punch the primers out.  Well, that is easier said than done.  I asked Kent to punch out the primers for me, but he's heading into harvest and is very busy and I (obviously) want everything done immediately.  So today I set up my little vise, grabbed my trusty hammer, a small nail (brad actually) and after pounding the shell out of the vise, getting it turned sideways, using too large a nail, and smashing my fingers actually managed to punch the primers out myself.  I'm quite pleased with myself;  I didn't even bleed on the white feathers.

I had already wired up all the things I want to put with the shells.  To finish this project, I'm going to make some glass drops in purple and fuschia and then wire everything together.  They may end up a little long, but they have been really fun to make.
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

...And On to the Next Project

I mentioned that I wanted a unique bulletin board and since I have time and less money right now, we constructed one ourselves.  Kent built the frame out of pallet wood. 

 I actually used recycled cardboard for the back of the board.  It is double taped into the wood frame that Kent constructed.

Next, I covered the cardboard with wrapping paper.  I know, I know...no one is ever going to see that because I am going to have it covered with inspirational and idea pictures.

Then I decided that I needed to have some decoration, so I twisted and hammered some recycled copper wire.

The cardboard is now double-taped into the frame and is sitting on my kitchen floor with state-of-the-art weights making sure that everything is flat and secure.  (More pictures later--I was running low on batteries).  Meanwhile, I started making butterflies from some of the unused cardboard and attaching them to the copper spirals.  The spirals are nailed--more or less--securely to opposite corners.  The butterflies are fastened with fine black wire that spirals up to form antennae.

I think that I am going to make bright yellow and turquoise glass flowers and lime green leaves to go along with my butterflies.  The next step will be to install the hanging hardware since the whole thing is rather heavy.  The flowers may wait a while because the kiln got the house really hot today, so I think I'll wait for cooler weather before turning the kiln on again.  But they can go up at any time.

Since I now have new batteries, I will take some more pictures this afternoon and maybe even get this creation hung this week.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Shelves Finished

Finally, today, I was able to get the rest of the cookbook shelves cleaned, dusted, and organized.  The crystal is washed and I put little ornaments in the empty spaces.  It looks very nice; and will continue to be so until the next windstorm...Then everything will be covered with a layer of dust again.  Talk about exercise in futility!

I am happy to have this behind me and can now move on to another project and more down-sizing.  The counter under the shelves is piled with mail and is in serious need of cleaning and filing.  I am going to have to get myself another or a different filing cabinet.  The filing cabinet we have is very difficult to open.  All the drawers (all two of them) stick, and it doesn't help that cats have found it necessary to annoint it with greater frequency than I like.  So I am on the look-out for filing ideas.

The most current project--and there will be pictures--is a bulletin board.  I want a large bulletin board in my studio over my sewing desk that I can use to display all my inspiration pictures.  So I mentioned to Kent that I wanted a bulletin board, but didn't want to buy one.  He promptly constructed a frame for me out of recycled pallet boards.  He brought me home some cardboard that I have cut to size and covered with wrapping paper.  Then I want to coil a copper wire (recycled from old wiring) around one side and attach cardboard cut-outs of flowers, leaves, and butterflies...It would have been easier to buy a bulletin board, but I will certainly have a one of a kind when it is all completed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Cookbook Shelves

My downsizing and organizing has hit a huge snag.  For the past while I have been trying to clean, organize, and dust the cookbook shelves.   I am having this huge mental block.  I know what it is, but it doesn't make it any easier to work through.  The last time I was orgaizing shelves was last summer when our Rufus died.  I didn't manage to finish the shelves then and I still haven't gotten them all finished.  I think I might be about half finished this time.

I have, however, in spite of everything, given away quite a few cookbooks.  I must confess, I love cookbooks.  I have been collecting them since I was first married.  I read them like novels and for bedtime reading.  I look at the lovely pictures.  I even cook out of them.  But I have over three hundred cookbooks.  Some of them I have not even tried a single recipe.  So after some serious soul-searching and a huge conversation with myself, I managed to give away a few of my cookbooks.  One stack went to live at my oldest son's house and another stack went to live at my youngest son's house.  I know where they are, and if I'm suddenly smitten with a irresistable urge to cook out of one of these cookbooks (nevermind that I haven't used them in twenty-some years), I can run over and copy the recipe I want to try.

Naturally, I felt the need to reward myself for this accomplishment, and I got myself a new cookbook...This one more in keeping with how I actually cook.  I recently read Life Is A Verb, by Patti Digh.  It's an amazing book and I enjoyed it very much.  Somewhere toward the end she recommended trying out the cookbook Veganomicon.  So after checking it out online, I actually ordered one (from our local bookstore).  The recipes are as good as they were purported to be.  Of the few things I have made so far, every one of them was fairly easy to prepare, did not have weird ingredients (OK, my idea of weird ingredients might not be normal), were mostly inexpensive, and tasted good.  AND I have to finish cleaning the cookbook shelves because there still isn't space in the vegetarian cookbook section for a new cookbook...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Midsummer Madness

July is invariably the month where money becomes extremely tight.  There is a lull after spring work and before harvest.  Naturally this lull translates into less work and less money.  I have already been off work for a month and so my income is also seriously curtailed.

This year I have decided that I am not going to spend undue time stressing about the situation.  Instead, I am looking around for projects that I can do that require no cash outlay.  Looking for projects to do that require no money has kept me diverted for quite a while. Some ideas are easy--weed ALL the flower beds.  I have some that are nothing but weeds.  I know what I want to do with them and getting them weeded and prepped this summer is a good start.  And I want to make some new flower beds as well.

I want our property to look clean and more attractive.  Again--easy.  I am going to start at the gate and start killing the weeds and preparing the roadside strip for maybe lavendar or wildflowers.  I have plenty of "scrap" 2 x 4's to edge my raspberry bed.  I have a small sitting area in the front yard with a "spool" table and two adirondack chairs.  I want to have it look neater and more appealing.  This one just requires elbow grease.  Kent brought me home a stack of pallets and I am going to construct a deck out of pallets.  I plan to put dirt between the slats and grow a high-traffic ground cover in the cracks between the slats.  I have also started to make a pallet deck in tha back yard where the barbecue is. So far, I have one in place...

I also have fabric on hand and patterns.  This week I completed one shirt and started and finished a second one.  I still have fabric for at least three or four more shirts.  And since I am in dire need of new shirts, I will  get started on their construction.

I have plenty of glass to play with, so I will start doing some more experimenting with my glass.  I started making disc flowers that I then pinched with pliers to look like poppies.  I start making discs and then I quit and then when I start again I cannot remember why I quit making discs the last time.  Well, THIS time I remember why I quit.  For some reason I have great difficulty keeping my discs warm.  As they cool they tend to shock and I have little bits of hot glass flying around.  Very disconcerting...I have decided that I'm just going to keep practising until I can manage to keep my beads warm enough that they don't shed bits of themselves everywhere!

I also ordered some silver leaf some time ago and I'm quite certain that it is now ripe enough to use.  I, just this week, found all my little mini punches to use with my silver leaf, so I have that to try out also.

This has been rather an exhausting week.  The guys are all out of town--leaving just us "girls" behind to keep everything together and to also dogsit Brent's two dogs.  The night before the 4th we thought that maybe we were going to have a relaxing and not too stressful time.  There were few fireworks and the only dog upset was Kent's and I was able to keep him fairly calm.  Well, this was a fond misconception.  There were plenty of fireworks on the actual 4th and ALL the dogs were distraught.  It took three attempts to get them to bed before they finally settled down (at 11:30).  There were no fireworks last night and everyone still didn't want to go to bed.  However, the humans were rather tired and became slightly more insistent that they go to bed much earlier.  They did under great protest and retaliated by insisting that it was time to get up at 6:00...

So today has been one of those days...I feel like I'm moving in slow motion and I haven't even attempted to accomplish much at all.  And with the temperature heating up, there may be no more work done; we might just spend the rest of the afternoon in our pool.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Spring in Summer

It's been a while since I posted any pictures.  I haven't done much with glass for the last little while.  My garden has not allowed me time to do anything else.  Yesterday I actually took a little break from the garden and finished sewing two new shirts for myself.  I still haven't replaced all the clothes that no longer fit, so this was actually necessary.

This is one of my projects that I completed some time ago.  I called this piece "Spring Equinox".  I think I actually started making the beads for this right around the spring equinox.  It is a graduation gift for a daughter of a friend.
This is a close-up of some of the beads.  The flower beads are a new style for me, and I have been experimenting with "pixie dust" for a while now.  I love the subtle shimmer is gives to transparent glass.

This is the center pendant.  The entire necklace is 24 inches long.  I tend to wear my own necklaces fairly short, but I try to make longer styles for other people.