I have no internet.

Just a quick post to let you know.  I’ll be intermittent in my responses for a while.  My internet provider is in a pissing contest with an un-named cellphone company who put up a new tower in Phoenix and is jamming my internet provider’s signal.  This on top of the snow collapsing the repeater building, and them not being able to get to it for days.

I’d say it’s crumbling infrastructure, but it’s not, at least not completely.  It’s mostly poor planning (don’t build a building with aluminum siding when you know it gets below freezing and stays that way for months, don’t build a tower so cheaply it’s not done right and leans from subsidence) mixed in with aggressive companies with too much money and not enough common sense.  One of these problems is in my internet provider’s control, and can probably be fixed….the other — well, let’s say I’m not holding my breath.

Independence Days 2010 week…I dunno.

Already I’m lost with what week it is!

I know Sharon Astyk started it based on a statement made by Carla Emry in the Encyclopedia of Country Living (great book btw…well worth the investment) but I live in  a different climate zone and my new planting year starts sooner than Sharon’s does.  So.  Based on that my new planting year started in the second week of January.  Making this week 9, going into week 10.

Plant something:  Bush beans, peas, cow peas, swiss chard, sage, tarragon, chives.  Transplanted rhubarb and chives into bigger pots.  Put some of the sprouted swiss chard and spinach out in the garden.  Transplanted the fig tree into its permanent home, next to the deck and in front of my bedroom window.  Hopefully it lives; it’s beginning to bud already and I don’t want to shock it into dying.  I got it last year and transplanted it into a bigger pot immediately; it lived and did well so I’m hoping it’s not too late in the spring already and it will take to its new place well.  Come on tree, be tough!  I want figs!

The rhubarb that ‘died’ last summer apparently just went dormant in the heat; I went to water the grapes and jerusalem artichokes and lo, there was a very nice (but small) rhubarb sprout!  It looks like a very happy plant, so I’m hoping it will do better this year.  Just in case, I’m hedging my bets with potted rhubarb I can bring into the house if it gets too hot.  I miss rhubarb pie!

Waste not:  not much on that front, we’re wasting a little more food than I’d like but that’s my fault from forgetting about it in my cooler on my last day of work.  I come home, drop it on the floor, and don’t think about it again until the night before it’s time to go back.

Eat the food:  onions, corn, green beans, rice, lentils, tomato sauce, eggs.  Hooray for spring!  The chickens have been getting all the weeds I’ve been pulling from the garden, and the yolks are again that lurid orange color I love so much!

Build community:  got my neighbor into container gardening, and gave him an Amish Candy cherry tomato plant.  He was at Home Depot yesterday and purchased a bunch of rubbermaid containers, plants, and potting soil.  He used to garden, years ago, but after seeing how well we’ve done, he’s excited about having his own produce again.

Some girls like Dillards, some like Fashion Gal…me, I like Home Depot.  And Ace Hardware.  So I go to both a lot, just to wander and imagine.  I was stunned the last time I was at Home Depot.  For the first time, they had asparagus starts, rhubarb starts, and onion sets.  And the seed rack was nearly wiped out!  Seriously!  The live plants were in abundance though.  And you would not believe the number of people buying soil, compost, manure, and plants!  They even sell a prefab raised bed marketed by the Square Foot Gardening guy, and a special soil mix that meets his specs.  Wow.  Very pricey.  But hey, whatever gets people into growing their own, I guess.  His book is partly what started me on this path, but although I stick with containers and raised beds, I do so for irrigation reasons and soil reasons, not for the fashion statement part of it.

Since I’m going to drastically expand the garden, this year is the year I will have to put in drip irrigation, at least for some of it.  I will also need a trailer full of dirt, which will cost me between $150 and $200.  Yikes!!!  But, buying it in 2 cubic foot bags is getting very expensive; I may as well get it once, deal with it all at once, and be done with it.  I feel another extra shift in my future to pay for the dirt, and one to pay for the drip irrigation setup.

I teach ACLS tomorrow, and work Tuesday.  Today is the first day I’ve felt decent enough to get motivated to do anything in the garden.  I discovered that I may have killed my little eggplants; I didn’t water (never thought about it) while I was sick, and neither did Mr. TF.  Oops.  Hopefully they can be saved, they look pretty pale and pathetic.  Otherwise I guess I’ll be replanting eggplant!

Guess that’s it, time to get work on my homework; it’s due before midnight.

And now, a knitting rant

This is the back of my Blackberry Cabled Cardigan, made with my hand spun Corriedale which I purchased especially to make myself an Aran sweater.  I don’t know if you can see it clearly in the picture, but the back, especially the center panel, is leaning to the left.  This is called biasing.  The center panel is a stitch called blackberry stitch, and it is making the whole piece bias.  I don’t know what exactly I’m doing wrong with my blackberry stitch, but I’ve decided it’s not fixable by blocking and will be ‘frogging’ this as soon as I can bring myself to do so.  (frogging refers to ‘rip it, rip it, rip it’ out)

This is the second project I’ve had to rip out, albeit for a different reason, in a month (the other I also put away until I could bear to undo all my work).

Well, I usually find that I like a basic shape of a pattern/garment but don’t like the color, or the construction, or whatever.  So…I think I’ll keep the basic shape of this sweater but I’m going to drastically alter the stitch patterns for the panels.  The stocking stitch edges and shape will probably be the only recognizable vestiges of the pattern when I’m done.

Since I’m knitting almost exclusively with my home spun right now, I’m thinking I might just need to take a knit design course over the summer (if I can find one) so that I can start designing patterns for my stuff.  Working with commercial patterns that I have to alter is already part of my tool kit, so to speak; making my own patterns I suppose is the next step.


OK rant over.

Half. com. What a ripoff.

I posted a textbook on half.com because I’m done with the class. Not only does the site now tell me what I can charge for the book, it also charges a 15% fee for the listing — its commission– and only reimburses a flat rate for shipping.

Wish I’d known about all those changes before I listed my textbook. Now I’m getting about 25 dollars on a 60 dollar book, which I could probably have sold locally for much more.

AND they only pay you twice monthly, which means they get to use my money and earn interest on it ON TOP of the commission.

Ripoff artists.

No more half.com

Is there any decent online selling place any more????

ETA:  I’ve been a long time customer, and have sold textbooks through them (as well as buying) for years.  I haven’t sold anything in the last year or so, and I really wasn’t aware of these changes prior to the sale of the book.

Spring Garden Planner

Little House in the Suburbs has placed a link to a free Spring Garden Planner booklet for all of us to use and enjoy.  The post link says 2009, but don’t worry, it’s good for every year.  The directions for it are here.

The link they give for last frost dates are pretty vague, at least for me, so here is a link for a pdf of 90%, 50%, and 10% average frost dates for various places around the country.  It’s old but the 50%  at 32 degree ones are the ones I go by; it’s been pretty accurate for the last six years or so.

This is about the coolest gardening thing I’ve seen!

I’m getting a warped mind

So….with Mr. TF insisting I begin to use up all the fiber I have in my youngest son’s old bedroom I’ve been busy washing, picking, and carding bags and bags of stuff.  I was going to take  a picture of the room to show you how much I actually have, but then I opened the door and decided that would be a sight to put fear in any budding spinner’s heart.  Not to mention how unbelievably cluttered it is; I keep meaning to clean out the closet so I can put much of the stuff away…but first I have to clean up the floor to get to the closet.  We use the room for storage of camping gear also so it’s quite crowded.

Well, back to the story.  As I was washing and picking and combing and carding and spinning and washing and not seeming to get anywhere because fiber blooms when it’s cleaned and picked….I started thinking about how on earth I was going to use up all this yarn I was making.  Hmmmm…well, I DO belong to a spinner’s and WEAVER’S guild….maybe weaving would do it…??  On a whim, I did a search for looms on Craigslist:

And this is what I ended up coming home with.  It’s a Macomber CP11, with all the parts, and according to my weaving friend appears to have be in working order.  You should have seen Mr. Tin Foil’s face.  I actually got an amazing deal on it!  I spent less than half of what I was planning to spend on a Kromski Harp with the stand.  Admittedly, this loom is only a 16 inch weaving width, so it limits me somewhat, but it WILL get me started and it will allow me to make double width fabrics in the future.  There’s a technique that allows you to double warp the loom somehow, and you can make a fabric twice the width of the loom as long as you have four harnesses, which this loom does.  And, it’s called the Add-a-Harness so I can write to the company to order more if I want to get crazy with complex patterns on it.

Next up, after I’m done with school for this semester (come on, middle of April!) is to work an extra shift or two to pay for a weaving class, the book required for the class and the ones recommended to me by my friend, and the commercial yarns to warp the loom with.  I will use my own for the weft (the weaving part) but from what I’ve read so far, home spun isn’t recommended unless you’re a master weaver/spinner for the warp (the framework part) because it breaks too frequently.

On the Independence Days front, I planted all the broccoli and cabbage last week.  So far everything is doing well.  And the asparagus that I thought wasn’t going to make it through the winter is sprouting.  We’ll probably end up not eating any this year either, just in the interest of giving it that extra year to get fully settled in and rooted.  I want this patch to be productive and prolific for years to come.

I used two different potting soils when I transplanted the tomatoes a few weeks ago.  Boy, can you tell the difference now.  I have little sticks with barely two sets of real leaves on some, and plants that are turning into trees on the rest!  One was organic composted potting soil, the other didn’t have any compost in it.  Well, I know what I’ll be using next year.

The beans and peas I planted in the front are all sprouting and doing well — except for the favas that got eaten when the javelina came through.  Two of my three rose bushes are sprouting leaves, and my fig tree is greening up the trunk.  The pomegranates still look dead, as do the honeysuckle bushes; I hope they come back but they were iffy for my winter climate and if they don’t, then I haven’t really wasted anything.

The old satellite dish with the herb garden in it is doing well — the thyme came back beautifully, the rosemary has been blooming for two weeks, and the oregano is leafing out well.  I had hoped for some tarragon sprouts because I let much of it go to seed, but so far nothing.  It’s early though.

We broke down and bought spring mix during our last grocery expedition; we were craving greens and since the javelina ate ours, we had nothing.   OMG I have missed salad.

Stores check

We’re down to the last three jars of spaghetti sauce; I have jars of tomato sauce we put up so those will be next to be used; we have jars and jars of dilly beans to use up, and pickles coming out the ears so to speak.  Well, I now know what WE eat versus what the kids eat, so I’ll just have to foist more off on them when I see them.  We’re down to the last gallon and a half of frozen corn, and we have some broccoli left.  I found some frozen cherries in the freezer; I had thought we used them all up.  A cherry cobbler is in our future I think.  We have canned green beans which Mr. TF complains about every time I serve them, but I like them fine so we’ll be finishing them soon.

We used up all the grass fed meat we had frozen and that was the reason for our grocery outing.  We purchased more, enough to hold us over until the farmer’s market opens again and we can get more of the right up the road stuff.  My friend will be slaughtering her pigs in the next month or two, so we will have our freezer filled with that; we’ve already spoken for one of them and will probably have to be put on a waiting list next year.

We still have squash and pumpkins; I have a few recipes for pumpkin stew and I recently found a recipe for pumpkin hummus that I want to try.

That’s about it for now.