Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Another project...but of a smaller sort...

The Farmer is gone to Portland to attend some more raspberry meetings…God bless him! As a kindness to me, he doesn’t invite me along. As a kindness to him, I don’t ask to go…And then we have the benefit of both being kind…

And happy.

So while he is blissfully talking about raspberries ALL DAY LONG with others who like to talk about them ALL DAY LONG, I am home and doing projects without interruption.

I find it’s better to do projects when The Farmer is away. For some reason, he finds my projects a bit stressful.

Perhaps it has something to do with being a meticulous perfectionist having to watch a free-styling, that’s-close-enough, how-quickly-can-we-get-this-done woman paint a bathroom.

After she takes the wallpaper off…

Which she has never done before…

In truth, The Farmer doesn’t even know I’m doing it. Because the next worse thing to watching it happen, is to know it is going on while you are not there…

See! I am REALLY kind…

And OH MY! All the things I am learning!!

1.   If you’re not fond of work, don’t take wallpaper off a wall.

2.    Some glues are too good at their job.

3.    If you scrub a wall too vigorously, the texture may come off.

4.    It’s a good idea to practice spraying texture somewhere other than the wall if you have never done it before.

5.    Spray texture WILL come off the floor…and the mirror.

6.    Don’t wear your painting shoes into the kitchen.

7.    Magic Eraser removes paint from hardwood floors.

8.    Hire a professional to paint around the toilet.

9.    In fact, hiring a professional is a great idea if you want professional results.

10. I need to get lower watt bulbs for the bathroom.

And so far, I’ve only got the walls primed…but considering what I had to do to get the walls free of wallpaper and glue, I’ve completed 85% of the project. It was gruesome, I tell you. Glue is just so…STICKY! I scrubbed every inch of those walls 3 times before the surface was free of residue.

In normal times, it would be cause for being on the couch for a week.

But I can’t stop now…I must get it done before The Farmer returns, and he suffers that stress I mentioned earlier…Because if he suffers, I suffer too.

If you know what I mean…

Tomorrow, it’s time for color – blue-gray or maybe it’s gray-blue. Either way, it’s gotta get on the wall, and look good….or at least good enough to inspire further change.

I’ve already decided that the rest of the project – which is doing the same thing to the rest of the utility room – just might be a joint one. I think I can tolerate perfectionism better than scrubbing every inch of all those walls.

And I know once The Farmer sees me start pulling out my tools (I use that term loosely), he’ll feel better helping me. And not long into the process I’ll become the “helper”…

Because I’ve learned more than enough already.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tank Wrangling Update...

GOOD NEWS: The tank is in the hole.

GOOD NEWS: Apparently, I can learn still learn things. I was able to move the swinging tank slowly and in the right direction. The Farmer said I did good.

NOT-SO-GOOD NEWS: I’m glad I did good because we did puncture the tank…And it wasn’t my fault, nor anyone else’s…It was PHYSIC’s fault. Stupid physics…

GOOD NEWS: So I don’t have to get a job in town. (The crack could be patched.)

BAD NEWS: But I didn’t get fired either…

GOOD NEWS: But, as I said, the tank is in the hole.

WORST NEWS: But then, there is another one…

Friday, January 18, 2013

Farm Wife on Duty...

Two 10,000 gallon tanks.

The Farmer is in the midst of a large project which I will describe to you in detail later…Suffice to say, that on this day, The Farmer needed help with it, and I was conscripted into service.

Said effort involved the moving of a 10,000 gallon tank out of a very large hole in the ground so that adjustments could be made to the floor of the hole. Then it would be moved back into position for its final placement in the hole…

The Farmer would be lifting the tank with the large loader tractor, and I would be holding on to the end of a rope which was tied to the tank. Having much experience with being pressed into a service for a chore with which I have NO experience, I knew to take the time to ask specifically what we were attempting to do with this monster. I wanted to have some idea of the plan before it got off the ground. Where was the tank supposed to go, what did I have to do with the rope…

It soon became apparent that I had not asked enough questions.

I always dread these little chores. The Farmer expresses his confidence that I can do it, but this really only means that it’s some kind of job that can’t be messed up too badly. And I know that my deficiencies in the understanding of physics and spatial relationships are bound to result in messing up. The Farmer – a natural in these areas – just can’t comprehend that I can’t comprehend how to make things move, or not move in the right direction.

The instruction I received was to keep the tank from “swinging around” by pulling on the rope.

Okay…how difficult can that be?

For me? Difficult…

The Farmer had not been able to pump the tank completely empty, so as soon as the tank lifted, the remaining water rushed to one end – not the end with the rope -- and suddenly the tank was lifting way high into the air on my end! I hung on to the rope for dear life as I wondered was “swinging” up and down, or side-to-side? Foolishly thinking that I was responsible to level the tank, I pulled with all my might which resulted in me sliding down and almost under the behemoth…My feet were spinning out on the frosty ground!

The Farmer was gesturing and mouthing instructions to me from the tractor. I frantically tried to make adjustments one direction, and then the other as I failed at translating.

So The Farmer had to stop, and get out of the tractor for a little review, and little adjustment of the plan. I was to keep the tank from swinging too close to the raspberry row, or the tractor as he backed away from the hole.

Okay…fine. Except for the fact that I have never guided a swinging 10,000 gallon tank by a rope, this should be no problem. I’ve got it now.

Suffice to say, there was more frantic pulling by me and frantic gesticulating by The Farmer as the tank towering over me swung too quickly in response to my spastic direction. It was fairly hair-raising but we did get the tank moved without puncturing it…A danger that I was unaware of until after the fact. It might have helped to know exactly what I was trying to avoid…I was all over the “keep it from swinging around” but oblivious to the “it may puncture if it bumps anything”. Not to mention the little detail that I didn’t know how to make it move in the right direction smoothly.

Once the tank was safely on the ground, The Farmer took a couple of deep breaths, and kindly explained to me how to move the tank properly.

Fine, fine and dandy! But I didn’t intend to be part of this operation again…Just no desire to slide under a swinging tank, or fight physics as it swings in the air.

As with so many projects on the farm, I am really not qualified for the job…But I am available for the 10 minutes that help is needed, and I work for cheap. Stopgap – that’s me.

A man would be preferable for the job…PLEASE find a man to do it! I fear the day when The Farmer’s misplaced confidence results in a punctured tank, or some other costly catastrophe…

And it could be soon…because that tank has to go back in that hole in the ground, and I think I didn’t do badly enough to be replaced.

I’ll let you know if I need to look for an off-farm job to earn enough money to replace a 10,000 gallon tank.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winter Farming...

By the end of this week, the major part of winter farming will be done. Only a couple of rows remain to be pruned and tied. Through November and December, we had a crew of 10 men out there working. Now, we are down to 3 fellas who are battling their way through the jungle that is our youngest field.

Oh my! There are many beautiful canes growing in that young field! -- A jungle to work through.

And once pruned and top-tied, they are so tall!

I love how orderly and tidy they look once they have been arc-ed and the final tie is done.

From a mess…

To order.

Having a big crew this year was something new for us. For a long time, we have had one or maybe two families slowly work through the field for the entire winter, thereby guaranteeing them an income for all of the cold months. But our latest family was getting older, and tired of the hard physical work, and decided to find something other than outside work for the winter. Fortunately, we were able to find a good group of guys who needed the work, and they kept doggedly at it and swept through the field.

They are gamers! Remember all that rain – 39 degree rain – in December? They were out there working nearly every day. We don’t require them to come when it is so nasty out, but they were here, gutting it out, getting the work done, earning the dollars their families need.

I admire that…and I’m thankful for them more than I can express.

And if you come by our field, you can admire their handiwork too. The fields just look so pretty when they are all neatly tied…
          ...and sound asleep like they’re supposed to be right now.
We’re thankful for the cold weather week, and a night below 20 degrees. It’s too soon for them to start thinking about waking up, and that will help them sleep a little deeper.
Just rest until spring, berries dear!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Obsessions, New & Old...

I recently added a new obsession to my life. I’ve learned to knit, after 10 or so years of being a beginning knitter, and have actually come to love doing it.

I’ve always wanted to knit, and when we were youngsters, my mom tried to teach us how to do it. We knitted Barbie scarves of varying widths – meaning that one scarf had varying widths – and usually with the yarn pulled so tightly that we had trouble getting the needle in. Mom tried, bless her heart, but she was a beginner herself, and soon we all lost interest.

Probably 10 years ago, I tried again – found a knitting book for kids and decided if a kid could do it, I too would knit a hat and mittens. I also found a revolutionary help – video! Actually seeing someone knit cleared up a lot of mysteries for me. I actually reached my goal of making a hat – even two – but when it came to the mittens, or in my case, mitten, it started getting complicated. So I made one lonely mitten that to this day has no mate and an oddly shaped and extra long thumb.

Then 2 years ago, I spied, and immediately coveted, an adorable garland of miniature striped mittens at Anthropologie. In true Anthropologie style, they were pricey! In true Dutch girl style, I would not pay that much, and decided I would find a way to make it myself.

I now have a completely different opinion about that Anthropologie price…It was a deal…considering how long it takes me to make one mini-mitten.

As luck would have it, I eventually found a book with a pattern for mini-mittens. I got the yarn, and I began…And it was slow going…SLOW going. I think I made 2 mittens that first year…which WAS a 100% improvement from my first mitten project…So I kept on. In time I realized that The Pie Principle was at play…which is to say if you wish to make consistently good pies, you have to make about 100 bad ones first. Eventually, experience will win out, and you will become a good pie baker.

Must be true for other endeavors, too, so I soldiered on…and became addicted!

I made my garland!! 

And I gave away a lot of little pairs of mittens at Christmastime.

And I found that this new obsession was a perfect companion to an old obsession – watching football!

And now I also believe that the Seahawks will not do well unless I am knitting during the game.

Sorry to HawkNation that I got a little too excited and put my knitting down during those last 31 seconds…

As they say on TV, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work…

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Do you hear the people sing?

Oh, yesterday was a good day...It was Erin's (my sis) birthday, and she shared her celebration with myself, and Megan, the third sis. We bought a mondo tub of popcorn, big drinks and watched Les Miserables together.

Oh...oh...It was beautiful! I haven't been so stricken, and yet joyful, at the beauty of a story for...a long, long time! I soaked it in.

It doesn't hurt that Les Mis is probably my favorite story of all the stories I have known...Well, except for that most amazing one where an all powerful God redeems a rebel world by sending His Son as an infant.

And those two stories are definitely related.

I have only seen Les Mis twice before -- and high school productions at that. Still I came to love it. I had read the book previously, and while Victor Hugo deserves praise for creating this story, I will say that he is especially talented and prolific with his digressions. Which is to say that I didn't appreciate the heart of this story until I saw it in performance, with the music.

Oh my heart! I can hardly bear the emotion...I felt it in the stage performances, but the movie director's decision to film the singers close up was brilliant. The hallmark of good story-telling is not just that you understand, but that you FEEL...

I think I came away with a greater admiration for Jean Valjean, and a better understanding of what drove Javert because of what I saw in their faces.

You just need to go see it...I recommend that if you have not read or seen the story before that you look up the cliff notes, or something, and go with an understanding of the plot as it is somewhat complicated. It will increase your enjoyment of the emotion of the actors and music.

But do go...It will give you much to ponder...and to hum...and to talk about with your sisters! It was such fun to share this experience with my dear sisters, one of whom wept, one whose eyes were wet, and then there was one who sniffled and daubed a lot...All three of us sat as the credits rolled and exclaimed together over it. It was just so much better that way than seeing it separately and having a chat about it. Sharing an experience with my sisters brings back the old bond of the days when we experienced most of life together. Didn't have to explain or describe; we were in it together. Lots of precious memories of those times, and it is a treat to find that feeling of solidarity and love still is right there.

Indeed, it was a special day -- for lots of reasons -- one that I will mark in my memory and my heart.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Out with the Old {sniff}, In with the New {smile}

A new year has begun…and, as usual, I am happy and sad about it.

Christmastime is my favorite – no, FAVORITE – time of the year. I just love it! Or LOVE it…There’s no one I would rather spend money on than my kids, and Christmas gives me an excuse to do it! I love trying to make up little surprises for other people too. The world puts on its prettiest face, with lights and colors and sparkly whimsy everywhere. Not to mention, people tend to be more cheerful and generous and benevolent…

Foundational to all this good cheer, is that fact that it is based on “good news of great joy” as we see our powerful God address the abysmal problem of our sin by bringing, not an army, but an infant…His plan was, and is, amazing.

But by the time that New Year’s Day comes, the overt celebrations are done and it’s time to return to the reality of the everyday mundane mechanics of living…

So I’m always sad when it rolls around.

Besides the end of Christmas, you also have to consider that it is the end of another year. This always sends me to reflection on how quickly time is passing, how some things have changed, and other things that should have, did not.

But on the Other Hand, there is also a sense of anticipation – similar to the beginning of school anticipation – new calendars, new planners, new plans!

I admit it…Every year I am excited to be more organized, more disciplined, more creative, more efficient, more {fill-in-the-blank}. This, despite, after 50 years of living on earth and knowing that these things rarely happen the way I anticipate.

What is it that they say about insanity? It’s doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result?

That may apply here…But I am going to go with it, because I need whatever motivation I can get in January.

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life (leslieisverbose.blogspot.com) and one where I can vent. (leslievents.blogspot.com)