Friday, August 25, 2017

Paint party..!

I have the best family. Really.  Last weekend my sister Deb, her kind husband, John, and amazing daughter, Aimee,  arrived to help us. This means a long drive and time of their own given up to do hard labor.  See?  They are amazing.

The garage was all cleaned out. The weather was fine. And we began to spread white stain on the old, knotty pine walls of the garage.  It wasn't exactly difficult work, but it was tedious and oh there was a lot of wood to cover.  But good spirits prevailed.

Between slapping a paint brush Chris fired the smoker up and smoked up 4 slabs of pork ribs as only he can.  By the time we wound up the days work and showered, he had the table set and laden with the most delicious feast.

Smoked ribs, Memphis style cole slaw, jalapeno cheddar corn bread, fresh corn on the cob.  We were all tired but enjoyed great eats and laughs.

Sunday we finished up the stain work, and Chris and John delighted me by hanging some things on the clean, fresh, walls. This funky architectural piece was a gift from an old friend.  I knew I loved it, but didn't know what I wanted to do with it.  Rachel suggested we hang it in the freshly spiffed garage. She's smart like that.  It's fabulous.

I also found a home for the sign from my fathers business.  He was so proud of this sign, and it makes me happy to have it hanging here now.

We have been drying wild flowers and hung some from the rafters. My friend Brenda has dried more for me, and I can hardly wait to add them to the mix.

There will be little twinkly lights on the rafters, too.

I've dreamed of having a sweet area to milk my goats.  That dream can now be checked off my "to do" list.
Ella goat is entranced by the art on the walls.  She finds it nibble worthy.

My family. They make dreams come true.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Nice things...

One of the nicest ways to end a summer week is by going to the Union Farmers Market.  It's small, but so sweet.  Normally they have live music, (today, feeling reckless, I joined in for a few bars of a sweet song,) and we go often enough that the vendors recognize us. Today I came home with a loaf of tangy sourdough, some fresh butter from my favorite dairy, Italian green beans,

and bliss.

Another nice thing that happened this week was a visit from a wonderful family from Germany.  Cousins of my friend Marion, she brought them by to say hello.  We let the kids color Flirt the toy poodle with vegetable dye, just for the heck of it. Then everyone tried their hand at milking the goats.  And patting Abraham.

When they came back inside, the man of the family looked around the house and said, "We like your house."  He nodded at our baking cabinet.

"In Germany, we see things like this in stores, vintage things, but never in peoples homes.  Your house, it's like a puppet house!"

I've been smiling all week, thinking about living in a puppet house.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The great garage project...

I've mentioned in previous posts that we have been working on cleaning our garage.  It was the hottest of hot messes. A horrible embarrassment, and so full of stuff we really didn't know where to begin.  We use it to store animal feed, (6 big bins full) and shavings, as well as hay, and these things take up a lot of room. There was also stuff for fencing, extra feed pans, and other animal-keeping accouterments. Besides it had become a giant catch-all for things that are too good to get rid of, but not good enough to be in the house.  Add in a law mower, a snow blower, and a bunch of other tools and it was a recipe for disaster.

With the upcoming wedding, it occurred to us that having the garage clean and cleared out of all the stuff would give us a lovely extra space for entertaining.  The building itself is really very nice.. a double wide, double deep garage, sturdily built.  So we got to work. The space didn't get that cluttered and dirty overnight, and it didn't get clean overnight, either.  Rachel, Evans, Chris and I spent many hours putting the space right. Several pick up truck loads of trash were  hauled away, donations made, things sorted and packed and neatly stowed. We took down shelves and dismantled an ugly cabinet that some previous owner had built. Our burn pile grew as broken chairs and lumber scraps were added.

We evicted a lot of spiders and swept down many a web. It was a wonderful moment when the floor was completely cleared of everything except our two small chest freezers.
They will be moved, but not today.  Then we fired up the pressure washer our kind friend Scott loaned us.
Chris still had energy to ham it up a bit.  That power washer is amazing.  We washed the walls, we washed the floor, we washed and washed.  And it was fun.  Meanwhile, the hot afternoon sun beat down and in no time the room was dry and smelling fresh and clean.

And now the fun can begin.  Chris hung a quirky light fixture I recently found in a local antique store.
Next weekend... we stain the inside. In case you can't guess, it will be white.  You can expect another post when it is finished.

Words can't express how tickled I am to have this project nearly completed.  It was one of those daunting things that had been hanging over my head for too long, and it's a huge relief to have made such progress.  Chris and I worked beautifully together, with good music playing.  It was an unusual dance, fired by purpose, but each in step as we ground through the task at hand.  We make an excellent and effective team.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


I find myself, this summer, trying to make things beautiful. Here is the thing. I would like for our home and yard to be beautiful all the time.  But I often lack time, energy and incentive.  But now I have the wonderful motivation of our daughters upcoming wedding.

Soon after her March engagement, Rachel said, "I want to have a big Conner family party with a little wedding in the middle." So I am happily planning a party, and I am suddenly remembering many parties I threw for her when she was a kid.  For her 4th birthday party she said she wanted a, "purple party."  I created  home made purple play doh, had a zillion purple helium balloons, wrapped all her gifts in purple paper.  Her friends joined in the fun, wearing purple clothes and bringing purple presents.  Then there was a cowgirl party, (we panned for "gold" in the sand box, practiced roping a bouncy horse, and all the kids wore red bandannas and little western hats.)  For one party we bought a roll of bubble wrap the size of a Volkswagon and spread it out over the floor of our carport.  We let the kids jump on it. It made an impressive sound, and the children went wild.  It was so popular almost every party her school friends had that year featured the same delight.

It's been a while since I've thrown a bash like those, and I'm a bit out of practice. But I am having fun, catching up with doing things that need doing. We had the deck painted. And new back steps and a gate built.

And now we are working on the garage... and making big progress.  This delights me beyond measure.

My niece, who is good at many things, can also slap a paint brush like nobodies business. She painted our living room, front room and down stairs bath.  All jobs that have needed doing, and it feels so good to have them done.  I am grateful.

The gardens are looking very nice this year. Even the butterflies approve.

Summer seems to be flying past.  My business has been very busy, and I have not been swimming or out in my kayak even one time.  I will fix that in the coming weeks, because I can already feel the season changing. There was a nip in the air this evening as we ate supper in the back yard.

Summer is marching on, and I am , too.  Making things beautiful and getting ready for a party. Progress.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The garage project, stage #1...

When we looked at this house for sale 14 + years ago, I was smitten by the garage.  Double wide, double deep, with a lovely attic.  When we moved in we put a great many bins of things we didn't need right away right up in that attic. And as the years passed, more things piled up.  It became a bit of a mess.  Today's project was to clean things up.

I neglected to take a "before" picture, but let me say that there were stacks of  totes, cardboard boxes, and even some things left by the previous owners. There were  books, and clothes, and a variety of decorative items strewn about.  It took two of us 1.5 hours, and three of us another 30 minutes to bring the attic to look like this:

We emptied abandoned bins full of useless power cords, old paperwork,unloved toys. We organized others.  And then we moved to the down stairs, which was SO much worse.  There will be pictures of that to come.  This project has been vexing me for a very long time, and I will be so tickled when things are all in order.  We discarded a pick up truck bed full of things we didn't need, a pile of things to be recycled, and 4 bins of items to donate.  I feel.. lighter.

It is funny to think that we spend years acquiring things, then years getting rid of them. I appreciate that as I get older I put less value on the "things" in my life, and more value on the people.  It is one of the gifts of aging.

A tale of two goats...

Regular readers of my blog know a bit about Luna.  Luna was my first goat, a sweet and gentle girl, as friendly as they come. She liked to snuggle, and when I was in the pasture she would stay near me, pressing her face against me, squinching her eyes shut and sighing deeply.  I loved her beyond reason and was very sad when I had to have her put down last winter. To me she was the very heartbeat of our little farm, and things were not the same without her here. She had a disease called Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis, (CAE.) The woman who I bought her from assured me she had been tested and was fine.

But of course, I got used to her being gone, (though I looked for her each and every time I went out to the pasture,) and life went on.  And then I got a message this spring from a woman who had acquired one of Luna's daughters.  "I am thinning my herd. I know you really liked that Saanen doe, would you like to have her daughter back?  I can bring her over tomorrow."

I talked to Chris.  "Luna's daughter is available, but we don't need another goat."  And we didn't. But also, because the disease Luna had is passed to kid from their mothers milk, I assumed that the daughter would also have CAE.  It would be silly to take her.  Chris said, "We have to get her."  I explained all the many reasons that it was a bad idea.  "It's our last link to Luna.  You HAVE to get her." So we did.

And to my great joy, she not only looked exactly like her pretty mama, she acted like her, too.

Hugging me sweetly, following my every step, and snuggling.  I delighted to see her in the pasture, it was almost like I had Luna back, but I felt a reserve... I was afraid to fall in love with her.

I had my good veterinarian out to give her a rabies shot, and other goat shots, and check her over.  I also had her draw some blood to test for CAE. I was certain she must have it, because she had nursed from her mother, but I had a little thread of hope, because I am an optimist.   I waited.  Three long weeks.  A few days ago I got a text message from her vet, "I got the results back.  Spirit is NEGATIVE for CAE!"  My heart skipped a beat.  "This is rare and unusual, but it does happen from time to time."  So now I am free to fall in completely in love with Spirit. She is strong and healthy, gaining weight, her coat growing in thick and glossy. She is is affectionate and seeks my companionship whenever I am near. It's just like having Luna back.

She had melded nicely with the rest of the herd, has learned her name and comes at a run when called with a recall that would make dog owners envy.  And she is healthy. Did I mention that already?  Luna lives on in her daughter, Spirit.  A happiness in my life.