Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Recent Work

Fireplace Screen
Recent work, Hubby made the frame I did all the fancy bits in the middle. Nothing from a parts catalog, all designed, cut, forged and shaped by me. This is now living in front of cute little hand plastered fireplace. It's beehive shaped, simple but fancy. I wish I was one of those mega-smiths who do huge public art, out of control rails etc..requiring a team of men and a crane to install. sadly Iam not. That's just not where we have gone with our business, unfortunately.

Flower Detail
Dogwood style flowers, to match those in the tiles that ran along the front of the mantel. The holes are slit open hot, then opened with a punch. You have to do this hot, or you could tear the sheet metal. No one wants that, as it is a pain in the butt.

Finished Screen
I use a torch and a linseed oil, turpentine, bees wax finish to get the dark color. That's the traditional way to obtain the black iron look. You can use paint, but that looks cheesey , and cheap and insults the metal. How's that for sounding artsy and pretentious!

Next up= Arts and Crafts tulips..
This is a sweet little handrail, for a Craftsman style bungalow.
The flower is the one above, it has a keyhole in the center, with the leaves of the one next to it on the right.

Better get to work!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Wheel Turns

Me and the Oldest Friend, Circa 1976
I have never been a girly girl. At the age of 4 I preferred playing with Tonka trucks to dollies. It was just who I was. My mom Iam sure wished for a dainty little thing, but she was a tomboy too, and so was her mother. So it is in the blood.

Being a tomboy it's not always easy to have friends, especially girlfriends. That not wanting to play jacks or dolls gets in the way. It didn't help that I was a nerdy, skinny kid with glasses, who the other girls thought was weird for wanting to play war rather than house.
So I was lucky to meet another outdoorsy/tomboy like myself back in 5th grade. She is my oldest friend.
My oldest friend and I are still in touch, we were instant buddies, and have know each other through everything really. Although there was a time in my 20's I was not as in touch I should have been. We live on opposite sides of the country, but can still have a great conversation when we speak, which is fairly often. We also laugh a lot.
She has been going through a ton of change in the last year or so, as her mother died, and the estate had to be sold. All of it, belongings and home. That was her parents wish. Had I the money I would have bought it. Alas, I am a poor artisan, with nothing but dreams, so that did not happen.
The family home belongs to a school mate of ours now, who I know will take good care of it, and I hope, use the farm for a working farm again.

It is all sad for me, and I know it was a heartache for my Old Friend, but she has moved on, and what else can you do? Life moves on, the wheel turns.
Somehow I still grieve, and I think it is more than just knowing I can never go there again, or missing my friends parents.
I think it is tied into being 45, looking back and knowing that that was the happiest time of your life.
Wishing you could escape the grind of adulthood, to once again be 10, fishing on The Pond, or hunting in the cornfields, the only thing you had to care about was being back to the house in time for dinner.
It is silly I know, but I mourn that loss of youth, and freedom.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stringing the Hops

The Maypole Waiting to be Strung
Spring has sprung and it's time for hops to be strung. Along with all the duties of running your own small, nay molecular, business, there are the farmin' duties. We actually strung the hops several weeks ago, before the Oak Grove Funnel Cloud hit. That's another post though. Suffice it to say we sustained no damage.
The hops started emerging in February , early really. March is more usual, and I attribute it to our lack of actual freezing weather this winter. Rain, plenty. Snow, well, not much here in the Oak Grove river valley, or "The Holler" as I like to call it. It has rained buckets, for weeks on end though. Turning my backyard into a muddy, mucky swamp. The garden beds like little islands in the murk. We built a wooden walkway to the shop from the house, it feels very Medieval village but without the feudal system. It's just depressing, and woe betide you if you fall off the wooden path..
As you can see things looks cluttered and needing picked up. Here in The County blue tarps are more than just a way to keep your firewood dry, they are excellent for building temporary structures that require no permitting whatsoever! Although the plan is to build a wooden overhang instead.
That's parsnips in the foreground, waiting for em to eat them. I forget what type, but they are sweet as heck.

The Hubbinator Tying off the Strings
We decided after much debate that the Maypole should be recyled into the hop rack. Every year we hold a May Day hoopla here at the Hof, but since the addition of the pole building there just is no room for such capers. The pole part is a lodgepole pine, that I topped with a lovely red cock, and iron ring for attaching the ribbons. The men would erect the pole, and the women would decorate it with flowers. Well, we decorated it before it went up, I should say. It was a load of fun, and everyone enjoyed themselves, the weather usually cooperated too. So we would have sunshine, warm temps. Usually.
The pole is 20 feet long, or so, and required us to toss the ball of twine back and forth. He'd catch it cut a strand, tie it off, and toss it back. I'd chuck it back to him. Repeating this until we felt we had enough strings attached, and /or got bored.
Note= Ugly teal paint on house was not my idea, we just have never found the time to repaint after we bought it.

Mister Rooster All Ready to Go!
We stuck him in his holder, and raised the pole up. Iam a little sad we won't be using him for our May Day fun, but the hop bines will love this to climb up. The red rooster watches over the property. A perch for flickers, song birds, and the odd Sharp Shinned hawk, who wants to eat the songbirds.

The Pole is up and Ready For The Hops!
You can see we live in a glamorous place. That's or neighbors boneyard for his work trucks and excavation business behind the orchard.
The horse head is what the hops used to be tied off to, but they are mature now, and need some room to run. Plus it will look so cool, living ribbons of green lushness on the Maypole. Or Maibaum as my ancestors called it Germany.
The Hop bines will grow up, and cover the end of the shop. Our hop varieties are Willamette, and I think..Fuggles. I forget it's been awhile..We do use them for breweing, they are organically grown, I use only the finest Welsh pony manure, from happy ponies who grazed along the banks of the mighty Abiqua River. For hop aphid control it's ladybugs who arrive in their hundreds to clean the leaves of pest.Lacewings show up too, and their larvae consume what the ladybugs don't.
The hops are now several feet high, since we took these pics. I'll have to get a shot to insert here.

The Massive Leek.
I leave you with this, the Uber Leek. I know I should eat it, but I can't yank it out yet. I over wintered some leeks, and for some reason this one grew most vigorously. Same soil, same everything, but for some magical reason this one did best. I have to look into the propagation of leeks, can I gather seed from it when it blooms out?
Here's to the Sun coming out here in the NW, so my hops can grow their one foot per day, and I won't go barking mad from lack of sunshine.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Freya the Cat

All I wanted was a cup of tea
But I got a kitten on my back. The is Freya, our 7 month old kitten/cat. Dan rescued her tiny little , mewing self back in October, as she cowered near a boulder in the neighbors parking strip. Since she showed up Friday, He named her Freya, after the Germanic/Nordic Goddess of love, whom some say Friday is named for. I also call her "Widget", She is my little Widget, as in "Hand me that widget please."
She was wee, thirsty, and homeless so being the crazy cat lady on our street I took her in.

Alice our other girl cat hates her little guts, but we are working on things, they can sit in the same room now without Alice trying to corner and kill her, so that's a step forward.
Freya for her part stopped turning into a feline chainsaw every time she saw Alice, or heard the name "Alice", so maybe one day they will tolerate one another.

Freya and the Hubbinator, with Ludwig making a cameo.
She is cuteness personified, and we both adore the little nibblet. She started riding around on our shoulders when she was tiny, and weighed the same as a piece of toast. With butter and jam. Now she is getting to be kinda big for this sort of acrobatics. Having 7lbs. of cat launch onto your unsuspecting t-shirt clad shoulders will wake you up pretty damn fast.. She will also launch herself from heights, and it's a special kind of pain when she lands on your tender flesh.. Like hanging a bag of flour onto yourself with fishhooks. I try to resist the urge to scream, as that will only make her dig in harder as she climbs your head to get away from that alarming sound.
We are discouraging her from this behavior, but as you can see Dan is a sucker for her, and he wears a hoodie so she has more to hang on to. she ambushed me when I was getting my tea. I would never encourage such behavior from such a cute, little sweetie pie. never...