Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Milder Today

Rushed out the door with more fabric for students, Easter Egg dyeing accoutrement, white store bought eggs, cheap white bread and new jars of store brand peanut butter and jelly for students who work a whole lot better with something in their stomachs. Sometimes I feel like my arms are going to rip right off. Had to make two trips to get all my gear down to my room on the opposite side of the complex and down two flights of stairs. It was too early to grab a kid or I would have. A student saw teachers taking their driving physicals and came to the room to tell me to please get one so I can take them out to lunch. I had the paperwork but didn't get around to filling it out. Luckily they let me fill out the forms while waiting for a break in the appointments. Incredibly, three teachers signed the part vouching for my moral character, and I passed the pee test. There are times when I am very grateful for my rather dull and boring past, as in raising kids and sheep, so I can answer "no" to any convictions, drugs or other touchy subjects. I had a pretty thorough exam by two docs and found out my BP is down 20 points on both numbers. I guess the 5 pounds lost so far and absence of crap in my diet is working in my favor. Soon as the paperwork goes through I can take a school vehicle and take my crowd out to lunch, museums, shopping, or to my farm. Won't that be fun! One student finished her bag and immediately put her stuff in it and wore it out of the classroom. Two more bags are on the machine. One girl is a bit tired of sewing up and down straps, but I did warn them there is a LOT of sewing with Bundaflicka Bags. The kids who were not sewing dyed the Easter Eggs and taught me how to make a resist with a crayon to draw designs on the eggs! So much fun. Home to the farm after playing a fast game of volleyball with students last period. So much to do. Easter, Good Friday and Passover are upon us. I'll be practicing my very Biblical lifestyle here on the farm in my pastoral church. Wish I could visit AJ's seminary on Easter but it's too far away. I bet it's a beautiful service.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh, What a Storm

The rain feels cold enough to be snow but it's not. Snow would not be as penetrating and bone chilling as this stuff. Windy and so nasty. Ofcourse I left my rain jacket in the van and I have so much to carry I can't exactly run. Three stops to market, PO and gas. Thankful for fleece vest, Goretex jacket and sturdy clogs with socks. Farmer clothes rule! Home to the greeting of kitties waiting for their kibble, which I give them right away so they don't trip me carrying in my groceries. I was not able to retrieve my big bag of pink wool, as the director who kindly picked it up put it in her trunk and was away at a meeting today. I'll get it tomorrow, hopefully. It belongs with a 30 pound run already on the way to the mill. The day went smoothly and had me wishing all days at school were so much fun. Making buttons with polymer clay and sewing Bundaflicka totes was wonderful (after math and English, ofcourse.) I made three soy candles after I came back in from the rain, along with strong coffee with foamy milk - ready to face an evening of chores and cutting up lots of lavender soap, which is hardly a chore. It's simply divine.

Monday, March 29, 2010

In the Pink

I loaded several giant bags of little and big bags of angora and wool into the minivan before I rushed off to work today. One giant bag of gorgeous, fuschia pink BFL was in a net laundry bag Kim gave me. The day flew by and school was over. I loaded some boxes I picked up in the hall at school and one nifty copy paper box Gretchen gave me. It is perfect to ship people their Bundaflicka Bags in, or pour molten shaving block soap into. Anyway, I took off out of the parking lot and realized I left the sliding door to the van open. I stopped, jumped out, closed the door and took off to downtown Norwich to Hayes Office Supply. They have a little alcove in the back I can pull up to, unload my wool and tape together boxes. To my shock and horror, my big bag of fuschia wool was missing. As I fought off hyperventilation, I realized it must have fallen out in the parking lot of my school. I decided to pack up the rest of the wool and get it out to the mill. Time is of the essence with Md. Sheep and Wool 30 days away! It took half an hour with me trying to be calm and collected with the UPS lady figuring out my bill. I took off for the school to find my wool in the parking lot. No wool. I checked with several custodians who promised me they would check around for a giant bag of pink wool. I went to the school office and asked the secretary. No wool, and I appreciated the way she took my plight seriously. I didn't hear any snickering as I left the office. I made my way down the hall to check with my friend, Sharon, the Special Ed. secretary, but the Director was in the office. I decided not to share my story with them, as I'm sure they think I'm a nut case, and the staff was recently warned about certain un-professional behaviors. I wasn't sure how my story of the lost pink wool bag would be received. I needed to get home and resolved to hope for the best that someone had found my wool and would save it to give to me tomorrow. It might even be propped up against my classroom door in the morning...but I couldn't let it rest. I called Sharon with my cell phone as soon as the call would go through (this is upstate NY remember). Guess what!! The Director has my wool!! Sharon said I could pick it up in the morning! I don't know how, but it was found and turned in to the Special Ed. office! What a relief...two or three fleeces, lovingly washed, dyed, washed again and dried, were lost and now are found.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day is Done, Gone the Sun

Home all dang day and loved it. I didn't even get dressed and did my morning chores in my jammies. It was two before I realized I hadn't washed up either. What heaven. I got my "Lipstick" run coordinated and ready to ship. I was going to head up to Staples in New Hartford but realized I could ship it from Hayes in Norwich after school tomorrow. They do my creme stickers so I can get that done at the same time. I still have wool cooking on the stove in the milk room. I'll have two big runs - Lipstick, which is a repeat of last year's wildly successful red, pink, orange and purple blend. Next comes Pacifica, named after the beach where Hannah and Luke surf in California. I started with Jacquard's Sky Blue, which I had a full pound of, left over from last year's Big Dye Purchase with my June teacher summer pay. I was determined to use up my dyes, and came up with Pacifica using the blue, then Spruce, Emerald, Fuschia and Purple (ofcourse, there is no escape from purple for me). If I get the amounts right it should be lovely and fly out of the booth. If not, I'll have fun spinning it myself. I'm also doing a small yellow run, mostly for my own satisfaction as I love yellow and it makes me happy. I can't duplicate last year's Chrome Yellow, which was almost half lime green angora, and OH, so wonderful. My bunnies are stripped naked and I can't afford what people are selling it for ($60 a pound or more). Most of the show people throw it away, and the fiber people, who know it's value, wisely hold out for the money. Can't blame them - it's the most fabulous fiber as far as I'm concerned. My Bluefaced Leicester is almost as soft, but the angora has the lovely halo. I got a batch of Lavender soap made today, between the wool picking. It set up right away and poured well. I have the wrapping fabric already cut for it. It's out to the stove for me. I finally got my jeans washed between wool loads. I will sew a little then go to bed. Matt worked on the tractor all day. He thinks it is a month until start up. Let's keep our fingers crossed. He watched The Pacific after helping me with chores. I realized the Marine Hero, John Basilone, is the one whose stature I saw a thousand times in Raritan, the little town across the river where I grew up in NJ. The highway overpass on route 202 where my school bus travelled is named after him. I ruined it for Matt when I told him the local VFW is named after him. Matt said then he must have died because they only name posts after dead people. I looked it up and sure enough he was killed on the first day of Iwo Jima. So sad. He was done with fighting after Guadalcanal and the Medal of Honor, and marrying a woman Marine he met at a base stateside, but had to go back to the war. "Where have all the young men gone, long time passing?"


I'm browsing through pictures to find Md. Sheep and Wool entries. After winning First Place and Best in Show last year I figure I have a reputation to keep up. I thought I might have a mention on the show's web site for this year but didn't see anything. That's okay, I have the picture and ribbons in the living corner of the apartment and the thrill will last me a lifetime. But what to show this year? I have a couple of ideas, including the Wooly Rooster which Kimmie Cornerstone and Mia have voted for. I'll put my dearly departed Horatio's picture in the portrait division. I get misty when I look at it. I'll never forget coming home and finding him dead on the hay. Matt thinks the alfafa in the nice green bale he got for breakfast that day killed him. I think he was just so old it was time for him to cross the Rainbow Bridge. His original owner from somewhere in Central New York had sold her farm and taken off in a Winnebago. The new owners did not want her sheep and they were fostered in Ft. Plain for a while before I rescued a few. I think some of the Rambouillets and Merinos were old as the hills. I'm going to get some of the Rambo wool processed this year and see how I like it. They are the sheep featured in Brokeback Mountain. In the meantime, I have Horatio's skull and magnificent hornset to remember him by. I fished it out of the dead pile last summer after nature had done her work. Fortunately, the coyotes didn't gnaw on the beautiful horns. Someday I hope to have a mantle to put it on.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Brookfield Tax Protest

Matt ran into a tax protest going on in Brookfield as he was heading for the Louis Gale feed mill this morning. How exciting! I'm so proud of my little town! (Teachers are, by nature, very militant!) It costs $20,000 per student to keep 240 kids in the K-12 Brookfield School. I wonder if the high cost of health care for each and every employee of the school has something to do with it? He sent me pictures on his Blackberry. Many townspeople are supremely pissed off at the tax hikes this past year, some as high as 30% the protestors told Matt. My taxes have stayed the same, don't know why. The Brookfield residents were marching up and down main street in front of the tiny little cinder block town hall (with the hitching post in front for horses, right next to the bar), exercising their right to assemble, right to free speech, etc., in a democratic society. I can't wait to tell my students about this. They love when I talk about our rights, especially when it pertains to the rights against illegal search and seizure, right to remain silent, have a lawyer appointed for you, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if one of my students, someday in the future, says politely to an officer that wants to search their cars or premises, do you have probable cause? or may I examine your search warrant, please? I will be so fulfilled!


16 F. out there. I thought it felt a little nippy. I like to turn off the heat in the apartment when I go to bed. I always wake up around 3 to find it nice and cold, then turn the heat back on low. If I don't Matt has a fit. He came home exhausted last night from giving two tours of his nifty weatherization training facility to visitors. He slept through chores and is still snoring away in there, after 8 am the next morning. Tisk tisk, not good, sheep yelling for food and water out there. I had to put the goat's corn in a sack and hold it with my teeth as I climbed the ladder to get up in the hay mow. He usually hands the buckets up to me. I might have to trade him in for two 27 year olds. It took me two hours to do chores last night, which I love to do as it is the only real time I spend with my animals, but with Maryland 35 days away every hour is precious. He will call me at the booth wanting to know how much money I am making and I will tell him to go back to bed. I better do some laundry today. Every time I went to wash my only pair of blue jeans last week the washing machine was full of wool. It still is. Six big blocks of Lemongrass soap to cut up, but no where to put it to cure. Have to clear off my soap rack, which is stuffed full of fabric and sewing accoutrement. When Matt goes to Texas next month I'm bringing some BOCE boys over here to haul my big breakfront cabinets in the apartment for safe storage of my materials. He hates big furniture and loves the minimalist look, but it doesn't work for my farm business. I better get busy, time waits for no woman.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Could it be true? Is it really Friday? I drove 50 miles to the Masonville campus of our sister BOCES for a joint staff workshop. Late as usual (Billy Goat's fault) I was zooming down the highway at almost 80 mph when a tiny car passed me, passengers waving, and I realized it was Gretchen and Co. heading for the same place. If people only knew how teachers drive - and we look so dull, nerdy and boring for the most part! The Masonville BOCES is nestled in the Catskills, and is a stunning campus. Giant windows with hills all around, pretty colored tiles, terrazzo floors, field stone accents, good food and happy smiling faces of friends and colleagues - and no kids for a day! We learned all about how to teach vocabulary in a way that makes sense to kids, and had an afternoon presentation on mental disorders - very appropriate for our student population (and others I come in contact with from time to time). The drive home was long but beautiful in the brilliant sunshine and cold wind. Gosh, I love this weather. My usual stops at PO, Stewarts and feed store and home to the farm. Cuppa Joe and outside with the doggies. The wind went right through my fleece pants and sweater, but I was going to give the doggies their due. They hold it all day and take a while to discharge everything that's built up, so I hate to rush them. I'm pulling up thistle bushes, roots and all, from the damp ground, before they start to grow back. Helps to remember gloves but I never do. Maybe I'll have a little fire of thistle sticks and other brush tomorrow night, if the wind dies down, and have a little glass of sherry while I stare into the flames and contemplate the fate of my farm and the universe. In the meantime, I better get back to work on wool, soap, bags and creme - my list for the weekend.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's A Wool Thing

I'm skirting, washing and dyeing fleeces late into the night. The Milk Room kitties think this is all very fascinating and enjoy my company. A fleece comes out of the bag onto the table where I remove any remaining sticks, dirt, or short pieces, pull apart the locks so water can penetrate then into the washing machine for a soak in hot soapy water. Spin out the black water, into the big dye pot with hot water, Jacquard acid dye and vinegar. Stir, stir, stir to make sure all fiber is immersed in dye. Bring to simmer for half an hour while I'm working on the next fleece. Turn off the pot, let it cool down overnight. The next night I'll turn it into the washing machine for two rinses, then spin out water. Spread it out on the bed in Mia's room to dry under ceiling fan. Pack it up and ship it out to carding mill. It comes back to me in beautiful one pound balls of Mother Fiber. Why Mother Fiber? Because Wool is the Mother of All Fibers, ofcourse!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

More Shearing Day

I obsessed and worried about it all week, but shearing day went better than I could hope for. I knew Kim and Darryl were coming and they are as faithful and capable as the day is long, but I was still nervous. With Matt in and out of town, and me gone all day at work with all kinds of worries from my job at school to getting in hay to finding sheep wranglers to gathering together all the shearing supplies like wormers, vaccines, hoof trimmers, wound care spray, needles, syringes, clear plastic bags, markers, scissors, drinks for workers, lunch for Kim and Crew, camera charged and money for everybody, to arranging for picking up more hay today, yada, yada, yada. Somehow it all came together and I have the wool I need for Md. Sheep and Wool. Now it's up to me to get it washed, dyed in pretty and unique colors, dried, packed up and shipped to the carding mill in the right color blends to be delivered to me in Maryland for sale. That's along with making and wrapping a box car load of soap, sewing bags, collating photo notecards, and making shaving cups and lots of Shepherd's Creme. Am I going to do all that? Ah, yep!

Shearing Day Spring 2010

My faithful friends, Kim and Darryl, came south from Canada with their kids, Jared and Lindsay, to help me through shearing day. I needed wool to dye and card for sale at Maryland Sheep and Wool, and this lovely weather was not going to last for long. They arrived at 9 along with Andrew and Eric, local kids from New Berlin who I knew from BOCES, to wrangle the sheep and get them on the shearing board. Once Jim Baldwin got the shearing done, Darryl took the sheep and held it so I could do shots and hooves. Kim gathered up the fleece and took it to the skirting table for a once-over before it went in the bag. Everything went fantastically and after six hours of hard work I had forty beautiful fleeces to play with. We got the big fat wethers (castrated males) seperated from the girls and into the side pen with the goats. Wethers tend to be big bullies and push moms and lambs away from the food. Unfortunately when I was paying the boys and saying goodbye to Jim, we forgot to put the gate up inside the barn and the wethers all ran back to the girl's side. It's such hard work to catch them it will have to wait for the next shearing day which will take place after Md. Sheep and Wool when Jim comes back to do the goats and the rest of the sheep. We ate lunch then took a hike up to the pond to throw the ball for Holly and watch her swim. Billy Goat followed along and ran with Jared and Lindsay, so adorable.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another Beautiful Day

This weather is so lovely, 30 F. when I left for work and around 60 when I climbed up the hill with the doggies after school. Better enjoy it as snow is forecast for Sunday and Monday. Holly chased the pair of geese away before I could get there. Maybe they won't lay eggs after all - couldn't blame them. I'm dishing out the ground chicken and cow's livers to the cats and dogs. It's going way too fast. They swallow it whole (except for Pip who dropped the chunk of liver and nosed it long enough for Holly to steal it from him) and then it's gone. At least the kibble stays in the bowl for snacking later. I hate the stuff but it's a lot less messy than slicing up bloody parts. This liver looks so good I find myself wondering if I should cook it and make Jewish chopped liver, with lots of onions and crumbled scrambling eggs - hmmmmm, good!! I have enough roosters for another run in a week or so if Mary is up to it. Matt is on his way home from Plattsburgh, where he watched Canadian TV and people spoke French instead of English. A couple more weeks and he's off to Austin, Texas for a week.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Just got in from chores - 9 PM. Just in time to watch the Irish in America in honor of St. Paddy's Day. Matt is in Plattsburgh, up by the Canadian border, doing his weatherization training thing. I know he is happy doing what he is doing so fine with me. Mary took 15 roosters to be processed today, after dropping me off at school. She picked me up and there were the boys, in neat bags in a cooler. Mary also gave me a gift of a big bucket of cow livers. Let me tell you, my dogs were in heaven. They like their kibble with raw eggs, but this was something new and different and wonderful. Trouble is I don't think they tasted the liver it went down so fast. I have at least another 15 roosters to go on another trip. There will be more roosters I'm sure, as I have a hen already sitting on eggs in the hay mow upstairs. It was nice not to have to stop and buy cat food on the way home. I really appreciate Mary's help with this other side of farming that I am not comfortable with. Now for a tiny little bit of LF cottage cheese, replacing my light vanilla, some sewing and some blessed sleep. I took a lovely hike with the doggies up to the pond this afternoon, first time this year. The water was crystal clear and I was hoping to see the elusive gold fish, put in the pond four years ago as a little thing, now a foot or more long. I spotted him on my first trip up there last spring, with his gorgeous big fan tail swishing through the reeds. I didn't see him, and didn't go all the way around the pond because I didn't want to disturb the pair of Canadian geese swimming around in the water. I wonder if they are thinking about laying eggs by the pond. Wouldn't that be lovely. I would be a nervous wreck about the dogs, but I guess the parents would take care of that. Let's see what happens. Nighty-night.


I'm always lucky if I find something "clean" to wear on St. Paddy's Day, forget about "green." But I'll try. My pinky is killing me. Knut was trying to come in through the north side barn door where Thor was lying on his doggie bed, happily chewing on a hardened piece of deer skin. I walked over to the door and called Knut to come on in, when Thor jumped up and did one of his posturing "you're not coming in here, you're not getting near my bitch (me) or my deerskin." Knut responded by jumping on Thor and there were two Big White Superhero Dogs doing battle right on top of me. They're like grizzly bears on their hind legs making as much fiercesome noise as they possibly can. This behavior rarely results in any bloodshed at all, not even a hair out of place, but it's very scary to watch. When I'm working around them they stare at each other and make low, rumbling, growling noises, curling their lips ever so slightly. Thor and Knut have been mine since puppies, but I still like to get out of the way in case one of those fangs gets caught anywhere on my person. Well, my person turned to run but I tripped on Thor's bed, went flying and crashed into a post and landed on the concrete floor. I just don't respond to this sort of activity the way I used to and laid there for a few seconds, checking out all the systems. My pinky needs to be taped and hurts like heck, but my knee got better overnight after massaging with my shepherds creme (there's a plug).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I love to stay up late and sew. Late night is my only "free time" after Matt has gone to bed and I can run my sewing machine without the noise annoying him. What man likes the sound of a drive band slipping and squeaking, with loose parts clattering? I need to bring my old Singer in for a tune up, but as long as it's working I'll use it. I drifted away around midnight, then felt Matt shaking me awake at 5 to get up and make him coffee. He's off to work in Albany today, then home tonight to help me catch roosters, then he's off to Plattsburgh waaaaay up north tomorrow. Mary is helping me get some roosters processed into dog/cat food at a place she uses. She'll drop me off at work tomorrow AM, deliver the birds for me, then pick them and me up in the PM. I hate to do it, but the big, feathery brutes are taking over the barn. I have to guard the cats while they eat, and even the big White Boys have a hard time finishing their kibble for being attacked by roosters. Matt wants to kill and pluck them, then give them whole to the dogs, but that's easier said than done. This way they will come back to me in neat little packages and I can pretend they've gone to another happy barn to live. I love hatching chicks, but Mother Nature gives us boys and girls, even though only one good male is needed. Funny how that parallels human life. One good male is about all I can handle. I weighed in for the BOCES BIGGEST LOSER yesterday. Over 30 staff members payed five dollars and joined the contest. I had a carrot for breakfast, then two hard boiled eggs for lunch. Predictably, I was hurting around 2 PM and had an apple. I had a decent dinner last night, then only one (well, maybe two) spoonfuls of my adored light vanilla ice cream last night. Yes, I will have to ease into this routine...but I went a day without BREAD, my favorite stuff of life. I want to look nice for Mia's wedding, and it's not going to happen overnight. I had artificial sweetener in my coffee this morning. Yuck, it's horrible. I think one scant teaspoon of sugar is going to have to stay and I'll make up for it in other ways. Yes, D I E T is a four letter word.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bags O' the Day

I got two Bundaflicka Bags finished today, including a big pot of asparagus/carrot/potato/onion soup, and even got a quick peek at the Sunday NY Times, which cost me a staggering $6.00. I got to the village of New Berlin just in time to get the paper, which goes fast as they just get a few copies. Good thing it lasts all week (and so will the soup!) I feel very productive - anything to keep from cleaning the house! Now out to do chores, then I'll serve the soup. Bag details are available at, or better yet, come to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on May 1 and 2!

Can I Repeat?

As Maryland Sheep and Wool, the largest sheep and fiber festival on the East Coast looms large, I am wondering what photographs I will enter into the photo contest. Last year my "Princess of the Flowers" won First Place in the portrait section and Best in Show overall. They gave me $100 in cash, but that wasn't the best part. Everybody I know in sheep was there to see it. It's the recognition and the chance to "shep nachas" (glow with pride in Yiddish) that's the best thing about winning. I get shaky just thinking about it. It was 12 years before that I won a first in the sheep portrait category. I have a couple in mind and one doesn't even have a sheep in it, if you can imagine. It's a shot of my empty hay mow with sunbeams shining through the slats. There's something so beautiful about the old wood and the way they built supports and nailed up pieces of wood to climb to the high ceilings. Sister Bernadette told me her job was to climb to the tippy top and change the light bulbs once a year when the hay got high enough. I think of the hay mow as my church, a very spiritual place...or an empty cupboard that needs to be filled - depending on my situation. Princess of the Flowers has a story behind it that I must have told somewhere in the past 2,000 posts in this journal that tell the story of my voyage in sheep. I'll tell it again somday, when I don't have critters waiting in the barn to tend to...

Nasty Weather

I love storms. They are nature's IMAX theatre productions. It's strange to watch all this crazy weather going on just south and east of us, while we stay strangely calm. A bit of intense wind came through last night while I was up in the hay mow with the goats. The empty mow, which is meant to hold thousands of bales, shook and creaked. Cold air rushed through the boards, which are purposely nailed with spaces inbetween so the hay can breathe. Didn't phase the goats a bit, or Baby Thunder, or old Chris, because Matt had just handed me two buckets of corn up the ladder. I have to run around to the feed pans and get the corn distributed or I will be pushed over pretty quick. Absentminded thing that I am, I forgot to get goat feed at the mill yesterday, and have to give them the sheep's corn. The goats don't mind, but I do like them to get their copper and other minerals not found in corn. I feed Chris seperately by holding the bucket up for him, or the goats wouldn't leave him a kernel. The wind died down and the morning dawned cool and gray. I have two bags to finish and put on line. I put them together last night while watching two terrific shows about whales on Nat Geo. Pearl Jam and Jude Law were on SNL. I fell asleep before it was over, but got to see PJ sing their latest tune. So much to do today and we're already down an hour. Have to hussle and make up for lost time. I went to New Hartford yesterday to get polymer clay at Michael's and was thrilled to find they were having a great sale. A little block which is usually $2.79 was on sale 4 for $5. I bought a bunch and was disappointed to find they are kind of hard. No wonder they were selling them cheap. I had a heck of a time kneading the colors together, but with some elbow grease and a rolling pin I got some cool buttons made. I'll make some more today, hopefully, God willing and the creek don't rise.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Say Yes to the Dress

The weather radar shows a wall of green headed this way. So glad I'm on high ground, but I've talked about the floods downstate before. All the water here flows down to the creek across the road. I like to stand on my hill and listen to it roar at night. Many flooding problems around here, enough to send kids home from school early when the Susquehanna and Unadilla Rivers threaten to come over their banks, or keep them from coming to school at all. But my sheep are safe on my hill, a very good thing. Thinking about Mia's wedding. I think I'll let my hair grow super long, then braid it all over the night before, and take the braids out for a long crimped look. I'll make a long, sparkly dress like Galadriel, the Elf Queen in TLOTR's. No firm date yet, but she has her dress, purchased in San Francisco, and she loves it. When I told a friend at work that Mia got her dress already, she said You mean you're not going to Kleinfelds?????!!! She was incredulous. I guess I'm the only mother of a daughter who is not familiar with that show - Say Yes to the Dress. I bought my wedding dress there, 31 years ago, but never heard of the popular TLC show. My more recent wedding dress was purchased from the little shop on the main street of Morristown, Mary Lou Bridals, and was on the half-price rack. It was stunningly beautiful and simple, with yards and yards of champagne tussah silk. And it didn't cost me two pay periods, like my Kleinfield dress. The bridesmaid's dresses were rejected by another bride when they came in the wrong color, and were only $30. The color was perfect for my Christmas wedding, and I wore Mia's bridesmaid dress on the honeymoon cruise. I have a picture of me somewhere, as green as my dress, as I had barfed all over the deck the first day of the cruise. Matt was totally unfazed and helped the nice Filipino deck hand clean up my mess. My friend, whose daughter is only 13, is already planning to get her dress at Kleinfelds in Brooklyn. It's what mothers do these days! So what did I watch the other night? Say Yes to the Dress. I don't have any more daughters, but I can derive vicarious pleasure from watching other mothers help their daughters pick a wedding dress. It's a real cute show.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Matt

Matt decided to take a vacation day for his birthday today. He wanted me to stay home with him, but I don't like to take a Friday off. It's my absolute favorite day of the week. Everyone is in a happy mood because it's the eve of the weekend. My kids work hard all week and we have Movie Day on Friday. We're showing the Lord of the Rings trilogy and have just finished the first movie. The kids loved it, I mean they didn't even take a rest room break for over 2 and a half hours. I'm thrilled they liked it. One student is asking for Cold Mountain next. How could I be so lucky? I bought him a good pair of shoes in "downtown" Norwich and headed home by way of Mary's. I love stopping there. I wish I could settle into one of her massive sofas and hang with the Border Collies, who are just like people, but I'm always rushing home to my own animals. Mary showed me her new cold frames and gave me a jar of pickled beets and enough eggs to get me through the next few days. Home to find the birthday boy relaxing on the sofa. He had chores done so we were able to head out to the Beaver Den for Fish Fry Night. A very pleasant birthday outing. I brought lots of French fries and cole slaw home for the chickens, who had long since gone to bed, but I tossed them into their room anyway. A bottle for Billy Goat (he takes a whole liter at a time!) and fill the stock tanks, take care of the White Boys and it's in for the night. Feed mill tomorrow, some barn work and tidy up in the apartment then it's soap making and sewing for me. Big Jim Baldwin, my shearer, is coming next Saturday to shear. I need more wool to dye, dry and send out to the mill. Kim and Crew are coming from Ontario to help out. Lucky for me I will have Kim to skirt so yucky stuff won't go in the bag.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Homeward Bound

Long day over. Not too bad. The Transition Coordinator who works with BOCES and two other districts came to visit with me after school to critique my IEP's and give me some pointers. Real nice guy. Movie day tomorrow for my GED kids. We're watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I can get some good lessons out of those movies and make the kids write essays, their favorite academic activity (hahaha). We work them hard all week and the movie is their treat. Weather is still nice so I better get out and enjoy it while I can. Rain coming tonight I think. I'm following the Iditarod race in Alaska. I'll do a lesson on the history of the run for the diptheria vaccine. There was a History Channel program on it I think - I'll try to find it. Love those sled dogs. I'd like to take a ride on a sled one of these days. I bet if I put a harness on Holly and Tanner they could take me for a good ride up my hill.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

Back from work, accountant, etc. I'm hanging on for another year. So much corporation stuff to do. Matt's idea to incorporate - thanks, honey!! So much driving. Wish I had a partner to help with this stuff. I had a couple of possibilities, but the first one stayed on until she could learn how to do everything I do, then split to do it on her own. She couldn't do it, not surprising, so her mother bought her a children's clothing shop where nothing is hand made and everything comes by UPS. The next one thought it was fun to do shows and bask in the glow of all that creativity, but never really wanted to invest in the business, and her prescription pill dependancy freaked me out. Kim is fabulous but so far away and she has her family and her own fiber arts business. I'll manage with my grumpy long-suffering husband and faithful customers. Rain is coming, air feels damp. The garbage people were able to empty my dumpster, which seems to be more of a liability than an asset. They left a neon green sticker on it that sad "no more black bags!" Fine with me, as I'm old enough to remember a time when there were no black bags and garbage was a real nasty thing to deal with. But how to get it to the dumpster? Guess I'll have to empty the bags into the dumpster. Got the doggies out, then turned on the news. There's a mother of twins who came out of the hospital with a $480,000 bill. Babies are on medicaid but she still owes $480,000 and has no job. After my $149.00 tetanus shot I'm not surprised at the dollar amount. Like I've said before, there's always enough money for war, or giving ridiculous amounts of aid to other countries to make sure they stay friendly with us, or tax breaks for the wealthy, but for our own every day working citizens? Finally we have a chance to pass a bill to help people. Roosevelt had a heck of a time getting the New Deal passed, and it had to be tweaked for sure, but it gave the country hope for the future. This health care bill is not perfect, but it's a start. The news had a report this morning about the fact that there are 16% more millionaires this year than last, but there are many more poor people. And they need our help. I have health coverage (except for preventive vaccinations!) but so many don't and are not getting the help they need. I've heard people say I have coverage and don't want to pay for it for anyone else. It's so much more complicated than that. They might not have that coverage tomorrow and then they'll change their minds.

Mid-Week Musings

Off to Darryl Lanning, my accountant, today after school. He is a retired business teacher who does my taxes. They are due on March 15, a month before regular returns. I make a little bit of money, thank the universe, but I have way too many deductions due to the fact that I raise my own fiber. Hay being the biggest one, followed by other feeds. I like to know where my yarn comes from. When you buy commercial yarn it usually comes from dead sheep. Who knows what misery they have endured before they gave up their coats? Many are put on ships for a terrifying trip to the Middle East to be sacrificed in religious rituals in Mecca. Every Muslim who obeys his commandment to travel to Mecca once in his lifetime has to sacrifice a sheep while there. I'm not going to subsidise that practice with my yarn purchases. Many artists buy white yarn, dye it, and sell it as artisan yarn. Doesn't ring true to me. Dyeing it isn't enough. You need to raise the fiber to truly call it your own. According to Darryl, the Feds won't let me run at a loss forever. Why not I ask? The US government runs at a loss and has been since George Bush took office 10 years ago. We borrow money from China for goodness sake, and many other people in better shape than we are. I don't borrow money from anybody. I make a little money then buy what I need to feed the animals and make some things for the next show. I don't even have credit cards. Not one. The only farm subsidy I have is my teaching salary, which keeps my farm going. More and more I think about retirement. When I got into Maryland, after applying for so many years, with all the yearning, wishing and hoping, I thought I had finally arrived. I'll always do Maryland and Rhinebeck, even when I'm a little old lady sitting in the booth with my tote bags, soap and yarn. But will I haul all my stuff to the Farmer's Market every Saturday, and book more shows? Don't think so. I want to knit cute little baby sweaters like Gretchen is doing and be Mia's nanny when she has little ones.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Just beautiful outside. Cool enough for the air to be crisp and clear, yet warm enough to make the snow soft and slushy, much easier for walking up the hill. I took the doggies half way up - enough for them to relieve themselves many times and enough for me to feel I got a little bit of exercise. I took a picture of the latest bag, a luxurious high-end damask with a Ralph Lauren houndstooth lining. Natural light is best when photographing fabric or fibers. The weather is supposed to remain nice until Friday when it will begin raining through the weekend and Monday. Bye bye snow...but I predict a spring blizzard will blanket the area once again, maybe in April.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Still Nice

The lovely weather continued today. 24 F. on the steps this morning but warmed up considerably later on. Day went quickly then home to get chores started. The snow softened a bit so I could haul water to the back boys pen for the goats. Matt said they could eat snow, which sheep will do just fine, but goats would rather have water. They drank and drank. Goat moms, babies, Billy Goat, Chris and Baby Thunder doing fine in the hay mow. Chores took about two hours, then inside apartment before dark. Matt away teaching in Binghamton, just doggies, kitties and me. Colorscape Chenango required a disk with images of recent work for their application due on March 12. Took a while but got that done. Now to sew a bit after my light vanilla ice cream. Big Love season finale until 11 then shut eye. "Tomorrow is another day," says Scarlet O'Hara.

Five AM

Up at 5 AM to make coffee, cook oatmeal for the kitties, check email for that nod from Hollywood on my book deal, take doggies out, etc. Not sure it was such a good idea to see the Oscars through to the end. We rented Hurt Locker a couple of months back and I can't say I was drawn into it. Maybe I should give it another try. Glad Kathryn Bigelow's Indy movie won over her gazillion dollar ex-husband's Avatar film, but I'm not sure it should have. Now Jane Campion should have won best director for The Piano years ago. That was an incredible flick. Not sure if I want to see Precious. Maybe when it comes out on cable. Maybe. I got several partially finished Bundaflicka bags done over the weekend and another one last night. Glad I still like to sew because I'm going to be doing a lot of it. Soapmaking will begin in earnest next weekend. Good weather continues. Sunshine helps everyone's disposition. People were walking around in tee-shirts in New Berlin yesterday. I bet the flip-flops will be out at work today, even with snow still on the ground. Back to the salt mines. I think I should lie down for a few minutes while that thought slowly sinks in. Like Mia said to me when she was a little girl, "Mommy - everybody works!" Yes, we do.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Baby Bubbles has Babies

Baby Bubbles has given birth to two kittens. She is one of Hannah's favorite kitties. I know she wishes she could be here to play with the kittens. Hannah and Luke are coming in July. That will make a year since I've seen my grandchildren...way too long. I hope people who have their grandkids close by realize how lucky they are.

Lovely Sunday

This glorious weather pattern continues, with temps soaring into the '40s today. Still too much snow to do much walking up the hill without snow shoes, but I love to stand outside and take in the cold, fresh air with the sun on my face. Sewed until midnight and I'm sewing again today before tackling some of the more unpleasant activites. Matt is going away again tomorrow and he wants to stack some bales in the milk room to make it easier for me to drag them into the barn for the sheep. That means scraping and cleaning the milk room floor. I have to pick axe the drift in front of the dumpster so Holden's Haulers can come and get the garbage that's been piling up. Like I said, unpleasant activities...Back to sewing, a very pleasant and productive way to spend my time.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

California Dreaming

Mia is having a fabulous time in California. She stayed with Hannah and Luke in San Jose for three days, then hopped over to San Francisco to visit Lisa. I got a surprise call today from a bridal salon where Mia had just picked out her wedding gown! It's absolutely stunning, so perfect for little Mia. THE GOWN is champagne silk organza with a lacey overlay, bare shoulder, a-line with a medium length train. Mia says it is very romantic and classic, and matches her classic Tiffany engagement ring. No pictures allowed online! Mia was concerned about Mom not being there to help pick it out, but best-friend Lisa doing the honors was fine with me I persuaded her. I'll design the head-piece with veil, bouquets, centerpieces, corsages, centerpieces, etc. We decided on midnight blue and cranberry red for colors, which will go with all the greens I want to put in the floral arrangements to represent Mia and Andrew's love of the outdoors. I'm going to make Mia a full length lined velvet cape with hood to wear over her dress when she travels to the wedding and reception. I think I might even have the pattern already. We decided she would wear my grandmother's gold diamond bangle bracelet and beaded purse, but earrings and a necklace will have to be found. I better brush up on my calligraphy as Mia wants me to address the invitations. I'll make scented candles with a romantic picture sticker on top of the canning jar for shower favors, and heart shaped lavender soaps wrapped in organza for wedding favors. I'm going to have so much fun I won't know what to do with myself!

Ram Lambs

I have some fabulous ram lambs this year. Good thing they are so handsome because three of them won't go into the stew pot. Mary, my shepherd friend across the valley, is thinking about taking one of dearly departed Othello's boys, Nicholas and Loki. I want to keep Blue Boy, partially because I worried so much about him coming along as an infant, and because he is so handsome and "blue." Bluefaced Leicesters are supposed to have some blue pigment on their faces. I just spent some time in the barn, watering, feeding, and playing with my sheep. For me, playing with them is leaning on a post and letting them rub against me, give me hot wet kisses, gaze into my eyes, and generally just hanging with them. It straightens me out every time. They are so honest and uncomplicated, and so sublime.

Inglorious Sunshine

The air is crisp, cold and BRIGHT. The kind of light that makes you avert your eyes when you step out the door. Haven't had too much to that lately here in upstate New York. Wish I could do some hillbilly gardening - bales situated in a box, top soil and manure inside, with an old window on top to form a greenhouse. My friend Mary has been growing greens that way for weeks now. With a tiny package of spinach going for almost $4, I want to grow my own. Trouble is I don't have a bale to spare. When Matt was away last week I put out a bale or two too many and ran out. Every bale is precious and every bale means a sheep doesn't have to yell for food until she gets tired and gives up. I tried giving them some corn but was swarmed and knocked down spreading the corn all over the place. The hay on the floor is so high on the inside of the stanchion wall the sheep can jump over it and get to me, making feeding time a wild frenzy. My sheep are not that big, except for the Rambos and my one remaining Merino, but a dozen two hundred pound sheep can take me for a ride. I've learned just to ride with it. My fleece pants and their wool equals a velco grip! Hay pick up is today, but last night we had nothing. Matt went around the corner to get some hay from our old hay provider, Mr. Maxim, and I was reminded of how lucky I am to have Postma hay now. The Maxim bales were light as a feather with no alfafa but the same price. Not a good deal. I have so much to do today I don't know where to start. I'm waaayyy behind on making product for Maryland Sheep and Wool. That school saps so much positive energy out of me and fills me full of angst. I told Matt I'm happy moving to New York has given him the chance to experience a new career with meteoric success in a non-profit agency that doesn't provide health insurance just my luck, but not so for me. I like the kids but not the grownups. And the bureaucracy....oh, please! I don't think I can change the way the school is run, but I can channel my energy into making my farm work. Have to get outside, soak up some Vitamin D which Nurse Tonya says I'm low in, play with the sheep which always makes me feel better, then come in and get to work. The apartment floor needs mopping but that will have to wait. Living in a barn presents certain challenges in that area. Better get outside...

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Jury Duty

Instead of rushing off to school, I was rushing north to the Madison County Court in Wampsville. Took an hour plus to get there, in perfect driving conditions. Thank goodness, no snow today. There I was, rubbing the sheep poop off my clogs in the snow in front of the court house. I don't even bother at school, they are so used to it...but court? Wanted to put my best feet forward. I was very apprehensive but found it to be very interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Human drama at it's finest, better than TV. Judge Biaggio DeStefano swore us in, a foreman and secretary were chosen, and we started hearing cases. Lots of laws and legalize to review. Attorneys presented witnesses to crimes, policeman and experts giving testimony, and we had to decide if the accused would be indicted and go to trial. The DA and Assistant DA for Madison County were there examining witnesses. A very big responsibility. All kinds of cases, theft, arson, DWI, I'm not allowed to give details. Anyway, we were released and I got home late for the second night in a row. Poor doggies. Last night was after 7. I'm exhausted, but doing chores always perks me up. I sit in the hay mow with the goaties, give Billy his bottle, and watch the young ones play. The upper hay mow is my "great room." I hold a bucket of corn up for Chris and he loooooves it. This is the only time I can touch him. He was never properly gentled as a baby and hates human touch. I hope my next llama lets me stroke those beautiful llama banana ears. If I put the corn on the floor the goats won't let him have a kernel. Chris is gigantic compared to the goats, but he's too sweet to push his way in. Is tomorrow really Friday? Could it be true? I don't want to get too excited in case it's a fleeting fantasy. I am prone to fantasize...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Good Morning

Fell asleep on the sofa after chores last night. Woke up at 5:30. Feels good to get some sleep in the bank. I'm not crazy about sleep the way some people are. There are too many fun things to do to waste a lot of time on sleeping. I love the way it feels to get under the covers, stretch out, then curl up, burying my face in the pillow, then nothingness. Waking up is good, too, but I can't stay in bed for more than the minute or two it takes to savvy the moment. I get up and make coffee the way only I can make it - very strong, poured into a cup of foamy, sugary milk with a spritz of cinnamon on top. Annie taught me to do it that way, and OH, there is nothing that can compare. Have to get it in gear to bomb out of here to school. Billy Goat fell out of the hay mow again as I was climbing up the ladder with his bottle last night. He went sailing past me and landed on his back on the hay below, again. I would leave him downstairs but I'm afraid he would find his way out of this gigantic barn into the snow, and just scream waiting for me to come and find him. He's safer in the hay mow. Mia is in San Jose with Eric's family for a few days. I hope she takes Hannah and Luke to the beach so Annie and Eric can have some quiet time. On Friday she will visit Lisa in San Francisco. Lisa's carrying her first baby, a boy, and will give birth this summer. So typical of life in America these days, best friends living on separate coasts. Hope she can make it back East for Mia's bridal shower, whenever it takes place. Better suit up and get out in the barn for morning chores, then off to the salt mines. Do I have clean jeans? Maybe, maybe not. Oh, please, F150, get me there without slipping off the road down into a ravine. I feel so safe in my BIG TRUCK, however un-green it is! Jury duty tomorrow in Wampsville, wherever the heck that is...and I have to wear real clothes "appropriate for the court." I know I should feel proud to do my civic duty, but......

Monday, March 01, 2010

Monday Night

Stayed late at school for a meeting then some paperwork. After PO and market I stopped at Mary's for eggs, then made my way home with wind and sleety snow starting up. Everybody glad to see me at home. Got a little dinner made and had a nice talk with Mia about wedding stuff. So much fun to share in the planning of a life together. She's taking off for California tomorrow to visit Hannah and Luke in San Jose, then to visit Lisa in SF. Lisa is expecting her first baby this summer, and will be Mia's Matron of Honor in The Wedding. Mia's putting together her wedding party. Sounds like I'll be making a few bouquets - fine with me, I love to do it. Matt is in Rochester spread eagle in the Radisson Inn, loving every minute of it I'm sure. It took me two hours to do chores tonight, hauling bales in from the milk room where we are storing them after dragging them in from the cart in the driveway. The motor is still broken and we can't get the truck up to the north side of the barn with the drifts. Not an easy way to do it. It's hard for me to get the bale through the milk room door to the barn with sheep blocking the way. Then dragging the hose up the ladder to water the goats upstairs. Billy Goat is up there and hasn't fallen down again yet. I think he knows not to lean over so far. When he hears my voice he calls and calls. Three bottles a day is all he's getting now. I want him to nibble on alfalfa with the other toddlers. Jammies, light vanilla ice cream, barn check, then school work until I can't keep my eyes open any longer, which is starting to happen already. Would love to stay up to see the Olympic medalists on Jay Leno but he's on at 11:30 now, too late for me on school nights.