Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mystery Plant Blooms

If you recall, I've been following an unknown plant in my creek for a couple of years. Lo and behold, there was an actual bloom atop one yesterday! What I'd mistaken for petals was actually the capsule opening and closing in the torrential rains.

The long floral tube and the four petals tells me the likely family: Oenothera, or Evening Primrose. They are often woody near the base, 4-merous (having four petals), capsules are dehiscent (split open to disperse their seeds).

The long floral tube is also a giveaway. (This photo is turned on its side). I know which O. species it isn't, but I'm still narrowing it down. My best guess presently is Oenothera tretraptera or Oenothera kunthiana, which are very similar. They are rare and scattered in my part of the state.

Coop Curves Begin

OK, if any of you have raised peeps you know how sleep deprived I am from checking on them and meeting their many needs every couple of hours. So I'll mostly be showing photos of things until my brain returns. Here's Farmer Rick working on extending the floor joists. (I am not showing any closeups of his face, so you won't be able to see the sheer joy my curving design is giving him--wait 'til he sees my studio design!)

Notice the acute angle. I remember my profs did not approve of these, but I've been fascinated by old wedge-shaped buildings I've seen in downtowns everywhere, where the architect had to deal with extreme pie-shaped lots at the intersections of several roads. We'll likely use it for storage.

Here, we've laid out the two curves with stakes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


If you've never raised chickens before, you might be surprised to learn they come in the mail. The moment the box arrives the postmaster calls to let you know.

These hatched yesterday morning at 10 a.m. and are very cute!

One of the Cuckoo Marans didn't make it, and one of the Faverolles has a badly swollen eye that we are treating. She/he kind of looks like Festus on Gunsmoke, and is the only chicken I've ever seen run backwards, so I hope this isn't an indication something more is wrong.

I am disappointed the hatchery shorted us the two White Crested Black Polish, as I was hoping to breed Ruzina and greatly miss our rooster Apollo. It also appears we did not get three of our other Polish (we aren't sure which ones yet) and that more Brabanters, or possibly something else were substituted.

The only substitution I agreed in advance to was Feather Legged Cuckoo Marans instead of Clean Legged ones. The Feather Legged were the original breed from the Island of Marans in France. They were later imported by the English who bred the feathers off of the legs.

Overall the peeps are very healthy and energetic. I am feeding them Quick Chick and GroGel in addition to chick starter feed and I'm beginning to suspect one of them is loaded with caffeine, as they are racing around and leaping over each other! By comparison, our previous peeps slept a lot.

They have since been transferred to the guest bathtub with an infrared heat lamp above them because they need to stay around 90-95 degrees the first week. We use beach towels instead of litter at this point, because it gives the chicks better traction (so they don't end up with spraddled legs), and they don't have any wood chips or newspaper to mistakenly ingest. Towels are also washable and reusable around the farm.

I'll be taking some close-ups of the different breeds so you can follow them as they grow.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Yankee Workshop Meets Antoni Gaudí

I'm not going to rant more about Sears {however, none of the parts in any color came today, so what's Mr. only Wednesday gonna do in the morning?} I don't feel much better about the situation today.

Instead, I thought I'd fill you in on the new chicken coop going up across the creek. Farmer Rick began construction during his spring break, and I'll be following the progress here.

First, we had to come up with a design, which wasn't easy since he's admirably just learning to build things with all those wonderful tools he's been amassing and I've had years of architecture design and construction courses with very little real life application. So, it's been like New Yankee Workshop meets Antoni Gaudí in the realm of chicken containment.

Farmer Rick, having nicely accomplished the well house door, was thinking the coop should look something like the one found in our How to Build Animal Housing book:

However, I felt it should be more organic, celebrating the beauty of rare breed chickens--an edifice embodying chicken-ness, if you will, looking something more like this:

So, we've compromised on a blending of practicality, recycling, and organic design. First we started off surveying the building site. We were determined to locate it in such a way that no large trees or shrubs would have to be removed and that the coop would be shaded from the hot afternoon sun. We also needed to be able access it with the tractor without devastating the landscape or creating an eyesore from our house.

Here's the floor plan:

The strange angle at the end of the box is not arbitrary, it actually follows the fence line, and the squared end follows the creek line. We are still figuring out the roof. I'm contemplating artistry there. However most of the artsy buildings I know leak like a sieve...

Here's how the project began:

You can see Farmer Rick has chosen to build on foundation blocks instead of the posts our professional builder neighbor recommended. This is because Farmer Rick does not like to dig holes through rock. I cannot blame him and think those blocks looks swell.

Here's the rim joists and mud sills out of treated lumber for the boxier part of the building.

Here the floor joists are in place. We discovered that treated lumber is not the same dimensions as its non-treated counterparts. Because the joists were a quarter inch shorter in height than the rim joists, Farmer Rick had to shim them so the plywood flooring will lay flat.

Our goal is to get at least the ridge pole and roofing set, and complete one end of it in a month's time. Our new peeps arrive this week, and they will be outgrowing our guest bathtub by then! That will give us another month or so to finish the other half.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Why I Will Never Buy Another Appliance From Sears or the Dishwasher Blues

First of all, as a designer I would never have designed a dishwasher to vent steam over the control panel. Moisture and electronics just don't play well together. Whoever engineered this appliance needs a swift kick in the seat of his pants.

Don't look at me, it came with the house. And before you go to judging, I'll have you know it is the only dishwasher I've ever owned, and I've grown rather fond of it!

A year ago when the control panel lights were dancing around like a disco party, and the commands got all confused and the dishwasher refused to work, my husband--who didn't want to spend the money to fix it--decided after many months maybe he didn't like doing the dishes either, I called for repair.

I purchased an extended warranty for $200 which guaranteed if it couldn't be fixed it would be replaced. This involved trying to explain to a woman in India that the unit was not located at my P.O. Box, but at my house, and enduring hearing her say 'exactly!' about 127 times.

The only Sears appliance repairman is an hour away and comes my way only on Wednesdays. He came, ordered the parts; they came the following week, but he did not. His father was sick, then passed, so it took another three weeks to get the parts installed.

As it turned out, this was expedient compared to what I am now going through.

Fast forward a year. The control panel lights are blinking again, and there's only 10 days left on the extended warranty. I call. Once again, the only repairman comes, only on a Wednesday, orders the same part. It comes the next week. He comes the next Wednesday and discovers it is black, and my dishwasher is white. He orders again. The following Wednesday I'm at the Fabric Collage workshop. When I get back I open the part and discover it!

On Monday, I call India. They assure me they will order a white one this time. They will have someone call me that afternoon to verify it is in stock, and then they will expedite it to arrive before the repairman Wednesday. No one calls back.

Tuesday, I call India again. They tell me it has been shipped, but do not know the particulars. Someone will call me to tell me when to expect it to arrive. No one calls, and no part shows up. Wednesday, the repairman comes as scheduled, and takes the black parts away.

Thursday, a package arrives, and sure enough it's a white part, only it's the WRONG white's the toe panel, not the control panel. I call India and explain the situation. She says the only repairman must come out again (only on a Wednesday) to reorder the part. By now, I think we all know what the part is and what color it is supposed to be. I have a limited amount of Wednesdays, you know?

Then the woman says OK, she will order a green panel for me. Green? I go ballistic. Do white and green sound anything alike to your ears? She will have my case manager call me. I am case #2513726. Does this mean there are over two and a half million people waiting for THE RIGHT PART? The case manager never calls. Instead the San Antonio dispatcher calls and says four of these parts are now on order and the repairman is guessed it, on Wednesday. None of these parts have arrived.

Today, I call the case manager. She tells me flatly they are out of the part. She will have the only repair man order it again--just to make sure there isn't a white one laying around somewhere. If another black one comes, she says they'll just have to install it! I told her if they couldn't come up with the right part they would have to replace the entire appliance. She said no, the warranty doesn't cover "cosmetics"! Never mind my dishwasher didn't begin with a cosmetic problem!

It takes a lot to raise my fur, but I am about ready to spontaneously combust!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Apparition

Woke up this morning and thought Mother Theresa was laying next to me. When I put on my glasses I realized it was Starley, our Jack Russel Terrier.

Here's a photo of the lovely morning. Could that be Irish Mist on the mountain?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pear Tree at Sunset

Yesterday as the sun was setting I took this photo of our ornamental pear tree blossom. I purposely focused on the flower so that the background would blur and obliterate unsightly objects (namely Ray's opinionated sign) in the yard across the street from me. I like the way it turned out, but continued to play with it in Photoshop to get different results.

In the last one I book matched the photo and the pattern it made is reminiscent of something from the past. I can see a butterfly or moth begin to take shape at the top and bottom, can you?

flowerweaver photos © 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chick(en) Magnet

The girls were very glad to have me back. After photographing Farmer Rick and the beginnings of the new coop going up during spring break I laid down in the creek to do some chicken whispering...

and the next thing I knew...

...I was covered in chickens! Perhaps they were trying to remove the snippets of threads I picked up in my fiber collage class.

Here's Ruzina checking me out. Healthy Harvest has requested I teach a seminar on raising chickens this summer. That will be fun.

Anchoring Thursday

Thursday I sewed with a mid-value variegated thread from pin to pin to anchor everything in place and got rid of the pins. I had to remove the cording and sequins that I will attach with a cording foot and by hand, respectively, after I do all the decorative stitching.

In case you are wondering what I'm making, here's a photo of the pattern and I've highlighted the back shield and other areas I will collage.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pinning the Pieces Wednesday

Today we learned how to use foil. I am thinking about foiling some of the butterfly wings tonight. Because Creations, our on-site store, did not have lining fabric and I want this back shield to move freely across the back of the coat, I had to venture into town. Currently there are about 200 pins holding this together.

We also learned about using different threads, and I picked some mid-value variegated to do the first pass. I love every one's finger ring pin cushions and will have to make myself one when I get home.

Fortunately Nancy, a local quilter attending a different workshop, not only knew how to get to a store, she offered to drive me there. I have never worked with satin before, but since this is a project of many firsts, it seemed OK. I "auditioned" the collage on teal and there was too much contrast, and apple green was to bright. I settled on this dark maroon. It seems to bring out the rich hues. I bought enough to line the entire coat.

As an added perk, she took me on a tour of the park, and through downtown where I saw a mural I actually helped with about a decade ago--the artist contacted me to borrow a photo of the Lindheimer's Morning Glory to use in the art that decorates the museum of the famous Texas botanist. I was invited to the grand opening, but my boss wouldn't let me off. This was the first time I ever saw it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Putting Pieces Together Tuesday

Today we began our fabric collages. It was such engrossing work by the end of the day it felt like it should already be Friday and it's only our second day of class. Beautiful work started emerging around the room, each quilter with a different vision and voice.

Because I did not have time to fit a vest pattern, and I brought colors I like to wear but not hang in my house, I decided to make this into the back shield (kind of like on a drover's coat) of an Issey Miyake coat.

This is not applique. The items have been "fussy cut" with a border that will give me room for stitching, and then will fray in the wash and unite everything into one cloth. The objects at the bottom will be the edge of the shield, as the excess muslin base will be cut away.

I've incorporated several of the techniques from yesterday's class and will try to get some closeups to show them. Right now I'm still pinning things down.

Fabric Collage Monday

This week I'm away at a fabric collage retreat with Rosemary Eichorn. Monday we learned all kinds of wonderful techniques for embellishment using fabric paint, Angelina and Crystalina fibers and foil, Tyvek, Kunin felt, and more. This is my first creation and I'm hooked!

Rosemary is terrific, I can't wait to discover more ways to play with fabric. I have a really creative table partner, Chris, and have met some very nice folks. They are feeding us too well, I should have worn spandex!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin