morning barn chores…

Each of my days starts exactly the same way… in the barn doing the morning barn chores.  It makes me happy to start each day with my “boys” Murphy and Tucker, we have nice little talks in the morning and I never get tired of the rich warm barn sights, sounds, and smells.

Here is a peak into my morning…

Murphy waiting at the gate… as soon as he sees me he starts pawing the ground to make sure there is NO doubt in my mind that he is hungry… No matter how early I go out to feed, in his mind I’m always “late”. :)

With his ground pawing message delivered, he heads towards the barn… sure that I will follow and feed him. Tucker usually hangs around a little longer being sociable… but then he too heads towards the barn.

More ground pawing, this time in his stall… This morning, when I didn’t feed Murphy right away, and took some pictures instead, he started  moving his hay bucket from side to side with his head, banging the big empty bucket on the stall walls. He communicates quite well despite his lack of words…

The ground pawing, hay bucket rattling and banging both stop the instant the first flake of hay lands in Murphy’s feeder… He’s happy now, I’ve done my job (and I’m free to go, thankyouverymuch!).

Tucker’s hay gets tossed into the feeder in his stall next, but he waits… I’m acting differently this morning… I’m taking pictures. Tucker doesn’t like “different”. He waits outside, looking away from me and the different thing I’m doing but with his ears pointed towards me… he’s not looking at me but he’s acutely aware of what I’m doing. Just a moment after I took this picture he looked back over his shoulder at me… unable to look away any longer, too curious about what I might be doing with the strange little flashing box I brought to the barn.

 

A look back at the barn. I love the way the warm light makes the barn glow in the dim early morning…

Next I fill the water troughs… Tucker also stays well clear of that process, he hates water and would rather go hungry than chance getting wet. Murphy, on the other hand, lets nothing keep him from his breakfast….

 

By the time I’m closing up the barn, Murphy has already scattered his hay looking for and gobbling down the “best” parts… Tucker’s hay is still untouched, and if he doesn’t hurry Murphy will (after eating all of the “best” parts of his own hay) head next door to Tucker’s stall and eat the best parts of his.

Morning work done, I head back to the house… As soon as I start walking back, Tucker heads into his stall to finally eat his breakfast. Such a creature of habit, he always takes that first bite of hay then turns around and stands in the stall door, looking out while he chews. (Surveying “his” pasture… he’s all about keeping track of everything that happens there.) I knew if I waited by the fence he would look out…

It didn’t take long.

I love early mornings… it’s so beautiful outside and is such a blessing to have the grounding of taking care of the animals each day, keeping me in tune to their wants and needs, their gentle strength, the quirkiness of their personalities, the way they live entirely in the moment. They waste no energy in worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow, or even 10 minutes from now. They both just trust that hay will land in their feeder, water will be refilled, and they will be taken care of.

It kind of puts things into perspective… you know?

Thrifting Thursday (game table)

We play a lot of games at my house. Playing board games and card games is very organizing to M mentally, and can help him pull back together when he’s having a rough day… and they also help us structure our time. M can really struggle, especially in the evenings, with unstructured time. He can’t just sit and wait while Joe and I talk, for example… so I’ve learned to structure the evening time and playing a game is the easier (and most fun) way to do it.

So when “our” thrift store got in two of these game tables a couple of months ago, it didn’t take long for me to decide to buy one. It’s small enough to fit in the living room with just a little rearranging (unlike some of the giant poker tables M has drooled over for years!) and I really liked how it looked. It’s also good wood and well made… They told me at the thrift store that the two tables had come from a country club.

The chess/checker board insert on the top of the table comes out and it’s leather on the reverse side… and if you open it up (it’s hinged) there is an over-sized backgammon board. How cool is that! There are also drawers on each side for holding cards, pencils, etc.

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It also has a fair amount of problems.. two of the drawers wouldn’t push in more than about half way, one drawer front was broken off and another had been broken in the past and glued together, and the top is rough.  There are scratches and gouges, and a large white mark that looks like someone set a hot iron on it.

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My original plan was to fix the drawers then sand the top down and stain it to match the rest of the wood. But trying to match the existing stain makes me a little nervous (what if I can’t match it?) and some of those gouges are deep!  Then, after visiting Carmen’s shop I was inspired to just paint it… kind of a brownish black.  I thought it would look good that color, I wouldn’t have to worry about stain matching, and it might be easier and less mess.

But I would have to give it all a light sanding before I painted,which would be a big job… and it’s such beautiful wood that I kind of hate to cover it up.

Then E (dd#1) came over and said she thought it looked fine just the way it was… She told me about some kind of furniture wipes that will remove the white mark on top (which I’ve been looking for but still can’t find…), and thought I should just leave it the way it is.

That would sure make it easier in terms of using it. You can’t do much to a table that already has that much wear on it…

So all I’ve done so far is repaired the broken drawer and sanded down the sides of the drawers so they open and close again (and the wood under that finish is beautiful…).

Opinions please…  Leave it? Paint it? Sand down the top and hope to find or mix a matching stain?  What would you do? (And any ideas for getting rid of the white mark?)

OMGoodness (gorgeous sunrise) and an update from yesterday

I don’t take a lot of sunrise and sunset pictures anymore.  When we first moved here I did… after decades of only seeing glimpses of the sunrise and sunset peaking through the rows of roof tops that surrounded us in the city, it was AMAZING to see the sun rising majestically over the horizon, glowing in it’s intensity… or watch it slowly sinking behind the mountains in the evening, the colors starting as brilliant oranges, blues and purples, then fading softly to lightly tinted gray as the sun finally dipped behind the tallest peaks. I love watching sunrises and sunsets… I would love to document them the way Debbie Wagner does, painting each sunrise….If I was an artist like my brother, I might try. But somewhere along the line I’d stopped taking constant pictures of the sky… I guess I’d started taking those beautiful sunrises for granted. :(

Yesterday morning was different though… I could see the glow of the sunrise right through the closed bathroom blinds… and couldn’t help but grab the camera and head outside.

What an incredible sunrise… The whole horizon glowed red to orange to yellow… the colors so brilliant they didn’t seem real. It backlit the trees creating dark silhouettes  to contrast with the riot of color behind them.

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What a gift to be able to look out my backdoor and see this:

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How could I ever take this for granted?!

It was a beautiful start to a good day. M had his steroid injection yesterday and he was so scared. He remembered when he’d had to have the  MRI with contrast of his hip and they had to inject dye into the joint. He was afraid it was going to be the same… (That had been a very painful experience!) Thankfully the steroid injection went well and wasn’t painful, the doc who did it did a great job and had the hip completely numb before entering the joint. Afterwards, while the joint was still numb, M was ecstatic…it was the first time in years that his hip didn’t hurt! The marcaine had worn off by bedtime and it was sore again… but hopefully the steroid will help it not be as painful as it has been lately. We celebrated the procedure being over and a pain-free hip with ice cream and a trip to the thrift store. (Of course, it’s one of M’s favorite things to do!)

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This is my favorite of yesterday’s sunrise pictures. This is a portion of the original property fencing that’s still standing… the old lodgepole pine fence post, the fencing, sagging from the weight of many years… and the brand new sunrise lighting up the sky behind.

my prodigious pumpkin painting post

(Say that three times fast!)

With the major outside work pretty much done for the year, and the gardens finished off by the first freeze I’ve been kind of at loose ends the past few days. It’s been too beautiful and warm to stay in the house… but there is no sense starting any outside projects with snow just around the corner. (And there is only so much time I can sit on the porch playing the mandolin!) So I’ve been doing what I always do when I’m bored, or stressed, or angry, or happy, or… just any time.

I’ve been painting.

And seeing as how it’s October, and I have an over abundance of pumpkins, I’ve been painting pumpkins.

The first pumpkin painting I did was to turn an plain glass pumpkin I’ve had for years into a mercury glass looking pumpkin. It took a trip to Hobby Lobby for some Looking Glass spray paint, but once I had the paint it was easy. I painted the outside of the pumpkin and it’s lid (turning the pumpkin base upside down for the first coat, then right side up to make sure I got both the base and the lip around the top).

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I gave it several light coats with the Looking Glass paint (it runs really easily, light coats are a must!) and then filled a squirt bottle with 1/2 cider vinegar and 1/2 water and spritzed it the paint and blotted where I’d spritzed. The vinegar/water combination gave it spots and “aged” it. It was very cool to see the effect…

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I’m happy with my old glass pumpkin’s make-over…

This past weekend, with my front porch totally taken over by the huge crop of pumpkins from my pumpkin patch, many of which are still green(ish) (short growing season), I decided to do what I did with the green pumpkins last year and spray painted a few of them white. This was literally a 5 minute job… It took longer to shake the spray paint than it did to paint the pumpkins! I taped off the stems, and then coated them lightly with paint until I could no longer see the green showing through. A couple of hours drying in the sun, and here they are… lined up with their orange friends on the window sill!

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I still had some time on my hands, and while digging through the spray paint to find the white paint, I’d noticed a can of black chalkboard paint I’d forgotten we’d had…

Joe looked at me like I’d lost my mind when I came out carrying yet another pumpkin and the chalkboard spray paint.

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I ended painting two of them black…one for me and one for E. I set mine on the front porch…  :)

 

We gave away a lot of pumpkins over the weekend, but I’ve still got some left… I’m taking one or two to a friend today, and hope most of my pumpkin crop finds homes by the end of the week. (If you’re local, come pick a pumpkin! :)

~Happy Monday~

Crazy Casa K

 

What makes me happy?

My back pasture.

I took a walk there yesterday evening… M had been having a rough afternoon, and the minute I saw he was starting to settle I sneaked out the door for a brief, but blessedly quiet, little walk.

Among the treasures I found…

long evening shadows stretching across the pasture

a deer family..

 

including twin fawns…

watching me watching them…

 

leaves turning from sedate late summer green to sunshine yellow and brilliant red.

 

The ones that had fallen looked like jewels carelessly scattered across the ground.

 

I even found impossibly tiny leaves changing colors…

 

putting on a show for no one but themselves and the field mice.

 

I was gone all of about 10 minutes, but I came back to the house feeling refreshed and with a renewed sense of wonder at the “everyday” gifts of nature scattered all around me.

 

so long summer… and a couple of quirky pumpkins

The days are getting shorter and I woke up this morning to the sound of wind-driven freezing rain (or maybe snow) hitting the window. It’s cold outside, and we’ll probably get our first snow today…

With an eye on the weather forecast I spent much of yesterday (before the weather turned) finishing up what I could of the outside work I’d hoped to get done this summer, and just getting things set to rights before winter.

Summers are busy times for me, there are always outside projects and maintenance (in addition to cutting the grass, tending the gardens etc.) that are best done while the weather is warm. I usually have a big outside project or two each summer as well, just to keep the fix-up work on the house moving forward.

Here’s my 2013 “summer work” list… some things got done, some will hold over until next summer… a few I can still get done.

Treat all exterior wood with wood preservative (in addition to our deck railing, we have heavy timbers around the doors and front windows)

Order the year’s hay, stack and cover

Have summer manure pile hauled away

Clean out remains of gardens after first freeze (This is half done, the kitchen garden is all cleaned out,but the pumpkin patch is still a mess.)

Finish shed exterior (This is mostly done… I still need to add wood to the doors, but that will probably have to wait until spring.)

Clean up wood, extra materials, etc. from shed project (Joe is still working on the shelving inside the shed and he leaves quite a mess of bits and pieces of wood everywhere. It’s all cleaned up now!)

Harvest pumpkins

Finish stone border next to driveway (this was a job I started during summer of 2012 but didn’t quite get finished)

Fix fencing

Have Murphy and Tucker’s hooves trimmed one last time before winter

Dig up or cut off and dispose of all purple thistles

 

I’ll have to call the farrier to come out and trim hooves before it gets really cold (I hate standing in the barn freezing while the farrier trims and chats, and chats and trims.. ;) ) I should have had the guy who hauls manure out already, but I was waiting for the pile to dry out (manure is heavy when it’s wet) and I guess I waited too long… because now we’re looking at snow.

Here are a few jobs I’d hoped to get done this summer, but didn’t… (that shed took a LOT of time!) Maybe next year…

*Sand back porch floor… re-stain (this might be good to do in early spring, or even during a late winter warm spell when I don’t have to worry about the dust, etc. coating the strawberries and other plants growing right off the porch)

*Put up new, nicer fence around pumpkin patch (we may start that this fall.. the timing is important on this project, it can only be done when nothing is growing so the deer don’t eat my harvest while the fence is down!)

*Have a load of gravel delivered and spread on driveway

Well, that’s it for the summer list(s). So long summer… it’s been nice.

 

We had a really good pumpkin harvest this year… between 25-30 pumpkins from my little pumpkin patch.

These two were so cool I didn’t have the heart to leave them to the deer, or cut them apart to get them out… so I cut the fence around them. (Knowing this was part of the fencing that needs to be replaced anyway!)

They are easy to carry that way. :)

This one looked like it was trying to escape the pumpkin patch by squeezing through the fence!!

 

Happy Fall!

And so it goes…

It’s been a long week… There has been altogether too much going on around here for me. A big part of that “too much” is that M’s having a lot of medical issues again… and so the doctor visits, testing and procedures have begun again too.

M suddenly started having more pain in his hips about a month ago (he has a congenital hip malformation, and has had both hips “rebuilt” over the past 3 years… one in 2010, one in 2011). He always has hip pain but it’s gotten significantly worse lately… so back to the orthopedist we went. I was happy to learn that M’s regular ortho, who used to practice out of Children’s Hospital, has switched over to University Hospital and sees adults now. Perfect… since M is 21 and really should start transitioning over to adult care.

The appointment was about the same as all his other ortho appointments, starting with an x-ray of his hips… but because University Hospital is a teaching hospital a resident came in first to go over the x-rays with us. He examined M’s hips (such a painful exam… hard to watch) then showed us the x-rays saying he didn’t see anything there, and he thought the pain was coming from tendinitis.  This might have sounded more reasonable to me had it not been for the fact that M’s hip problems had been misdiagnosed as tendinitis for months before a super sharp x-ray technician saw the real problem and made note of it for his PCP.

Does this sound convoluted? I’m tired and probably not explaining things well.

So when the resident said it was probably just tendinitis, I strongly questioned his diagnosis… telling him that we’d already had that misdiagnosis, and I wanted to be sure there was nothing (mechanical) going on in those joints. Thankfully, about that time Dr V, M’s regular ortho came in… he looked at the x-rays, we looked at them together and he found new problems with the hip that was fixed in 2010. (I guess tendinitis is the fall back diagnosis for joint pain when you can’t see anything going on!) Apparently some of the bone that was removed from the femur during the first surgery (so the joint could move without impingement) has grown back. AND there is a little spur of bone on the edge of the hip socket that is hitting that new bone. It’s been hitting it enough that it’s worn a small hole in the bone. :( Poor M… no wonder he’s been in so much pain!

Unfortunately we’re looking at another surgery at some point to fix the problem… but we are all in agreement that it’s not going to be now… or soon… if we can avoid it. We’re going to start with a steroid injection into the hip(s) and see if that gives him enough pain relief to put off the surgery.

Dr V put it well during M’s appointment when he said to the resident.. “There is no low-risk intervention with this patient.” Yup… that about sums up M!

M’s also been having more problems with his throat lately… choking on food he would normally be able to swallow. A visit to the PCP ended with an appointment for another swallow study and referrals to an ENT and neurologist. I had been thinking the choking was probably connected to M’s tardive dyskinesia… but she (the PCP) thinks it might be the gastroparesis moving further up M’s GI system. I hadn’t thought in those terms and it’s scary to think about the gastroparesis affecting first his gut and bowel, then moving up and affecting his stomach, and now moving up and affecting his throat and ability to swallow.  Scary stuff… stuff it’s best not to think about too much.

Ever read Gone With The Wind? Remember Scarlett O’Hara? I’m good at pulling a Scarlett and saying “I won’t think about it now. I’ll think about it tomorrow”… that philosophy served her fairly well… Except when it came to Rhett of course.

The swallow study is next week, and we’ll know more once it’s done…

So it kind of looks like we are, once again, jumping on the medical merry-go-round… I’m hoping this time around it’s a relatively quick trip and we can jump off again and leave the docs, procedures, appointments, and all that goes with them behind again soon.

(I’ve included a link to a post about M’s first hip surgery, it’s password protected because of photos in the post, please let me know if you are a regular reader and would like the password… Thanks for understanding)

…in which I try to come up with a reasonable explanation/excuse for suddenly…

…deciding to start sanding while talking to my sister on the phone.

(At least I didn’t start up my little “mouse” power sander… that would have been worse!)

So, here’s what happened… Yesterday, while having a lovely visit on the phone with my sister, I noticed a couple of rough spots in a little project I was working on and, without thinking, grabbed the sanding block to smooth them off. I was happily getting a little carried away sanding, talking to my sister, enjoying myself and not thinking a thing about it when she asked “What is that noise, are you sanding something?” And that’s when I realized that sanding while talking on the phone might not be the best idea. Oops. I’d seen the rough spots and without thinking (yes, I am an impulsive person) grabbed the sanding block and got to work. Who would have known it would be so loud?!

I guess she should be happy I didn’t notice dirt on the carpet and the vacuum nearby…

Anyway… I thought I’d share the little project I was working on so she could see what I was doing.

I was sanding on this little wooden tray I found at the thrift store last week… I paid $1. for it.

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I thought it would look really great painted and distressed.. Kind of like this one that Joss & Main carried last year…

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… only with the colors reversed. I wanted the top coat to be white with a darker color underneath to show through, so first I painted it with some old gray/green paint I had leftover from a past project. (Well, really I first gave it a light sanding all over so the paint would stick better… I almost forgot that part!)

The color in this photo isn’t true… it’s really darker and has more gray in it…

…not that it really matters, because as soon as that paint dried I painted over it. ;)

For the top coat, I used a little sample pot of linen white paint I bought for another project and dry brushed it on. I wanted the dark of the undercoat to show through here and there.

Finally I sanded off the edges and gave it some “wear” marks, and finished it up with a half dozen coats of clear coat.

This is my favorite clear coat… It goes on beautifully, dries quickly, and seems to hold up really well. (I used it on the tables in my family room, and they get LOTS of use!)

Here’s the finished product… I decided it would make a nice little tea station on the kitchen counter… a place to keep all my extremely important tea making necessities convenient and contained.

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So dearest older sister, that’s what I was working on… those rough spots called to me and I just couldn’t resist. I’m sorry I sanded in your ear, next time I’ll try to restrain myself from any sudden fits of sanding while on the phone. ;)

Some changes to protect our privacy…

I’m needing to make some changes to this blog to protect our privacy… I hate to do it, I really like this blog open for anyone who stops by to read. (Because I love stopping and reading other people’s blogs so much!) But issues have come up…again… that require me to me more careful here. I’m going through and password protecting posts with pictures of the kids.  Let me know if you’d like the password, I’m happy to share it with readers here…

And if you know me in real life, PLEASE do not use my name or the kid’s names when leaving a comment.

Thanks for understanding… (I’ll be back tomorrow with a real post… I’m off now to password protect more photos! :(  )

~Happy Monday~

Crazy Casa K

 

What makes me happy?

 

The sunrise shimmering through the trees…