5/25/16

Life Goes On

We're moving along, reluctantly. There's still no sign of Maggie, and at this point, we're not expecting to see her again. Many of you have told stories of cats who returned home after being gone for long periods of time. In fact, we have our own story about our cat named (very originally) Tom, who was missing for five days and returned. There's always a possibility she'll come back, but we're not counting on it. Part of me hopes that by writing these words I'll give many of you the chance to say "I told you so." Nothing would make us happier. For now, we are moving ahead while continuing to leave the door open for her for at least a little while longer. We have to close off the laundry room at night to keep Smitty inside, but Maggie is free to come inside to her favorite flannel quilt if she returns.

This morning I finished the last of the embroidery for the Written in Thread wallhanging.


Then I trimmed the edges to 1 1/4 inch from the seam line. That was scary. I was careful to make sure there was still at least a quarter inch seam allowance around the outside of the stitching.


The last thing it needs is a pieced border around the outside, and then it will be ready for quilting and binding.

Yesterday I left early to pick up our CSA share and allowed time for a trip to JoAnn's. I wanted to pick up some floss for the next embroidery project to enter the line-up: Wine Country, a gift from my dear friend Marei. These are the colors of floss I'll be using. The one on the right there is a silvery gray, not the lavender that it appears to be. The red in the center is a brick red.


I thought I would use that piece of Kona solid in the background of the image above, but then remembered that I still have about a yard of some tea-dyed muslin left over from the Quilting Snowladies. I decided to go for the more rustic look and use that. The paper transfers are cut apart now and numbered (so that I can keep track of where I am). First up will be the Pinot Noir block since this is Oregon, and that's what we do best here. What a luxury to be able to iron on the transfers rather than tracing them! Stitching begins on this one tomorrow.


Also at JoAnn's I picked up a hand quilting hoop. Already I had the larger 15-inch one, but I wanted a smaller one as well. 


I've decided to go out on a really long limb here and hand quilt the Mumm's the Word quilt. To my eyes, it seems to be begging for hand quilting.


The only other quilt I've ever hand quilted is this whole cloth doll quilt made when I took an online class from Quilt University (no longer operating). This one was done in the traditional way with hand quilting thread. "Traditional" if you're a stabber like me.


Recently I've become aware of another hand-quilting method known as "big stitch". It's done with #8 Perle cotton and a running stitch. Supposedly it goes quickly, and so I'm going to give it a try. I found a pretty good tutorial right here, if you're interested in learning more about this.

After my trip to JoAnn's I needed a few things at the grocery store and then headed over to pick up week 2 of our CSA share. Pretty veggies again. You can't see them well in this image, but on the right-hand side toward the back are some collard greens large enough to use for sailing the Pacific ocean. We'll probably eat ours instead of setting sail, but it's always good to dream big.


Experimentation is ongoing with these. In the image below is Monday's dinner. On the left is a mixed green salad, to which I added roasted beets and some quick pickled radishes. Six radishes were sliced thinly along with one shallot, then pickled in a combination of 1/4 cup of bottled lime juice, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of pickling salt. Then they were allowed to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and then drained and added to the salad. You can wait an hour to serve them, but I'm told they'll start turning gray after that. Those were very nice added to the salad.


On the right is a dish of Pasta with Kale Pesto and Roasted Butternut Squash. The kale pesto was very nice on the pasta. I happen to like kale. Mike likes it better if it no longer looks like kale. The combination of the kale pesto, pasta, and roasted butternut squash was delicious.

So that's life at the Three Cats Ranch, now sadly down to just one cat. As I've already said, we've searched high and low, inside and out, and not seen any sign of Maggie whatsoever. Along the way I noticed that the rose is going to bloom despite repeated assaults from a rather friendly deer.


As the rhododendron blossoms fade in the background, the daylilies are heading up and should be blooming by next week. I always love seeing these bloom. They were a gift from Erik and Mae.


The two zucchini plants seemed to come to a complete standstill after I transplanted them into the ground. Now they're growing again and starting to form blossoms. Looks like I need to sprinkle some "candy" for the slugs. 


The lavender is heading up and ready to bloom...my favorite fragrance.


Additionally, I wanted to say what we've been thinking about the future of kitties here at the Three Cats Ranch. There are differing schools of thought about whether cats should be allowed outside or kept inside exclusively. We happen to be in the camp that believes they have better lives if they are allowed outside with certain restrictions. The restrictions here have always been that they come in at night when predators roam the land. Also, they don't go outside when we take them in the RV except to use the catio or unless they are leashed...which they don't like, and thus, they don't go outside much. But thems are the rules.

Losing Maggie has hit us very hard. We haven't had her long, but we both grew attached to her very quickly. Her vulnerability made her easy to love, and she has some very endearing qualities to boot. Further, she has virtually no bad habits, which is unusual in any living thing. And so we're very saddened by her disappearance. It doesn't help that we lost Gracie just six months ago.

With that said, we've decided to amend our outside kitty rules to accommodate the use of an outdoor shelter. Yesterday I did some shopping and found a company in Seattle that will sell plans for a DIY version. We're planning to build their "Sanctuary" plan.


 As pictured, its dimensions are 8 x 10, but Mike plans to make it 8 x 12 by adding one more vertical section. He also plans to put it on casters so that it can be moved in order to clean our deck which has a membrane surface. When it's in place, it will attach to the exterior wall of the house with eye bolts and hooks. Mike has purchased the plans, and he expects to have it completed within the next couple of weeks.

We continue to believe that cats live the best lives possible if they are allowed to be outside. Smitty, in particular, loves to run and hunt, and keeping him inside will make him unhappy. We still plan to allow him out when we can be outside with him. We can't bear to restrain him from his "galumphing" back and forth in pure kitty joy when he follows us around the yard. On the other hand, Mike and I are growing weary of this worry over predators. It's time to make a change, and it will no doubt evolve over time.

Today I have a day at home. Originally I thought I'd be making another trip the the grocery store today, but then remembered that we are eating dinner out tonight to celebrate our anniversary yesterday. (We would have gone yesterday, but the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.) That means I'll have some time to get back to quilting the Yard Art quilt today. Also there's a little housework and some weeding to do.

We're keeping our fingers crossed about Maggie, but really not expecting to see her again. Keep your fingers crossed too, okay? If she returns, all greetings that begin with "I told you so" will be gladly accepted.

5/24/16

Maggie Still Missing

First, thank you for all your well wishes and supportive comments. It's been quite a day. We haven't found Maggie, although we have searched the entire property several times. Also, Mike and I have both used our hiking poles to walk across an expanse of overgrown and dense juniper bushes where she likes to hide. This evening, we walked the perimeter of the property for the second time, and also went down into our woods that are overgrown and dense. We're using a flashlight, hoping to see her glowing eyes. So far, nothing. Occasionally, we think we hear her, but it's probably just wishful thinking.

We sent an email with pictures to all of the people on our Neighborhood Watch list. We received a few supportive responses, but no one has reported seeing her. We live far from our nearest neighbor, and so it's extremely unlikely she's at a neighbor's house or locked in a neighbor's garage. If she is around, we believe she is somewhere on our own acreage.

So, all of that to say we know nothing. If she is outside and hiding, it seems we're just going to have to hope and wait. And if she isn't...well, there isn't a whole lot to say about that, and I don't want to even think about it. We're closing off the doors to the laundry room where the kitty door is located, so that Smitty is corralled for the night. We're leaving the kitty door open for Maggie and putting all her favorite items in the room hoping we'll find her when we get up in the morning. Beyond that, there's nothing else to report.

Of course, I will post immediately if anything changes. Until then...waiting and hoping.

Heartbroken

We're mourning Maggie this morning. She's been missing for 24 hours. She went out yesterday morning, and came back inside for some kitty treats just briefly before going outside with Smitty again. She hasn't been seen since.

We've considered many possibilities, but there's really no way to know what might have happened to her. She's been known to wander occasionally, and we're keeping in mind that she was living  in the wild before she came to us. She has been timid when outside, keeping close to the house nearly 100% of the time and staying hidden under bushes. It was quiet and wet yesterday morning. The grass needs mowing, and so she wouldn't have wandered out into it or crossed the open field. It's hard to imagine that a predator would have had an opportunity to sneak up on her.

We've always chosen our homes so that they're safe for the kitties. There is virtually no traffic, and we receive very few visitors aside from family. Occasionally a delivery truck arrives on the scene, but there were no deliveries yesterday, and no other visitors either. A deer has been hanging around, and while he wouldn't have been a threat to her, he might have frightened her enough that she's still hiding somewhere.

We're trying to stay hopeful, but we're not very optimistic. I will, of course, post immediately if she shows up again.

5/23/16

Squirrely

We returned home from our weekend at the beach yesterday to find this marauding marauder chowing down on the still green strawberries.


Check out his tail there...it looks like my permed hair when I get out in the rain. From the looks of things there at his feet, he's been having quite a feast. Release the cats!

This morning, Smitty invited him into the house for lunch. When I went down to the sewing room, I found Smitty camped out next to my cedar chest. I figured he had a mouse cornered, but I kept hearing a loud "Chip!" from said critter and realized it had too loud a voice for a tiny mouse. Getting down on hands and knees with a flashlight, I spied this guy hanging out with the dust bunnies.


Okay, well this isn't good. So I locked Smitty out of the room and chased the little fellow out the sliding glass door with a broom. Smitty was waiting at the door when the squirrel ran out and the two of them took off. Not sure what the squirrel's fate was, but it wasn't happening on the white carpet in my sewing room, that is for sure.

So backing way up, we got off to a late start on Friday afternoon. It's about three and a half hours to Winchester Bay from our place. Once one turns off of Interstate 5 onto Oregon SR 38, the view gets very pretty. We traveled alongside the Umpqua River a good part of the way.


We were trying to get to our campsite before the sun set, and we made it just in a nick of time. It would have been nice to stop and take some pictures of the river, but we didn't want to take the time. I did manage to get a few through my window as we sped by.


As we were unhitching and settling in for the night, a full moon was rising over our campsite. Nice.


The only other time Maggie has gone on a trailer trip with us, she was the new kid in town. We found her a little regressed back to that time, hiding in her previously staked out hidey holes, and generally pretty anxious. She had a short nap after we arrived, and awakened in a better mood.


Smitty, for his part, was a perfect gentleman on this trip. He seemed genuinely to want Maggie to feel comfortable and kept his distance, occasionally giving her a reassuring nose bump.


The weather was threatening Friday when we arrived, but it didn't rain. On Saturday, we had gorgeous weather and so decided to hike the Tahkenitch Creek Trail just north of where we were. Of course, I took pictures of every blooming thing, starting with these little daisies growing in a grass strip at the parking lot.


We saw lots of blooming rhododendrons along the way.


And some pretty hostas.


Stands of big Sitka Spruce.


Lots of ferns that would have been more than willing to take over the trail if people would just stop walking over it.


At the .4 mark, we came across this sign that completely confused us. I've filled in with a pink arrow there to show you where we ACTUALLY were. We kept looking at the pink "You are here" dot, and that made no sense whatsoever, until we saw the dot on the right side. Geez.


This hike could be several different lengths. We took the right fork there, thinking we'd see how we felt when we reached the next fork. At that point, we could continue on with the larger loop for a 2.5 mile hike, or we could head back along the shorter loop for a 1.5 mile hike. There was no way we were heading off on the 5-mile hike because it went across open sand dunes, and I had no illusions that my bum right knee would tolerate that well.

When we reached the second fork, we decided to continue on, taking the right fork, and expecting to get alongside the creek where we could see it.


We never actually saw the creek, but we did happen upon about a zillion voracious mosquitos. When we saw them rigging up a winch in order to haul our bodies back to their evil lair for consumption later in the day, we decided it was a good time to turn around. So we walked as fast as we could, hoping to keep at least one pint of blood flowing in our bodies, and took the shorter loop hike back. When we reached the sign, we inadvertantly headed off in the wrong direction.


Eventually, we came to this steep hill (which is much steeper than it appears in this image). We both wondered aloud if this looked familiar. We kind of thought it did until we reached the top and saw just a vast expanse of sand dunes.


So we turned back again, realizing our mistake. Along the way, we passed this little broken egg. I scanned the tree overhead looking for a nest, but saw nothing.


When we reached this fence, we were back in familiar territory, and we still had blood left in our bodies. Phew!


Just beyond that fence, you get a pretty view of the creek.


It was a nice hike, despite the mosquitos, and we were glad to have done it. Next time we'll know to take along some mosquito repellant.

When we arrived back at the trailer, all was well in cat land with naps in process above and below.


Later in the day, we went out for a walk along the breakwater adjacent to the RV park.


There's a nice paved walkway that takes you alongside the water. You get the feeling you're on the beach here, but this is actually where the Umpqua River flows into the ocean.


Looking back the other direction, you see this:


The walkway curves around to the bay and there is a pretty marina there. On previous visits, we've seen sea lions in these waters.


Of course our shadow selves walked along with us.


I managed to get in my 10k steps for the first time since falling ill last weekend.


When we checked into the park Saturday morning, I saw this. Cute...made me think of my quilt for this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge.


Sunday morning the rain had returned, and so we hitched up and headed for home. Along the way we saw this herd of elk grazing along the state highway.



 Arriving home, I was ready to do battle with the vegetables again. Last night, I made this One-pot Chicken and Rice with Swiss Chard. I love a dish that cooks in one pot and can be served in one dish. It was yummy, It's made with basmati rice, and it used up the bunch of swiss chard. Also, I threw in the remaining Hakurei turnips. It also gave me a chance to use some of the veggie stock left over from last year's share.


Although I haven't done any sewing for several days, I have been making progress on the Written in Thread piece. I'm more than half way around now.


I have a busy week ahead of me. Today I'm getting my monthly pedicure that had to be rescheduled from last week. Also, I need to get out and pull some weeds. They seem to have taken over the place this weekend, even though I've been working away at them all spring long. Tomorrow I'll pick up the 2nd share of CSA veggies, and that will mean a trip to the grocery store on Wednesday. Thursday I'm getting my sad, sad, sad hair cut and permed. Friday I walk with Sue, and then Saturday Mae and I are going shopping for plants. It's a very late birthday present for her May 1st birthday. 

So, you can see that there's something going on every day this week. Hopefully, I'll find some time to get the Yard Art quilt finished before the end of the month. And now that I've listed all of those to-do's out, it's time to get to-doing some of them. How was your weekend?

5/20/16

Signing Off for the Weekend

Yesterday I managed to finish up the laundry with some quilting between wash cycles. Although I'm feeling much better, my energy level is still dictating the terms of existence. I suppose that is always the case, but I'm used to a little more enthusiasm in my days.

As for the quilting, three of the four rows of blocks are finished now. Just the three flamingos and two palm trees at the top remain...and the border, of course.


When I finished the bottom row of blocks yesterday, I took it off the machine and downstairs to the living room where the soft lighting from the windows seems to be the best place to see the quilting. As I said earlier, I'm just doing simple quilting on this by outlining the appliques and blocks, and then adding ripples of water around the flamingos' legs. It's probably a little easier to see it on the quilt back.



My quilt inspectors were absent for this partial finish. Nap preparation was taking higher priority.


That seemed like a good idea to me too, and so I joined him in that endeavor.

Yesterday's assault on the vegetables gave me a leg up on the greens. When I picked up our share on Tuesday, one of our farmers pointed out how beautiful the beet greens were and said she hoped people were eating the greens. A little too quickly, I replied that I usually make pesto from the beet greens, and then realized that wasn't what she had in mind. After giving it some thought, I realized she was right. The beet greens were beautiful, with nary an insect bite. As I was unpacking the veggies, I noticed the turnip greens were equally beautiful...and the radish greens too.

Last night I tried this "any greens" saute. I used my cast iron skillet and a little olive oil and first sauteed some minced shallot and garlic scapes. Then I started throwing in the beet greens and turnip greens a little at a time. As each bunch wilted down and made room in the pan, I added a little more. When they were all in the pan, I added a little salt, then a tablespoon and a half of cider vinegar and a tiny sprinkling of red pepper flakes and voila! (Voila! is our Victory over Vegetables cry here at the Three Cats Ranch, with arms raised "touchdown" style.)


And these were really tasty. I'll definitely make this again. Mike and I are pretty easy-going when it comes to food with very few things we won't eat. Mike is dead set against Brussels sprouts, and I'm dead set against lima beans. Those are our only we-don't-negotiate-with-terrorist foods. (Everyone has something.) When it comes to greens, I'd say we're both suspicious. We weren't raised on greens, and so we're having to acquire a taste for them. Just now I looked up the nutritive value of greens to see whether this taste acquisition was worth the effort. There is a wealth of information about this, including rankings of which greens are healthiest. The rankings are wildly variable, depending on who's doing the ranking. Of the websites I browsed this one seemed to be the most objective and gave the most information about the nutritive value of greens. Consider me sold. There was a little bit leftover from last night's dish, and I'm going to throw them into my scrambled eggs for breakfast this morning.

When I made the dish above, I wasn't exactly sure how to prepare them for cooking. Some greens-- collards, kale, and chard, for example--have a thick center rib that is tough and fibrous and (to my tender palate) not appetizing at all. Some people chop them up and pickle them. I've tried that and found it not worth the effort. The beet greens and turnip greens had a tender rib, and so I left that in, but cut off the tough stems below the leaf. Those went into a bin where I keep cuttings and peelings for making vegetable stock when enough accumulate. That worked great, but I'll still cut the leaves cross-wise into two inch-wide ribbons next time around. It'll make them easier to eat. 

Also, we made short work of the broccoli by trying this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Here's the picture from her website...hers turned out prettier than mine.


Mike and I agreed that this was a new take on broccoli, and I can totally recommend the dipping sauce. Think of it as the icing on the cake.

This morning I spent some more time on the Written in Thread piece, and I'm about 25% of the way around the edge now.


This will be going with us to the beach this weekend. As I mentioned yesterday, we're heading over there for the weekend to celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary on Tuesday. That means I'm going to spend the morning packing the food and my own clothing and what-not. It shouldn't take long because it's just a weekend trip.

The laptop is staying at home...I think it has other plans...and so I won't be blogging again until Monday or Tuesday. It's going to be a good weekend, and I hope you have a good weekend too.