back and forth

My two lives. My late night/early mornings life of mad crafty energy, where my fingers itch to create and my mild mannered day life of teaching, biking, tennis and the love of my life!

Monday, March 07, 2011

New Site, New Blog

I've moved! Larger space, roomier, new neighborhood.

It's my very own Weebly site.

Come visit! Comment! Enter my monthly contest!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

'Taming the Wire'

I'm thinking of changing my business name. Maybe that, maybe just my name! Certainly 'Sockdiva' didn't/doesn't work for many, many reasons.

Before pic.

...and after:

Sunday, August 01, 2010

More wrapping!

'Close to You' with Peitersite and agate, with copper wire.

I've come to the realization that a glass home studio won't be happening. So I sold the oxygenator, the torch, and will be selling a used home-made 14" saw bought on ebay to get a real rock saw that can slab my stones.

I always go back to knitting.

And it's good to know, I come back to stone and wire.

...and come back here!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Processing isn't for Sissies NO PICS!

The race was Saturday. Today, it was another kind of challenge, all together.

This summer, I read Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. And as part and parcel of my idea of being more self sufficient, and lessening my 'carbon footprint' I had intended when I hatched both the chickens and quail, that they would have a good life, with protection, abundant food and water, and free ranging for the chickens, that the extra roosters would be processed as painlessly and humanely as possible, and I would, in turn, by very conscious of my choice as a meat eater.

And today was the day.

Oh, the trials of my mind! I considered going vegetarian again, I read and reread threads from others, mostly suburban and city dwellers, going through the same issues. I read responses from farming folk, that never lost touch, some impatient, others more tolerant and helpful. I saw videos, photo diaries, other blogs! I remember how horrified my own mom was when I was a young girl, and asked if I could raise rabbits for meat. And some of that young girl's logic still resides in theis rather wimpy grown-up version.

Quail are the ideal suburban flock, where chicken roosters aren't allowed. As long as you don't sell eggs or quail, you can raise coturnix quail at home without a gaming license here in CA. Compared to chickens, for the most part, quail are quiet. In the Spring, you hatch fertile eggs, and replace the older flock with new, and provide healthy protein into your diet, as well as getting eggs almost all year round (they need 14 hours daylight to lay.) Quail roos sound something like a cross between a frog and a rooster.

'For the most part' quail are quiet. UNLESS you have a bunch of young roosters in breeding season, separated from the hens. You have to separate them, or too many roos can 'scalp' a hen. The males grab the feathers on the females head to hold them still while they mount. More than 1 male in a cage with females present will fight. So I had my 4 hens with the chosen roo, and the rest of the dozen males went into a separate aviary.

Good god, I was afraid of neighbors from all 3 sides+ would be pounding on my door to make the noise stop! It's not that the crowing is so very loud like a rooster, but it happens at ALL hours in the dead of night. And then starts up in earnest at about 5:15am, and goes on for hours, non-stop. Matt started sleeping over at friend's houses. Gabbi accused me of having aliens in the backyard. And my males, that matured at 6 weeks, have been doing this for over a week. I was suffiencently sleep deprived and grumpy to follow through with my plans...

I called Sue, and she agreed to hold my hand. Sue was a farm girl, spending summers helping process birds, driving farming equipment, and all assorted kinds of farm stuff in Nebraska! She and her husband now have a farm amid orchards on the East end of Putah Creek. He farms the acreage along Tremont with a partner. Tomatoes, sunflowers for seed, alfalfa, melons, and so on. From Mace to Old Davis Road.

Anyway, Sue came with bucket, 2 sharp knives, a sharpener, and a very steady presence!! And lucky for the Blue Birchin Maran rooster, her rooster recently died, so he's spared the knife, and will go home with her. That leaves the banty roo, and 11 quail.

We do the banty roo first. I try not to think about it. He was the runt, didn't mind being held, and was adorable and fluffy. Banty roos are also known for crowing louder than their full size brothers, and although I could wait and try to do it myself later, I knew I had to follow through FAST if I was going to walk this path. So I caught the little roo, and Sue showed me that being such a small bird, if I just held his body and head like so, she would shear off his head with the branch cutter.

Urk. I did as told, and scrunched my face and looked away. She closed up the shears, and I dropped the head, and held on to the flailing body in the plastic bag. I almost panicked that he wasn't really dead, because he was flailing so, and I didn't want to make him suffer! But Sue looked in, and reassured me that he was quite dead, and told stories how her Uncle would chop the head, and the birds really would be running around without heads, and how the kids would laugh and laugh at the sight. Finally, he was 'bled out' and I skinned him on the table I had set out. Soon enough, there he was. A tiny version of what I buy and fix from Nugget. My first chicken. Quail were next.

Now Sue had given me the choice. The one to hold the bird, or the one to do 'the deed'. It's the 'deed' that's the thing. It's ending a life. It's killing something, on purpose, ending a living, breathing creature's existence. Usually it's done far away, and I can ignore the life lost when I pick up a nice package, wrapped and presented to me by the butcher at the nice, clean grocery store, or served up with delicious, mouth watering dishes at a restaurant.

I took brief karmic refuge in the fact that when I served in the house for a high Tibetan monk that had come to Davis to talk, that he had enjoyed steak for lunch... and I grabbed a quail.

The process with a small game bird was to hold it in one hand, and with garden shears in the other, to cut with the sharp end against the throat that will cut and allow it to bleed out, the blunt against the back of the neck to crush the spine, killing it instantly. I held the bird until it stopped struggling, and then it sort of laid it's head back, almost in a faint and ... I squeezed the handle. It was a horrible feeling, and I'll remember it for the rest of my life as the blades closed, and I twisted away as instructed, and the head came off. I said a small prayer, and held the body until I could feel the heart stop beating, and felt a little ill. Sue reassured me it isn't something you should ever get used to doing. You do it, because it's a job that needs to be done. And you do it, but you don't enjoy it. Ever.

The rest was just like cooking. You cut off the wings, and the legs. You peel away the skin (quail are usually skinned, because the skin is so delicate, it rips easily) clean out the cavity, and you have what looks like a tiny version of what you buy at the store.

I dreaded 'the deed' with each of the 5 quail I processed, but I fully accepted my choice by the time the 5th was done, and soon after, we cleaned up, I gave Sue 6 of the quail for her to eat with her family, and a live rooster. She gave me a hug and said I did a good job for the first time. I really needed that hug too. Then I swept the front yard, cleaned up the aviary, the waterer and feeders, and visited my remaining birds and then ate lunch (vegetarian).

I don't think I'm going to be hatching systematically, to have a quail meal or two a month like some. But I will hatch and rotate my flock every year. And I'm sure every year I'll dread the 'deed' and soberly reminding myself of where my food comes from.

Suffering at Dunnigan

It started well! Jill picked me up at 6:45am, bright and early. We got there, and roadies everywhere. Most with probably 5% bodyfat, lean and strong. Dang, they looked young.

We parked, we registered, we had a long wait. Jill and I put out our trainers near Michele. I was nervous, and didn't think to eat anything. Carolyn and Anne(our injured teamates) came by to chat, encourage, and snap a few pics pre-race.

The day seemed calm, wind wise. Dunnigan is known for winds. But there were over 600 racers, and we were the last group. We were finally called, and since I was at the outhouses, I rushed to grab my bike and get in my group. There were 50 of us. Then the winds began to pick up. And I realized, too late, that I was hungry and had left my Energy bars in the van!

More waiting. Then we rolled out in a nuetral pack until the turn, 1 mile up. I had trouble clipping in, and was on the back. Fine, I usually am, and was more comfortable there than mid-pack! We made the easy turn, and it began to pick up. From 16 mph, to soon 23 mph, and my heart was racing!! But not from effort, it was from nerves. My heart was up in the 160's but I wasn't even breathing hard! I caught up to Jill, and the group took off. There was an early break, containing Ruth and Leslie, and the pack raced to catch, and we fell off the back right off the bat. I couldn't get my body to calm down. I felt nauseous! And with 15-20 mph crosswinds and rollers, and hunger/wanting to hurl, it was a sufferfest from the get-go.

Jill was encouraging! Ever optomistic, and we rotated, and worked through the course. We got passed by the pro/1/2, the Cat 3 men, and assorted fast packs, paced by motorcycles and follow cars. Occasionally, we'd hear shouts of encouragement from the riders, like, 'Good job ladies!' lol! Another, 'Lovely weather...' Hey, it helped. And so we rode, and rode.

I only had 1 bottle of water, and 1 bottle of Accelerade. I got down two gel packs, and some beans, and for a 42 mile race, that's just not enough. But I was familiar with the course, and we finally hit the final leg, 10 miles of a straight shot to the finish...and I felt/heard something big puncture my rear tire. 'Flat!' I yelled, so Jill wouldn't run into me, and I pulled off. Jill called out if I wanted her to wait, and I told her to go on, and finish. Too late I realized we had planned before that since we were sticking together, that I would carry the tube in my rear pocket, and she would have the levers and air. I was stranded. I felt my tire, and suprisingly, it still had some air, and knowing I was a light weight, I got back on and rolled for a couple miles before it went completely flat. Then I got off, and started walking. Of course, cyclists passed, but there was no SAG on this race, so walk it was. I was thirsty, and hot. Then after another few hundred yards, a racer stopped! Dave was a friend of Ruth's, and knowing he was out of contention, he stopped and offered me the tools I need to fix my flat! Saved! What a guy! So with everything I needed, I flipped my bike, and put in the new tube.

I started rolling again. I just wanted to finish, so no TT'ing it in, I rolled along at about 18mph, when another racer passed, obviously in no hurry, and I 'sort of' (because you can get dnf'd if you work with racers outside of your group) caught his wheel. We rolled at around 20mph when he noticed me, and came back alongside, and we started chatting. About racing, about Dunnigan, and it was nice to have company. Finally, the final turn was there, and we rolled up and over the overpass. He pulled ahead, and we crossed. A DBC'er along the side yelled at me, "Why did you let him win the sprint?!" and I just smiled, happy to be DONE.

I rode another couple of miles to get back to the parking lot, thirsty, hungry, tired....and the van was gone.

So I sat in the dusty, parking lot waiting for them to come back. So after not having real food for 6 hours, racing 42 miles n the wind/heat/dust, hungry, tired, exhausted mentally and physically, I was felling pretty darn sorry for myself.

Then my ride was there! Jill had ridden back, and Chris threw her bike in the van, and they drove back to to the course to try and find me. Lucikly, they did, because they picked up another stranded racer just sitting on the side of the road in a bit of a daze. They dropped him off, and as they loaded my bike, I downed my other bottle of water, and climbed in. Whew. Check that puppy of my Bucket List: Road race, DONE!!

Stats: max heart rate, 168. Ave. was 155 (!!!) Lost 4-5 pounds of water weight.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hot glass. Torching. Molten. Flame. Boro.

Still exploring mediums. And I'm not there yet. I need to take another step to find my expression. I can sell items, but it's not my 'art' yet, if that makes sense! So my next obsession is Boro glass. I'm taking a couple of classes and already dreaming of glass. And combining it with wire and stone.

And jumping head first. I guess that's just the way I roll!

....and a pic of my first marble! Boro is 'hard' glass, you use temperatures up to 1500+ degrees to work it. But it has a depth and magic and unpredictability that I'm drawn to.

The new chicks on the block! I hatched them in June. 2 welsummers, 2 cochin, 1 frizzle, 2 Maran. Two or three ? will have to find new homes, since they're roosters.

AND quail! I hatched and have 20 right now. My girlfriend is going to 6 or so, and I'll keep the rest. For eggs, mostly

Sunday, May 03, 2009

My current obsession are chickens. Here is my old hen, maybe 5 or 6 years old, I don't know!

I have her, and two young Easter Eggers, who lay kind of a pale brownish green eggs.

Of course, being me, I want different colored eggs! And having hatched a bunch for school, I started thinking, hmmm, I could hatch some for myself! And then I started looking at egg color and breeds, and well! I'm getting carried away.

I'm thinking Black Copper Maran, Welsummer, both of which lay a dark, dark, brown egg, one like chocolate, the other more brick colored. Then a blue cochin, that lays a light brown egg. Then I saw eggs on ebay for a blue cochin that's a Frizzle, or who has feathers that go curl like crazy. Cute!

Of course, since I can only have a limit of 6 chickens, and I always end up losing one or more during their time, either from mysterious circumstances or something, if I add those 3 kinds, and in a couple of years, after attrition, I can add other breeds that catch my eye.

If I hatch them, I figure I can sell the others, if I'm lucky to have them, on craigslist.

I just love hatching chicks. I'm amazed by it every year. More and more friends are adding chickens, as part of a healthier lifestyle, and being more self sufficient, and knowing that they're getting happy eggs from happy chickens, and not those poor, debeaked, crowded, sad chickens that lay the nice, clean eggs at the grocery store.

Mine are so funny. Where I weed, there they are. At least the youngs ones. I'm crouching, and often I'll see a chicken head under me, going for a bug. I was weeding today under the Pomegranite tree, and a big black widow, the size of a quarter, fell out from an empty pom rind. I'm silently calling for my chicken to come and eat it, and within a couple minutes, up comes my red hen, and goes directly for it, and kills/eats it! I LOVE my chickens!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

One of these days I'll stop forgetting my sign in info and password!!

Okay, NEW BUG on the BLOCK!!

It's a Ladybug. I LOVE ladybugs.

It's bigger than the Baby bug, and has double wings, and a strap. And a rounder body, as well. It's the perfect size for my ID/credit card, my phone and my keys. And they're cute!!