Archive | September 2013

Wild Asters

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This time of year the wild asters are in full bloom. Their pink or purple flower masses line the roadsides, field and forest edges and any other place that is open and unmown. Asters can grow very tall, up to 4 feet or more, before blooming. They need all summer to reach their full height. Other asters stay small, begin blooming early in the summer and hold their flowers until the frosts.a2

There are many varieties of wild asters in Maine. They are actually classified as Astereae, being New World and not Eurasian asters. Still, their beautiful star-like flower shapes all appear very similar. Some have white petals with yellow centers that bloom for several weeks or more. As the flowers age, the petals take on a purplish or even reddish hue.
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Bees and butterflies love asters. I allow many varieties of wildflowers including asters to grow around the property so the wild birds and insects have a natural food source.

The beauty of wild flowers is often delicate and understated, not the brash pageantry of garden varieties.  These wild cousins of our domestic flowers will always find a spot in my plantings.

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Carnival Glass

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One of my passions is carnival glass. The gorgeous iridescent glow is irresistible to me. The name derived from the use of this type of glass as prizes at carnivals. The iridescent quality is imparted by spraying the hot glass with metallic salts then refiring to make the color permanent.
This glass, first called iridescent glass, was very popular at the turn of the last century and through the early part of the 1900s. By the 1940s it was falling from favor. In the 1970s the Indiana Glass Company revived the treatment for glass in the Harvest pattern. There was a large selection of pieces readily available and this glass is easy to acquire. It was sold under the Colony name. The base glass color determines the name of the color, Harvest Carnival was produced in blue, purple, green and gold. I love the blue best, the rainbow sheen seems to me to display to greatest advantage on that base shade.  I have samples shown here in blue and gold.

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Mosser Glass in Ohio still produces carnival glass. I have a small, fanciful baby horse or foal, also called pony by some, made in green carnival glass. I love the lines of this design. It is a fairly contemporary piece made within the last ten years. I love it because it combines a horse with carnival glass.carn5 carn4 carn6
I have yet to acquire any antique carnival glass but if I find an outstanding example, I should be able to make room in my display cabinet.

Harvest

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The harvest is well under way.  I’ve picked pears and apples, winter squash, pie and field pumpkins, mini pumpkins, and indian corn.  Still lots to do, just some of the harvest is in.  Also I need to make apple sauce and pear jelly.  The sunflower is looking beautiful, just before the frosts hit and kill it.  The bees love the fragrant blooms and the pollen.

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New Book Published

sin cover blogI did it!  I published my second book on Amazon Kindle!  The sequel to The Tidewater Possession, the new book is titled Sin of the Father and is set in Virginia and New York of 1815.  The book is live on Amazon and the print-on-demand edition should be available soon.

http://www.amazon.com/Sin-Father-Tidewater-Possession-ebook/dp/B00FFRCZWY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1380192368&sr=8-2&keywords=sin+of+the+father+clifford

Washing the Oriental Rugs

I love old-fashioned things.  Oriental rugs are an ancient type of floor covering.  The scatter rug to room-sized carpets have been woven for thousands of years, first by Persian peoples using wool and natural dyes.  Many of the designs the weavers worked into the carpets had significance for their societies.  The rugs became great trade items and the fashion for Oriental rugs spread around the world. Today antique Persian rugs command hefty prices and even a brand new model will set you back several hundred to several thousand dollars.

I like to acquire old Oriental rugs at auctions.   Prices are usually very reasonable. The previously loved carpets often need a good cleaning. Washing these tightly woven floor coverings is definitely a heavy chore.  In the past few days I cleaned all three of my carpets.  I know very little about their designs or if they have any significance beyond their decorative value.  One rug is made of wool and the other two are polyester or acrylic.  All are about 5.5 ft by 7.5 ft.  This red, blue, green and tan piece with the large medallions is my freshly cleaned wool rug.rug1

You can not use a regular carpet cleaning system to do Oriental rugs.  They must be hand washed.  Steps of my method for cleaning an Oriental rug.  Choose a period that promises at least three days of cool, dry, sunny weather. A nice breeze is also very helpful.  Early in the morning, give your carpet a good vacuum.  Some people like to take their carpet outside and wallop it thoroughly with a rug beater. That may be good if there is a lot of sand or fine dirt worked into the weave, vacuuming seems enough for mine.

Set up a work site on a flat area with a slight incline.  Lay out plywood to form a spot a bit larger than the rug.  Have a garden hose with good water pressure ready. Fill a bucket with warm water and enough dish soap to make a good foam.  I like to add a little enzymatic cleaner to the bucket to help remove any pet odors. Find a good hand brush and a long-handled push broom with stiff bristles.rug2

Roll up your rug, carry it outside and unroll it face up on the plywood.  Be sure all the edges are on the wood.  Soak it down with the hose.  Use the broom to take up soapy water from your bucket and scrub the rug well.  Brush diagonally, horizontally and perpendicularly to work the soap deep into the weave.  Use the hand brush to remove any stubborn spots.  Then rinse completely with the hose.  This is where you will appreciate having the rug on an incline.  The water and soap foam run off easily.  Rinse and rinse some more until no soap foam rises to the surface.  Let the carpet drain flat for awhile.  Then roll the rug up.  More water will pour from the downhill side.

Now you must suspend the rug so all the water can drain from it to speed the drying.  I built a very handy drying rack using four pallets.  The breeze can get under the rug and much of the drying occurs on the pallet rack.  Unroll your carpet along the top of the rack, allowing it to fall evenly on both sides.  A waterlogged oriental carpet is a very heavy thing.   After it is hung, more water will pour from the rug.  It is amazing how much the fibers can soak up.  Wool rugs hold more than synthetic ones.  They take longer to clean and dry.rug3

In the early afternoon the rug should be getting dry.  The long edges will still retain plenty of water but likely won’t be dripping anymore.  Now it’s time to move the carpet to the clothesline to optimize airflow on both sides.  I hang my carpets the long way over three lines of my clothesline.rug4

With pieces of wood, I create spacers that keep the lines apart and allow plenty of air circulation inside the rug.  By the end of the day the floor covering should be mostly dry. It is all right to leave the carpet outside overnight as long as no rain is predicted and the next day is a good drying day as well.

rug5Let the carpet hang until it is completely dry, otherwise it may develop a smell as it tries to dry in the house.  If I want to use my clothesline for something else that next morning, I drape the mostly dry carpet over the wood pile. At this point only a little dampness remains along the thickly sewn edges of the light blue rug with the large central floral medallion.

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What a joy to have this chore completed for another year. My woven floor coverings are clean and I got a good upper body and aerobic workout.

The Cats

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To me, no home is complete without a cat or two or five. Molly and Toby currently live with us.  Both came to our home as kittens.  Molly is 13, a gray and white Maine Coon type and Toby, a mackerel tabby, is 12.  We have had as many as nine cats in our house at one time. But that was craziness.  Three is probably a good number.  Two feels a little quiet sometimes, especially since they are getting older and aren’t as active as they once were.  Both cats do still play like kittens when they want to, especially Molly, who has kept her girlish figure.  Toby, otherwise known as Rico, has bulked up considerably over the years.mols

Because we live in country populated by coyotes and other predators and close to a high speed road, our cats stay in the house and go out in a special cage set up for them three seasons of the year.  They have a cat flap for constant access, a four by eight foot area, four feet tall, with grass, a log for scratching and a shelf for basking when the sun shines.rico1

The cats love this area, even in inclement weather, and seem perfectly content to limit their outside activities to the cat cage.  Molly is a fearsome hunter who nabs unsuspecting mice, voles, frogs, toads, bugs, earthworms and small snakes which she loves to practice catch and release on in the house.  This makes for much inside excitement both for the cats and us.  They also enjoy eating grass and bringing it up on the rugs.

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catnipPhoenix Farm cats have the luxury of fresh catnip which they eat and get drunk on.  The fresh leaves are their favorite but they get pretty thrilled over dried catnip as well.

The cats have a big basket of toys.  Occasionally, a kitty will go to the basket and choose a toy to play with.  Molly loves small balls with bells inside, or catnip mice.  Toby has a special relationship with an orange plush fish tied by black string to a plastic stick handle.  He will carry the fish in his mouth, dragging the stick behind him and caterwauling for the rest of the group to come partake of the great feast he has obtained. This is especially fun to listen to at 2 am as he hauls the fish on a stick up the entire flight of stairs, handle banging on each wood riser, to our bedroom, howling the whole way.

Yes, our lives would certainly be quieter and less messy without cats, but think of all that we would miss.  Molly and Toby are filled with love. When they snuggle up beside you on the couch or the bed, the warmth of their little purring bodies reaches right to a human’s heart.

Recalled Dehumidifier

Great!  Today I learned that the dehumidifier we bought new this past spring and that has been running almost daily all summer was just recalled.  There have been 165 incidents of overheating and smoking and 46 fires with over $2 million in property damage reported for certain models manufactured by a Chinese company.  The recall was issued four days ago, today the retailer we bought ours from sent me the recall notice.  The thing had been running daily during those four days.  I am thanking my lucky stars that this unit didn’t overheat and catch fire while we weren’t in the house.

The whole first floor of our home is on a cement slab and while that helps our house stay cool in summer and warm in winter without using a lot of energy, it does create significant humidity in our living area.  Without a dehumidifier in the summer months, we would be inundated with mold.   On the worst hot, muggy days the dehumidifier runs 24 hours.  To think it could have caused a fire at any moment is frightening.