February 19 is Chinese New Year (the old Chinese calendar started with the 2nd new moon after the winter solstice) and is a major, if not the major, Chinese holiday.  Everyone takes from three to six days off from work and there are major celebrations with family. This often includes a trip back home.

This year is the Year of the Goat (some people will say sheep).  The discrepancy comes to play because the same word (symbol) means either goat or sheep in Chinese.  Since Market Street is a yarn store we should probably go with year of the sheep, but since the goat is one of my favorite animals, I will probably stick with year of the goat.  My love of goats started when I was quite young and increased immensely during the years I had a small herd of dairy goats.  I won't go into their wonderful attributes here, but will skip back to sheep and the Chinese New Year.

People born in the Year of the Goat show great kindness and politeness.  They are shy and sensitive and are said to love art.

Lucky facts for people born in the Year of the Goat.

Lucky Numbers:  2 and 7 or any combination,   Lucky days:  7th or 30th,   Lucky colors:  brown, red and purple, 

 Lucky months:  August and November,   Lucky direction:  North

Flowers:  carnation and primrose





Today I planned on writing about the next Progressive Needles mystery knit along which will start the first Thursday of April and posting a picture of the gorgeous yarn Michelle chose for it.  However, the yarn was a limited edition and:  the good news (for me) and bad news (for you)--I am already sold out of it. I can only describe the project.  We will be making Kaika a toe up sock  "with Japanese inspired stitches."  The stitches are intricate and require removable pins or markers. 

I can hardly wait to get started.  I expect any hand dyed mostly  solid color yarn can be substituted.  It is even possible that I could get more yarn.  If you are interested, please let me know ASAP and if enough people want it, I will see if any yarn is available.  Michelle and Skacel only died 1,000 skeins so it may not be possible to get more.


Oops!  We are a month and 5 days more into 2015--AND  I haven't written a blog about the 2015 Pantone color of the year.  According to the press, the 2015 color of the year is "equally appealing to men and women".  It is also " stirring and flavorful...the tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal," and it is "hearty".  What are we talking about here?  It sounds like something we might eat.  Maybe it is.  The color of the year is Marsala, which is a robust and earthy wine.  According to the press release it is flattering for many skin tones, yet appealing and sophisticated.  "Marsala enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability."  My,my!  Maybe it is the wine that brings on all these earthy and edible descriptions.  Since I am not a wine drinker, I can't say that comparing the feeling brought on by the color  to the effect of drinking the wine does a thing for me.  I do like the color.  Maybe it will make me more sophisticated if I wear the color--I doubt it though. Part of the problem is that I don't think I want to be sophisticated.  I am not sure it is a good thing.  I knit a shawl out of this color before I realized it was the color of the year.  I like wearing it. It is comforting more like a blanket, especially since it is a big shawl made out of thick cushy yarn.  No, the color does not make me feel sophisticated or appealing.

The air out where we live has been filled with a constant buzzing, humming motor-like sound similar to a very large lawnmower with a rhythmic thumping added to it  After a few days, we realized it was a tiny yellow helicopter.  Last Sunday we noticed the machine itself, sitting in the baseball field at the community center just humming away.  The rotors were spinning and it was vibrating as it hummed--ha, that is where the motor sound with the thumps is coming from.  There didn't appear to be any operators around it--I am sure they were there somewhere--we just didn't see them. 

It turns out that the helicopter is doing some maintenance work on the towers and/or electric wires on the section of the electrical transmission grid out in our neck of the woods.  The helicopter and several men are working on the towers and lines in the view outside our front window.  The helicopter  actually appears to land on the towers (the picture to the right is of the helicopter on or near the tower) to do something and to lay cable between them as well as other operations.  There are also men on two of the towers and the helicopter appears to be delivering insulators and other items.  I wasn't able to get a picture of it hovering on or over a wire between the towers.  Watching this has just amazed me!  It makes me appreciate our electricity! To think that there are people doing this incredibly dangerous job is mind boggling.  People putting their lives on the line every time they go to work.  Can you imagine how stressful and dangerous it must be to work with the electrical lines from a helicopter, not to mention the height? There is not room for even the slightest error. Hopefully, the power is turned off where they are working.  Not to mention that they have been working every day including Saturday, Sunday, and Martin Luther King Day from sometime before 8 in the morning (we hear the helicopter as early as 7 am) until after 5 pm in the evening--all the daylight hours we have this time of year.  Imagine how cold it is climbing those metal towers.   I have been guilty of taking electricity for granted and maybe most of us do--but we shouldn't.  The jobs those men, or women, are doing are so necessary for our lifestyle, but oh my, can you imagine hovering over electric wires with a helicopter.  Our military isn't the only occupation that offers up really dangerous jobs.  My hat is off to those people--what a job they are doing.

Today we have snow, so the pictures seem a little out of touch.  They were from yesterday (when I was really tempted to stay home and watch) early in the morning before we left for the stores.  This morning we could hear a helicopter, but didn't see it, so we don't know if they are working again or it was a different helicopter.

Helicopter hovering over transmission tower.
Helicopter delivering what appears to be insulators to one of the towers.
Last week we received notice that Anders Andersson had passed away.  This was very sad news, indeed, and we are heartily sorry!  You might be asking about now, who is Anders Andersson and why should we care?  Anders Andersson was a Swedish engineer who worked for Husqvarna Viking for 40 years.  If you own, or owned, a Husqvarna Viking machine manufactured and purchased in the last 40 years, Mr. Andersson has touched your life. Mr. Anderson was an engineer for Husqvarna Viking in Sweden and when manufacturing moved to China, he went also--to oversee operations and insist on quality products.   He was a fantastic engineer and a very decent man.   Mack and I met him, had lunch with him, and discussed our likes and dislikes about the machines (and your comments, as well) at every Husqvarna Viking conference we attended.  Mr. Andersson always listened, asked questions about our comments, and discussed possible ways we could improve the performances of our machines with tips and tricks.  (Several times, ideas introduced at conference showed up as feet or improvements on the machines a few years later.)  I always appreciated his attitude.  Nothing was too small and he was never short with us.  He always behaved as if  our comment was the first time he had heard it. How kind!   When you think how many people he met over the years and all the comments he must have heard, he was indeed a gracious man and a gentleman.  The world could use more people like him!
According to the weather we are in for a couple of nice days.  By nice I mean above freezing during the day.  It is supposed to rain tomorrow, but temperatures above freezing for a couple of days--yeah!  Time to stock up on some materials for those next projects.

The weather is terribly hard on the animals.  Yesterday we saw coyote tracks in the snow on the pond.  It looked like they were stalking the geese.  There were big spots in the snow at the edge of the ice that looked like the geese had scooted or flown into the water for safety.  The poor birds have sounded like the tinkling of crystal chandeliers they have so much ice frozen in their feathers.  And, oh, do they eat a lot of food now that there isn't much grass. 

The alpacas are still going out and foraging grass.  We supplement their diet with both alpaca food and hay.  They like the cold weather, but spend more time in their pen then I thought they would.  The picture is of four black ducks walking ( I should say waddling) up the hill from the pond.  (You can just see the edge of the snow and ice covered pond in the upper left--right below the black sky.)  Bleak isn't it?

This morning there were drops of blood in the snow out by the feeders Mack built for the geese, ducks, and guineas.  It is very upsetting because weather like the last two days is very hard on all the animals.  Even the alpacas seem to like to stay in the barn and eat hay.

I was especially concerned because on Monday, I accidentally stepped on Bleachey.  He is always the first to run meet me at the gate and we got tangled together.  I stepped on one of his feet and jerked myself off only to lose my balance in the snow and step on his other foot.  Fortunately, I didn't fall and crush him but I did punch a few holes in his feet with my snow boots and he bled rather badly.  He spent the day up by the shed and went in the chicken house for the night.  The next morning, his feet looked fine.  We couldn't see any sign of bleeding on Tuesday or today for that matter.  We weren't able to find the injured bird, cat or whatever.  We will check again tonight.  The picture is of geese and ducks (both black and white) eating out of one of their  outdoor feeders. 

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that all of you are looking forward to the New Year--2015, arriving Thursday of next week.  We had a lovely quiet, holiday and are hoping for  the same on New Year's Day.  We will be closed on New Year's Day, but open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday regular hours from 11:00 am-3:30 pm.

The goose to the left is feeling pretty good--neither he nor any of the other geese were part of our Christmas celebrations (or dinner).  He is one of the youngest and tried to escape.  He is out of his fence and in the driveway.  Christmas dinner is past and he wants back home, although he did enjoy playing king of the mountain for a little while.  (The truth is, he was flying around and overshot. Then he was overcome with something and couldn't get enough steam to fly back to his field.  He did like playing on the gravel pile.)

Mack was out checking the mail one day last week.  He pulled the usual credit card offers and other junk as well as some Christmas cards out of our mailbox.  He was standing in the road looking to see who the Christmas cards were from when he felt a presence, someone close beside him, looking over his shoulder to see who had sent cards and also breathing down his neck.  He looked around in surprise (and maybe irritation) and was staring straight into big brown eyes--really big brown eyes--and a giant pink nose.  (No, not me, my eyes not big, are hazel and I don't have a giant pink nose!  At least not that big.)  Mack was staring our neighbor's bull in the face.  He was out of his fence and managed (as big as he is) to get behind Mack without being seen.  It gave poor Mack quite a start!  He remained calm, walked around the bull to our driveway, opened the gate and got himself into our yard, minus the bull.  Fortunately, the bull, though curious, is very  friendly!  He stayed out in the road for a while and then went back into his field.  The fence is still down!

OOPs!  I decided not to put in a picture of "you know who"  as it would take away the surprise!

We live in a farming area and the last few months have been very busy on the farm as it has been harvest time.  The corn was finally harvested the weekend after Thanksgiving.   You can see from the pictures that it is a big deal.  We counted four of the big trailers and one dump truck of corn just from our field.  The machinery processes the corn so that only kernels are harvested, the rest goes back onto the field, which helps improve the quality of the soil.  I always enjoy watching all aspects of the farming operation and like to compare the different techniques.  Our field used to be farmed by our former Amish neighbor and they always used horses and horse drawn equipment.  The kids used to harvest the whole ears and throw them into a wagon.  They would shell the corn as they needed it. 

I am always amazed at how much food comes off the local fields.  We are truly blessed to have so much!  And to think, we are more than two miles from a grocery store, so we may live in a food desert according to the government!

Picture of the corn harvester downloading corn into the trailer.