Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

The Great Mouse Hunt, Part 2

The Great Mouse Hunt, Part 2

During the mouse-hunting debacle at the end of August, which very nearly sent me over the edge, we—actually the husband, as my only contribution aside from irrational hysteria was to cut up pieces of cheese—strategically placed half a dozen mouse traps along what appeared to be the most popular rodent highway in the house. Since then, I sometimes will come down in the morning to find a mouse in one of the traps, but it hasn’t felt like an invasion. We live in the woods. A low level of mouse activity year-round is pretty much inevitable. The husband grew up in a 200-year-old stone house with lots of mice so as far as he’s concerned, they’re part of the furnishings. I am not quite as indifferent to their presence as he is.

We were having dinner Thursday night when he commented, ‘Oh, there went a mouse,” and calmly continued eating. He was facing the laundry room and had seen one run across the floor and go behind the dryer. A few minutes later, I saw another—perhaps the same one—dart across the floor of my office. Two mice sightings within the space of five minutes is unacceptable. He re-baited all the traps and went outside to unload the truck. I sat down to watch the news and soon heard one of the traps go off. Yay. One down.

Yesterday morning, I came down and there was another one in a trap. He left to go on a fire call (car accident) and I went into the bathroom off the laundry room to take a shower. I have gotten into the habit of checking all the traps as I pass them, and I noted that there was nothing in the one underneath the laundry tub. Ten minutes later, I came out of the bathroom to find a dead mouse in it.

[The chickens are very appreciative of all this extra protein.]

I thought that three mouse sightings (and subsequent demises) in the space of 12 hours was pretty impressive, but then I spotted another live one dashing about the laundry room. So far it has eluded death. The husband reminds me to be patient.

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He drove up to Eureka yesterday to retrieve all the cut and wrapped pork from the processor. I spent a few hours rotating stock and making sure one of the freezers was completely empty. I have a system. During the year, I periodically move stuff from one freezer to another to make sure the older cuts get used up first, but I almost always have to do one big rearranging session just before the new supply arrives. I’ve got the rest of last year’s fat rendering down for lard and I took three chickens out to defrost so I could cook them down into stock today.

I have reached grand master level when it comes to packing the freezer, something that always amazes me because it is one of those jobs that you would think relies on excellent spatial perception ability. (I am equally adept at loading the car, having schlepped the worldly belongings of two children around the Pacific Northwest for the past eight years.) I had him unload all the boxes and set them down next to the freezer, and then I picked from the boxes and put everything away according to cut and size. That way, I know precisely where the pork chops are and how much bacon we have. And it all fit.

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The past week’s time in the sewing room has resulted in this plastic shoebox filled with sets of half-square triangles waiting to be trimmed:

ShoeboxHST.jpg

It looks like a nice supply until you realize that it’s probably only enough to construct six or eight actual blocks, which is a fraction of the number of blocks I need for the entire quilt. I knew that going into this project. As I noted earlier, I suspect this is going to be 90% prep time and 10% actual sewing the quilt top together.

I also have parts cut for 16 canvas grocery bags, sans linings. I’ll choose linings from the stash once I get the exteriors put together. The industrial serger will make short work of sewing the exteriors together, but I am not ready to fire it up yet. The manual was very clear that I needed a specific kind of oil for it—Juki Defrix No.2 (not Juki Defrix No. 1), and I had to order a bottle.

[Almost all the manuals for my vintage Necchis include a statement warning the user not to use olive oil to lubricate the machine. I find that really funny, but I suppose if you were a housewife in Italy with a ready supply of olive oil, you’d be temped to use it.]

The industrial serger is a five-thread serger, which means that it will finish the edges and sew a separate chain-stitch seam in one fell swoop. (Look inside your jeans before you put them on for an example.) It also can be set up to do a two- or three-thread edge finish. My domestic serger is only a four-thread serger. It creates a seam when using four threads, but it’s a different kind of seam. Like its big brother, it also can be set up to do a two- or three-thread edge finish.

The most recent episode of the Love to Sew podcast featured an interview with Alina Kroeker, owner of Dogwood Denim Apparel in Vancouver, BC. Alina designs and makes custom raw denim jeans for her clients. (She will also draft custom sewing patterns for sewists who want to make their own jeans.) I felt a lot better about my setup when I heard that she has 10 industrial machines set up in her workshop, all necessary to the construction of one pair of jeans. Each machine performs a specific task—topstitching, buttonholes, tacking, etc. This allows for the greatest efficiency as she is not constantly changing threads or machine setups.

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Finally (I have a lot to say today, apparently), Netflix occasional yields up some gems, but you have to drill down through the garbage to find them. I very much enjoyed Monty Don’s Italian Gardens, a four-episode BBC series that was part botany, part history. And last night, the husband and I watched a documentary, entitled The True Cost, about fast fashion and its impact socially and environmentally. I have to remind myself that while I can be righteously indignant about fast fashion and the quality of clothing in the stores, my consumption of fabric is not entirely benign. It also has an impact. I need to acknowledge that and own it. I’m working through that.

Costumes and Community

Costumes and Community

To Blog Or Not to Blog?

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