Oops! That wasn’t in the jobs list

Our mallows—the ones Tony helped me promote to bigger soil blocks—have pushed their way out of the clear seed tray covers and are now hardening off and heading for the light. I must get onto the rest of the seedlings, soon.

We’ve had a pair of buzzards playing around the farm over the past fortnight, even perching in the pigsty window. I hope they decide our vole population is enough to warrant a nest, without disturbing the kestrels too much.

I’m having a bit of a low, feeling overwhelmed by the stuff I’ve got on. I was happy enough last week but Monica diverted me into clearing the Withdrawing Room so that it can be renovated, starting next week. That involved unpacking and re-packing a big area of the Shippen loft to make space for the furniture from the room. We ditched a lot of rubbish and the end result is better organised but I now need to get my head back into Project Pigsty. Of course, that room is also the music room so I’ll be the main beneficiary of her efforts. It would be nice to get away from the telly.

Monica has gone to stay in Manchester, to keep her mum company overnight and to visit her dad. The Social Services experiment, to support Kitty with just three visits a day so that the family can take a break, is also part of this trip. She’s also clearing out their cupboards, at his request, to simplify life. A couple of days ago she handed back to me a small, ebony hand plane that I gifted to her dad on his first visit to Australia, probably twenty-five years ago. It has never been out of its box nor used on any timber. It’s a high-angle smoother; the blade is set at 60° to cope with, in theory, difficult grain. With a 30° bevel, the iron can be flipped to create a 90° angle of attack, becoming a stout scraper, which is why I chose it for Kevin. He used to have a hobby of digging antique furniture out of skips and removing layers of paint and varnish with broken glass shards. The oak, barley-twist table in our bay window is one example and you can still see the cross-grain gouges from his method. Of course, he never believed he was worthy of a decent tool, as so many people seem to think of themselves. Me, I know I’m rubbish but I hope to grow into my skills and tools. When I’ve done, someone will have the great delight of taking them up after me. 

My Aunt Sylvia came to the farm last week and my cousin Debbie this week. Both very pleasant first visits, with everyone very complimentary about the farm and its environs. Sylvia was brought by her daughter, Vicky, whom I haven’t seen since I was sixteen and she, about ten. Monica and I were pleased to find her quite delightful: good sense of humour, straight talking, polite and caring. One of the better prospects for a solid relationship from amongst the family that are re-emerging. Sylvia has now invited us to her eightieth birthday party, soon, at which I can reconnect with Vicky’s two older siblings and, horrors, try to learn the names of about twenty from the next generations. Perhaps I’ll meet someone worthy to inherit my tools.

Autumn approaches; my favourite season. I always look forward to the dark evenings and the glow of the fire. I have a ton (literally) of scrap wood to burn in the Joinery fire so I hope to be able to stay out there longer, when the weather rules out external work. This winter is about finishing the walls, to control the environment, and setting up the machines for accuracy. A worthy pursuit.

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