Saturday, 20 February 2010


Just a follow-up to the chicken story....
Harry told me last night that he had thawed the chicken and taken it to his friend Wayne to cook, because it was too big for his campstove.  Wayne lives next door to Harry's trailer and across the street from my store and in the summertime, Harry and Wayne have installed concert-sized speakers to a stereo and entertain the neighborhood with every sad or beer-drinking country and western song recorded.  Anyway, the chicken was so big it took four hours to cook and when Harry sat down to eat it, it was so tough he couldn't cut it.  He threw the whole thing out the door into the snow and the neighbour's dog, who is always in their yard, thought he'd won the lottery.  "Got rid of that," Harry growled.  "The chicken or the dog?"  I asked.  "Both!" he said. 
So in Harry's world, the fellow down the street will have to beg to be plowed again, because the so-called chicken was a "damned old rooster" and had to be at least five years old. 
And I hope the Glover's dog is lying in good health in their porch with a full belly, a smile on his face and dreams of chicken.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Totally Off Topic

I moved to Prince Edward Island because it's surrounded by water, life is so much more relaxed here and because it's almost snake-free.  Since I have a full blown snake phobia, that's very important to me.  And the few snakes that are reputed to live here, stay out of the water, which is even more important to me.
But I digress.  As an added bonus to the gorgeous scenery and beaches every five minutes, the people here are wonderful, particularly in the village where I live.
Just for instance, a lobster fisherman who lives down the street has three trucks.  He drives one himself, the second is what he calls "the village truck," available to anyone who needs to borrow a truck for any reason, and the third has a snowplow on it so that he can run around and make sure nobody actually has to use a shovel in the wintertime.  He has plowed my store lot for two years and we have a big argument every spring about payment.  He seems to feel that he should do it for nothing.
But the person really responsible for me needing to share my thoughts is Harry.  Harry is one of those characters who live in small towns and is tolerated mainly for his entertainment value.  He doesn't have steady work, lives in a tag-along trailer and doesn't have a vehicle.  Don't get me wrong, Harry is very smart and very kind, especially to disadvantaged kids, unless you've made the mistake of slighting or insulting him.  His memory for insults is almost as long as his fuzzy beard.  If he likes you, though, he'll cut your grass as he passes and lets you know if he's found any real deals that you might be interested in.
Somehow in his wheeling and dealing, Harry came into possession of a John Deere riding lawnmower.  This mower has become his transportation and in the summer, it tows a peculiar looking wagon, complete with armchair.  The mounties turn a blind eye when they see Harry and his friend Ira chugging up the road with Ira in the armchair and both raising a beer in a friendly salute to the law.  The wagon putts up and down the street full of kids and the plastic pop bottles Harry helps them collect for their next trip to Ontario.  Another neighbour rigged the John Deere up with headlights so that Harry could see and be seen when he stayed too long at Ira's in the other village and has to come home in the dark.
The same good neighbour helped him put a plow on the little tractor for the winter and he toots all over the village cleaning sidewalks, driveways and even the front stoop of the store.  John Deere should use this lawn tractor for a commercial, because it must be indestructible.  The other night I was up late and heard Harry coming up the road, figuring he was out late and was on his way home.  But the tractor noise didn't go away, so I stuck my head out to see what he was up to.  Dear old Harry was plowing snow at midnight, talking to himself non-stop, and when I went out to the porch, all I could hear over the tractor was him ranting something about a chicken getting away.  It wasn't hard to tell that there was more than beer involved and I hollered at him to go home to bed.  The next morning he was bright-eyed and bushy bearded when he came in to the store for his coffee and I asked him what his chicken problem was the night before.  Apparently the fellow down the street had repaid his plowing with good company and moonshine, and a frozen chicken.  He couldn't carry the chicken and drive, so he sat on it as he made his way home with a few side trips to clean up some snow and the chicken kept slipping out from underneath him, trying to make the great escape.  All the fault of the shine, of course.
How many of you live in a place where you know all of your neighbours, their parents and grandparents, and who lived in their house since it was built?  And how many of you can turn off your televisions and watch funnier things going on outside than any comedy show?  I've made mistakes in my life, but moving here was definitely not one of them.  I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Never, NEVER Get Overconfident

My previous post was about prong setting and how it was such a nice change from swirly wire wrapping.  An Amazonite cab was my maiden voyage and, because I started with the most simple setting and actually followed instructions, it turned out rather nice.  Naturally, I figured it was pretty easy and I was now an expert.  Not!
The prong setting requires 16 gauge square wire (I use 93.5% slow tarnish argentium silver) and although you can use a lighter wire, the 16 gauge makes it good and strong.  My stash was getting very low and I only had about a foot left for my second attempt.  (Canadians are kind of schizophrenic about measurement - we flip back and forth from metric to imperial, depending on the subject.)  I had a rhodonite heart picked up at a gem show sometime, somewhere, and decided that I'd push the envelope a little with this one.  It was going to have a double bail - no problem, just add an extra wire in the centre.  I toyed with the idea of balling the prong ends with my torch, but that would have required using pickle and putting the prong bundle in the tumbler to clean it up and that would harden it.  It was actually the pickle that made up my mind, because I have no ventilation in the winter and I'm afraid of gassing my dogs.  So I decided to hammer the prongs flat, instead.  
You can't really see what went wrong from this picture of the back of the heart.  The double prong worked out fine and I would do that with all of these settings; it looks nicer.  The original instructions called for the tail pieces from the bail to be folded flat against the wraps, but I like the loops, it looks more finished.  But this is the second attempt.  The first looked just as good but I kept getting interrupted and didn't do a good job plotting the angle of the wires and where they intersected with the stone.  It's very important to be accurate because you have to file the wire where it bends.  Since my measurements were out, I kept bending and straightening one of the prong wires until, naturally, it broke right off.  
It wouldn't have been a big deal for me to start right over.  Except for the fact that I didn't have enough wire left.  So I snipped the bail wires right at the wrap to use as prong wires and had just enough wire left to use for bail wires.  Just.  Which is why the prongs are so close to the centre at the top and bottom.  I thought I was past the stage of wasting wire trying new techniques!  My credit card got another workout because I put an order in to MonsterSlayer for more argentium and of course, you can't just order wire.  When it arrives, I'll redo the whole thing.  (Maybe it'll be warm enough to try the ball prongs and take the pickle out on my porch!  And maybe groundhogs really can predict the weather.  Maybe pigs will fly while we're at it.)
I guess if you don't try something, you'll never know how it will turn out.  I now know that I don't like the hammered prongs.  I wish I had learned all of these things when the price of silver was down under $10 an ounce.  I also know that rhodonite has a MOHS hardness of 5.5 - 6.5 and this one looks like it has a fault line right down the front but it took a lot of abuse with a leather mallet and didn't break.  
And I know that I still have a lot to learn.