Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Welcome to the House of Liver!

This past weekend was pretty much 50 percent high frustration and 50 percent satisfaction.  That's not bad, given my usual percentages.

On Saturday, I was scheduled to pick up my latest foster dog (I know, I know), so I headed out to meet him at a halfway point - about an hour and a half away.   An hour and a half on the highway.  Have I mentioned how much dread befalls my heart for every second I have to drive on any road with more than two lanes?  We met, moved the old gentleman from her car to mine, exchanged paperwork and then off I went.  C was 13, had been found as a stray - later found to have been adopted many years prior and then dumped when he was old, tottery and was tested positive for heartworm.  Don't get me started.  I figured it was worth the trip, as I have a very soft spot in my heart for senior dogs/cats and he had been deemed good with all animals, large and small.

Within 10 minutes of being introduced to the kitchen - the "introduction area" for all fosters - he peed on the floor twice, on two beds and left me a 3 lb 'package'.  After having been walked outside for 15 minutes.  This was without starting his prescription for Prednisone.  Gah.  Still, he was a sweet boy and had a friendly, low-key interest in L & P.  Then Slimmie sauntered by to see what all the hubbub was about.  C went into laser focus and, had I not been physically nearby, would have taken down any barrier to get at him.  Sigh.  I keep forgetting that, when dogs are assessed in a kennel situation, they are usually a) shutdown or b) super-hyper and are not their true selves.  I am very lucky that the rescue I foster for are very responsive and sensitive and jumped on the problem right away.  A spot was found for C at the kennel they work with - and not an hour from me - so back into the car we went.  By the time I got him there and settled and got back home, it was almost dark.  I poured myself a healthy measure of an adult beverage, sat on my chair and a half and was covered with much-relieved furry bodies.  Other than that?  Nothing got done.

Which led to Sunday's madness.

Remember this?
As of Sunday night - and, since I
only half-cleaned the gardens, I didn't
check it off.  I'm virtuous that way.
Full disclosure:  I didn't do everything on that list on Sunday.  I just built the quail hutch stand, cut Lovey's nails, put metal flashing over all signs of entry and other flat surfaces that the rats have attacked on the chicken coop, ran the extension to said coop, set up the bird feeders, cut the tarps off the hoop house and took down all the wood sheathing, moved the hoop house (slowly and painfully) back to its original position, baked oatmeal raisin cookies for the barn, made a pot of lentil/quinoa soup, another round of GF bagels and....

Made liver treats for the dogs.  My friend who raises Randall beef cattle had given me an entire beef liver (7+ lbs) and a beef heart, along with 30 lbs of marrow bones.  Just to show you how much I love my dogs, I processed 2# of beef liver and 6 cloves of garlic in my food processor (totally gross), then mixed two cups of organic, GF oats into the mess, spread it in a pan and baked it in a slow oven for two hours.  There are many baking aromas I love, but baked liver is not one of them.  Pfft,  However, these make great, healthy treats and you can't beat the cost.
Finished product
My friends, S & C, dropped by to help me move the quail hutch onto the new, sturdier base, and I gave them a bunch of treats for their huge crew.  I also gave my dairy farmer neighbor some for his seven rescue Chihuahuas (don't even knock on their door), as he delivered and stacked the rest of my hay!

While I was stripping down the hoop house, I let Lovey and the Pat tear-ass around the double fenced enclosure.  What a ball they had!  The Pat was airborne most of the time and they romped and rassled and had a grand time of it.  After days and days of rain, it was nice to have a second day in a row with no wetness.
Out cold.

There's a Butter Pat under that
pile of blankets
We all staggered in around 4:30 and collapsed.  The dogs were roused briefly for dinner and then returned to the sofa, where they stayed until breakfast.

Speaking of breakfast, this is my new breakfast du jour - roasted Delicata squash with a butter pat (not of the furry variety)!
Delicata Delicioso!

Monday, November 5, 2018

It was like Wizard of Oz, but not as entertaining.

As with most of the country, our weather has been...challenging.  It seems as if any change in temperature must come in violently.  No pussy-footing around, when it comes to the weather.

We have had two such incidents, where our balmy October/November temps (!!!) have been temporarily swept through by a cold front, bringing with it raw, wet weather and high winds.  A week ago, the Saturday of the undone Halloween party, we were under a wind advisory.   I battened down everything I could think of (as in tied down the bright, new cover on my fuel tank enclosure to within an inch of its life), weighted or moved buckets, etc.  Then went inside and tried to ignore the howling.  After delivering the meals to neighbors - and getting buffeted across two lanes, to and from my destination, I came home to this.
You may need to bigify.
I apologize for the poor quality of the photo - there has not been any sunlight with which to properly light anything.  We have had over 5 inches of rain in the last three days - never mind the weeks prior.  One does not walk, one squelches.

I took the tarps off after it was lifted and moved (wind howling and me hoping a flying branch wouldn't finish me off) so that the wind wouldn't further toss it onto my newly stretched fence.

I am now up to 6000 units of D3 a day.  Enough about the weather.

The one bright spot during the past week was a quick and wonderful visit with Sylvie!  I took a day off and we crammed enough culture into it to carry me through the month.  She is the cheerleader of my finer self.  We walked for miles through MASS MoCA, a fascinating museum that houses all manner of contemporary art exhibits - some massive

Parts of the massive exhibit by Liz Glynn,
a very thought-provoking, poignant
Afterwards, we dodged the inevitable pelting rain and had lunch in a nice little pub-style cafĂ© in North Adams, MA, hit a local Goodwill - where they had tons and tons of jeans (what I need) but none of their clothing was arranged by size.  Needless to say, we were in and out in minutes.  We then bought dinner ingredients and a frame and...
Sorry for the blurry pic.
Sylvie has an uncanny ability to look at a space and be able to visualize objects within it, in a perfect layout.  Her friends take advantage of her skills unabashedly.  I apologize for the blurry photograph - we were totally knackered by the time we finished and we still had to make dinner!  I will take a better pic later.

I am working on another pair of socks - for me - and I am very happy with the pattern.  Once these are finished, I am on to holiday knitting.
Since I took this photograph, I've finished #1 and started
on #2.
I woke up Sunday morning (oh thank you for the time change, whatever idiots were in charge, those many years ago) to...NO RAIN!  As a matter of fact, the sun actually came out a few times.  I hung a load of laundry on the clothesline - be still my heart!  I also got a little giddy and made a list for the day.
I know.
However ridiculous, I did managed to check off half of the list, do three loads of laundry, do three things NOT on the list, clean (as in vacuum and sweep) the house, and make a pot roast in my Instant Pot.  I will squeeze in the rest as I can this week.  If it doesn't rain this coming weekend (pleasegod), I hope to get the sheep all set for winter.  This will put me in good shape - at least for the critters.  Then I can sit inside, watch videos and eat bon bons.

Quite so.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Scary things. Sweet things.

Happy Halloween, everyone!  I have flounced into the office with my very special witch's hat firmly in place.  To hell with protocol.  I am secretly hoping the traitors have a client in the office so I can parade by....(insert evil cackle).

Let's start with the sweet things.

I could eat her with a spoon.
I don't know how people get such great photographs of their dogs in costumes.  Of course, it is difficult to hold a treat in one hand and try to click a pic with the other.

Pat the Bat
The only costume that will stay on the Pat (aka Peanut) involved a harness.  But he is so wiggly that the wings were constantly askew.  Still, he is a dumpling and as sweet as one.

Meringue 'ghosts' for the Barn guys
Mummy meatballs
I had so much fun recreating the party that was not.  Since I had gotten all the supplies, I figured I'd go ahead and make it all and spread it around.  It turned out to be a very good thing to have postponed the party - we had rain and gale force winds all day on Saturday.  It did a Wizard of Oz number on my hoop house, but that's another post.

Main course
I did a Meals on Wheels gig to my second parents and neighbor - the recipe was from Martha Stewart but I realized, early on, that Martha must have had special Martha Pumpkins.  I tried to get the smallest pie pumpkins I could find and they still were too big!  Luckily, parents no. 2 managed two meals out of the delivery.  The pumpkins were filled with a sausage/bean stew that took two days.  I believe we can count on this being a one-off.

Speaking of pumpkins, I am steadily filling the freezer with roasted pumpkin.  Thanks to the cancellation of the party, I have five more to process.  I should be set.  For the millennium.  This was the second Long Island Cheese pumpkin I roasted:

From Marianne's farm.  Even the stem is perfect.

Beautiful dark orange goodness.
These are not mine, but some of my very creative youngest sister's creations:

This is as creative as I got:

My party centerpiece
I imagine that it would have driven my poor, old dad out of the door.  I don't think he can grasp Halloween anymore.  I'm looking forward to tonight - my bestie is arriving for a two-night stay!

Thursday, October 25, 2018


I am way behind on my posting!  This is iffy territory for someone who struggles to remember what she had for breakfast...

In lightspeed ------

The weather stinks, stanks stunks!  Dealing with the weird weather can really put a damper on achieving results on The List.  It's either frigid, raining, or both.  I haven't seen the sun in such a long time that I've started taking my daily D3 a month early.  My solar-powered lights that festoon my pergola have petered out - not enough sun to charge their batteries.  Everyone looks droopy.

Remembered to check the oil in my car and it was down to a drop!  Geez.  Put three quarts in and we're good to go to the next oil change.

Quail care has been successfully worked into the routine!  There are still a couple of tweaks and then they will be moved to their winter quarters, and we will be totally off the tracks again.

There's been a little too much 'romance' in the coop with the two roosters!  One of my older girls was slightly injured by too much (ahem) attention and had to spend a day and night in the hospital ward.  She is fine now and the boys have gotten a talking-to.  Fritz will have to be rehomed.

My garden is about 90% ready for winter!  I fear that is about as done as it will get this year.  My third planting of hearty greens in the cold frame are coming along famously.  Most of the raised beds will have to be replaced - a few at a time.  I have rethought the fencing and have decided to go with electric netting, starting in the spring. 

I don't have enough hay!  I still am down half of the hay I need for winter and have been dropping none-too-subtle hints to the farmer.  It's so frustrating to be beholding to people for what you need, sometimes.  However, all his corn is now in, so I am hoping to be moved to the top of his list.  I can rest easy with a barn full of hay.

My furnace won't be serviced until tomorrow morning!  The forecast for tonight and into tomorrow is low 20s.  Pfft.  I'm so glad my dogs don't go visiting often.  They would be aware that most people do not keep their homes at 58 degrees.  Most people keep their homes warm.  My reasoning of "The cold will preserve us longer" would fall on deaf ears.

My sister, bless her heart, arrived Sunday morning and helped me clean out the chicken coop!  It was the first time in 13 years that it was fun.  We're trying something different this winter - I put down an old tarp and put shavings on top.  The plan is that we will be able to drag it out, with its stinky load, in the spring.  The hens were highly alarmed at the alien floor.  It took Rhubarb, my brown leghorn, who HAD to lay an egg (one of only two that seem willing to do so) to venture in and break the curse.  (Look!  She's still ALIVE!!!)

I got a cold!  Sunday night, after deciding to start the first fire under the brandy-new chimney, I realized I might have picked a less windy day.  The ensuing bursts of smoke irritated my nose and I thought that was why I was blowing it every five minutes.  Wrong-o.  I awoke Monday morning with a full-blown head cold.  At least I hope it's just a head cold, and not the flu.  A head cold will struggle on for a week.  The flu goes on and on. 

I have a resume!  Thanks to the diligent and gentle prodding of a talented and generous friend (we'll refer to her as an angel in shepherdess' clothing), my blank stares, lack of words and complete mind-freeze were overcome and she created a wonderful and perfectly-suited-for-me resume.  Such a load has been lifted from my shoulders.

Work is exactly the same!  All I can say is that they sent me a new computer - with the latest upgraded operating system, and the crew from HQ said they would see me in November and December.  I am taking that as an affirmative that I will still be employed until the end of the year.  I have decided to stay to the bitter end, as I need the income.  They will give me a reasonable amount of notice, so I will do a more blitzkrieg approach to resume-sending when I have an end date.  Right now, I am sending it out to my network of business friends.  You never know.

The Party has been given the heave-ho!  I had invited family and second family (my neighbors and my parents' best friends) to a pre-Halloween party this weekend.  However, due to my germy condition and the diagnosis of spinal stenosis on my second mother, it was deemed prudent to postpone it.  Poop.  I had gathered a number of fun items for a Halloween centerpiece, drawn up an appropriately ghoulish menu and bought 8 pie pumpkins.  Well, the kids and I will enjoy it anyway.  I may just whip up the main course and do a meals-on-wheels thing.  I'd roast and freeze them, but Marianne has been giving me her gorgeous, organic pumpkins on a weekly basis and there is only so much pumpkin a single woman with dogs can use.  I already have two large butternut squashes and a Long Island Cheese pumpkin roasted and pureed and frozen.  I have three pumpkins in the car (all exotic types, from M) and more to come this weekend.  A nice problem to have, no?

This weekend I have plans to get the barn ready for the sheep and llama, clean the house and finish the quail hutch.  And about twenty other items that loom large on The List.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Traditions, impulses and high drama.

I was thoroughly enjoying Jenn's post about her family's tradition (read it here), when I remembered a tradition that was employed by me, my ex and two of our friends.  This would be, oh, four lifetimes ago.  I had been talked into going to a bowling party with my ex and a couple who were total party animals.   **Aside here - I am and always have been, totally, completely and breathtakingly uncoordinated **  After a couple of adult beverages for courage, I threw caution to the wind and the bowling ball in the gutter every.single.time.  In honor of this all-time low score for an adult in this particular bowling alley, I won a bottle of Cold Duck.  What is Cold Duck?  Something fizzy, alcoholic and gawd-awful sweet.  I accepted the award with aplomb, if I do say so myself, and trotted home with my prize.  I then conspired to 'regift' it to this couple (who had needled me unmercifully) at the earliest opportunity.  Therein started a tradition where, every time we visited each other's home, we secreted the bottle like buried treasure.  It got so bad that we would frisk each other before entry.  I remember one more spectacular evening when I tied a cord around the neck of the bottle, hung it outside of their first floor bathroom window, guilelessly entered their front door 'clean', and retrieved it after an appropriate period of time.  It took weeks for them to recover from finding it bobbing in their bathtub.  If I remember right, it was broken during one more adventurous episode and the tradition came to an end.  As a matter of fact, so did my marriage and the friendship, but that was completely unrelated.  I think.

I am a totally impulsive person.  While this was rather adorable when I was a tot, it became less adorable as I got older and was no end of trouble through my teens and twenties.  As I have gotten older, I am both impulsive and afflicted with AAAD.  (Acquired Adult Attention Disorder.  If this is not a thing, it is now.)


I couldn't resist.
My justification - there is always justification - is that I am hosting a family Halloweenish party and it will add un petit quelquechose, a little something to the occasion.  AND it can shine during Cinco de Mayo!  AND I love the color orange!  AND it's a plant!

The Butter Pat was trundled, once again, to the vet for a further shortening of his talons.  I disguised a sedative in his special cheese, then schlepped up the half-hour to the vet.  I'm sure I have mentioned this ad nauseum, but I love my vet - both the founder and all the young women vets.  And all the techs.  It is usually loud and boisterous when we arrive, but it was rather muted yesterday.  I handed off the slightly limp and fleece-jacketed form of the Pat to Dr. Cici and Nancy the Tech and waited in the lobby for the ensuing screams.  Luckily, there was only one half-hearted scream and that was all drama.  This also allows me to act like a complete nut job with any and all waiting patients and their patient parents.  When Dr. Cici and Dr. Hannah and Nancy came out with Mr. Drama, they thanked me for bringing him because they love him and he was just what they needed.  They had had an emergency that didn't turn out well and they were all feeling the pain and sadness.  Then they didn't charge me.  I took Mr. Happy home, wrapped him in more fleece and let him sleep it off.

Monday, October 15, 2018

All that's missing is the hot tub.

I had planned on putting last weekend aside as an All Work Weekend - with no family or other interruptions.  Then my sister asked me to go with her to New Hampshire on Saturday.  This is doable, but it is an all day affair.  I could not say no.  For, not only will I do anything she wants, she is great company and it was my last chance to see three of my very favorite people.
My nephew, his partner and the cutest boy on Earth.
Soon on their way to NC.  We will miss them
something awful.
Instead, I took Friday off and spent most of the day putting the finishing touches on the Super Duper Deluxe Quail Condo.  All it's missing is a hot tub in every room.  It even comes with room service...

Predator proof, draft proof, winter proof
(I hope)

Matching rooms with matching
It is now reinforced on both sides (back to come - I couldn't get my drill back there) and has removable Plexiglas panels to let in light and keep out wind.  They seem to be very comfortable - we've had low 30s two nights in a row.  This coming weekend, they will be moved to their winter headquarters in the shed, and I will have to work out a new routine.  Our routine is always being tweaked.  If all goes well, they should start laying eggs next month.  Which would be a nice change, since both the chickens and ducks have apparently gone on strike.

I'm also trying to get all my artwork up on the walls where I can appreciate it.  I made a small stride, with the hanging of my youngest sister's portrait of a friend.
It's (obviously) the picture on the lower
right.  I think you can biggify to see it better.
I have come to a compromise with my cousin's socks - because I just could NOT not add some color.
I mean, really....the color will be inside her shoe...
I will finish Sock One today and then start immediately on Sock Two.  Otherwise, it may be months.  Given the list of things to do outside this weekend, I kept cooking to something(s) simple - rice and beans and butter chicken in the Instant Pot.  That has to be my favorite comfort food of all time - there is something about the combination of spices that warms my cockles and everything else.

The garlic got planted, tomatoes (pathetic things that they were) yoinked out and the geraniums made it into pots and through the door.  We haven't quite made frost levels yet, but it was 34 degrees Sunday morning.  That meant that I could build the first fire of the season and test drive my shiny new chimney.  It was groovy, man! 

The update on my job status is ... nothing has changed.  We continue in the Twilight Zone, with no communication from HQ as to how long I will be here.  If there is one ray of sunshine to come out of this maelstrom, it is that I am a very, very lucky and blessed person when it comes to friends.  Very.  Now, all I need is a philanthropic auto mechanic...

Monday, October 8, 2018

I'm just going to wear ear plugs.

I don't know why I am always surprised to find that any project I take on, takes six times the amount of time and effort that I think it will.  Saturday was a cooking day - I had preps to do for the third round of party for my mom's birthday.  Then the rest of the day was pretty much shot.  That meant - yes, you guessed it - on Sunday morning, I threw back two extremely large pumpkin spice lattes and got to work.
There were no brownies...

My goal was to break down the above list into manageable parts.  Saturday morning, I hardboiled my eggs in my Instant Pot ( and roasted the pumpkin and a sweet potato for the dogs.  I then made my salmon cakes and put them in the fridge.  I did a few things outside and then made a waldorf salad, using Marianne's organic apples, golden raisings, fennel, and celery, with toasted pecans.  The eggs were deviled and plated, and I was all ready for the picnic.  Which was held indoors because we have been living in the clouds for the last two weeks.  And, while that sounds delightfully romantic, clouds are comprised of water.  So pffft.

Sunday morning - I slept in until 4! - I made an apple cake instead of the brownies because it came across my email and I just HAD to!
It was still dark at 5A...
It used Greek yogurt and had a center stratum of cinnamon/sugar/butter.  Since it was not for me, it was non-GF.  It made enough for the barn crew, my neighbor and I brought in the rest for the NYC crew that is coming up to work on our files.  As my farmer said, "be sure to put this on the Make Again List!"  Nuff said.

I also made another batch of easy 'bagels', GF style.  They look frighteningly white, don't they?
With my favorite TJ topping!
I then changed into working garb and tackled the quail hutch, as I was determined to Get Them Out of my laundry room.  I started on the project at 9:30 and finished at 4. 
Predator-proofed.  I hope.

Flooring above the tray.
I realized early on that I had not gotten enough 1x2 boards and could only complete one floor insert.  Can I tell you that I could give a d%&n by then?  There is nothing like working in the confines of a small dining room, using power tools and by oneself.  AND with hardware cloth.  I persevered. 

An aside here.  This quail hutch has (in my mind) gone all over the property, inside and out of numerous buildings.  Originally, I planned on putting it waaaay far away from me, mostly out of earshot, in the barn.  Then I realized it was dark and drafty.  I would have to install a window in the front of the barn.  Plan B was to move it out to the shed, next to the chickens, where they would be more protected and have the advantage of door with a window.  I went with Plan C - right outside the sliding glass door on my deck because, well, because I was completely knackered and couldn't face setting it up.  I will just wear ear plugs.
Light (sort of)!  Air!

Then I transported the little darlings out, one by one, to their new digs, only dropping one!  Thank goodness for my dollar store butterfly net.  So far, they are very quiet.  It's all new and scary.  I have to make another floor for the top level and insulate both sides and the back before winter.  I will also have to make some sort of arrangements for a stand (right now, it's on sawhorses on boards) because it needs to be high enough that I don't have to lie on the ground to get the bottom tray out.

Onward and upward!