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Friday, September 25, 2020

Whoa!

 My, how time does fly when you spend it mostly whining.   We've had four frosty mornings in a row, so it is so long, farewell to the garden.  The kale and Swiss chard still stand, bless them, but everything else has bowed out for the season.  

Excuse the utility pole - photo of my favorite maple tree, across the road. (Curse new blogger - I still can't figure out how to insert captions.)

Gratuitous image to illustrate how I feel about summer ending and the onset of autumn.  We are in a warm-up phase, but that will only last over the next week - when we are going to enjoy our first Arctic weather visit.  Geez.  I managed to get my furnace service scheduled for just before the cold strikes, thank goodness.

Still no communication from the Mothership - I guess they have more important things to do, like take over the world.  I've applied for SS and am in the process of applying for Medicare, although it is now taking up to 60 days to go through. 

My sisters and I were able to squeeze in one more girlz night at our favorite watering hole, and I am so glad we did.  My youngest sister stayed with me for three nights and I took full advantage of her (relative) youth and dynamoism (if not a real word, it should be - with my sister's picture next to it in the Webster's).  We hauled in the Meyer lemon tree and repotted my Norfolk pine.  She tut-tutted over the state of my deck and giant hops vine and proceeded to sweep, organize and prune the heck out of the vine.  It looks like someone else's deck.  We unboxed and set up my deck rocking chairs - which are perfect, except for the fact that they are very low and it takes me a half-hour to get out of them.  We also tackled the wilderness/jungle in front of the compost station and finished weeding the garden.  AND she cleaned all the kitchen surfaces.  I wonder if I can lure her back for a month.....

As of today, my office is closed.  The movers are coming to transport the furniture, the signs will be removed and the keys turned in.  So ends my 22 year run.  I had gone in a week ago to pack up my personal stuff and to make an inventory of the office.  I will not miss the commute.  I will also be better at posting.  It is a slippery slope, waiting for just the right inspiration.  Sometimes a post, in its entirety, will pop into my head like an early birthday present.  But, most times, it's like pushing string and herding cats.  Thank you for being so patient...






Tuesday, September 8, 2020

New Lists

Since I've been around the block a few times (and around the sun - figuratively speaking - MANY times), and, since I am of a rather suspicious nature (too many Midsomer Murder viewings), the writing was on the wall as clear as day.  How's that for chock-full of idioms?

First - after the company I work for announced that everyone was getting a 20% pay cut, they also informed the support staff that, if they were given a bonus, the bonus would be paid out half up front and the second half at some to-be-announced date at the end of the year.  I received an email from HR informing me that my second half was being paid in August.

Second - my supervisor, who apparently thinks I can function with little or no oversight and rarely 'checks in', sent me an email to 'catch up'.

Third -  When she got me on the phone, she added HER supervisor.

Yes, it's official - my office is being closed and I am being emancipated from my job.  Even though I was not surprised, it still gave me a jolt.  I suppose it was more from the fact that, after over 22 years of working at the same place - through three 'generations' - it was over in less than five minutes.

My new list includes:  signing up for Social Security, signing up for unemployment benefits, brushing up my already-created resume (thank you, Michelle), wending my way through the dizzying varieties of supplemental health insurance, tightening my belt, and pulling up my BGPs.

Meanwhile, back at the homestead, we've been assailed almost daily by a juvenile red tail hawk.  He or she is completely inept at chicken attacks, thank god.  But I am compelled to rush out on a regular basis to shoo him/her off.  It has also underlined my belief that roosters are not necessary, as everyone lets me know of impending danger.  I lost my last rooster and have no plans to replace him.  Then I lost Dolly - my sweet Swedish Blue/Cayuga duck cross.  It was a total mystery.  That leaves Dimples from the original four ducks.  Luckily, Marianne's male duck is all alone on his pond, so Dimples will be joining him as soon as they reinforce the fence.  While she may not be thrilled with her new boyfriend, she will definitely love the pond.

The garden is pretty much finished for the year.  There is the ever-present and abundant kale and the Swiss chard is still limping along.  I have managed to weed out four of the eight beds and hope to finish by the end of this week.  Then starts the process of putting things right before winter.  As I will now have loads of time... I hope I will get more done.  

I had hoped to get local peaches and plums, but a late frost wiped out any hope of most stone fruit here.  Then - magically - this arrived in the post:

Prune plums from Oregon!  As always, my lovely friend (in every way) had perfect timing.  I whipped up my favorite plum crisp (GF) and made a batch of plum jam.  

I have also been taking advantage of the vege bounty (thanks to friends) and have been roasting a big pan of vegetables every week.  It is my favorite way to cook ahead, as you can eat them hot out of the oven, at room temperature, as a cold salad - you can toss them with a light vinaigrette and some feta cheese.  You can roast them with feta cheese.  You can toss them hot with sundried tomato pesto and mix with pasta.  There is no end to the variety of meals one can conjure up.

My sister spent the night this past Friday and she helped me wash the dogs the next morning.  Since Peanut counts her as his favorite human in the world, she can do anything to him and he goes along willingly.  While Lovey never smells bad, Peanut is a hot, sweaty little being and gets a little 'ripe' after  a while.  They now smell like lavender and cedar.

Best of all, the last reminder of the Great Quail Fiasco has left the homestead.  It will now house rabbits on a homestead to the south of me.  As another plus, two bags of fleece found a home with a spinner who is interested in adding more Cormo/CormoX sheep to her flock.  As it happens, I have a CormoX that I would LOVE to rehome (are you listening, Norman?)  Fingers crossed.  

So, off I go to contemplate my navel, attend another useless Zoom meeting, and try to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.


P.S. Nancy, here is the tomato pie recipe I use - Epicurious

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Universe, you may now bring on Autumn.

 I am officially over summer - I have had my Tomato Cheddar Pie.

And, thanks to friends and neighbors, I can stow green beans in my freezer.

All the stuffies have winged off to new homes (thank you all for the interest and kind comments).  It has been extra fun because I have 'met' new people!

We had a surprise thunderstorm that pelted almost three-quarters of an inch of rain on us.  There have been quite violent storms to the north, west and south of us, so I am not quite as cranky about missing the rain.  Besides, giving up on one's garden does tend to relieve stress.  Unless you have placed it within almost constant view.

Slimmie is over summer, too.  I did some redecorating - which, in my case, means that I exchanged furniture that had been given to me for other furniture that had been given to me.  I went from a chair and a half, to a chair.  After some consternation, Slimmie managed to find a way to wedge himself beside me.  He is thriving on his new diet (I'd thrive on it, too, at that price) and has regained his voluminous glossiness.  I do love him to bits.  Thanks (or not) to his new diet, he has become the herald of breakfast time.  At precisely 6:15A, he begins to circle the living room, yowling.  And he continues to yowl until I go into the kitchen and fix breakfast for the kids.  He has me well trained.

As summer draws to a close, and in an effort to reduce air battles, I have put out an additional hummingbird feeder.  I know they are gearing up for their long trek to their winter home, so I am happy to help.  It's going to be rather quiet without them.  However, I now have a flock of 50 sparrows, so that should fill in the silence.  There certainly was a bumper crop of baby birds this year.  I am taking that as a hopeful sign for this beautiful planet.

My visit to the orthopedic doc found that I had bursitis AND arthritis in my hip.  Isn't that special?  He gave me a shot of cortisone for the bursitis and a lot of useful information.  My choices are - shots to the hip and physical therapy until it doesn't make sense, or hip replacement surgery.  I have three months to mull it over.  As loathe as I am to have any kind of surgery, I am dog-tired of the pain and limitations this damn hip has placed on me.  Growing old is not for sissies.




Monday, August 17, 2020

The SOYSOX Project and Misfit Stuffies

After my father passed away last year, my sisters did a purge of some of the 35+ years of stuff that has accumulated at my parents' home.  It will be an ongoing process for some time.  Bestowed upon me, since I am apparently short on yarn (snort), were the bits and bobs left over from all the yarn my mother had used in knitting socks for my father over the years.  It is a sobering amount.  Since it is not in my DNA to turn down any amount of yarn, I trundled it home and noodled about what to make with it - one of those cool memory blankets?  A cat cozy or ten?  Sausage dog booties?

Instead, I decided to do Stream Of Yarn socks.  Or SOYSOX.  I am working my way through the pile, in no particular order (although my strong tidy genes - all two of them - seem to gravitate toward color coordination), making shorty socks for my sisters, my mother and me.  So far, I have knit up two and a half pair.

I like to knit shorty socks because they hold my focus long enough to be completed!  I tend to fall into the one sock down, OMG one to go category when knitting regular socks.

My limited focus and apparent need for instant gratification, has led me to an obsessive knitting-up of small stuffed toys, or stuffies, as I call them.




 

I've experimented with cotton yarn, wool yarn, ear placement, face embroidery, clothing options, you name it, with varying degrees of success.  I still need a lot of work on my mattress stitch.  All my stuffies are slightly wonky.  But, I'm hooked and I am determined to reach some level of proficiency.  I may still be at it when I'm in the nursing home.

Would anyone be interested in these misfit stuffies?  From the top - cotton bunny with removable dungarees; woolen bear with knit-on dress, no knickers; woolen rabbit with two removable outfits; woolen bear with knit-on dress, matching knit-on knickers.  They are about 7" tall, made with all new, washable materials.  If you are interested in any of them, please send me an email (swomersley at gmail dot com).  We'll do it on a first come, first served basis.  I am sure there will be more...  I'm having too much fun to stop.

***Edited to say that they would just cost the price of postage - I will check on the price of the smallest prepaid mailing box and will add it to this post. xo

***PS The cotton bunny and the woolen bunny are spoken for!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Got a match?

If it wasn't for the tomatoes... I would torch my garden.  It does make me feel the tiniest bit better knowing that everyone around me is having a very 'off' year, too.  After a little spurt of productivity, all eighty of my summer squash plants pooped out.  After an exciting start with abundant vines, glorious yellow blossoms and baby squash, my Kuri plants died.  My cucumber plants withered.  Even with electronet fencing, there is a little, skinny rabbit that hops in and out of the garden, eating off the tops of the Swiss chard, chewing up the sunflowers, mowing the beans.  But, all is not lost!  I have a splendiferous, glorious, bumper crop of WEEDS!  (Drip, drip, drip goes the sarcasm.)  Between the drought and my wonky hip(s), I have not been able to keep up with them.  As if that is ever a possibility - even in good times.

I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to weed the kale and onion beds (don't even get me started on the onion 'crop') or just turn my back on it all, reap what I can and then smother the beds over the winter.  It's very disheartening.  

Last week, I had to cover for my counterpart in the city, which meant that I had to trek into the office every day so that I could cover her attorney's phone - for that one call a day.  In some ways, it was nice to get away from the house, but in most ways, I am so glad I do not have to commute.  There is also construction going on in the office below me, which seems to require super-heavy-duty dental equipment (whining drills), a jack hammer, lots of metal ladders and whoknowswhat.  You can't hear yourself think.

We've had a brief hiatus from the hotashell weather - over as of yesterday and back into heat advisories - so I marooned myself on the Island of Misfit Stuffies and made more progress on my secret SOYSOX project, details to be revealed at a later date.  I will recount my adventures on the IOMS in my next post.

There were some highlights over the past week(s) - my friend, Marianne, opened her general store, Hoosick Provisions, to rave reviews.  It is a lovely space filled with wonderful things and they have been busy as all get-out since they opened their door. 

There was also a little pre-birthday celebration with three of the four 'girls' at my favorite restaurant.  It was such a nice experience - from the ambiance, the service, the gracious accommodation of the oldest of the girls and her wheelchair.  Then there were the cocktails!

I had a Waterlily and I could have floated down the stream very easily, had I not limited myself to one.  It was a lovely shade of violet.  I am going to take my sister back for a later birthday celebration - I hear the call of the waterlilies...

The dogs and I went on a little jaunt to a local farm stand, noted for its sweet corn.  While I was slipping the dewy ears into my bag, I saw a pickup go by with a friend at the wheel - I waved frantically, but she vaguely looked at me and smiled -  one of those, "hello, friendly stranger" kinds of looks.  When I got home, I realized that she wouldn't have recognized me - dog rescue hat pulled down to my ears, sunglasses, mask, barn clothes.  She did email me later saying she had recognized Lovey, sticking out of the back window!  I guess these days we are recognizable by our dogs.

Back to 'normal' this week, with an appointment with my doctor today to start the hip repair ball rolling.  As long as there is not another COVID flare up in NY or VT, I should be okay.  I have decided that my new normal will be whatever the day brings.  I hope your days bring you only good things.  xo



Friday, July 24, 2020

Sponge Sweezie Squishy Pants

And the sensor is in the shade.
It's official.  This is my least favorite summer in recent memory.  Too much heat.  Too little rain.  WAY too much humidity.  It takes all my energy to move from one sticky chair to another.  I finally threw in the soggy towel and ordered a portable air conditioner with sufficient BTUs to actually cool the living area.  I was lucky, as it was on sale and I got 18 months of zero financing.  Still, it was not on my budget list.  At least I feel I have my life back.

The "where is my blanket" look.

Relief!
The garden is enjoying the weather - unfortunately, I only last about ten minutes in the 99% humidity before I cry "uncle"!  This has left the weeds, snails and slugs to run rampant.  It has also led to some amazing finds in the squash plants (baseball bat-sized zucchini, anyone?)  I think I have managed to access my photos, so hold onto your socks.
Savory Zucchini & Cheddar Scones
I have started to work through my zucchini recipes - I have amassed quite a few over the years.  So far, there have been Mediterranean Zoodles, zucchini pizza crust pizza, savory scones (my favorite, so far), lemon zucchini bread (GF), zucchini fritters and, next up to bat, savory zucchini and ricotta pie.  I am impatiently awaiting the ripening of my tomatoes so that I can try a creamy tomato bake, with hollowed out, ripe tomatoes stuffed with herbs, ricotta and parm, baked and then topped with a Mediterranean style dressing.  With even a reasonably successful garden, the possibilities are endless!



These photos were taken in the beginning of July, so multiply the green by 50.  I will get out and take pictures this weekend, if it's not too brutal.  There is so much to do outside, too.  It ain't fair, I tell ya!  I finally managed to find someone to rebuild my fence, but now am faced with material shortages and have posts being delivered, but no fencing panels - ETA unknown.

There has been an abundance of many things here - some good, some no so.  There is a bumper crop of crows, sparrows, hummers and chipmunks.  A huge grey owl has moved into the wooded area nearby.  Apparently, there's a bumper crop of red-tailed hawks and wild turkeys, too.  And, for the first time in years,we have raccoons.  Joy.  The chipmunk problem has seemed to have lessened - probably because of the hawk population.  The crows help protect the hens from the hawks, as they hate them and raise a holy ruckus when any are within range.  They are much more reliable than the rooster, who is as sharp as a marble.  I am still going through over a cup and a half of hummer nectar every day, although it seems to be slowing down slightly.  There are sparrows everywhere, much to Lovey's consternation and Slimmie's excitement.  I have heard the owl for the past month - checking its call against my bird app (I do love some aspects of technology).  If I had any doubts, they were dispelled when I trotted out to the sheep enclosure a few mornings ago to find a headless rabbit.  It was a large rabbit and, apparently, owls take the best bits (contained in the head) and leave the rest, when their prey is too big to carry.  If that doesn't put you off your breakfast, I don't know what would. 

A week ago, I had put an empty waterer on top of the chicken's feed dish to keep out the critters overnight.  When I came out the next morning, the waterer was six feet away.  Social distancing or raccoon? 
Notice the telltale sign in the
'bottom of the duck's pool
All doubt was gone when, a few days ago, I heard the duck alarm again, without crows, and went out to find a Corgi-sized raccoon climbing down the fence into the chicken yard.  It wasn't even dark!  I scared him off and then had a heck of a time getting the ducks and remaining chickens into the safety of the coop for the night.  Herding cats or pushing string, comes to mind.   Yesterday, again before dusk, the ducks set off the alarm again, and there he/she was on the roof of the coop, on its way down.  This time I went for the air rifle and managed to put a pellet in its butt.  I'm hoping it was enough of a dissuasion to have it look for another opportunity elsewhere.




Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Recipe reality check.

(I am still unable to access my photos after June - anyone else having trouble?)

Now that I am wading into zucchini season (oh, be still my heart!), I am constantly on the lookout for new recipes to keep the excitement going.  I ran across a humdinger recently and, after preparing it, decided that there should be a new standard of recipe-rating.

It should go thusly (based on totally random numbers)

Portions:  4 (#+ = three times that much if you are eat like a normal human)  (#- = less than 4 if you are not eating anything else)

Preparation: 30 minutes (XX = will take twice as long as you think) (XXX! = don't bother, unless you have a few days free)

Difficulty:  Easy/Intermediate/Culinary Institute Degree/Flaming Genius

Number of glasses of an adult beverage needed to make it through the recipe - 1= pleasant experience; 2 = slightly frustrating; 3 = you should have your head examined for even contemplating this recipe; 4 = you're drinking dinner tonight

Photo from How Sweet Eats
Now, when I look at this photo, I see a great and easy new way to fix zucchini.  When someone with a firmer grasp of reality looks at it, they may think, "hmm.  I would have to shave off thin, whole slices of multiple zucchini, which are never perfectly shaped, which would take special equipment to do it right, equipment that I don't have, and, even then, it would take at least an hour to achieve even some semblance of equally thin ribbons.  Then, let's think of the actual skewering.  Thousands of thin ribbons of fragile, uncooked vege, having to be painstakingly threaded onto wooden skewers (which you would have to remember to soak for an hour).  This threading process would be made quite a bit more difficult by the instructions to brush them all with the melted butter mixture first - ensuring that they slide all over the place, seldom get skewered in the center, break constantly, and a goodly amount will fall on the floor.  Where the dogs will lick off the butter, but not touch the vege.  You will then be forced to wash the floor, if you don't want a buttered surface to slide upon.  And never mind serving it as a side dish - you won't have any time or energy left to make anything else.

I did stick with it and am glad that I did, as it was delish.  However, the next time - giving myself enough time to forget how finicky it is - I will hire house elves and have them use the ribbon-maker part of my zoodler.