Friday, December 15, 2017

Ho-Ho-Holey Cow.

I was trying to sum up the past couple of weeks as foodstuffs.  Why?  By now, you should know that my brain works in mysterious ways...even to me...  I would say that it's been sliders with a heavy dose of ketchup.
Skating our way to mid-winter
As mid-winter trundles its way towards us, I have found myself woefully unprepared.  I toddled out to do chores in -1 degree F and slid my way toward the barn, having not brought out my heavy-duty treaded boots.  (Get it?  Slid?  Sliders?  Hoagies?)  I inched back in and corrected my footwear.  After all, as my dear mom keeps reminding me, 'you've got a LOT of dependents and we can't look after them for you!'  We have been the recipients of an onslaught from the Arctic which, although not unexpected for this time of year, has caught me off-guard.  The upside of this frigid weather (and there is always an upside...somewhere) is that the fireplace is back in use!
That is Slimbo's bed in the primo place
I tell you, it is almost impossible to drag myself away, but needs-must.  You know, all those dependents.
Good, but worth the effort?  The Jury is out.
Last weekend I was graced with the lovely Sylvie - maybe it should be 'blessed', as that was twice in two weeks that I have spent time with her!  She came back to her hometown to help celebrate the 100th birthday of a family friend and stayed with me until Sunday morning.  I thought I would take advantage of having dinner company by trying a recipe out of my collection of Moosewood cookbooks (my FAVORITES, all of them).  It sounded good and I had everything but the cilantro on hand.  After much peeling, slicing, steaming, cooking, and layering, a pan of Caribbean Sweet Potato Gratin went into the oven for an hour.  And came out...raw.  WTH?  We figured out that I had put it into a deeper casserole than requested (I was showing off - it was my fanciest baking dish), so on went a lid of foil, up went the oven temp and onto the lowest rack it went for another 20 minutes.  It came out fine the second time around.  Still...there were so many things we'd change about it, that I doubt I will make it again.  I did find that the leftovers were better than the original go-around.

As far as the heavy dose of catch-up (or ketchup, catsup, tomato-saucey-stuff), I pulled open my sock drawer to find *gasp* one lone pair of woolen socks!  I ended up spending a good deal of time hand-washing my socks and hanging them over the heating vent to dry.  My goal is to have at least two-weeks-worth of socks, just in case.  I also decided to tackle the pantry/cat room.  For years, it has been the repository of bulk food stores, canned/preserved food - you know, everything a Prairie Farmwife from the 30s would have on hand for her family of 12.  I had everything crammed onto a five-shelf plastic storage rack, a narrow antique cupboard, and in precarious stacks in the closet.  I used a gift card to purchase a new, metal, six-shelf storage unit (the need to assemble this behemoth, I blissfully ignored) and, after struggling for a week to get the goldang thing together, I managed to shoehorn it into the space vacated by the cupboard.  I have plans for the cupboard (thanks to Sylvie) but that has gone onto The List.  All this moving around of canning jars forced me to examine my stash.  Canned green beans from 2011?  Chicken feed.  Zucchini relish from 2009?  Compost.  I managed to empty and clean seven boxes of various-sized canning jars - in excess of the two dozen of each size that I saved for...whatever.  I put them on trash-nothing!, which has, apparently, replaced freecycle in my area, and they were picked up in a day.  Boy, that felt good!  I still have to deal with everything in the plastic shelving unit, but I did discover that I have six jars of apple mincemeat (yay!) left, and the rug cleaner and floor steamer can now be stowed away in the newly half-emptied closet!  Double Yay!

All this purging left me exhausted, so I made a pot of ginger tea, took out my latest knitting, and snuggled up with a warm pup.
Double cabled headband in
Sapphire Wool of the Andes
I'm hers, she's mine.

Monday, December 11, 2017

It's all a matter of taste.

As I tossed down the chickens' "treats" this morning, I reflected on the vagaries of taste.  They attacked the pile o' stuff (bread, rice, lettuce, unknown reddish swill) with a veracity that made you think that they were starving.  Not the case, as attested to by the 50 pounds of local feed mix that they consume a week.  Ducks are more particular, it seems.  They are not interested in anything but greens.  This may be because their beaks are rounded and they have to work mightily to rip a leaf of any size into dainty bits. 

Lovey will eat just about anything.  She doesn't actually chew, she Hoovers.  Peanut Butter is a little more circumspect when there is any change to his food dish.  They are currently eating an easy-over egg for breakfast (every other day), mixed with grain-free, salmon-only kibble (in PB's case, for small breed dogs = tiny bits), topped with thawed, pre-cooked, human-grade turkey with sweet potatoes and greens.  Moistened with homemade broth (turkey at the moment).  PB gets his meals in a soupy state, as he does not drink enough water due to confinement.  Scrappy was game to try anything, although I distinctly remember his run-in with a grape - he rolled it around in his mouth for a good 15 minutes, giving me the big moo-moo eyes.  He waited until my back was turned and then spat it out into a corner.  Where it lay until Slimbo found it and batted it all over the house.  And then I stepped on it.

Slimbo gets a half-can of wet food and a couple of handfuls of grain-free, indoor cat, kibble.  He is adamant about both.  Only Rachel Ray's Indoor Cat kibble and only Friskies (with gravy/sauce) wet food.  He could live on their turkey in crab sauce.  OMG.  I get the dry heaves just typing that.

The llama prefers graham crackers over just about anything, with apples coming second.  Norman feels the same way, but requires his apples sliced into bite-sized pieces.  Linden will inhale apples, Grahams and pumpkins.

If I had to list my favorite sandwiches, they would be (in no particular order), PB, pickle and mayo; warm, sliced hard-boiled eggs with salt and mayo; hard salami with pepper jack cheese (grilled); and grilled cheese with pickles.  The best of all - a pastrami Rueben on rye, with coleslaw and grilled.  My arteries are very thankful for my GF status.

What rings your Pavlov's bell?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Delusional Dog Mom.

Yes, yes.  I know it's been all about dogs for weeks.  Welcome to my reality.  Four long weeks have gone by with Peanut Butter in lockdown.  He has been exceptionally good about it, and for that I am thankful.  Besides the initial vet and specialist costs, there have been laser treatments and an amazing amount of gear that has been necessary to keep him safe and non-bouncing.  I expect him to require private school at any moment.

There is the ramp.  When I pulled it out of the box, Slimbo shot out of the living room like a cannonball.  Peanut Butter has had the same reaction - like it's radioactive.  Lovey just looked worried, which has become her permanent state of mind.  There is the booster seat.  It is strapped onto the front passenger seat of the car and it allows PB to ride to his countless laser treatments firmly and safely clipped in place.  It also allows me to tuck a large fleece blanket around him and it's high enough that he can see out of the window.  I tried putting it in the back seat, thinking it would be safer - I am mimicking child seats, as I have no experience in momhood - but there ensued much howling and yipping as 'mom' was further than six inches away.  Then there is the sling.  Since I have to carry him everywhere and he is a chunky monkey, this has saved me some wear and tear.  However, the sling is made for a maximum of 15lbs. and he's 19lbs.  We manage with a little staggering on my part.

Monday morning was his evaluation with the new vet and I was there, rose-colored glasses firmly in place, babbling on about how great he was doing, how hard it was to 'keep him down', blah, blah, blah.  We have been there so often, that PB has his own fan club.  The vet smiled, nodded and then took him for a walk.  Without me.  At first I was bothered by this, but, in the instance of PB, it is better to get his 'mom' out of view.  He is very protective of me and will carry on if strangers get near or between us.  Unless they have treats.  When she came back, the verdict was that he still has a way to go.  I removed the rose-colored glasses and pulled out my checkbook.  Six more weeks of treatments (mercifully, only one a week), Cosequin daily ($special$...of course), and a very tightly managed schedule of physical therapy to bring him back up to normal function.  I hope he/we can maintain his/our patience with this extension.  He longs to be Peanut "Full Speed Ahead" Butter again.  We all long for that.

Meanwhile, there are the other kids to consider.  Lovey should be renamed Velcro, as she is curled in a tight bundle next to me at every opportunity (when Slimbo is not in possession of the spot), her little brow creased with worry lines.  Lovey misses her playmate and I am a sorry substitute.  She keeps trying to get Slimbo interested, but he's having none of it. 

Me?  I'm running on Plan Bs.

Monday, November 27, 2017

It took a village.

I was afraid to say it out loud before the weekend, but I managed to get away for two days.  That's right.  I feel the same way.  But, as in all things in my life, it was NOT straightforward.

Before I can leave my crew for even an overnighter, certain things must fall into place.  My sister, Auntie Con is my steadfast (and adored) house/farm sitter.  She cannot come to me unless my other sister, Auntie Baby, can cover the nonagenarian parental front, which Auntie Con covers with great skill, patience and compassion - it's like two full time jobs.  Auntie Baby must come from her home (and full-time teaching job) three plus hours away.

Then, I must have someplace to go - someplace that I can reach by car within the time restraints.  I drive a ten-year-old car with occasional (okay, constant) issues.  It must be on a weekend because I have almost no vacation days left and I am reserving those I do have because, you know, veterinary issues often arise.  I am lucky to have such a BFF as Sylvie, who did not blink when I invited myself for Thanksgiving.

Since Thanksgiving is a holiday and Auntie Baby was planning on coming up anyway, one piece of the village was in place.  Auntie Con was more than ready to hand over parental care duties for a brief respite and she loves my crew.  Two down, one to go.  I go in to have my oil changed and....iffy ball joint and transmission issues.  At this point, I sat myself down and had a heart-to-heart with me.  I decided to rent a car - damn the expense, full gas tank ahead! - because I was going to see Sylvie, no matter if retirement is starting to fade into the future...

In an email exchange with my friend, Marianne, I asked her if I could park my car at her farm so that the rental place could pick me up.  I did not want to impose on my elderly neighbor, who would have to drive in the dark.  Without batting an eyelash, she offered her car so I wouldn't have to rent one.  Let me interject here that I covet her car - a Mini Cooper Countryman.
I didn't have a chance to take a picture of hers - but
you get the drift.  Cute, ain't it?
When Wednesday morning came around, I was hardly believing that my village was still intact and that I would be going to see Sylvie.  Then I trotted out to dump the compost, slipped on the frosty grass and twisted both knee and ankle.  As I sat on the ground, checking for broken anything, I decided that, as long as I was able to walk, I was going.

And I went.
I didn't sleep ALL the time... I got
chauffeured around.

We saw the ocean.

One of my favorite SoPo parks.

Their new guest quarters that are so
completely cozy and comfortable.
It shows what a good friend Sylvie is, when someone horns in on a family dinner, then spends most of the time sleeping.  Not only did she take me in and feed me well, but she clothed me, too!  I didn't have to raid my favorite Goodwill in South Portland because she handed on to me such a splendid array of garments that I am set for the year!  She is a peach.  She also inspires me to bring order to my life, so I also came home with some ideas on how to whip myself (and house) into shape.

I almost didn't mind that Monday came so fast...almost.
Someone was very happy I was

Friday, November 17, 2017

Two Alarm GF Bagels.

A rushed breakfast this morning, as I had to skedaddle out the door at 7A with both pooches in tow for our trek to the City.  I thought it would be kind to bring Lovey along, seeing as she is usually left behind to fret and we are only in the vet's office for a grand total of 15 minutes.  She whined coming and going.  Two solid hours of whine.  GoD only knows if she kept it up as she was guarding the car - looking all Gangsta, in her saggy grey hoodie.  Better she stays somewhere she feels secure, without adding to the stress of two bouts of rush hour traffic with her lunatic mother.
These bagels are from my very favorite local bakery - local meaning less than three hours away.  They have the BEST GF bread I have eaten.  It is almost like bread!  Unfortunately, they are a good hour+ away and not in a direction I travel often.  I was thrilled, however, to chance upon them in the indoor farmers market in the Capitol Concourse, during my Wednesday trot to the state library a few weeks ago.  This Wednesday, I dutifully trotted back, going through high-level security each way, to stock up.  In our state, I think the security is there mostly to protect them from their constituents - whom they ignore completely until they are up for reelection.  Every time I go through, the half-pound of metal in my ankle sets off the alarm and I am wanded within an inch of my life.

I was, unfortunately, disappointed in the bagels - a little heavy on the vinegar - but their bread makes the scrutiny all worth it!

Monday, November 13, 2017


Peanut Butter is making progress!  When he lifted his leg to pee on a weed this weekend and didn't fall over, I was beside myself with joy!  Apparently, I need a life.  Also, apparently, I need to really keep an eye on him - since he's feeling better, he also feels he does not need to be in a crate.  I finally put his halter on so I would have something to grab onto while he tries to make his escape - otherwise, it's like wrestling with an eel.

Lovey, meanwhile, not only has lost the fun of having a playmate, but has the additional burden of having to wear her hoodie sweatshirt.  Because of her rather odd physique (deep chest with slender-ish everything else), her hoodie is stretched and sagging around her knees within 10 minutes of putting it on.
Waiting outside PB's jail cell.

Oh, mother.
It was a very frigid weekend (ergo, the hoodie sweatshirt - I didn't do it because I was THAT kind of a dog mom.  Really.  Honest.) so my time outside was fairly limited.  Instead, I focused on the Unlist and hand-washed 9 pairs of socks, vacuumed, swept, straightened, cleaned bathrooms, made soup (I'm working my way through my Moosewood cookbooks), made chili and cornbread, baked a big pan of brown rice, and made more headway on clearing out the UCG (unknown canned goods) that are cluttering my canning shelves.  I also forced myself to go to the Laundromat.  I think my sense of dread comes from all those years of living in apartments and, consequently, all those mind-numbing hours sat in dreary, linoleum-floored rooms, watching my laundry go round and round.  It makes me feel like Ratso Rizzo.  However, my washer cannot handle a load of area rugs and the sofa covers.  So, off I went.  It was a great way to get some quiet knitting time in - there were only a handful of fellows (who, I noticed, crammed six loads of dirty laundry into the cheapest/smallest washer they found.  No sorting of darks and lights to be seen.)  I distributed my laundered rugs over the deck railing when I got home, as I am too cheap to ante up the cash for their dryers.  Plus, I can only stand being there through a wash cycle.
Quiet time
I did feel very virtuous, though.  Lots more things mentally ticked off the Unlist. 

Peanut Butter goes to his third vet this afternoon for evaluation as to whether he is a candidate for laser treatments on his back.  I am putting on my Pollyanna glasses for this - he has come quite a way with just confinement and he is young.  I am for anything that will hasten his recovery.  The only appointment this vet had available was at 1 o'clock.  It is in the city, so there was no way I was going to drive in (1 hour), then drive home (ditto), then drive back to the city (ditto2), then drive home, you get the drift.  Feeling like the mother of an infant, I picked up a booster seat for the car and a portable kennel for the office.  I really don't know how women can manage all that paraphernalia - and carry their baby.  I got as far as the office garage (after making four trips from house to car at the get-go) and was stumped.  Luckily, the building super appeared and saved our bacon - he schlepped the kennel upstairs and pushed all the buttons and opened the doors (also turning on the lights).  Then he made a second trip down to retrieve the blankie and leash that I forgot. 
Portable Stir.
I'm hoping the treatments do their job.  I'm too old for motherhood.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How to put the challenge into your day.

Tuesday morning started out with everything going for it.
Good book, a variety of knitting,
pumpkin spice coffee.  Heaven.
When I schlepped the goober outside for his early morning constitutional, I noticed - to my horror - that his back end was having trouble maneuvering.  As soon as the clock struck 8, I put a call in to my vet and they squeezed us in at 10.  This produced a flurry of emails with my office nobs (one of whom dislikes dogs) wherein I stated confidently that I would be in directly, following the dropping off at home of PB.

Oh, ha.
What a pair we are, waiting
for the neurologist and a couple
of ibuprofens
The vet took one look at PB and declared "you need a neurologist!"  I scooped him up and trotted out in the direction of my car.  Before I reached it, I managed to trip over an uneven patch and had gone headlong - hanging onto PB for dear life until just before impact, when I sort of slid him forward.  I did manage not to injure him further, but my right knee received the brunt of the impact.  As did my best pair of jeans, dammit.  I gimped him to the car and then gimped back into the vet's office to pay.  They took one look at my knee, sat me down and started to work.  If you're going to take a header, it's better to do it in proximity of people with medical knowledge.  We joked about how vet wrap is to vets what duct tape is to farmers.

After taking off the sticky wrap that
was to make sure the vet wrap
didn't slip.  She is nothing if not

With my knee firmly bandaged, I hobbled back to the car and we headed an hour west to a veterinary specialist.  By the time we pulled into the emergency entrance, the shock had worn off and my knee was throbbing.  And I was getting the little brown stink eye from PB.  Long and painful story short, he was diagnosed with invertebral disc disease and I received an ice pack and two ibuprofens.  And a sizeable bill.  I was happy they didn't charge me for the ice pack or meds.  My only two options, according to them, was to keep PB in strict confinement, on pain meds, for four weeks OR get an MRI done with surgery to follow.  Hmmm.  $168 or $7000+?  Let me think about it - for a nanosecond.  They felt we had caught the problem quickly enough that there was a pretty good chance (65%) that the confinement would work.  By the time we got out of there (after a blow by blow stream of emails to the office, whether they gave a damn or not), we didn't arrive home until 3 o'clock.  We were both exhausted.  I gave PB his pain meds (liquid - citrus flavored.  Why? Why not liver?) which he hates, swaddled him in six fleece blankets and put him in his crate.  I was about to self-medicate, since it was 5 o'clock somewhere, but remembered I had to vote.  This is a small town.  Had I sashayed into the polling place, the Election Ladies would have had their antennae going and the fact that they detected Sauvignon Blanc at 3:30 would have raced through the town like wildfire.

I voted, did my chores and fixed an extra-special doggie dinner.  Then I fixed an extra-special Doggie Mommie dinner that only required one glass.  Sleeping was a little rough, as I kept turning over the fact that I chose the cheaper way out than what may be better for the little guy.  By 2 o'clock, I gave up and got up.  I had pretty much decided that I would find a way to pay for it.  I was not going to have PB end up paralyzed.  He did seem a little, tiny bit more steady this morning, so that gave me a boost.  Then, as I rehashed the day with our office building super (he and his wife have 7 dogs and are super-rescuers), he mentioned laser treatments.  Apparently, there is a third option that has proven highly successful in the treatment of IDD.  At a fraction of the cost, with no meds.  I will be consulting with a third vet tomorrow.  Geezlouise.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Doctor, doctor.

After dragging my sorry behind around for a couple of weeks - self-diagnosing and self-medicating all the way - I finally pulled up my BGPs and called my doctor on Thursday.  Not because I was worried, but because I was b.o.r.e.d. with the wheezy, no energy feeling.

As luck would have it, she had a slot available the next morning at 9.  I like my doctor - she is about my age, maybe a couple of years older.  She is brassy and outspoken.  She is a good listener.  She is a dog owner and a knitter!  Thinking that I would have plenty of time in the waiting room, I schlepped along my latest project:
Basket weave blanket to donate to
an animal shelter - I'm paying forward..
Amazingly, I wasn't in the chair five minutes before I was called back.  "Fine," I thought.  This is how it usually goes - stick you in a cold examining room, way back at the end of a hall, and leave you there.  Once again, I pulled out the knitting.  Two minutes later, the nurse was in for blood pressure and the usual stuff.  Out she went.  Out came the knitting.  In came the nurse again.  EKG.  Out went the nurse, knitting out.  In came the doctor.  I was stunned.  A cursory check up didn't come up with anything definite, so we discussed options.  Off I went for a chest X-ray and blood test.  Longer story mercifully shorter, they are very organized and I didn't get to knit a row until I was waiting for my X-ray.   Then I knit 12 rows.

Saturday started as another slo-mo day, but I did get my Brussels sprout stalk trimmed of sprouts, with the chickens and ducks getting the non-sprout part.
What a beauty!

By the end of the day...

Still trying to lure the girls to his
'treasure'.  They had moved on.
I drove up to Vermont, visited with my parents and sister, then back home to find...a very miserable Peanut Butter.  He had apparently injured himself while I was gone and went from a bouncy pup to a little old man.  A quick call to the emergency vet on call, and we were in the car - back up to the Vermont border.  There wasn't any sign of a spinal injury (common in this breed), but he was hurting.  Two meds and two hundred dollars later, we were on our way home, PB being very subdued and swaddled in his navy blue blankie on the passenger seat.

The Patient.
Sunday was a windy, rainy day, so we all laid low.  I checked a couple of small items off The List - cleaned up the peonies, hung the waterers in the shed and cleaned out the barn -  and started a sock.  It was a perfect day to slog around inside. 
I've got a Green Thang going on...

Last of the onions, in from the barn
This morning, PB was still in geezer-mode, although, with doxies, there is a LOT of drama involved in everything.  He has realized that I will carefully pick him up and set him on his chair, put him outside, move him up and down stairs, wrap him warmly, and deliver his meds in bundles of orange cheez-whiz.  I may live to regret this....

I am still waiting for the results of my tests - apparently, since no one has raised a red flag - I will live...albeit in slow motion...

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Not much to show.

I had all good intentions of tottering out with my camera (phone) to add a little pizazz to the blog.  It was then I discovered that it's dark until 40 minutes before I have to leave for work, and dark when I get home.

I will leave you with a photo of Lovey-bell, after witnessing a good hour of Mom dancing her bootie off to Motown hits this morning.

"I am too young to witness such

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October goes out like a dragon.

My life seems to be ruled by Murphy's Law.  I finally got an entire weekend on my own - no obligations whatsoever! - and I lost half of it to Mother Nature.  Ah, well.  I put some hustle in my bustle Saturday morning and fairly burst out the door at sunrise.  Since I had cleaned the coop and duck chalet the previous Sunday, I focused on the sheep.  The unfortunate thing about my sheep (and also the endearing thing) is that they are very, very helpful.  No matter what I am doing, they are there to snoopervise.  Especially Linden, whose soft, lanolin-y head is always in my business.   A large pumpkin was cut into fourths and put at a safe distance from me.  This always works - for about 15 minutes.  You have to work fast!

First on the list was to reinforce the hay racks in the barn for winter feeding.  I had finally Gerry-rigged them onto the pallet fence that (barely) separates them from the hay, using twelve pieces of baling twine.  I cut them down and screwed them to boards, top and bottom, using large washers so they couldn't man/sheep handle the feeders off the screws.  Then I screwed the boards to the fence, using 3" screws.  One poor rack had had bits of it broken off, so that called for some additional ingenuity - I wired the loop-less ends to the boards, then screwed over the wires so that they couldn't rub them off.  Honestly, sheep.

I also walked the perimeter of the fencing and discovered that I will have to replace almost half of it next year.  Early on, in my homesteading adventure, I had a lovely llama who had the very bad habit of leaning heavily on the fence, in order to reach the greenery on the other side.  This was exacerbated by Linden, my sheep-goat, who took advantage of every weakness and wormed his way under various part of the fence.  Luckily, he is too old and fat to do that now, but the damage has been done.  I've patched the worst places, as we have a lot of coyotes and I do not want them getting under the fence, but it really needs to be replaced.  When I delivered the Sunday morning barn baked goods, I talked to the high school kid that helps with the cows and he is interested in doing the heavy lifting.

I then spent the rest of the day battening down the hatches.  There had been high wind and flooding warnings for days before, so I made sure that all small objects were safely closed away.  I took down my wind chimes and my mirror chain.  I brought in the fig tree and stacked buckets in the barn.  I also tied the pergola to the deck rail.  It has a definite list to port.  I believe I will be calling the "architect" back for a look-see in the spring.

Sunday started with misty-type rain and I headed west of the city, early, to do some errands I have been putting off for months.  I made it back just before the heavy rain to hit - let me just say that ALL dachshunds seem to hate rain - and squeezed in a potty break, then we hunkered down to wait it out.  It was quite a storm.  The wind was howling all night, with waves of rain bashing the house, which didn't do much for my insomnia.  There is nothing like hearing a BAM and then BAM-BAM, and running through all the things that could cause it - trees coming down on your car.  Trees coming down on the car port.  I gave up trying to ignore it at 3 and then managed to get a cup off coffee on before the power went off.  It came on an hour later, then went off again.  Then came on.  After the third time, I gave up resetting the clocks and pulled out my inflatable solar lights and started knitting.

Once the wind died down to a low roar, I stuck my head out and checked the car and carport - both okay!  After that, I cleaned the guest bathroom (I had watched an episode of OCD extreme cleaning and got a shot of inspiration!), fed the dogs and took the day off from work.  I suited up and, other than some major tree branches down and a couple of small trees and a truckload of leaves, there was no damage to the buildings.  The fence was another ball of wax.  At least the worst damage was to an area that the sheep are not in.  My dairy farmer neighbor stopped by to discuss my cows and he happened to have his chainsaw in the truck.  Ten minutes later, the tree was off the fence and I had stacked it in a nice, neat pile.  I believe that a chain saw will be going on my list to Santa.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Lately, I have been making lists of my quirks.  Just for fun - I obviously have too much time on my hands.  I listed the first ten that came to mind:

1.  I always wash the flatware before the plates or glasses

2.  I do everything right to left, except for hanging the wash
on the line

3.  Everything related to my dogs/cats gets an "ie" sound
on the end (blankie, foodie, bisky)

4.  I never tuck in my sheets or blanket at the foot
of the bed

5.  I fold the excess blanket at the foot and the excess
down blanket at the top

6.  I sing to my ducks every morning

7.  While cooking, I place all ingredients on the right, then
move them to the left as I use them

8.  I iron my dishcloths

9.  I order my cards (credit, membership, etc.) by size
in my wallet instead of by type

10.  I always go through the kitchen and dining area
to go to the hall and back bedrooms, instead of
through the living room - which is shorter.

What about you?  What quirks can you share?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Eggplant Green Tomato Parmesan Lasagna Polenta Casserole

Or, as I like to refer to it, dinner and five lunches.  This is the result of facing a shelf of green tomatoes, some over-ripe red tomatoes and three softening eggplants.

My day started out fairly typically for a Monday.  In an effort to economize, I made a large pumpkin latte at home to help me make it through my commute.  Luckily, there was bumper-to-bumper traffic so that the coffee that spilled down the front of my shirt had plenty of time to dry.

The weather, these past three days, has been glorious.  Clear, blue skies, warmish, light breezes.  On Friday, I took the overland route to the state library and managed to take some pics of the architecture.  Rockefeller strong-armed his will to create a monument to modernism - smack-dab in the middle of an historical area.  You could call him the Robert Moses of Albany.  He bisected a neighborhood of glorious brownstones in order to erect what was, in fact, a monument to him.  I digress.
Looking north towards the State Capitol.  Behold!  The Egg!

One of the state office towers.
Lovely, ain't it?
This is was the existing architecture:
Back entrance (although you cannot
enter) to the Capitol building.

Capitol on right, education monument/building
on left

Too bad the state of the state's education is not
up to the glories of its edifice.
If you walk straight through those
trees, past the multi-towered building dead-
center, you would reach my
non-descript building.
The project slogs on.

It's that time again...
I tried to make a manageable list for the weekend - my new ruse to my over-reaching self - and did a pretty good job of sticking to it.  Saturday, I cleaned the duck hut, cleaned out two raised beds, planted my garlic, and started dead-heading and digging up the dahlia rhizomes.  Then I had to go north.  Sunday morning, I dutifully baked for the barn, visited for a period, then came home and started the fall coop clean.  It is much easier than the spring clean, let me tell you, but it was very, very dusty this year.  That took most of the late morning/early afternoon, so I decided to tick-off one of the long-standing items - recovering the wind

chimes from the farm.  The farmer's dad, Leo, had these lovely chimes on the porch.  I grew quite fond of them, sitting and visiting with Leo every week.  Since the house is now, sadly, going derelict, I asked if I could have them.
Hi-rise housing
My claim had to wait until two hatchings of barn swallows finally fledged.  There was one tiny egg left in the nest.
They are now musically bonging away on the pergola.

During all this activity, I had planted the dogs on the deck on their rugs, with their marrow bones.  Best thing ever - they were busy for almost two hours, before coming up for air.  I called it a day around 6:30, fed everyone and slid my fridge-cleaning dinner in the oven.  We had a quiet night - Lovey on HER sofa, and PB taking up an amazing amount of room for a diminutive being.

Getting the hairy eyeball for taking up
ANY space on HIS chair.

The tail is the only thing

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fosters, Flutes and Frost

You know when you say yes, then some days go by and certain information makes its way into the dark crevices of your cranium and then....WHAM!?  No?  Some days ago, I got an email from Peanut Butter's foster parents (who I secretly think wish they had never given him up - too bad ... ) asking if there was any way I could look after their current foster for a weekend.  Of course.  I can certainly relate to wanting to get away for the weekend... 

Because we live so far from each other, it was decided that I would toss the dogs in the car after work on Thursday and drive to meet them halfway at a popular dog-rescue-meet-and-greet area.  Sounded great at the time but I failed to realize a) it now gets pitch dark by 7 and b) I loathe driving in the dark.  They failed to realized that the favorite spot was not lit.  After an hour's hair-raising drive, we finally made it to the abyss meeting spot.  They pulled in and we tried our best to light the area with our headlights.  How did it go?  There were four dogs involved; Peanut Butter thought he was going home with them; Lovey, tail firmly cemented to her tummy, was having nothing doing with this new dog, the dark and strange people all in the dark; we were all afraid someone would call the police.  I finally just said the heck with it, put Lovey and Peanut Butter (his foster mother, still trying to get one last cuddle in) in the back seat and put Rusty Jones in the front.  Rusty, poor lad, thought it was the end of the world.  I drove back with Rusty trying to get onto my lap (he's Lovey's size) and everyone else exhausted.  By the time we pulled in, it was 10P and they had not eaten.  Soooo, in we went, with Lovey still giving Rusty The Lip every once in a while.  I got their dinners together and then there was calm.  We took a little time to peruse the chicken yard in the dark, then came inside to collapse.  I had had the foresight to take Friday off, which was a very good thing, as I think I got four hours of sleep.  Everyone settled down and Rusty was actually playing with Lovey and there was much kissing, on and off all day.  I renamed him Velcro and got almost nothing done.
Are you now my mommy?

What's going on over there?

The dark lump is PB...

This is more like it!
Saturday, however, I escaped and met my sister at The Clark in Williamstown, MA, for a telecast of Mozart's The Magic Flute.  OMG!  It was quite wonderful, especially compared to the bizarre rendition of Obsession we had witnessed the previous week.  The costumes, staging and talent were spectacular and I developed a major crush on the baritone.  It was a beautiful autumn day.

NOT the baritone.  He had dimples...
View from the museum parking lot.
Luckily, Rusty's foster parents swung by on their way home Sunday, so I didn't have to repeat the night-time drive.  He was thrilled to see them - having believed he had been abandoned...again.  The four of us (Slimbo ventured out after he was sure the monster was gone) stumbled to our positions (Peanut Butter is back by my side) and made it an early night.

Monday night brought freezing temps.  I knew it was coming but had very little time to spare over the weekend to get things battened down.  I did manage to empty the duck pool and drag in the Meyers Lemon tree - without putting my back out - and repot the geraniums for their indoor hiatus.  Sunday was a very windy, warm day - the precursor to the cold front, thundering toward us.  It brought some rain, so I left the geraniums outside for a free watering.  Yesterday I brought them in, along with the fig tree, and I had all good intentions to cut my herbs when I got home from work.  Instead, I spent ONE HOUR inching through traffic caused when some nimrod rammed into the back of another car in one of two lanes.  I am sure he/she was texting something of incredible importance - the state of their adenoids, perhaps?  I was sure to put the voodoo curse on them as I drove by at one mile an hour.  By the time I pulled into the driveway, it was too dark to clip herbs.  I did a very fast round of evening chores and then put my headlamp on and covered the oregano and marjoram and clipped a few sprigs of pineapple sage.  Everything else was on its own.
Beautiful flowering pineapple sage
I have not had a chance to reconnoiter the garden since the freeze.  I doubt if anything survived except for the kale - that survives almost anything!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The hustle has officially left my bustle.

This is the fifth blog post I've started - the others were deep-sixed, so I'm hoping that this makes it through my filter of mass destruction.  A series of things have dropped me into a deep blue funk and I need to get out of it.  The biggest disappointment was realizing that I would not be able to take a short vacation I had planned (and needed) for quite some time.  I hadn't realized how much I had counted on it until I couldn't go.  I then slipped into that quagmire of feeling that the lifestyle I love so much had become a millstone around my neck.  THEN I realized that that was ridiculous.  I needed to change my thinking.

So I have.  Or at least I am working on it.  As these things tend to go, once the negative energy is radiating out into the Universe, it tends to attract like energy.  Case in point:  I have been spending hours and hours in the company of The Journal of Commerce Import Bulletins.

You see that white piece of paper?  That's as far as I had gotten after three days.  Shoot me.  Each over-sized tome is classified as "fragile", so I have to very gingerly leaf through months' worth of shipping manifest lists until I find the ones I'm looking for, then equally as gingerly scan it without damaging the yellowed pages.  An equally distressing thought is that these "fragile" documents were printed when I was 15!  I feel like a relic...

There are some upsides - I am in a very peaceful environment for hours:
Research floor of the State
I am getting plenty of exercise - the round trip is just under three miles and has to be walked.  And there is lots of cultcha to be absorbed.
One example - it's YUGE!
Our state capitol is a formidable and beautiful edifice, another example of millions of dollars invested in the glory of government.  The most direct route from my office to the State Library is via the underground concourse.  Access is gained to the concourse by passing through two metal detectors, going through the Capitol, and then through the concourse - a long corridor that passes under a road or two.  Both sides of the concourse are populated with fast food restaurants and with items from Mr. Rockefeller's massive Modern Art collection.  To which no one pays any attention.  I am always amazed that these works are hung in a closed area that reeks of McDonald fumes, diesel fumes from the bus garage and, until recently, cigarette smoke.  Geezlouise.  Anyhoo, one walks through the concourse, then down a flight of steps - under another road - then through a series of escalators and elevators that haven't been updated since Eisenhower was in office.  Finally, one emerges into the upper/inner sanctum of all things NYS history.  I make this trip twice a day - I do have my real job, after all.  Scanning these documents has posed a real challenge.  The pages are oversized and are printed (in tiny print) on the aforementioned yellowing, fragile paper.  You cannot flip the thing over and copy it.  The overhead scanners are not capable of scanning the whole page.  I finally came up with a free app on my iPhone that scans and turns the scan into either a jpeg (photo) or pdf (copy) file.  These I email to my office address and then send along to another office.  It is hair-raisingly tedious work.  I am through two and a half years, with two and a half to go.  Geewillikers.

It's nice to come home to this:

Modeling his lovely sweater, gifted to him
by his distant cousin in the Northwest, Mandy.
Of course, the weather is in no way suitable for sweaters, having not dipped below 75 degrees for days.  Having said that, we are due for a freeze tonight into tomorrow morning - this means some swaddling of lemon tree and geraniums.  Repotting geraniums and schlepping the lemon tree inside are on The List.  So far, however, I have not had more than a portion of a day per weekend into which I must cram five-days worth of work.  Not surprisingly, I do not succeed.  I am hoping - after this, another truncated weekend - to get most of my pre-Winter things done by the end of the month.  Har, har, ho, ho, har, har.