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Monday, September 17, 2018

Precocious.

Three days ahead of schedule



As I stood in my kitchen Saturday afternoon, listening to the frantic peep of something outside (I thought), I happened to glance down at the incubator and - a quail had hatched!  Three days ahead of schedule!  Out of the 18 eggs I received from Alchemist Farm (I can't say enough good things about them), 9 eggs have hatched as of this morning.  Two more have pipped, so there may be more.


One seems to have a problem with splayed legs, but the rest are thriving.  I had forgotten how fast they move!  The only safe way I can move them from incubator to brooder is in a little bucket with a towel laid loosely on the top.


Hot, humid weather has revisited us (will it NEVER go away?) so not much has been done outside.  We are waiting for the arrival of the remnants of Florence tomorrow. 
Sweater #1
In my quest to get things finished, I blocked Sweater #1 - my green, lace weight cardigan that I love.  I will, however, never again knit a sweater in lace weight yarn.  Sweater #2 will be blocked tonight and then I can move onto socks - my comfort knitting.


My latest obsession
I scored some donut pans and now I am doing all thing donut.  I've made GF Vegan Pumpkin donuts (pictured above) and Apple Cider donuts (not pictured but almost identical looking to the GFVPs).  I give the GFVPs a solid "meh".  They are way too 'wet', if you know what I mean.  The Apple Cider donuts were given to the barn crew and disappeared in about a nanosecond.  I did not coat them with more sugar, as they had plenty of sugar in the mix.  Next week, it's chocolate donuts!  Whee!


Looking ahead at the weather forecast, our hot weather is finally going elsewhere and I have to start thinking about moving tender perennials inside.  My sister gave me a beautiful mandevilla that needs to be over-wintered inside


and I still have to decide whether or not I will be overwintering my geraniums for another winter.  Frugal me says, yes.  It's going to be a little crowded with everyone jammed in - there's the lemon tree and the fig tree, too.  We'll be nice and cozy...


Speaking of cozy, Slimmie has reached maximum relaxed mode...







Monday, September 10, 2018

Down Periscope!

I took a couple of days off last week, both to recover from the previous week and because I had some appointments that would have made it too hectic to be here, there, everywhere and in the office. 


Peanut Butter - also know as The Pat - was whisked off to the vet on Thursday.  This is now part of my daily ritual:


The one on the left is Lovey's...
He managed to, once again, injure a disc in his mad dashing about with the Evil Fly.  We also celebrated the first anniversary of his adoption.  Boy, it seems a whole lot longer than a year - and many of hundreds of dollars under that little bridge.  He is on two pain killers and a muscle relaxer, and is confined - once again - to his crate.  The good news is that Lovey seems to be making progress in healing her torn ACL!   Woohoo!  We take good news where we can.


Since I had a little extra time off, my sister and I met at The Clark and took in a couple of new exhibits.  Our favorite was up the hill behind the museum at a lovely, new space, where we sat mesmerized for quite a while, hooked on the swaying and rustling of Jennifer Steinkamp's birch trees in her Blind Eye exhibit.  It was another hot, humid day, but we decided to opt out of the air-conditioned shuttle and we sauntered off down the trails through the woods to the main museum complex.
The Lunder Center at Stone Hill

Lovely view... :)


Trail down the hill, through the
woods and to the main museum
We then went into Williamstown and had a very nice lunch at a Thai restaurant and caught up on recent events and Dad care.  She is a treasure.


I spent the next day weeding and filing - obviously doing penance for some horrendous crime against the Universe, for which I am apparently getting my comeuppance.  Because of this new bump in the road, I will be only posting sporadically, so I thought it only fair to warn you - and it is not due to health problems, my little petals, just in case you were worried.  Oh, no.  Just a non-ending yuk-fest the Universe is having at my expense.


I leave you with my new posh, fancy-schmancy fuel tank enclosure.  It just warms the cockles of my heart to be able to reuse something of this magnitude.  I had inherited a friend's old deck awning - in perfect shape, just faded.  I've had this in storage for years and, after last year's winter beating, the cheap-ass tarps that come from China, cost a pretty penny and don't last worth a damn, had shredded off the enclosure.  My "new" one has scalloped edges!  How fun!  Excuse the dirty 4x4 holding the long edge down - by the time I finished (with the help of my trusty 84 y/o neighbor), we were both beat and just grabbed the first thing that came to hand.  I have to tell you that it just cheers me up when I go out the back and catch sight of it!
I love the scalloped edges!
Whimsy AND function!




I will pop up and post when I can - and will try and keep up with all your writings as well. xo





Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Up Periscope!

Since there is a lot of time unaccounted for, I will give you the Cliff Notes version of the past week and a half:
 
  • Visit with BFF thwarted - but at least half my house was cleaned.
  • Week from Hell at the office - where the stress meter was off the charts all. week. long.  I believe they want me to retire or commit hari kari.
  • Gluten Free Chinese food - was not.
  • Easy Clambake on the Grill, turned into Not-Quite-As-Easy Clambake in the Oven, thanks to a faulty propane tank
  • The fun continues - Stress level with family jumps a few levels.
  • The Universe intervenes and makes me take naps all day Sunday.
  • Summer decides to revisit and the heat and humidity index does a number on us all.
  • The Butter Pat re-injures his back due to a fly-related incident.
 
Slogging up the front path on Saturday, I spied a box perched on my front deck.  You know that feeling - you are a kid at Christmas and there is a box that is just the right size for that thing you want more than anything in the whole world....and you are almost afraid to open it because it might be underpants....or socks....but then it IS that thing that will make the clouds part and the sun shine?


Not an injured one in the lot.
After I admired them for a while, I ate six.  Then I weighed out enough for my all-time favorite jam and will carefully mete out the rest.  OMG.  They are so delicious.  Michelle, you are an angel.
 
During the stressfest, I managed to make cowboy candy and a new, wonderful zucchini recipe:
My first Cowboy Candy

Zucchini cheddar scones - Gluten Free!
It's been difficult to muster up the energy to do much, inside or out.  Summer appears to be loathe to leave and our heat and humidity spiked - again - and won't be leaving until the end of the week.  I am so totally over it.  I want to take a flame thrower to my garden, but it's too hot. 
 
I did spend the one cool-ish day we had outside:
Freshly weeded and mulched.
I'm going to split and transplant hostas along the back edge of this bed - but it will have to wait until next spring, as it is way too difficult to split hostas that are all leafed out.
 
Since Sunday was a wash and Monday's humidity was of the breathing-through-a-wet-sponge variety, I turned to something on my to-do list.
Small wardrobe - Before
Hole for cords

Tightly fitted shelf insert
(notice mallet)

Second shelf in - no mallet
involved.

Wardrobe - After - Entertainment
Center!
I will have to admit that I was very proud of myself.  It's not of the Ed-Quality, but it is sturdy, fits in the space and is adequate for my needs.  I still need to stain the insert to match and I have plans for murals on the insides of the doors, but it's pretty much done.
Lovey was exhausted from helping me sort
the DVDs.
The only issue is that it crowds out the dog crate.  So, you ask, why is that a problem?  Because Peanut Butter has re-injured his back and must now be confined until it's better.  I don't know how it happened, but it had to involve an ordinary house fly.  The Butter Pat has an intense fear/hatred for flies.  I assume it is because, in his past life of neglect and cruelty, he was confined 24/7 in a crate and the urine, etc. drew flies and it must have been pure hell for him.  The irony of having to confine him to a crate is not lost on me.  I leave him out as much as possible, but he is not the sharpest tack in the box and will try to fling himself up on the sofa, if I'm not watching.  We have an appointment at the vet for his allergy shot, so we will just segue into this new pickle.  Never a dull moment.  Never.


My next dilemma?   How to preserve my bean harvest.
Can?  Freeze?  Dinner?








 
 
 
 



Thursday, August 23, 2018

The cake dilemma.

I have finally found a good, moist, tasty, fairly long-lasting gluten free cake.  An added plus is that it contains zucchini...


However.
A very technical drawing*
The first time I made this gluten free zucchini breakfast cake (sweetened not by sugar, but maple syrup - the pluses are adding up), it was a rather convoluted affair.  I wanted to make it, but didn't have enough of a consecutive chunk of time to go from A to Baked in one go.  So I divided the process up thusly:  measure out dry ingredients into a bowl.  Three days later, add wet ingredients and put in prepared baking pan.  Realize almost immediately that I had left out the melted coconut oil, pull the pan out of the oven, dump the batter back into the mixing bowl, furiously stir in the melted oil, wash and reline baking pan, put back in oven.  I was greatly relieved to find it nice and risen and moist and delish.  (Exhibit B)


HoHA!  Sez I.  I'm going to make it again and THIS time I'm going to make sure I have a nice, uninterrupted (hahahahaha) chunk of time so that there is no forgetting nuthin.  And, thusly, I did so.
However, upon removing the baked cake from the oven, I discovered Exhibit A.


The leavening agent is baking powder with a catalyst of baking soda.  I have been baking for a fair amount of time and although I am not of a scientific nature, I do know that, if you add your carefully measured ingredients (all in-date, nothing expired or close to being so), you should get similar if not identical results.  Same oven.  Same weather conditions, same Moon moving into the path of Saturn.  I also know that, leaving baking powder/soda to sit within a batter can sometimes enhance the rise - but the trick is BATTER, not a pile of dry ingredients.


So, my dears, you of the high baking skills, what happened?  I am hoping to make many more of these cakes because they freeze well and, you know, zucchini.  But I would much rather freeze the cake kind of cake as opposed to the pancake kind of cake.  Thoughts?  xoxoxo




(Both exhibits were equally tasty.  Ergo the technical drawing.)

Monday, August 20, 2018

Some things got done, some didn't.

After a rather tumultuous start to the weekend - a humongous thunderstorm complete with ear-deafening thunder and lightning and torrential downpours on Friday evening - Saturday was only a half-washout with another inch-plus of rain.   I decided that, weather or not (snort), things must get done.

Tableful of goodness

Next on the agenda

Brick bat?  Baseball bat?  Primitive
vegetable club?
As I heard the rumbling of the oncoming thunderstorm, I dashed out, did evening chores and madly clipped nettles.  I managed a few handfuls (gloved handfuls, need I say) in between shuttling hay to the sheep shed, setting rat traps (they're baaaaack!), collecting eggs and feeding dogs, before the skies opened up and chased me inside.  I love a good storm, but am very respectful of lightning.  I had also managed to haul my garlic from the barn, where it had been aging for two weeks.  I now have a big, packed jar of dried nettles and my garlic is cleaned and stored for use over the year.  That leaves the brick bat.  Or the baseball bat.  Or the giant's vegetable club.  Due to other obligations, Marianne and I did not do our farm work this weekend.  She did leave me a basket of produce with her apology for the zucchini.  I will say, it is the largest one I've had to deal with.  It's a good thing I love the stuff, because I have, over the weekend, made two gluten free zucchini breakfast cakes, a double batch of zucchini feta fritters, vegetable fried rice, featuring - you guessed it - zucchini, three zucchini pizza crusts, many quart bags of shredded zucchini...you get the idea.  It's a nice problem to have, too much zucchini.  I am not complaining.


My arugula and planting of salad greens is coming in and I will be planting one last round of salad greens this week.  I ventured out in Saturday's downpour to visit my friend that raises Randall cattle (and took in Bertie) to get 15 pounds of marrow bones for the pups - we had a nice, albeit damp, visit and Bert looks fat and happy.  Sunday was setting up the electric net on the bank for the sheep - it's getting tricky making changes to their grazing, as Apria the llama is now almost totally blind.  There is a lot of voice leading, "Come on, Pri-Pri, that's a girl - this way, this way..."  She eventually works out the right direction but I have to be sure not to have impediments in her way and to have gates open wide enough that she won't get spooked by banging into one. 


I'm spending an inordinate amount of  time watching hummingbird drama.  It's like Star Wars on a very tiny scale - much zooming and squeaking in high dudgeon.  I was relieved to finally see two hummers on the same feeder, but my hopes for d├ętente were dashed when they took off after each other, each one accusing the other of trespass.  I am also enchanted by the evening ballet performed by the dragonflies.  There must be at least 20 of them, whirling and zooping and looping around each other.  I'm not sure why they do it, but it sure is fun to watch.


This week is all about ironing and weeding.  Oh, joy.  And finding someway to keep the crows from destroying my yard.  While I'm happy that they seem to be making it their life's work to rid me of grubs, my yard looks like some maniac went at it with a drill.  Make that 10 maniacs.   I pulled the netting off the currants and had to face the fact that there will not be a harvest this year.  And it's all my fault.  While the red ones were gone, the black ones were riddled by earwigs.  Luckily, I found last year's harvest still in the back of the freezer!  Saved.  Although I am nowhere near winning the battle with the weeds, I am not giving up.  I have my wheelbarrow parked in the back and will spend some time every morning yoinking them out by the handful until I make some headway.  I will spend time in the evening working on the front, which is marginally less bad than the back.  Still pressing on the to-do list is skirting two more bags of Norman's fleece.  That will give me a large enough quantity to make it worthwhile to schlep it to the processor.  There's still plenty to go, but I may be processing some of that myself - much sorting is on the horizon...



Friday, August 17, 2018

Plans

An architect, I am not.  Nor am I a builder of any renown.  Well, maybe a rather infamous builder - as in when real builders look inside the run-in shed and say, "Wow.  And how long has this been standing?"


That does not stop me.  I drew up the plans for the pergola.  The only reason it collapsed was that I did not consider the relativity of snow load vs. tall leggy structure.  We moved it forward by at least three and a half feet and anchored it to the deck railing.  At least I can get my snow rake on the roof now and it has a fighting chance of staying erect this year.


My next project was born of too little sleep and a long string of extremely early mornings.  While I sit, covered in furry bodies - so much fun in the summer - waiting for my first iced coffee to hit my blood stream, I should, really, not be allowed to surf Instagram.  I was mesmerized by photographs of blue quail eggs and the amazing farmers that developed them.  And their superior photography skills.  Then there is the convenient lack of recall.  You know, of how I was downsizing and how I tried quail and was totally done in by their piercing pre-dawn (24 hour) noise.  Yes, that little bit of memory totally eluded me in the wee hours of the morning, as I cackled and ordered a dozen hatching eggs.  Sheesh.  Instead of harkening back to the teeth-gritting racket outside of my bedroom window, I was leaping ahead to figure out when would be the best time to receive them, given fall, incubation and brooding time, etc.  I never look back.  It will be my downfall.  I figure that, even if the gilding comes off the lily, so to speak, I will be able to recoup any outlay fairly quickly.  The eggs will be sold via the farmers market.  Extra quail can be sold as breeding pairs or egg-layers.


After the early, heady days of imagining my own stash of brown speckled, blue eggs, faded into the bright light of reality (see?  I have been reading books!)  I realized I would need somewhere to keep them.  Somewhere that did not involve close proximity to my bedroom window.  Voila!  I do have a barn structure!  It is in the opposite direction of my bedroom and is enclosed.  It will protect the quail over the winter and insulate my shell-like ears from their strident calls.  The sheep may be cursing me, but I am used to that.  As the weather warms, they can be moved outside to the far side (as in far away from me) of the barn, under the pine tree.


I called upon my usual handyman and provided him with direction (Ed, you can close your eyes now.):
Very hi-tech

The details...


We communicate through texting and by my dropping envelopes and instructions on the passenger seat in his truck.  I figured I would give him plenty of notice and make it so that he could build it at home.  I'm sure his wife will be happy about that, although the upside of having him work on the LLF is that his wife, Sam, and his son, Hank, come to see him.  I am rather taken with Hank - he is one, is a complete towhead, and, when prompted, knows what cows, pigs, tractors, Santa, dogs, cats, and chickens say.  He will also tell you he is one.  Plus, the Butter Pat is much happier when held in the arms of his beloved Billy.



Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Crafted words, true words and knitting. One thing is not like the others.

I have been trying to focus on reading more during my 'down' time - say, 3-5A.   Since I tend to obsess, I am slowly easing off the knitting (one sweater 99.9% done, second sweater 90%, scarf/shawl too boring to spend too much time on, socks on the needles).  I can feel myself being drawn towards my BritBox subscription (curse you, Marianne), so I am tempting myself with a stack of physical and virtual books - the latter of which maintains my sanity during my daily commute.


Right now, I am listening to Rough Beauty by Karen Auvinen, a memoir that was enthusiastically referred by Bestie, Sylvie.  I couldn't find it via Libby, my library's audiobook app that allows you to borrow audiobooks from your library for free, so I got it on Audible.  The nice thing about Audible is that you can test listen - very important because a narrator can make or break a book's enjoyment.  I cringingly remember listening to Jane Eyre, where the male narrator took it upon himself to read Jane's parts in a piercing falsetto, or the recent horror read in HIGH DRAMA.  As I have listened to Rough Beauty, I've been swept up with Auvinen's words - with her, you are facing the mountains in Colorado, seeing the swathe of spring flowers and hearing the birds, or sitting in a cabin while the winter winds roar.  She is what I always wanted to be in my heart of hearts - fierce, independent, brave.  I am bracing myself, as I've reached the part where her companion of many years, a fine dog of the Husky persuasion, is reaching the end of his life.  I will most likely have to pull off to the side of the road to get through that or listen to it at home.


For home reading, I am savoring Inland Island, by Josephine Johnson.  This book is out of print - Amazon refers to it as a Story Press endangered classic.  I found my copy through Thriftbooks.  This is also about a woman's observations of nature, but in a totally different voice.  Her language is fierce, amazing and true.  It is not the carefully, albeit lovingly, crafted prose of Auvinen's, but a language that is so completely pure that it's breathtaking.  Descriptions that make your mind take a sudden seat - BAM!  There are whole paragraphs that I have marked with the ever-handy Post-It notes that I want to memorize so that I can summon them up when I want to be reminded how really beautiful words can be.  I will never dismiss the miracle of a lady beetle again.


I still have to face my knitting - my summer-weight green cardigan needs to have its ends woven in and be blocked.  I am quite happy with it.  My worsted weight steel-grey sweater is continuing to challenge me, which I am enjoying immensely.  I had made the mistake of starting an easy knit for waiting rooms, etc., instead of my usual sock project.  Mistake.  It is so mind-numbing that I am loathe to pick it up.  It may be mouldering in its project bag for years.  I have a big list of sock gift-giving so I had better get cracking.  No matter how hard I try to ignore it, the days are getting shorter.  Summer is sprinting by - or should I say flowing by.  We have had over six inches of rain since the beginning of August - the opposite end of the spectrum to our friends on the left coast.


Thanks to friends with gardens, I have had zucchini crust pizza, zucchini fritters, zucchini and sweet corn pie, zucchini breakfast cake.  I am planning on an eggplant Parmesan this weekend, along with more fritter-making, as these freeze well and are a nice, quick dinner when you are mired in February.  Another batch of gazpacho is on the near horizon.  It's nice to be awash in vege - although I do miss growing it myself.  Next year.  Next year.



Thursday, August 9, 2018

My Muse Hath Forsaken Me

While I have been thoroughly enjoying everyone else's blog posts, my muse seems to have taken the summer off.  The Yap has gone out of my Giddyap.  The light's on, but no one has been home.


I blame it on the weeds.  No matter how many times I have groveled around in my raised beds and flower beds, yoinking great heaps of the offending greenery out by the wheelbarrow-ful, they have come back with a vengeance.  I have not seen the likes of this since I have cultivated this plot.  It doesn't help that my energy level has been running on low - I come from cold weather people - and as soon as the temperatures rise over 80, with matching levels of humidity, I'm a goner.  Even my whining has gone damp.


We have also been blessed/cursed with non-ending monsoon-like rains with accompanying thunder and lightning.  This, coupled with the unending heat and humidity, has created a steroidal effect on my weeds.  Quite perversely, while being banished to the inside by the weather, I have started plans for next year's garden.  I mean, we have to have hope, right?


Slimmie wants summer to stop.  Please
note small fang.

My morning sausage.  Or is that ham?
The only upside of this godforsaken weather is that the tomatoes are ripening!  Marianne has been keeping me in Black Krim tomatoes
This summer's fav
and my next favorite, Green Zebras.  I would show you a photo of them, but I have eaten every single one as soon as they appear.  I eat them like an apple.  OMG.


Having a countertop full of ripe produce means that I can indulge in one of my favorite seasonal foods - gazpacho!
Best served in my bee mug and inhaled within
moments.
I have been combing my Moosewood Collective Collection and have a flurry of Post-it notes on all of the recipes I want to try. 


My sister and I made our annual pilgrimage to the League of NH Craftsmen's Fair in Sunapee, NH, and it was as wonderful as ever.  It was a rather hectic trip - I ran a little late because I picked up birthday Iced Maple Lattes for us.  Apparently, there are three shots of espresso in each one, so we really didn't need the car.  We could have rocketed there on caffeine power.   It was oppressively hot and humid and I really felt for the vendors.  At least the tents were white, but there was little breeze, so the heat and humidity stayed trapped under the canopies.  We didn't have a lot of time - which was a blessing, given the weather - as Connie had to get back to pick up her other client (other than our parents).  I made a beeline for the one artist I always buy from and picked up a couple of lovely items from a new one.  Ann Eldridge's etchings are very popular, so I usually email her prior to our trip, to see what she still has.  Lucky for me I did, as the cat print below, "Repose", was her only one. 

I love this turkey - my favorite
bird.

Sorry for the blurry photo - it's behind
glass
I've already started to save towards next year.  She focuses on nature and animals and I love her work.  Last year I got a small print of a porcupine and I bought a raven print for my sister.


New this year were some stained glass pieces:



Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the craftsman's name.  Both are exquisitely made and now I have to figure out where to hang them.  My sister bought a beautiful print of a New England wood in fall.  As is always the case, we had occasion to laugh so hard we cried.  This time, the impetus was a pickup topped with a homemade, poorly balanced camper top that was proportionately wrong for the vehicle.  BUT, as he was apparently doing his part in Making America Great Again, we just kept a safe distance, squealing in terror every time he tried to negotiate a curve in the road - which was constantly.  I don't think we took a breath from Brattleboro to Bennington.  It was such a relief to part company with this disaster on wheels.


Meanwhile, work has been unseasonably busy, which makes me cranky.  We are used to and proud of being the outpost office - never visited by the nobs in HQ.  So far this summer, we've had three partners camp out.  Fortunately, this last one is a gem. 





Tuesday, July 31, 2018

If I had rotator cuffs, I'd pat myself on the back.

I never learn.  After effusing about the young fellow who has been replacing my fence, he got everything done except for one last section.  Then he disappeared for three weeks.  He was going to re-hang my hay feeder in the run-in shed so that I could move the sheep and llama down to their "summer" home.  I suppose, technically, it's still summer.  MID summer.  On Sunday, having reached the end of my rope, I stopped at a local hardware store (local to Marianne's farm - there is nothing of use locally to me) and picked up a variety of bits and bobs that I thought I might need to do the job.  As is often the case around here, help is scarce in small stores - unless they know you personally.  So I ended up with 100 1/4" nuts, 30 1/4"x2" #20 screws and 60 flat washers.  I marched up to the checkout guy and plopped the lot on the counter and asked if they all went together.  I am old and no longer care if I appear to be idiotic.  I am practicing for my eccentric years (hahahaha - jokes on me - they're here!)


I then went home with my bounty - vege and hardware -and proceeded to reinstall the hay feeder to a point where I think I can even thwart Linden.  I do have to tweak a few things - like saw off the overage on the crosspieces and switch from regular nuts to locking nuts - but it is solid.  Huzzah!




I then weeded for two hours.  Do I know how to have fun?!  Being a little over-zealous with my weekend expectations, I also made some new things:  Aztec Cookies (thank you, Elaine!) and Chai Coconut Ice Cream.  By the time the ice cream was finished, so was I, so I can tell you that it's delicious from the teaspoonful I had just before cramming it in the freezer.  The Aztec cookies are delicious!  I also made, for the first time, Chickpea Zucchini patties.  They were also delicious, but way too fussy for this time of year. 


For my two hours of work with Marianne on the farm, I got:  a quart of Shiitake mushrooms, six heirloom tomatoes, yellow onions, German Butterball potatoes, a vase of sunflowers, a bunch of beets, two heads of Romaine, two purple kohlrabi, a bunch of carrots.  And an iced coffee!  When I got home, there were an additional two pints of raspberries from my neighbor.  AND my sister and I made our annual pilgrimage to the blueberry farm, where I filled the coffers with 12 lbs. of blueberries.  It has been a spectacular year for blueberries, apparently.  Those 12 lbs. were picked on one half-row of plants.  I bet I could have gotten all of them off of two plants!


I had just collapsed with the pups, when a 4x4 pulled into the driveway - my fence fixer was back.  It's like washing  your car when you want it to rain, right?  I let him saunter down to the run-in shed and, after a few minutes, he was walking back up towards the fence, shaking his head.  Apparently, I had done exactly what he was going to do!  Double huzzah!  He then proceeded to finish the fence within a whisker of doneness.  By then it was dark (the days are so much shorter) and all that was left was to connect the end of the fence to the barn with fence clips.  I had moved the crew down to their new summer digs, so we left it that he would be back to finish up.  He arrived at 6:30 the next morning and finished.  Finally.

Monday, July 30, 2018

There was much heaving and sighing and hyperbole.

On a recommendation that I read on a blog in one of those rabbit-hole-blog moments - you know, when you start at Point A and then, an hour later, are at Point M with no recollection as to how you got there and you can never find it again - I had ordered two books on CD from a thriller series.


Words escape me.  It is possibly one of the most over-wrought-written books I have ever read/heard.  On top of that, the narrator is beyond description.  If he were a woman, I would say there was an almost constant heaving of bosoms.  It really defies description.  I have found myself caught up in the awfulness of it and can't seem to stop listening.  It is 12 discs long.  I did, however, promptly return the second episode without a listen.  I do have my limits, even when it comes to masochism.


Here's what I can tell you -


Someone latched onto the word, "preternatural" for dear life and it has been used WAY too often.  One gets the feeling that certain words catch the fancy of the writers and then are used WAY too often.  Like, "splume" and "nostrum" and "elixir".  During the course of this hot mess, there have been instances of poisoning by nostrum, dirty cops, hallucinations involving lounge chairs, lemonade and volcanic rims, superhuman-women with Victorian sensibilities.  There have been black chemises.  Widespread violence in foreign countries.  There have been exotic flora and fauna.  Fake skeletons, elaborate traps, blow guns with poison darts, whale eyeballs, main characters who seem to be nearing death, only to pop up without explanation in situations that defy logic and, let's not forget, the sweet scent of lilies...


All the male police characters are read with a rather high-pitched nasal voice.  The female characters are all breathy. 


In total, it is a big, hot mess that is rather mesmerizing.  I can hardly wait to see how it ends.  For so many reasons.  I am not revealing the title so that I won't spoil the surprise when you unwittingly check it out of the library, pop the first disc into your CD player and press "Play".

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

As I was saying...

before I was so rudely interrupted by my life...


I had mentioned my garden.  Well, here it is, warts/weeds and all.  I planted a very abbreviated garden this year, banking on my neighbor's huge and ultra-productive garden and my work-for-vege arrangement with Marianne.  Has it been worth it?  Yes and no.  Yes, in that there was less to plant, water and weed.  No, as in Marianne disclosed she had not planted cherry tomatoes because she doesn't like picking them.  WTH?  I have to say that a summer without cherry tomatoes is not summer.  It is a pale and lacking rendition.  My neighbor did plant cherry tomatoes but his garden is not organic.  This is the guy with the 'scorched earth' policy when it comes to weed whacking.  I tend to be more selective when it comes to helping myself to his garden's bounty.


Here are some photographs of this year's garden - snapped on the fly because... it started to rain!


The sad, sad strawberry bed. 

Dahlias (and ragweed!) and
the garlic bed

More dahlias, puny jalapenos and
four tomato plants in rear

Cukes, volunteer sunflower,
fall crop beans (hidden behind the cukes)
 and out-of-control lemon balm

Always a winner - kale and collards!

Herb bed, comfrey behind

Self-seeding calendula and more
damn ragweed

Cukes!
The strawberry bed is going to be completely pulled, mulched and sat fallow until spring.  I am just not able to keep up with the weeds, chipmunks and squirrels.  I am thinking of an entire bed of zinnias.  Or some vertical melons.  Or....check with me after the seed catalogs arrive.
Els - do you remember this hat?  One
of my fondest memories of you and the Netherlands
was the tea shop with the hat store
upstairs.
Dropped off by my neighbor - peas,
blueberries and raspberries.
We are in for a day and a half of heavy rain - bring it on!  Of course, with our ground so parched, we run the risk of flooding.  Still, we need rain badly, so I hope the majority soaks into the ground.  This coming Saturday is the annual Blueberry Picking Extravaganza - I will be trying to rein myself in this year, as I am going to be downsizing from a large and small freezer to a small freezer.  Any extras will be juiced and canned.  I am also hoping to get my first tomatoes this weekend - then I will be officially ready for autumn.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The train to Looneyville is picking up speed.

This morning, I ran out of gas.  And I don't mean that figuratively.  I have never run out of gas in all my (many) years of driving.  Ever.  I had to call around to see which neighbor a) was awake and b) had a can of gas.  I finally located one who was willing to come save me, but it took him almost a half an hour to go in his garage, get the gas can, put it in his truck, and drive the less-than-a-mile to my driveway.  I thought I was going to go mad.  I didn't want to go back in the house because the routine had already been set in motion and the hounds would commence baying if I made any alteration to the process.  Then, again, once I leave the house, they only recognize me as an intruder in a car, so bayed their tiny heads off anyway.


Earlier that morning, after finally casting off the first sleeve on the sweater from hell, I realized I had been knitting away in denial for the entire sleeve.  Hmm, I had said to myself - OFTEN - how odd that they have you INcrease every X rows on a sleeve.  Oh, well.  Lalalalalalalala.  Once I (ACTUALLY) cast it off, it looked all wrong.  I checked the pattern (now, THERE'S an idea), I realized I was supposed to DEcrease every X rows.  No shineola, Sherlock.  I had to rip it all out, which is so much extra fun with fuzzy thread-weight yarn, and start over.


Seriously.


There's plenty of room on this train, if anyone is headed in the same direction....


****


On a totally different note - IT RAINED.  A short thunderstorm rumbled through last night and it poured!  We got half of an inch and it has been raining off and on all day.  Huzzah!

Monday, July 16, 2018

At least there is color.

We have gotten about 1/4" of rain (.09 ish cm for my friends north and elsewhere) in the past month or more.  I didn't have the courage to look at my egg journal records.  It is as dry as dust.  We did get enough rain (the above-mentioned 1/4") to penetrate the top layer of soil.  By about 1/4".  The watering continues.  The only things flourishing in this weather are the weeds.  Why can't 'they' harness that ability to thrive in every adverse condition and put it into vegetable seed production?  Why, I ask you?


While my vegetables are struggling, all flowering things are thriving.  Of course, I am watering them, too.  There's got to be SOMETHING to look forward to in the garden.
Front deck
Interestingly, these geraniums have been over-wintered for four years.  They were so pathetic, leggy and spindly this spring, that I swore this was their last year.  I am prepared to eat my words...


I had given up entirely on two of my large beds this year and weeded them completely (five wheelbarrow-loads between the two!) and am letting them go fallow this year.  One is covered in cardboard, while my (what-would-I-do-without-him) 83 y/o neighbor brings his little Honda tiller over and gives the second one a good tilling every two weeks or so.  I covet that tiller.  In the process of weeding the beds, I potted up five good-sized pots of lemon balm.  It grows rampant through the garden.  I put them on Facebook for free and they were gone in two days.
Not the greatest contrast.
As far as colorful vege, it ain't happening here.  I did pull my first 'harvest' of a half-grown cuke because I had a hankering for one and needed something to perk up my lunch salad.  I was pleased to see a quantity of them growing on the vines.  I will try to do a garden post next time.  With photos, no less!  However, when I went up to Marianne's farm for my weekend stint on Saturday, I drove away with a bag full of color:
Carrots!  Beets!
We spent a good hour and a half weeding the entire greenhouse, then moved next door to put down a soil/compost mix and plant kohlrabi, romaine and more beets in the ground garden next to the greenhouse.  I will have to get a photograph of their hugelkultur beds - they are amazing!  Dwarf fruit trees, flowers and vege.  With a view - of course, every inch of their farm offers a view.  I will be taking Friday off to help her weed what needs to be weeded in her flower beds (she's part of a town garden tour on Saturday).  I really enjoy working along side her - she is my source for all things news and has a wealth of knowledge about just about everything.  I also trotted home with three zukes (be still my heart!), microgreens, shiitakes and lettuce.  Booty!!!


Here is some gratuitous color - for Theresa.  The new Cat Room curtain.  This was made from a leftover piece of batik that I bought at a yard sale in a previous life.  I wish I had had enough to make a summer dress out of it - I love the colors!


It is sheer enough to let in some light, but shades the room enough that Slimmie can collapse in relative coolness during hot spells.  Mostly, he goes from place to place on the kitchen floor.  You have to keep a lively eye out, as you negotiate around my place!


Other than the usual drudgery, I did get some cooking done in the wee hours - I made some of Mama Pea's infamous cottage cheese, I made a pan of zucchini roll-ups (thin strips of zukes rolled around a mixture of ricotta- made from the whey from the cream cheese - egg, corn and fresh herbs, sprinkled with a half-jar of leftover mild salsa), teriyaki chicken with pineapple in the Instant Pot (disappointing results), and oatmeal raisin cookies for the barn crew - actually, just my neighbor, as his teenage helper has turned into a wimp, and an inconsiderate wimp at that.  He's left my farmer doing everything alone for three days running.  This has provided the proverbial straw and he has put his farm on the market.  Sigh.  Sometimes I don't like change.


Last Friday morning, I had rummaged around in my big freezer (trying to empty it so I can defrost it and sell it) and found two packages of frozen, shredded zucchini from last year.  In a fit of mad experimentation, I let a package thaw and made my ultra-favorite GF pizza crust Friday night - shredded zucchini, squeezed dry, mixed with eggs, almond flour and cheese.  O.M.G.  It was perfect!  I can now have it all winter long.  My love affair with zucchini has reached a new, deeper level... :)