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Friday, August 23, 2019

Bats, berries and bounty

One early morning, while Rosie was still in residence, I had let the dogs out and stood gazing at the sky, while keeping a side-eye on PB, who prefers to do his business on the deck.  All that was forgotten when I saw four bats, zipping around the house, vacuuming up the bugs!  Oh, hurray!  Oh frabjous day, callooh, callay!  I absolutely love bats.  You could say that I am batty for bats (wait...was that a collective groan I heard??)  I have seen a lone bat, but never four.  It was so exciting!  Luckily for me, Rosie was just as excited.

Fast forward to the day she left.  I came home and found a mysterious package in my mailbox.  Trotting inside, I open it up and....it's a bat house kit!  From Rosie!!

Completely out of character, I immediately set about putting it together.  (Note: living room floor is still not finished - 5 years; guest bathroom is almost-but-not-quite finished - 12 years)

All that's needed now is a bead of caulk on the roof join and dark stain.  Let's hope I can maintain momentum.  Before I install it (after finding just the right place to put it), I will need to add a Pup Catcher.  Who knew? 

One of the must-dos that actually got done, was the harvesting of my elderberries.  They are a favorite of the birds and there is a very short period between almost ripe and robbery.  I managed to get out and clip half of one bush.  Elderberry plucking is a very Zen kind of thing to do.
This was over one gallon of berries - and I still have the other half of the bush and another bush to go.  The second bush is not as fruited, but, still.  I filled every tray in my Excalibur.
After drying, there is still well over a quart jar.  It's nice to have one bountiful crop.

Speaking of bounty, I stopped by to see Marianne after a doctor's appointment.  We had a nice chat, a cup of tea and I left with this bounty!
I will have to ask her (again) what type of cucumbers she grows.  They are huge, virtually seedless and sweet. 

AND, speaking of sweet...
Slimmie is back and velcroed to me every morning and evening.

I am gearing up for my next, much-awaited visitor, who I pick up at the train station tomorrow.  I will be off the air, so to speak, most if not all of next week.  The planets seem to be aligned, for a change.  All the heat, humidity and endless thunderstorms have moved through and we should have clear skies, less humidity and all around better weather for most of her visit.  The week's menu is planned - not surprisingly, zucchini figures in 90% of it - tomatoes, too - and I am looking forward to hours of just being in her company.  See you on the flip side!




Monday, August 19, 2019

1001 Zucchini Recipes

I am on a roll.  So far, there's been zucchini bread with lemon glaze (soon to be repeated), zucchini pizza crust (more than once), zucchini quesadillas, zucchini pancakes (the best I've ever had), Mediterranean Zoodles, zoodles with olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper, and zucchini and black bean burgers, scrambled eggs with sauteed zucchini.  Els, if you're listening, I hope you like zucchini...
Zucchini crust pizza - my fav!

There's room for more.
As of this morning.
I'm glad there is so much zucchini, because (a) I love it; (b) it is versatile; (c) everything else in the garden has been disappointing.  I've been making notes as to changes that need to happen in the garden next year.  It's apparent that the new 'normal' for gardening is that anything can happen and usually does - multiple times.  It's either a cold, super-wet spring, then extended heat waves with no rain, then end-to-end thunderstorms with high winds, downpours and hail.  We're just missing the snakes and locusts, but I don't really want to encourage that kind of pestilence.

Speaking of pestilence, I have had a real battle with wasps this year.  I locate and destroy their nests, only to find that they've returned and built a bigger - and better - nest in the same location.  I found a huge nest in the barn which I was going to destroy - but then thought I should check the run-in shed first.  Once I spray the honkin' big nest in the barn, I will have to block access to the barn and wanted to be sure Apria and the Boys had alternative shelter.  Good thing I checked, because - drum roll - honkin' big nest in the run-in shed.  I did my best Terminator rendition on that nest and will take it down tonight.  Then, in the morning, I will start on the barn colony.  Let's hope that's it for the year.

Back in the garden, my yard-long green beans have been a fair producer.  The red noodle beans have just started flowering.  I have two tiny melons on one of the three puny vines.  My peppers are pooped, apparently.  The plants did not flourish, but there were lots of peppers.  The poblanos (seen to the left in the photo above) are coming along, although there are few of them.  I have had one eggplant (ditto above) and am in a locked battle with potato bugs on my four plants.  The kale and chard are doing well.  The garlic and onions were pathetic.  The cucumbers are struggling.  And the tomatoes.  All sixteen plants.  I have lots and lots of green tomatoes, but have, so far, only had two ripen.  I've managed to eke by with my blueberry tomatoes - a cherry tomato in a lovely blue-black color, but they are not as prolific as I had hoped.  I have myself to blame for the tomatoes - they take a lot of tending and half of July and half of August, they did not get enough attention.  But, we gardeners are a tough bunch with cast iron BGPs (and BBPs - let's be fair).  We will come back strong next year.




Thursday, August 15, 2019

Walla, Walla, Bing, Bang.

Ah, parting is such sweet sorrow.  As much as my life was turned upside down over the past month, it was so special to spend the time with Rosie.  With her new adventure on the horizon, I doubt if I will get to see her for quite some time.  That said, there is a cat who will be dancing in the halls.  Slimmie - who was trimmed down before the visit - is now plumped up again.  After all, there was nothing to do but chow down and sleep all day, while he waited for the gate to be lifted at night.

I ended up adding six orphan hens to the flock, as friends are downsizing because of relationship issues.  They were a sorry mess, let me tell you.  Apparently, they lived in an area that did not allow chicken husbandry, so they were stealth chickens.  Kept in a way-too-small pen.  As is the way with chickens, one was a beetch and pretty much plucked two of them bald.  It took a couple days for them to realize they did not have to stay in the coop and now they are experiencing zoomies.

Speaking of zoomies, Lovey is going to really miss her pal, Fae.  After all the lip rolling (on Lovey's part), they ended up getting along very well.  And there was also the fact that Rosie worked from home, so the dogs were rarely alone.  This is a comfort point for a dog wracked with anxiety.  However, we will muddle through. 

I had the opportunity to meet my friend, Els' husband, Kees, for dinner last Friday.  He was with a group cycling across the country via a northern route.  Thousands of miles.  It boggles the mind.  I had followed their progress, thanks to a nicely kept daily journal by the tour leader.  You can find it here.  Kees was easy to spot, as he was the only rider with a yellow bike frame.  Their route to the Atlantic brought them close enough to the LLF so that we could meet.  It was very enjoyable.  I am looking forward to Els' visit, a week from Saturday.  I think it will be at a much lower key, as she is dogless and serene. 

I also had the opportunity to meet my bestie for breakfast last Saturday!  Social life went from 0-60!

The garden (and everything else) has been shamelessly neglected, so I will be weeding, cajoling and doing laundry and general catch-up from dawn to dusk this weekend.  There will also be a very laden trip to Goodwill.  Lawsymercy.

I have no photos, but I will work on jazzing up the blog in the next post - which will feature an overview of the garden and the culinary delights experienced in a house with a glut of summer squash.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Stand back! It's going to get messy...

Today's lunch.

Today's lunch was more or less a bunch of leftovers thrown in a bag and toted to work for assembly.  I had made Zucchini Parmesan Squares (gluten free) and they did not rise as much as hoped.  I believe it's the homemade baking powder, as everything I've made with it has been rather flat.  However, it tastes great, so I declared it thick bread and made my first tomato sandwich of the summer.  With my one ripe tomato.

I am trying to get my mind organized for the coming week, which is lining up to be a humdinger.  Today is normal.  Tomorrow I pick up my sister at the crap of dawn for our annual trip to the NH Craftsman (people) Fair.  It is a two hour drive and we arm ourselves with lattes and chatter the whole trip - it is a great time to work out the intricacies of family matters and just have fun.  This year, it is also her birthday.  Wednesday, a whole crew is coming up to the office from the city to work out the impending (or eventual) move.  Thursday I race around on my lunch hour to deliver dog stuff to the rescue I work with.  Friday, I get to meet Els' husband in a town not too far from work for dinner!  He has been cycling with a group on a northern route from Oregon to Boston.  It's been fascinating to follow them via their daily journal.  Kees is the only cycler with a yellow-framed bike.  I haven't seen him for over 11 years either, so this will be a wonderful opportunity to catch up. 

I may collapse from all the socializing on the weekend.  Or clean out my upright freezer and put it on Craigslist.  If I don't redirect some of the tsunami of items that have been cast upon me soon, I may collapse under the weight of it all - real or psychic.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Rumors of my abduction by aliens is greatly exaggerated.

But not totally out of the question.  I have been a captive of an alien lifestyle. 

There's so much to catch up on that I will just do it in snippets.
The Pack
Going from alone-ness 24/7 (not including the dogs, who are an appendage of my being) to almost never being alone takes some adjustment.  Instead of coming home, doing chores and squeezing in some to-dos while there is daylight, I come home to chores done and am expected to sit and talk about our respective days, then make dinner, sit at the table and eat it, more talking, washing up, closing the chickens in, more talking, then early to bed.  Mostly early to bed because I am exhausted from talking.
The garden is finally becoming fruitful!  After struggling with my zucchini (why am I the only one on the planet that cannot grow zucchini in abundance?), I tucked in a couple of tropical fruit flavored Tums around the roots for calcium, and it seems to have worked!  I also garnered two pickling cucumbers and three yard-long green beans -- and a tomato!  I will have to check with Marianne to see what type this is, but it is a pink and green beauty.  There were more blueberry cherry tomatoes, but I ate them before they made it into the house.  We have been having zoodles in abundance - along with kale and chard with scrambled eggs for dinner.  My neighbor gifted us with green beans, bless his heart, but I'm glad to see that one of the varieties that I planted is finally coming to bear.  I decided to go exotic this year - red noodle and yardlong beans on a trellis.  I also picked Black Hungarian peppers, not pictured, which are the size and shape of jalapenos, but - not surprisingly - black.  They are milder than a jalapeno, and I love them.  The poblanos are coming along, but the eggplant are dragging their roots.  I hope this is not another eggplant-less season.  My garlic crop was the worst in my gardening history, thanks to endless rain and cold temperatures throughout the spring.  Ah, well, next year.

OMG
This little beauty arrived in yesterday's post (thank you again, J) and considerably brightened my day, week and life!  It is now my centerpiece because I need to see it every day.  You will probably not be able to notice, but I now have a new-to-me dining room table.  I will take a full photo of it for a later post.  Rosie came bearing (many) gifts, including this table - made from two repurposed Mexican pine doors.  I love it, but it caused me to scramble to find a home for my existing table.  It is now housed with a couple who were thrilled to get it.  I get a lot of satisfaction from the process.  My little maple table was given to me by a local woman who came to get a lockset I put on Freecycle when I first moved in.  When she came to pick it up, she noticed that I was a little light in the furniture department.  I had moved in with a rocking chair, a bed, a small bedside table, a lamp and a patio table and chairs that I was using in the dining room.  She invited me to 'go shopping' in her barn, where they had stored furniture from her late mother's and MIL's estates.  Bless her heart.  I have enjoyed that table for 13 years.

I am so glad I had that highly successful yard sale (can you hear the drip, drip, drip of sarcasm?) since I now have had an influx of objects from Rosie and from a neighbor/friend who sold her (chock-a-block full) house and 'gifted' me with numerous treasures.  I am going to have to start all over again.

We had an unfortunate chicken incident late last week.  Rosie had spotted what we believe to be a small mink, racing from the corner of the house to the chicken coop.  It was small enough not to bother the chickens, but was probably poaching eggs (pun intended).  She came home from getting her windshield replaced and, as she let the dogs into the fenced off area next to the chicken yard, the mink shot across the Pat's view and he was off like a torpedo, hitting the gate low (admittedly, the gate closure was shaky), and pushing through.  He missed the mink, but discovered the chickens, as well as the other two dogs, who were close behind.  Rosie was right behind them, but all three had chickens in their jaws by the time she bellowed for them to DROP IT!!!  Fae and Lovey obeyed instantly.  Guess who did not.  Maybe I should rename him Beethoven.  There were a lot of feathers, a few limping hens and one who did not make it.  Needless to say, the gate is now bungeed to within an inch of its life.  Rosie yelled so loudly that her voice was an octave lower for days.

Rosie and Fae are up North for a few days - giving us all a break.  Slimmie has been glued to my side, while Lovey spends most of her time standing outside of Rosie's door, waiting for her to appear.  

Things on the family front are sticky.  My dad, who suffers from dementia, continues to worsen.  My mother is dealing with depression.  My middle sister is dealing with them both, as we try to find a solution that will help everyone.  I know a lot of you are dealing with, or have dealt with the same.  We are living too long.

A snapshot of a happier family gathering:
I am on the left.  I think I look like a young
Temple Grandin.  
This was taken at our family camp in northern Ontario.  I'm not sure what we're looking at, but it might have been the Little Redstone Lake Monster.



Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Coming out the other side.

Or, we lived through it.

Geez.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday we were transported into hell.  In a hot hand-basket.  It reached a heat index of 110 on Saturday and, after thinking we'd gotten a break because of the big-ass thunderstorm Saturday night, Sunday proved to be almost as bad.

My usual cranky self was held in check because I have company, the humidity turned me into wet lettuce, and I didn't have the energy to crank.  Even my BGPs were sodden.  TMI???

Rosie's dog, Fae, a sweet-natured fluffy dumpling, is highly panicked by thunder and lightening.  The skies opened Saturday, late afternoon, and the storms rolled through continuously until early Sunday morning.  Lots of lightening and thunder.  It was a rough night all around (although - no watering....)

This was the state of all of us by Sunday morning:
Fae

Lovey

Guess who.  Yes, it is 105 degrees.
We officially declared Sunday as a Slug-fest - and not the kind where you fling your fists around.  The kind where you collapse where you are and spend the day barely awake.  We watched episodes of Midsummer Murder and The Incredibles - 1 and 2.  Then we ate a big fruit salad and topped the day off by going to bed by 8:30.  We know how to have fun.

Monday morning, the rain started and didn't stop until this morning.  I will not have to water the garden for a good two days.  No complaints there, but the weeds they be a-growin!  I am hoping that things will simmer down (and not be a repeat of last weekend), so that I can get out and get things done.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Let's talk gardens.

Although all I did was mitch and boan (as Mama Pea would say) about our wet, cold spring, I could use some of the wet coldness right about now.  We transitioned right into a HOT, dry summer.  Well, humid, but no rain.  It has been dry as toast.  This morning was the first tiny bit of rainfall we have had in over 15 days.  And it is going to be raining off and on all day - halleluiah!

Looking toward the barn (notice the dying pines). 
Elderberry in the forefront, zukes left, then tomatoes, then
the Alley of Tires.

Weedy herb bed with Elderberries.

Weedy pepper bed.  (Notice the theme?)

Thank goodness for the kale!  Chard behind. 
In more ways than one.

Red noodle beans and yard long beans
on trellis (barely)

Bee balm gone wild!
We are slowly getting used to another person and dog in the house.  Luckily, Rosie is an easy house guest and we are very simpatico.  But I am not used to talking this much.  The dogs are trying to adjust to a sweet, furry bundle of nerves called Fae, and Slimmie is wondering why I hate him.  He comes out in the wee hours and we try to sneak in a cuddle while I'm knitting.  It is nice to have someone other than dogs to talk to, and we do have a lot to catch up on.  She is a freelance writer, so the set up is perfect - she can work from the dining room table and the dogs get company all day.

I am finally off doxycycline and should be able to brave the sun again - good thing.  The weeds are starting to look like they might be there to stay.  NOT.  Thanks to very little rain, growth is slow (except for the aforementioned weeds).  The tomatoes are starting to take off and there are quite a few green ones.  I just can't wait for the first ripe tomato!