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.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Kombucha Korner and Ratty-Tatty Jim-Jams

I have tried and failed to maintain Kombucha over the past year.  My ever-patient source of all things Kombucha, Lisa, has come to my rescue on numerous occasions.  I had thrown in the towel and dehydrated my last SCOBY and moved on, when I came across a Freecycle listing for a free SCOBY in a town not too far from me.  It had been a while since my last attempt, so I pulled up my BGPs and said I would love one.  Well, this time it's magic!  First, the SCOBY I inherited was about an inch thick.  A big, lovely, healthy SCOBY.  Second, the woman who had grown this lovely thing was something of an Earth Goddess type.  I drove quite a distance, following both paved and dirt roads, until I came to a dead end on a very remote dirt road and rolled into a little slice of Heaven, tucked way back into the woods.  If I had known, I would have put the dogs in the car and packed a bag...

She gave me some very good information, handed over this monster SCOBY plus some Kombucha to house it safely, and was thrilled to get a dozen eggs in return. 

It's been over three months and look!

L-R:  New batch of Kombucha fermenting;
Kombucha Hotel; bottled Kombucha in
last fermentation before fridge
(Check out the SCOBY in that jar!)
I even have a SCOBY hotel!  I feel absolutely virtuous.

Hold that feeling.

I admit that I hang onto clothing way past its lifetime.  I will patch, mend, sew, darn, glue, and do whatever necessary to keep it together.  This is particularly true with two items in my wardrobe - my dressing gown/bathrobe and my favorite cotton pullover/sweatshirt thing.

I am inordinately attached to my robe.  It is an LLBean chamois robe that originally belonged to my maternal grandmother - although that is not the source of my sentiment.  She has been gone for - it's got to be over 20 years!  I have patched it, I have put new collar and cuffs and a tie on it.  But it is now literally falling apart at the seams.  Seams I have resewn.  I have not been able to find a robe that I liked as much as this one.  I even ordered a new chamois robe that was woefully poorer in quality.  So I clung onto the original for dear life.  I had to revisit the need for a new robe this fall, as I am afraid the sleeves will fall off and I will freeze.  Lo and behold, I think I have found a replacement that may stand up to this high benchmark!  It's another LLBean robe - even though more and more of their trademark items are falling to Chinese low standards.  I received it yesterday and I think it will stand up to the test of time.  Check with me in 20+ years.

The cotton sweatshirt?  The neck, wrist and hem bands have stretched into a ruffled state and it is rather fragile.  I don't dare wear it.  So it lies supine in a bottom drawer.  I am sentimental to a fault. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

click, click, click.......chirrup, chirrup, chirrup.....scratch, scratch, scratch.....

So goes the unending soundtrack to the progression of sleepless nights, as I segue into what should be autumn.  It always takes me a month or two for me to get in sync with the short days and long nights and it's worse this year with the uber-warm temperatures both day and night.  I am also a very light sleeper, which is not helpful.  I am usually nodding off by 8:30, unless I can force myself up and into action after evening chores.  That rarely happens. 

I am out like a light by 9, then, around 2A, my conscious brain (there is so little of it left...) starts to hear the click of cat nails, the chorus of crickets outside the bedroom window and the unknown things that are gnawing, scratching and making unpleasant little noises.  Since Mr. P Butter's entrance into the homestead, Slimbo Kitten has been a little down in the dumps.  There is some easing of tensions, as MPB is less likely to bolt after him now that he recognizes him as part of the family, but Slimbo still stays in his room most of the time.  This is hard on him (and me) because he was my cuddlesnugums after Pepperoni died.  His place is now filled by the interloper.  Since I wasn't sleeping anyway, I have taken to leaving my bedroom door open and Slimbo now tippy-taps his way in as soon as MPB is safely crated and lights are out, purring madly, and jumps up on the bed, finds a comfy position, and is down for the night.  He is much happier.

My rule of thumb is, if I am not able to coerce myself back to sleep within a half-hour of waking up, I get up.  This eliminates the chance of the endless loop of unhelpful thoughts that pop up and won't go away.  An upside of this is that I have completed one pair of socks for my sister, and I am well into the second pair.  The downside is that I have to make sure I am not nodding off on my way home at night.  This usually entails downing a large latte at some point during the afternoon, which, perversely, keeps me awake at night.  It's a vicious circle. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

I'm All Baked Out.

Another whirlwind weekend.  Since there was lots going on and the temperatures were going to be in the upper 80s to low 90s with accompanying humidity, I decided that I should spend most of the weekend in front of a hot oven.  I really can't help myself.  It started Friday night, when I finally got to try a new pizza crust recipe using zucchini.  I had seen this on a blog that I admire and saved it for trying some hot, sultry evening.

Zucchini & cheese - what's
not to love?

Phase 2 - the Prebake

I couldn't wait...
I was such a rousing success, that I toyed with the option of having nothing but zucchini pizza crusts for the next week - never mind the toppings!  This is a complete winner and I will be making more of these and freezing them - as long as the zucchini (Marianne's, not mine) holds out.

Then there was the anniversary dinner for my parents.  I whipped up a GF pineapple upside down cake Saturday morning.  This is a solid standard for me - it has never let me down.  No one even guessed it was GF.  It also helped ease the pain of my mechanic's bill...almost.
It came out of the pan in
perfect condition!
In between, there were two batches of my new favorite granola/muesli - cherry and pecan.  Although the second batch was cherry, walnut and almond.  I had run out of pecans.  The first batch went to my neighbor and my sister.  The second is all mine.  You can find the recipe here.  I really like it because it is not too sweet, using maple syrup instead of sugar.
Half of batch #1

I had invited Marianne over for dinner on Sunday because it was a great way to get to spend some quality time with her.  She brought about 10# of tomatoes, more zucchini (!!!!!!), a cucumber, apples, and a bottle of wine.  Good grief.  She also schlepped her apple picker because I had two pears out of reach on my good old pear tree.  It was a great evening, topped off with:
Prune Plum Crumble!
I was too distracted to take a picture pre-dinner.  I am saving the pips because those plums are soooo delicious, I am hoping to start my own trees.  You will see two and a half pints of diced tomatoes next to it - I am managing a couple, few pints of things here and there.  I do not have a great deal of tomatoes (although Marianne is trying...) for canning up a big batch, so doing a couple at a time has worked out great.  I have what amounts to a stainless steel asparagus cooker that I use as a tiny batch hot water canner.  Bonus!

The best part of the weekend?  Celebrating the Official Foster Failure of Peanut Butter!  He is ours, officially.  He and Lovey (and Slimbo) had tiny hamburger patties cooked on the grill to celebrate.
Guarding his strawberry
On a humorous note, as part of the anniversary celebration, my mother requested that we convene on their den and look at family slides.  Slides, for those young whippersnappers, were the iPhone pics of the 60s and 70s.  There was much riotous laughter.  I leave you with evidence of my moody teenage self.
I was very big on bangs.  And
fashionable sunglasses.  But I made
the shorts... :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Musettes (noun:  very small musings due to non-focus of gray matter or limited time...)

Isn't it interesting how your eyes can play tricks on you?  I came home from work and was getting changed for barn chores while I looked out the bedroom window and into the poultry yard.  I froze.  Was that a dead bird that the chickens were pecking away at?!?  OMG!  I raced out the door, shot across the deck and down the stairs to find....the remains of a particularly large red cabbage that my neighbor had tossed in for the hens.  This reminded me of being a freshman in college in Michigan, slogging through the snow in December towards class.  I was a typical over-sensitive, over-wrought artistic type who had gotten as far away from home as my grades and my budget would allow.  I was an art and English major, writing poetry and drawing well into the night.  Very over-dramatic.  As I slogged along, I spotted a dead rabbit in the snow near a stream bank.  Weeping copious tears, I staggered towards the wee dead thing, to see if there was anything I could do.  It was a brown paper bag.

I dream of the day when there is a way to deliver a virtual slap to a head.  I want to apply it to all the nimrods who meander along the road in front of you and turn - finally - only putting their turn indicator on when they are almost finished with the turn.  WHY BOTHER!

As I was standing in the laundry room, waiting to remember why I was there, I wondered what the soundtrack to my typical day would be.  I could imagine the Cha-Cha; especially if you could do the steps like so:  one step forward, three steps back - cha, cha, cha!

When someone wishes me "A Good One" - what does it mean?  A good day?  A good life?  A good session with my shrink?  An excellent cup of coffee?  A good stretch?  What?  I know it shouldn't drive me mad, but - let's be honest here - I am listing toward cranky old lady and it just seems to me to be another example of lazy talk.  I even prefer "Have a Nice Day!"  At least that has a tad more focus.  Pretty soon it will be "Have A Nice".  Then "Have".  Then we will be down to grunts. 
There seems to be a preponderance of dead skunks on, by, near the road over this past week.  I have a healthy respect for them (as should everyone....) and they do occupy a rather soft spot in my heart.  Way back - as in WAAAAY back - I had a pet skunk.  These were the days when I was an apartment dweller and no dogs were allowed.  Or cats, in most places.  But nowhere to be found in the multi-paged leases was reference to skunks.  Or hermit crabs.  Or button quail.  All of which were under my care for a time.  Not at the same time, of course.  "Pooh" was a cuddly little fellow who went on walks with me in his harness and leash ensemble.  There was always a faint whiff of Eau-de-Poo around him, but he had been de-scented.  I was forever haunting pet stores and trying to save whatever I could.  It's been a lifelong goal.  Anyhoo, Pooh and I were quite the team, walking down our neighborhood sidewalks.  The only drawback was that, when he got excited or nervous (which was any time there was another person or living thing besides me in range) he would bite me.  While I wanted to give him exercise and fresh air as often as possible, we were limited to very early mornings or evenings, out of self-defense.  I finally had had enough of serving as a pin cushion and went through a lengthy process of finding him a new home.  Which I did, I am happy to say, and he lived a good, long and happy life with a friend in the sticks.
Hermit crabs were not the ideal companion for me, as I crave a more cuddly nature.  The only time they provided much excitement was when they 'moved house'.  I would keep my eye on them and watch for any sign that they had outgrown their present motorhome.  Then I would put in an assortment of larger shells and watch.  It was fascinating, watching them line up, straddle the new digs with both claws, then hoist their odd, shriveled hineys into the new shell to try it on.  But, in the end, it wasn't enough to form a lasting bond.
A note to the no-show winners of the cookbook and chicken saddles - If I am not contacted by the end of Friday, I will re-draw (or, in the case of the saddles - reshelve) a new winner.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Little Rays of Sunshine.

Life has been brightened immeasurably by a whole series of little rays of sunshine.  Peanut has proved to be the balm for my soul, still scarred by the loss of Kramer and Pepper.  He is an adorable bundle of love and energy.  Even Lovey has perked up.  Slimbo is thawing, although he is never sure if he will be ignored, sniffed, kissed, or chased by the newest resident.
With his "Cupcake".

Too tired to even wrap up
in his blanket.  Playing is hard
I got to celebrate my mother's 94th birthday - with her! 

I get texts and emails filled with encouragement and love from bloggy pals, sisters and friends.

Jasmine still acknowledges me when I call her name.
Sweet old girl.

The biggest ray of sunshine? 
I couldn't believe my eyes!

Dear, sweet, utterly thoughtful Michelle of Boulderneigh, went out to her prune plum tree and picked a HUGE pile for me, put them in a box and MAILED THEM.  Can you believe it?  I was truly and completely gobsmacked.  The second most amazing thing is that, all the way from Oregon, only two of the many delicious, beautiful plums were damaged.  I had to eat those right away...  It's given me a new respect for the USPS.  The rest are destined for my favorite GF recipe - The Plum Crumble of My Dreams.  It truly IS a dreamy and GF crumble.  And I'm not sharing it.  I will start my diet next week...

And even though my mechanic rained on my parade, I am sticking to the sunny side of the street.  I am one blessed, lucky gurl.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Peanut Butter - Hold the Jelly.

The one good thing about being wide awake at 3AM, is that you can take advantage of an alert mind (more or less, leaning heavily on the less) to plan out your day to its utmost usefulness.  Then, once you are awake and up and functioning, you can watch it all crumble into dust.

Since I am now in my seasonal up-real-early-for-no-apparent-reason state, I do some of my best thinking before I venture out of bed.  Lovey is very relieved to know that she does NOT have to get up, too, and burrows blissfully under her fleece blanket for another two hours.  I, meantime, have a giant cup of coffee, check my email - just in case something really important has happened in the wee, dark hours - and knit.  I like my morning routine, especially on the weekends.

Saturday morning, after plotting out my day from sun-up to sun-set, I made my coffee and tottered to my chair, where I wedged in besides Slimbo and opened my email.  It was then that my plans disappeared into the ether.  I had been sending out feelers to volunteer as a foster home for any dogs that met our criteria (older, male - preferably, although we may be open on that item - non-aggressive, good with cats and all things living).  With such a huge influx of dogs and cats coming into our area from Houston and Florida, we wanted to help.  Due to the limits of both space and layout, my house cannot safely quarantine a dog, so mostly, we were not suitable.  Then, this.  Meet Peanut Butter.
I see impending foster failure, don't you?

What?!  What kind of name is that?  Send it back!
PB, also know as Nutter Butter, Bullet, and Whiz, was in foster because of a neglect case north of me.  His owner had been keeping him and his dog brother - a border collie - confined in crates ALL THE TIME, and they were seized, both covered in urine and feces, PB with skin infections, most of his hair gone.  He is through all of his medications and most of his hair is back, although his ears are a little bald.  He is three and suffers from insecurity - and is one of the cuddliest dogs I've ever known.  The rescue needed a new foster because the family who had him wanted to take on more dogs - large house, good set-up for quarantine and very loving people.  The rescue wanted to know if I was interested.  Well, yes, I was.  Lovey and I dumped all other plans and headed towards the city to meet him.  It went well, so the three of us and PB's giant bag of possessions were headed home.  The first three hours were filled with a mostly-haired, reddish brown ricochet ball, zooming around the house, careening off the furniture.  I got them outside in the fenced area and Lovey discovered - to her pleasure - that he was playful!  They never looked back.  Slimbo is withholding approval until PB stops barking at him.  Later that afternoon, I was able to get things done because...
Foster brothers are exhausting.

I better still be in Heaven when
I wake up - with my bone.

While they were sleeping, I snuck off to Marianne's to deliver her weekly eggs and get my swag in return.
Zucchini, cukes, mushrooms, tomatoes,
kohlrabi and apples (not pictured)

They don't call it an Oxheart tomato
for nothing!
I then came home and made a new vege casserole, which I will definitely make again - sorry, no photos.  Foster brothers ARE exhausting!

Sunday was cleaning and I decided to tackle two crafty-type things that I have been skirting for months - decorating a little footstool and framing these:

Way back, long, long (looooooong) ago, when I was little, my Uncle Jimmy was in the Army, in South Korea.  When he came back, he brought three little Korean outfits for his three little nieces.  Believe it or not, I still have mine.  I had always wanted to mount and display the outfit - shoes and all - in a box frame.  This never happened, as I would have to have it custom-made and it would cost a fortune.  But I did find a small box frame and intended to at least frame the shoes.  They sort of look like something you'd find in an ancient tomb don't they?  Unfortunately, the frame is not deep enough and I don't want to apply pressure to the shoes, as they will disintegrate.  I am on to Plan B, whatever that may be.  Also, frustratingly, my intention of completing my little step-stool project was also flummoxed when I could not find my paint pen!  Curses.  Not to worry, I have at least seven other projects in the works...


Giveaway results:

Claire's Corner - KYMBER!

Chicken Saddles - KAY SAYLOR!

Raw Energy - AMBER RAVIS!

Thank you, all those who entered.  Winners please email your mailing info to swomersley at gmail dot com.