Friday, August 31, 2012

Thar she goes!

Taken by my phone camera.

This is how the sign reads.

Any bets on how long it will remain on my property?  I heard the trucks braking this morning - geez, I hope these guys can read (snide, snide, snide, tsk.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What's been cookin' and what's comin' up.

Besides the usual - tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes - I made the delicious vegetable gratin that was on Tom's wonderful blog, Tall Clover Farm.  It was amazing!  Notice, I used the past tense, as I have et it all.  I added some chopped kale - I caught my neighbor throwing it to the chickens, silly person.  He grew it then refused to eat it.  So far, I've canned diced tomatoes, salsa, heirloom tomato sauce and ketchup.  I am working on another batch of heirloom sauce and will tackle the half-bushel of tomatoes I felt I HAD to pick this past Saturday, during the week.  I usually raw pack whole tomatoes as it's easier and I can use it in everything.  I do go through a lot of canned tomatoes.  Since someone asked about my ketchup recipe, here it is.  It's from my favorite canning book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food by Jackie Clay:

          1 Gallon chopped, peeled, cored tomatoes
          1 Cup chopped onion
          1 Cup sugar (I use brown sugar)
          1 Tbsp. canning salt
          1 Tbsp. paprika
          1-1/2 Cups vinegar (either white or cider)

          Spice bag:
          1-1/2 Tsp. celery seed
          1 stick cinnamon
          1 Tsp. mustard seed
          1/2 Tsp. cloves

     Combine tomatoes and onion in a large pot.  Simmer until tender.  Puree in a food mill.  Cook down until thick and reduced by half, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  Add sugar, salt, paprika, and spice bag with spiced tied in it.  Simmer 25 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove spice bag.  Add vinegar and simmer until thick, stirring frequently.  Ladle hot ketchup into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Wipe rim of jar clean; place hot, previously simmered lid on jar, and screw ring tight.  Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.

*Note:  This book gives you recipes to can EVERYTHING.  It also has great tips on growing fruits and vegetables.  And it is spiral-bound, which I find to be a very good thing.  The only drawback with this book is its lack of an index, which leads me to a lot of page flipping, trying to find a recipe.  I was forced to litter the top with sticky notes.

I also -- are you sitting down? -- made a GF bread that I LOVE!  (Kim - take notes...)  Kay told me about it and, figuring that she isn't even on a GF diet so it must be special, I bought a package.  It's Bob's Red Mill  GF Hearty Whole Grain Bread - it's packed with goodness:  buckwheat, garbanzo bean flour, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cocoa, whole grain sorghum flour, molasses, caraway seeds, teff - I tell you, I baked this baby, cooled it, sliced it, slathered on some mayo and topped it with a thick slab of heirloom tomato.  Heaven!

I dug up one planting of my fingerling potatoes and was disappointed.  I believe that the combination of my straw experiment (FAIL) and the prolonged drought conditions made for a poor showing on the tater front.  Next year, it's all dirt and hopefully we won't repeat the drought.  I still have two more fingerling plantings, one purple and another Yukon Gold.  I took all of the little rejected fingerlings, parboiled them with garlic and then smashed them with a little butter and Asiago cheese, spread them on a foil-lined pan and roasted them for a half-hour.  Knock me flat and lift me up!  That was a little bit of heaven. 

My poor Pearlies spent the entire night on the roof again - in the rain.  I will now have to come up with some way to afford them shelter, the little nuts.  Then they all (except for Lonesome George) went into the coop, ate breakfast and went to sleep.  LG somehow always misses the fact that the rest leave and then he carries on for the longest time until one of the group gets tired of hearing him and sticks its head out and peeps at him.  He runs to join the group and then peace descends.  Oy.

What's coming up?  A very special anniversary!  I slipped yesterday when I was writing the post --  my computer hiccuped and it was accidentally (and very briefly) posted, then deleted.  I didn't mean to tease you, really I didn't.  I am planning something BIG to celebrate my 500th post!  With the way I carry on, it won't be long.....

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Guineas Ain't Chickens and What Price Paradise?

Following all the sage advice I have gleaned from raisers of Guinea hens, I have been keeping the Pearlies in their coop with a screen door for their viewing pleasure.  I have dutifully rattled their feed cup, calling out "Pearlies!  Dinner!" at the same time (more or less) every night to train them to come in for the night when they hear the dinner bell (pebbles).  We are four weeks into the recommended six week re-imprinting time and they were getting a little stir crazy.  So I carefully blocked all avenues of escape (and entrance) with a combination of chicken wire and poultry netting.  Have I told you my idea about using poultry netting as a method to get terrorists to talk?  I'm sure I have.  I love it THAT much.  Saturday morning, I let them out into their little run.  And, from my observations over the weekend, Guineas ain't chickens.

First and foremost, when I appear, my chickens come running IN my direction from all parts of the yard.  You can almost hear them cry, "Food, it's Food!"  Guineas?  When I appear, they run in the opposite direction ("Run away!  Run away!)  When I let the chickens out for the first time, they spread out and look things over.  The Guineas?  They move in a solid, many-footed mass.  They are never more than two inches from each other.  The first night was a disaster, as only four went back into the coop, one managed to escape and went over the fence into the dark and the other disappeared (it spent the night UNDER the coop).  The next morning, I heard Lonesome George crying his LOUD distress call all around the house.  I left the gate open to the back yard, and tried to get him going in the right direction.  Of course, he ran away - in the opposite direction.  He did finally hear his gang and come back over the fence.  And I was able to get him back in with his clan.

Sunday night was even worse, if that is possible.  NONE of them went into the coop and all roosted on top of it.  Another difference in Guinea vs. Chicken?  When it is dark, you can pick up a chicken very calmly and gently and move it inside.  Guineas?  Hysteria at any time of the day or night.  I am not feeling that there is going to be a successful and long term relationship here.  In a couple of weeks, I will be letting them range and will have to resort to finger-crossing.  I hope we ALL live through the experience.

The price of Paradise?  Two days and two nights of agony, and still counting.  Last Thursday evening, I was able to spend a lovely evening with a friend I don't see often.  Her home is set on a rise, surrounded by a pine forest, with a lovely view.  She has created an outdoor room that is just gorgeous - fire pit, table and chairs covered in lovely floral linens, flowers in vases, torches for light.  My ex-cat, Bebe (now Smoky) lives there and always comes racing to drape herself across my shoulder vibrating with a happy purr.  She is a wonderful cook and we sit watching fireflies, catching up, drinking a glass of wine, eating good food.  It is heavenly.

The next day, my legs started to itch.  I figured it was a change in laundry detergent.  By Saturday, from the tops of my feet to behind my knees, I counted over 60 mosquito bites.  ITCHY ones.  By Saturday night I was having visions of cattle, blinded by clouds of gnats, galloping happily off cliffs to their death - and blessed relief.  I could barely concentrate all day Sunday.  Monday, I was finally over the worst.  The next time I visit that Paradise, I am going to dip myself in citronella, wear socks, hip boots, long pants, a turtleneck, gloves, hat and a full body net suit.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Musings.

Walking past the pine trees on the way to the goat barn, I snapped off some dead twigs - and was transported to Canada when I was a kid.  We spent the summers on a little jewel-like lake in northern Ontario in a log cabin, hand built decades earlier by my maternal great-grandfather.  It was my job to take a basket into the woods and gather up the kindling for the wood stove fire first thing in the morning.  I loved the smell of the pine forest and can still take myself right back there, even all these years later.  It was a magical time.   I would go out with our dachshund, Inger, who was a great hunter of squirrels (and capture of none).  She made sure the coast was clear by barking her head off.  I was very leery of bears.  I'd take my basket full of dry pine twigs back to the cabin, where my mother would bank up a fire.  Once that old stove was good and hot, she'd get out the cast iron frying pan and make eggs and bacon.  We would take thick slices of her homemade bread and put them in the toaster basket and toast them over an open burner.  It's amazing how clear some memories are - and how much in between is blurred and unrecognizable.  My god.  I'm becoming my father.  He can clearly remember his grade school teachers, but not what he did in the morning!

Most of my life was spent avoiding conflict.  I hated conflict - and I still do.  But, as I have gotten older, I have realized that it is possible to get things done and make your point without having to be toe-to-toe.  It's the subtle approach.  Although I have been accused of being as subtle as a sumo wrestler on a catwalk -- wait!  I'm not sure I like that analogy -- let's say, as subtle as a 2x4 upside the head -- I have become more purposeful in getting my point across.  Case in point:  I am unfortunate enough to live on a road with two gravel pits.  One was permitted before I moved in, so it's a moot point.  The second was slunk through the back alley by an oily character working in cahoots with another oily character and the deed was done before anyone had the chance to raise a holler.  This particular 'pit' is much closer to me.  My feelings about both are not secret.  And, while I couldn't stop them, I can limit them - I believe.  So, when the neighbor/pit started firing up the heavy equipment at 7AM on Saturdays, I fired off some letters to the town board/supervisor.  Not surprisingly, I got no reply.  The town supervisor happens to be a retired corporate executive cum real estate agent cum bus driver.  He downplays the first two and plays up the last with battered hat in hand.  A humble man.  A bus driver.  He and his wife have the listing on the house situated right across the road from Gravel Pit #2 (which is unseen behind a cornfield, and unmarked by any sign other than a large new gate.) 

Long story short - the house was owned one of the oily characters who sold the gravel pit property in order to finance a new house at the other (quieter) end of the road.  I am sure that neither he nor the real estate agent (town super) are mentioning the unseen gravel pit to any prospective buyers.  What to do?  I ordered a nice bright sign that reads (on both sides):  NO GRAVEL TRUCKS (no sign) ON WEEKENDS.  I will carefully measure off 26' from the center of the road (town easement) and pound it into my front yard.  Fully in view of any prospective house buyer.  Subtle, no?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Someone hand me the toothpicks!

After bolting awake at 2AM this morning, I am sinking fast.  I can barely keep my eyes open (not a good condition for driving home, methinks.)  I did manage to can three half-pints of ketchup (catsup? ketchup?  Is this a regional thing?), pack my lunch, precook dinner, vacuum, do some computer work, clean off the dining room table, do my chores, put netting over the Pearls' space (still need some - it's got to be break-out-proof), take a shower, deliver eggs to my egg customers, and drive to work.  Now I feel as if I've been run over by a Peterbilt.

Time to break out the dark chocolate.  As if I needed an excuse....

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Problem Child.

Look at that face.
While not technically a 'child', Flora - my sweet-natured, old lady ewe (11) - has been challenged since she arrived on the farm.   She arrived with respiratory issues which come and go.  She had pneumonia.  The first time she lambed (here), she didn't lose the placenta and developed an infection.  She is prone to worms.  She gets a runny nose and wheezes every so often.  But she is the SWEETEST sheep.  I love her to pieces.  I now have Flora, her daughter, Juno, and her grandson, Linden (who inherited her good nature).  Since I have limited 'pasture', I try to rotate them on the three fenced areas, plus on the rest of the cleared space in electronet when there's grass.  That's been a problem this year - between the drought conditions and high heat, there has been little grass.  I have plenty of hay for them, but the warm conditions cause all kinds of other bad conditions - like high worm load.  I worm them on a rotation, but don't like to overdo it.  And I keep an especially sharp eye on the old lady.  However, yesterday, as I was toting their hay to the shed, the sun shone on Flora and I noticed a slight bulge under her jaw.  ACK! 

I did some fast research (and called Kay) and she's now on a regimen of Cydectin - we figure it's barberpole worm - and I'm giving her Red Cell (for iron/minerals) and Selenium/E.  They have free feed loose minerals in the shed, and I give them organic dried kelp meal once a week.  I think I will have to be more diligent in cleaning up the paddock area, but it's a little harder with sheep as opposed to, say, cows.  Now that I know we are dealing with the dreaded Haemonchus Contortus (now there's an apt description), I am going to dose the entire gang with Cydectin.

It's been a tough year.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My problem... selective memory.  One of them (problems), that is.  I can forget to remove my car keys from the ignition before I lock my car.  I can forget why I went into the laundry room.  Or the kitchen.  Or the living room.  But I can remember every excrutiating morsel of the last real piece of bread I ate - the dense, chewy crust surrounding a moist, yeasty crumb.  It's a curse, I tell you.  Especially when one is gluten-sensitive-intolerant.  I would LOVE to forget bread.  It would then be easy to pretend that I am on Mars and that THIS is bread:

It has risen!

It has fallen!
Faced with all my tomatoes, I just HAD to have a bread-like substance on which to slather a bit of mayo and a nice thick slice of tomato.  I did some research on gluten-free focaccia and came up with an "Awesome" recipe.  That should have set off the warning bells - Gluten-Free/Awesome?  Oxymoron at best.  I forged ahead and it smelled divine, it rose wonderfully and browned just so.  Even when it collapsed, it was still focaccia-like.  Then I cut into it and...well.  Let's say this could be the national food of Sponge Bob Square Pants' world.  But I slathered on the mayo and set a nice thick slice of tomato on top and called it dinner.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Musings.

I was musing this morning about how my weekend was one of wonder and discovery:

Friday morning - discover powdery mildew infested zucchini and summer squash plants.  Rip out same.
Friday evening - discover I have locked my keys in the car. Discover this in the office building garage at 5:30.

Saturday morning - discover the Mushroom Guy at the Berkshire Farmers Market!
Saturday afternoon - discover my father is obsessive/compulsive/single-minded/stubborn. This, of course, isn't really a discovery, as I've known it for years - yet it still surprises me. Especially when it involves me lifting four, five-gallon buckets of extremely heavy, dense specialty paint for their deck not once, not twice, but five times. The fifth time involved hefting them up two separate sets of stairs. God bless him.
Saturday night - discover I have no energy left to finish my to-dos, so I console myself with an Orange Cow (vanilla ice cream and orange soda).

Sunday morning - discover it's 42 degrees! Rediscover my Jersey cow, Jasmine, her heifer calf, Alice, and her BFF, Rosebud. It was so nice to see them.
Sunday afternoon - discover it's afternoon! Where the heck did the morning go?
Sunday evening - discover that I have been working off a completely different to-do list.  I feel like I am living in tandem universes (universi?) where my evil twin manages to slip in her diabolical to-do list for mine, when my back is turned.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Missed Photo Op.

In my haste to get the heck out of Dodge (Vermont) last weekend, I left my camera at my parents.  Because of that, I missed the shot of a lifetime.  Let me try to give you a verbal image...

Last night, after all the outside chores were done, I was settled onto my chair-and-a-half (my new favorite piece of furniture) with my Good Read.  Scrappy was lying on the sofa geared up in his whoopee collar, snoring away.  Bernie was in her usual place - in the far back bedroom.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a slight movement.  It was OnceSlim, eyes bulging, riveted on the whoopee collar.  He was in full pre-attack position.  I watched in a mixture of horror/fascination as he slowly inched his way from the kitchen into the living room.  He sprang!!  He latched onto the whoopee collar with fangs and claws and poor Scrappy woke with such a start that they both fell off the couch and onto the floor, with much barking, hissing (some of that was the air leaking out of whoopee)!  OnceSlim tore down the hall with Scrappy in close pursuit.  Luckily, the cats have their own dog-free zone, so he easily made his escape.  Scrappy came back into the living room with his whoopee collar slightly deflated and askew with a thoroughly disgusted look on his face.  I patched up whoopee and gave Scrappy a crunchy treat or five. 

This morning, OnceSlim is completely over the whoopee collar.  He barely gave it a second glance.  Apparently, he feels he has vanquished that dragon and life can go on as before.  I'm not sure Scrappy has fully recovered.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Birthday Boy

My sister took this picture of Dad the day after the party - because, of course, the day of the party we had torrential rain.  When we were kids, he used to send us into the giggles by yelling "Pasta Fazool!"  I am sure that was a better stand-in for other terms....

His surprise party was a complete surprise.  The house was packed when he walked in and he just had the best time - as did we all.  So a very happy birthday, Dad.  I am so glad to have had you around to love for so many years.  I hope there are many more.

My BIL was still recovering from being sent out in the
monsoon, with faulty directions, in an effort to get Dad out of the

Dad and his grandson, Austin.

My niece and nephew, Austin and Vera.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Good Read/Bad Read

I don't get much time to read these days so, when I do find a few minutes, I want to read something good.  Something that will grab hold of my soggy brain and hang onto it!  Something that will overcome my fruit-fly-focus.  Most of the time, I am not successful (see Bad Read).  But every so often, I come across a book that I just cannot get enough of. 

The Good Read

Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell
Joseph Mitchell was a journalist in New York City in the 1930s.  This collection (published, I believe, in 1993) includes stories from the New Yorker and from four books he had published over 30 years.  The stories give you a peek at New York City's crotchety, peculiar, special inhabitants in such a straightforward, but endearing way - it's fascinating!  There's a bearded lady, a child genius, a seafoodatarian (even then!), and an array of codgerly characters.  There is one passage that I was going to include verbatim, but it's too long and some of you might fall asleep while doing something dangerous - like pressure starts on page 409, if you are so inclined.  I have been reading it at every spare moment.  If you can get your hands on this book, I would highly recommend it.

The Bad Read

How many times do I have to repeat the same poor judgement?  Many times, it seems.  I was one of the early followers of Mary Janes Farm.  As a matter of fact, I met my friends Marianne and Rosie through the forum on her site, some six years ago.  Then, as all things Internet seem to go, she became an industry.  She became a frilly Martha Stewart, an organic Pioneer Woman.  When she first launched her magazine, it was charming.  Then it became cloying and downright silly.  In my opinion (all opinions stated here are mine and darn opinionated I am), her use of the term "Farm Girl" has completely lost touch with any farm reality.  Given, there's the caveat: "of the Heart" attached to Farm Girl, included, I assume, so that every girl of every age (and with deep pockets and a penchant to gluing lace on everything) can be the farm girl they dream of.  Why, for a yearly fee, you can belong to the Farm Girl Sisterhood!  Geez.  While she did reintroduce handcrafts, and gives "merit badges" to her numbered Sisterhood members, paying for it?  Just figure - you hand over $25 a year and get a number.  In order to hang onto that number, you keep handing over money every year.  Cha-ching! MaryJanesFarm.  (I am now stepping off my orange crate.) 

I have not read the magazine for years.  I tried to like it - I kept my subscription going but, after a while I just couldn't justify spending money on it.  Years later, along comes an offer in the mail to try it for free - no obligation.  What the heck?, I asked myself.  Maybe they've come to their senses.  NOT.  It is worse than before, if that is even possible.  It is cover to cover advertising and self promotion, with articles designed to disappear into the advertising.  The invoice (which I received BEFORE the magazine) was promptly sent back with "Do Not Continue" and "Not Vaguely Interested" written across from it.  Needless to say, I would highly recommend not reading MaryJanesFarm Magazine.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Musings.

Having just lived through the planning, schlepping and celebrating of my dad's surprise 90th birthday party, I have been musing about family.  That is always a rather frustrating muse.  I am very lucky in that my parents are a) still together after 60-something years; b) relatively healthy for their advanced ages; and c) still living pretty much on their own.  Because I live the closest, I am the 'overseer' of their affairs.  I also am the one to tote them to non-local doctor appointments, the chauffeur for visiting relatives (very important to them as the years stack up), and I check on them every weekend.  I love my parents.  They are funny and dear, and (mostly) a joy to spend time with.  My friends love them and the feeling is mutual - as witnessed at my dad's party.  For a while there, we thought it might have been TOO much of a surprise, but he rallied.

After spending any time with my sisters, I always muse about what it would be like if we all got to choose our own siblings.  Would you choose the self-same sisters?  Brothers?  Trade up?  Try another ethnicity?  Get older/younger siblings?  Mix it up?  I know a young woman who was raised in a fairly unconventional family.  When each new baby was born, the older siblings got to choose the name.  I can tell you there are some 'unusual' names in that family.  When she had children of her own, I believe they followed suit - for the first.  Whose name is Birch (names changed to protect the innocent).  Let's just say it is a type of tree.  I think that it would be fun to be able to choose your own name.  I would never leave that in the hands of my sisters.  Heaven only knows who I'd be today - Howdy Dotty?  Hopalong Cassie?  Bugs Bunny?

We have a very small family.  And a scattered family.  Once upon a time in Ohio, I was very close to my Great Aunt Edie and her brother, Great Uncle Ben.  They were two of the most regulated old people I have every met in my life.  GUB was a curmudgeon - who ate his meals at the exact same time every day, same thing every meal, with some slight variations during the dinner hour.  He was very bright and invented all kinds of things.  He invented a bird feeder that fed birds by body weight - he hated squirrels.  My GAE was a corker.  I spent a lot of time with her - she could knit a highly complicated pattern, in mohair, while carrying on a conversation, listening to the radio and watching television.  One of my first memories of her was when I was around 5 and we had moved to Ohio from Virginia into a rented house (the house that caused my fear of bathtubs).  The house was an odd configuration - you had to go through a bedroom to reach the bathroom.  GAE was staying with us and late one night, as I started to make my way to the bathroom, I was gripped with fear -- there was a wild beast in the house!  A tiger waiting to pounce on me and eat me!  I ran screaming into my parents' room, hoping they could rescue me.  It turned out to be GAE sawing lumber in the guest bed.  Holy Moley, that woman could snore!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I've found the cure for drought!  Forget your rain dances - all I have to do is take a vacation day to run errands all over God's Green Earth.  It rained in sheets yesterday - Hurry!  Do not wait -- I only have two more weeks left.  Sign up now! 

Scrappy has been relegated to house clown.  I was thinking of adding some ruffles.  Too much?  One of the cats - OnceSlim - is terrified of him in his new get-up and will only walk on the counters or furniture if Scrappy is in the same room.  What a bunch of nuts.

Why do you mock me?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

You can put this stuff on EVERYTHING!

The lowly nut of the pea.

Well, maybe not on herring or sardines.  I suppose, if you have a cast iron stomach and a penchant for some serious food fusion, you could.  But this is my new favorite sauce that I have put on tofu, rice, noodles, chicken, pork, and green beans.  And I have just started - nothing is safe.  The sauce recipe originated from the Vegan Coach.  While I am a little leery of a vegan queen called Sassy with a newsletter entitled the "Golden Banana", she does have some great sauce, dip and dressing recipes that are gluten free. 

Anyhoo, I have tweaked this recipe often, as every time I get the burning urge to make it, I am missing an ingredient or two.  It is very forgiving.  And delicious:

Rich Vegan Peanut Sauce

1/4 Cup Tamari (smoother taste) or Bragg's Liquid Aminos (saltier)
1/8 Cup brown rice vinegar (I usually use regular rice vinegar and it's fine)
1/3 Cup water
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup (have used agave nectar as well)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1- inch piece fresh ginger (or ground, to taste)
2/3 Cup chunky peanut butter (I use creamy, 'cause that's what I have)
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil (I usually use more because I LOVE it)
1/2 teaspoon paprika (forgot it this time and the sauce survived)
1-2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (or red pepper flakes) or to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  You can adjust the thick/thin-ness of it by either adding more peanut butter or more water.  Serve immediately or chill.  Let the sauce come to room temperature before serving.  I have kept this in the fridge for weeks.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Durned if you do.

I am a lover of all things bird.  Crows, ravens, starlings, sparrows, chickens, Guinea hens (so far), emus; but - most especially - hummingbirds.  They are miracles.  They are true shining gems.  I cannot get enough of them.  And, apparently, I am killing them. 

Good grief.  I have been going merrily along, using my red nectar concentrate in my two feeders.  Then I get the news:  studies have found that red food coloring can damage their hard-working little hearts!  As soon as I got home yesterday, I went out and retrieved both feeders and emptied them in my compost heap.  Of course, as soon as I did that, I regretted it.  Would some other critter think there's a great sweet snack in there and more damage would be done?

Of course, you may think I am being a little coy about this -- since I seem to think nothing of vanquishing rats and hornets by any means at my disposal.  I have a startling announcement:  I am not perfect.  There.  It's out.  I choose to group all things living into two (three) categories -- One:  Everything/One I Love.  Two:  Those Few Things/Ones I Hate.  Three:  Those Things/Ones I Fear.  I am not apologizing for my wishy-washy-ness.  I have enough trouble dealing with my recycling - and the onus of 'stuff' and 'too much stuff'. 

Ooookay.  Back to the subject.  I thoroughly cleaned both feeders and put some simple syrup (extra light that I had made to can peaches) in them and trotted them outside.  Then I worried that they would be too cold, as it had been stored in the fridge, so I brought them back in the house and let them sit on the counter until they reached room temperature.  (Swatting a few flies in the process - Flies fall under Category Two).  Then I decided that the older one wasn't bright enough (how could they FIND it?), so I hunted up a vibrant red ribbon (hoping that the dye wouldn't run off and into the feeder if it rained - lord help me), tied it on and put them back on their outside hangers.

Glinda (okay - it's a male Ruby-Throated Hummer, but the name has stuck) found the glammed-up old one and took a sip.  He didn't fall from the sky.

I hope I can sleep after all this angst.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Musings.

This falls under the "Is nothing sacred!?!" category - Olympic badminton players booted for match-throwing?  I am as competitive as the next person (and maybe quite a BIT more competitive than the next person), but the need to win, to be the best, to be on top is really getting out of hand.  Steroids, human growth hormones, drugs; the things people put into their bodies to be the best is just logic-defying.  Of course, most of that drive is fueled by greed -- let's face it; is there any reason some very tall person who barely squeaked through high school (then was fast-walked through college) should be paid millions of dollars a year?  And families are out on the street, losing their homes?  This country is definitely unbalanced.

Charlie Horse.  I had one.  Then I spent way too much time trying to figure out where that term came from (from whence cometh that term?).  Was Charlie Augustus BoDidley kicked in the leg by his horse back in 1804?  Did Charlie's horse have problems with his legs?  Is this an old American Indian ailment?  All I know for sure is that it felt like something kicked me....

Optical illusion - glancing in my rear view mirror this morning, I gasp --  Good lord!  Did I leave the house without combing my hair??? (It wouldn't be the first time, especially on a Monday.)  No, thank goodness.  It's the bundle of electronet in the back of the car.

Seething Sitting in traffic last week, I was trapped behind a large sparkly white Lexus SUV which sported the following license plate:  INDMAND.  From what I could see from the driver, it was a sleek, sparkly blond woman with lots of bling - the sun glinted off her jewelry as she lifted her cell phone to her ear.  If I ever put together a dictionary, right next to "Vanity Plates" I would put her picture.  I mean.  Really.  As the lane of traffic to my right inched by (notice, I was in the stationery lane), I spotted another vanity plate - BLSKYABV.  It was attached to a powder blue Cadillac with a resin sculpture of an alligator holding a golf ball in its mouth.  I don't think I need to elaborate on that one.

This made me wonder about why anyone would want to make their license plates stand out.  These must be people who a) never break the law; b) always drive the speed limit; c) have no one out to get them.  (Well, Ms. INDMAND seems to have quite a following, and she must want them to get her....)  Me?  I would rather fade into the furniture.  I revel in mediocrity. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

The good points - and bad points - of Square Inch Gardening.

Yes, folks.  You heard it here first.  I am practicing Square Inch Gardening.  I told you I had a competitive streak!  So, how is it faring in this challenging gardening year?  Let's take a look, shall we?

First, the 'Good Points'.
It's a jungle in there!
The dense, jungle-like mass of vegetation provides cover and keeps in moisture.  It also limits the amount of weeds that crop up.

When you do have to water - you can water quite a lot with a few small buckets.  And it's all in one place.  So you can be pretty lazy about it - even if you DO winge and whine and carry on because it's hot and humid and there are bugs.

Your entire salad is in a 4 x 8 foot area.  Basil, cukes, peppers, tomatoes.  One-stop dinner gathering.

It's SO dense that the plants provide support for each other - there's no place else to go!

Now, the "Bad Points".

It's a dense, jungle-like mass of vegetation.

There are scary spiders in it that bite you if you just poke your hands in, trying desperately to find a cucumber that hasn't grown to zeppelin size.

There ARE zeppelin sized cucumbers.
I swear that cucumber in the middle was only
two inches long yesterday - honest!

Your peppers don't stand a chance.

Seriously, it has worked out pretty well, although I will NOT plant four cucumber plants around a tiny-but-decorative-trellis.  I will try mightily to keep to two plants - one regular and one of the Japanese variety.  My pumpkin/summer/winter squash bed has taken off and the plants are making a wild attempt to break the barriers of their tiny bed (5x8).  I finally gave in and fenced in the bed that I didn't fill in.  I'm trying to get everyone to grow in that direction.  So far, it's like herding cats.

Pumpkins, making a break for it...
My horseradish is flourishing in its hillbilly planter.  I have tons of potatoes, although my experiment in
'hilling' with straw did not work.  There are a lot of spuds in the dirt layer - but nary a one (so far as I can tell) in the straw layer.
My horseradish is all 'perky'.
New type of tomato this year - it's almost black when it's ripe.
Doubt that would be a great market variety, but I think it's cool!
I have tons of tomatoes - all green.  Why, I ask you, is it that your tomatoes do not ripen when your zucchini does?  How the heck am I supposed to make ratatouille?   Hmmmm?  And I don't want to hear from those of you who planted everything at its proper time and have synchronized ripening going on.