Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Scary things. Sweet things.

Happy Halloween, everyone!  I have flounced into the office with my very special witch's hat firmly in place.  To hell with protocol.  I am secretly hoping the traitors have a client in the office so I can parade by....(insert evil cackle).

Let's start with the sweet things.

I could eat her with a spoon.
I don't know how people get such great photographs of their dogs in costumes.  Of course, it is difficult to hold a treat in one hand and try to click a pic with the other.

Pat the Bat
The only costume that will stay on the Pat (aka Peanut) involved a harness.  But he is so wiggly that the wings were constantly askew.  Still, he is a dumpling and as sweet as one.

Meringue 'ghosts' for the Barn guys
Mummy meatballs
I had so much fun recreating the party that was not.  Since I had gotten all the supplies, I figured I'd go ahead and make it all and spread it around.  It turned out to be a very good thing to have postponed the party - we had rain and gale force winds all day on Saturday.  It did a Wizard of Oz number on my hoop house, but that's another post.

Main course
I did a Meals on Wheels gig to my second parents and neighbor - the recipe was from Martha Stewart but I realized, early on, that Martha must have had special Martha Pumpkins.  I tried to get the smallest pie pumpkins I could find and they still were too big!  Luckily, parents no. 2 managed two meals out of the delivery.  The pumpkins were filled with a sausage/bean stew that took two days.  I believe we can count on this being a one-off.

Speaking of pumpkins, I am steadily filling the freezer with roasted pumpkin.  Thanks to the cancellation of the party, I have five more to process.  I should be set.  For the millennium.  This was the second Long Island Cheese pumpkin I roasted:

From Marianne's farm.  Even the stem is perfect.

Beautiful dark orange goodness.
These are not mine, but some of my very creative youngest sister's creations:

This is as creative as I got:

My party centerpiece
I imagine that it would have driven my poor, old dad out of the door.  I don't think he can grasp Halloween anymore.  I'm looking forward to tonight - my bestie is arriving for a two-night stay!

Thursday, October 25, 2018


I am way behind on my posting!  This is iffy territory for someone who struggles to remember what she had for breakfast...

In lightspeed ------

The weather stinks, stanks stunks!  Dealing with the weird weather can really put a damper on achieving results on The List.  It's either frigid, raining, or both.  I haven't seen the sun in such a long time that I've started taking my daily D3 a month early.  My solar-powered lights that festoon my pergola have petered out - not enough sun to charge their batteries.  Everyone looks droopy.

Remembered to check the oil in my car and it was down to a drop!  Geez.  Put three quarts in and we're good to go to the next oil change.

Quail care has been successfully worked into the routine!  There are still a couple of tweaks and then they will be moved to their winter quarters, and we will be totally off the tracks again.

There's been a little too much 'romance' in the coop with the two roosters!  One of my older girls was slightly injured by too much (ahem) attention and had to spend a day and night in the hospital ward.  She is fine now and the boys have gotten a talking-to.  Fritz will have to be rehomed.

My garden is about 90% ready for winter!  I fear that is about as done as it will get this year.  My third planting of hearty greens in the cold frame are coming along famously.  Most of the raised beds will have to be replaced - a few at a time.  I have rethought the fencing and have decided to go with electric netting, starting in the spring. 

I don't have enough hay!  I still am down half of the hay I need for winter and have been dropping none-too-subtle hints to the farmer.  It's so frustrating to be beholding to people for what you need, sometimes.  However, all his corn is now in, so I am hoping to be moved to the top of his list.  I can rest easy with a barn full of hay.

My furnace won't be serviced until tomorrow morning!  The forecast for tonight and into tomorrow is low 20s.  Pfft.  I'm so glad my dogs don't go visiting often.  They would be aware that most people do not keep their homes at 58 degrees.  Most people keep their homes warm.  My reasoning of "The cold will preserve us longer" would fall on deaf ears.

My sister, bless her heart, arrived Sunday morning and helped me clean out the chicken coop!  It was the first time in 13 years that it was fun.  We're trying something different this winter - I put down an old tarp and put shavings on top.  The plan is that we will be able to drag it out, with its stinky load, in the spring.  The hens were highly alarmed at the alien floor.  It took Rhubarb, my brown leghorn, who HAD to lay an egg (one of only two that seem willing to do so) to venture in and break the curse.  (Look!  She's still ALIVE!!!)

I got a cold!  Sunday night, after deciding to start the first fire under the brandy-new chimney, I realized I might have picked a less windy day.  The ensuing bursts of smoke irritated my nose and I thought that was why I was blowing it every five minutes.  Wrong-o.  I awoke Monday morning with a full-blown head cold.  At least I hope it's just a head cold, and not the flu.  A head cold will struggle on for a week.  The flu goes on and on. 

I have a resume!  Thanks to the diligent and gentle prodding of a talented and generous friend (we'll refer to her as an angel in shepherdess' clothing), my blank stares, lack of words and complete mind-freeze were overcome and she created a wonderful and perfectly-suited-for-me resume.  Such a load has been lifted from my shoulders.

Work is exactly the same!  All I can say is that they sent me a new computer - with the latest upgraded operating system, and the crew from HQ said they would see me in November and December.  I am taking that as an affirmative that I will still be employed until the end of the year.  I have decided to stay to the bitter end, as I need the income.  They will give me a reasonable amount of notice, so I will do a more blitzkrieg approach to resume-sending when I have an end date.  Right now, I am sending it out to my network of business friends.  You never know.

The Party has been given the heave-ho!  I had invited family and second family (my neighbors and my parents' best friends) to a pre-Halloween party this weekend.  However, due to my germy condition and the diagnosis of spinal stenosis on my second mother, it was deemed prudent to postpone it.  Poop.  I had gathered a number of fun items for a Halloween centerpiece, drawn up an appropriately ghoulish menu and bought 8 pie pumpkins.  Well, the kids and I will enjoy it anyway.  I may just whip up the main course and do a meals-on-wheels thing.  I'd roast and freeze them, but Marianne has been giving me her gorgeous, organic pumpkins on a weekly basis and there is only so much pumpkin a single woman with dogs can use.  I already have two large butternut squashes and a Long Island Cheese pumpkin roasted and pureed and frozen.  I have three pumpkins in the car (all exotic types, from M) and more to come this weekend.  A nice problem to have, no?

This weekend I have plans to get the barn ready for the sheep and llama, clean the house and finish the quail hutch.  And about twenty other items that loom large on The List.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Traditions, impulses and high drama.

I was thoroughly enjoying Jenn's post about her family's tradition (read it here), when I remembered a tradition that was employed by me, my ex and two of our friends.  This would be, oh, four lifetimes ago.  I had been talked into going to a bowling party with my ex and a couple who were total party animals.   **Aside here - I am and always have been, totally, completely and breathtakingly uncoordinated **  After a couple of adult beverages for courage, I threw caution to the wind and the bowling ball in the gutter every.single.time.  In honor of this all-time low score for an adult in this particular bowling alley, I won a bottle of Cold Duck.  What is Cold Duck?  Something fizzy, alcoholic and gawd-awful sweet.  I accepted the award with aplomb, if I do say so myself, and trotted home with my prize.  I then conspired to 'regift' it to this couple (who had needled me unmercifully) at the earliest opportunity.  Therein started a tradition where, every time we visited each other's home, we secreted the bottle like buried treasure.  It got so bad that we would frisk each other before entry.  I remember one more spectacular evening when I tied a cord around the neck of the bottle, hung it outside of their first floor bathroom window, guilelessly entered their front door 'clean', and retrieved it after an appropriate period of time.  It took weeks for them to recover from finding it bobbing in their bathtub.  If I remember right, it was broken during one more adventurous episode and the tradition came to an end.  As a matter of fact, so did my marriage and the friendship, but that was completely unrelated.  I think.

I am a totally impulsive person.  While this was rather adorable when I was a tot, it became less adorable as I got older and was no end of trouble through my teens and twenties.  As I have gotten older, I am both impulsive and afflicted with AAAD.  (Acquired Adult Attention Disorder.  If this is not a thing, it is now.)


I couldn't resist.
My justification - there is always justification - is that I am hosting a family Halloweenish party and it will add un petit quelquechose, a little something to the occasion.  AND it can shine during Cinco de Mayo!  AND I love the color orange!  AND it's a plant!

The Butter Pat was trundled, once again, to the vet for a further shortening of his talons.  I disguised a sedative in his special cheese, then schlepped up the half-hour to the vet.  I'm sure I have mentioned this ad nauseum, but I love my vet - both the founder and all the young women vets.  And all the techs.  It is usually loud and boisterous when we arrive, but it was rather muted yesterday.  I handed off the slightly limp and fleece-jacketed form of the Pat to Dr. Cici and Nancy the Tech and waited in the lobby for the ensuing screams.  Luckily, there was only one half-hearted scream and that was all drama.  This also allows me to act like a complete nut job with any and all waiting patients and their patient parents.  When Dr. Cici and Dr. Hannah and Nancy came out with Mr. Drama, they thanked me for bringing him because they love him and he was just what they needed.  They had had an emergency that didn't turn out well and they were all feeling the pain and sadness.  Then they didn't charge me.  I took Mr. Happy home, wrapped him in more fleece and let him sleep it off.

Monday, October 15, 2018

All that's missing is the hot tub.

I had planned on putting last weekend aside as an All Work Weekend - with no family or other interruptions.  Then my sister asked me to go with her to New Hampshire on Saturday.  This is doable, but it is an all day affair.  I could not say no.  For, not only will I do anything she wants, she is great company and it was my last chance to see three of my very favorite people.
My nephew, his partner and the cutest boy on Earth.
Soon on their way to NC.  We will miss them
something awful.
Instead, I took Friday off and spent most of the day putting the finishing touches on the Super Duper Deluxe Quail Condo.  All it's missing is a hot tub in every room.  It even comes with room service...

Predator proof, draft proof, winter proof
(I hope)

Matching rooms with matching
It is now reinforced on both sides (back to come - I couldn't get my drill back there) and has removable Plexiglas panels to let in light and keep out wind.  They seem to be very comfortable - we've had low 30s two nights in a row.  This coming weekend, they will be moved to their winter headquarters in the shed, and I will have to work out a new routine.  Our routine is always being tweaked.  If all goes well, they should start laying eggs next month.  Which would be a nice change, since both the chickens and ducks have apparently gone on strike.

I'm also trying to get all my artwork up on the walls where I can appreciate it.  I made a small stride, with the hanging of my youngest sister's portrait of a friend.
It's (obviously) the picture on the lower
right.  I think you can biggify to see it better.
I have come to a compromise with my cousin's socks - because I just could NOT not add some color.
I mean, really....the color will be inside her shoe...
I will finish Sock One today and then start immediately on Sock Two.  Otherwise, it may be months.  Given the list of things to do outside this weekend, I kept cooking to something(s) simple - rice and beans and butter chicken in the Instant Pot.  That has to be my favorite comfort food of all time - there is something about the combination of spices that warms my cockles and everything else.

The garlic got planted, tomatoes (pathetic things that they were) yoinked out and the geraniums made it into pots and through the door.  We haven't quite made frost levels yet, but it was 34 degrees Sunday morning.  That meant that I could build the first fire of the season and test drive my shiny new chimney.  It was groovy, man! 

The update on my job status is ... nothing has changed.  We continue in the Twilight Zone, with no communication from HQ as to how long I will be here.  If there is one ray of sunshine to come out of this maelstrom, it is that I am a very, very lucky and blessed person when it comes to friends.  Very.  Now, all I need is a philanthropic auto mechanic...

Monday, October 8, 2018

I'm just going to wear ear plugs.

I don't know why I am always surprised to find that any project I take on, takes six times the amount of time and effort that I think it will.  Saturday was a cooking day - I had preps to do for the third round of party for my mom's birthday.  Then the rest of the day was pretty much shot.  That meant - yes, you guessed it - on Sunday morning, I threw back two extremely large pumpkin spice lattes and got to work.
There were no brownies...

My goal was to break down the above list into manageable parts.  Saturday morning, I hardboiled my eggs in my Instant Pot ( and roasted the pumpkin and a sweet potato for the dogs.  I then made my salmon cakes and put them in the fridge.  I did a few things outside and then made a waldorf salad, using Marianne's organic apples, golden raisings, fennel, and celery, with toasted pecans.  The eggs were deviled and plated, and I was all ready for the picnic.  Which was held indoors because we have been living in the clouds for the last two weeks.  And, while that sounds delightfully romantic, clouds are comprised of water.  So pffft.

Sunday morning - I slept in until 4! - I made an apple cake instead of the brownies because it came across my email and I just HAD to!
It was still dark at 5A...
It used Greek yogurt and had a center stratum of cinnamon/sugar/butter.  Since it was not for me, it was non-GF.  It made enough for the barn crew, my neighbor and I brought in the rest for the NYC crew that is coming up to work on our files.  As my farmer said, "be sure to put this on the Make Again List!"  Nuff said.

I also made another batch of easy 'bagels', GF style.  They look frighteningly white, don't they?
With my favorite TJ topping!
I then changed into working garb and tackled the quail hutch, as I was determined to Get Them Out of my laundry room.  I started on the project at 9:30 and finished at 4. 
Predator-proofed.  I hope.

Flooring above the tray.
I realized early on that I had not gotten enough 1x2 boards and could only complete one floor insert.  Can I tell you that I could give a d%&n by then?  There is nothing like working in the confines of a small dining room, using power tools and by oneself.  AND with hardware cloth.  I persevered. 

An aside here.  This quail hutch has (in my mind) gone all over the property, inside and out of numerous buildings.  Originally, I planned on putting it waaaay far away from me, mostly out of earshot, in the barn.  Then I realized it was dark and drafty.  I would have to install a window in the front of the barn.  Plan B was to move it out to the shed, next to the chickens, where they would be more protected and have the advantage of door with a window.  I went with Plan C - right outside the sliding glass door on my deck because, well, because I was completely knackered and couldn't face setting it up.  I will just wear ear plugs.
Light (sort of)!  Air!

Then I transported the little darlings out, one by one, to their new digs, only dropping one!  Thank goodness for my dollar store butterfly net.  So far, they are very quiet.  It's all new and scary.  I have to make another floor for the top level and insulate both sides and the back before winter.  I will also have to make some sort of arrangements for a stand (right now, it's on sawhorses on boards) because it needs to be high enough that I don't have to lie on the ground to get the bottom tray out.

Onward and upward!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Other things.

Since I am tired of thinking/talking/whining about the job thing, I thought I'd pop in with something totally unrelated - puny duck eggs!
Dimples must have sneezed...
And beautiful handspun yarn!
First ear warmer of the season
I did not spin this lovely stuff - an equally, if not even more lovely friend on the Left Coast sent it in a surprise package and I wanted to make something that I could wear and enjoy all winter long.

I am now working on a pair of socks for my cousin, who has very strong opinions about socks.  I have to admit that it's taking some of the fun out of the entire process, but onward and upward.  I am knitting them in a plain vanilla pattern, out of a charcoal and light grey marl-type yarn.  Those of you who have followed along for a while, know that I tend toward 'brilliant' colored socks.  I mean, if you're going to put all that work into them, shouldn't they be shouting from your feet?  I think so.

I am also wearing my little green cardigan today.  This is a big step for me because I usually knit a garment and then never wear it.  I'm not sure why.  Probably because I am the type of person who writes her grocery list in initial upper case and lower case letters, while writing her menu board in all caps.  In other words, I am a wing nut!

Speaking of toothpaste....why is it that there is nothing but mint flavored adult toothpaste?  Why?  I have found that I cannot abide mint as I get older and there's nothing worse than choking, coughing and gagging whilst you're trying to brush your teeth.  It's like trying to play the flute while you're laughing, but messier.  I finally found children's toothpaste in mango, and in strawberry.  I can happily brush for hours with that stuff.

I'll be working my tuckus off this weekend, getting the quail housing done and the little stinkers out of my laundry room this weekend.  I will also be merging the boys into the flock on Sunday.  This should be interesting.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I will catch up with you next week!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Catching the Universe Off-Guard - It Ain't Easy.

After wringing my hands over the weather forecast for the past week - the day arrived for my chimney removal and replacement with the forecast of 90% rain.  Since the chimney guys had not called to cancel or reschedule, I figured, what the heck.  Getting ready for the work entailed my having to move all my bedroom furniture from one wall to the next - they needed access through the back wall of the fireplace, which is my bedroom wall.  Giant dust bunnies were tamed and removed.  Five ton mattresses were hefted and dragged.  Furniture was shoved, pushed and (wo)manhandled.  I did draw the line at breaking down my bed frame.  It is solid golden oak, with a 7-foot headboard.  I managed to shove it far enough away from the wall to give them room to work.   I have my limits.

The dogs were corralled and given marrow bones.  When the trucks arrived, they got right to work and I will have to say they were prompt, courteous, fast, and tidy.  The sky reminded me of a sodden blanket and we were waiting for the skies to open up and rain to pour down.  They had brought a huge tarp, but I had visions of trails of mud through my living room and bedroom.  For once, the Universe was looking elsewhere.  The skies did, indeed, open up with torrential rains, but not until the deed was done and the crew gone.
The new chimney.  In all its $$ glory.
Braced and with a cricket (ice guard), the house will fall down around it before it comes apart.  While they were working, I made granola and had pear/apple butter in the slow cooker.  I may have been surrounded by chaos, but it smelled great!  While I was biding my time, I found that the battery in my phone was not holding a charge.  I'd charge it to 100%, unplug it, open an app and watch the juice run down.  Le sigh.  I did a quick Google search about problems with iPhone batteries and found that, indeed, there were a great many people with problems, prompting the threat of lawsuits which, in turn prompted Apple to offer battery replacement at about 50% of the usual cost through December of this year.  I did a quick 'chat' with Apple and found a local-ish place that had an opening at 3.  Bingo!  Out I went in the pouring rain and dropped it off.  As things are now in limbo - as in how long I will be employed - instead of spending my wait time perusing store aisles, I sat in my car, rain pounding down, and listened to my latest book on CD. 

Saturday was a day of Plan Bs.  As I ventured out to put Bunny the Hun in a cat carrier for his Date with Destiny (3 strikes and he was out), I saw the unmistakable hulking forms of sheep in my backyard.  I am still not sure how they got out.  Luckily, I was awake enough (three cups o' coffee since o'dark thirty) to NOT let the dogs out the back!  Wellies and jim jams on, I herded them back to where they belonged.  I did some clean up around the place and then headed to VT, where we were celebrating my mother's birthday for the second time (third time coming up this weekend).  Apparently, our family cannot get enough of birthdays....  As I drove out of my sister's driveway, I heard the telltale 'thump, thump' of a flat tire.  Sure enough, the right driver's side was a pancake.  As I frantically called my Midas guy, a very nice fellow drove up and asked if I wanted him to change my flat.  Why, yes I did.  I caught Vern before the last mechanic left and he agreed to wait for me.  Half an hour later, I wobbled in on the donut and, an hour later, steamed out with two new tires.  This little segue took all the remaining time out of my day, so I only had three minutes to wish Marianne bon voyage on their trip to the UK, then beelined home so I could arrive during daylight. 

This also put all the pressure to achieve the must-dos off The List to Sunday.  I am not lying if I say that I started when it was light enough to maneuver outside (6:30ish) and didn't finish until my friends arrived with the roosters, just before dinner time.  All my plans for a fancy-schmancy dinner went out the window and we ended up with a giant pan of roasted vege (everything roastable in my fridge) and steaks on the grill.  They were wonderful and helped me change the brooder bedding, moved my lemon tree indoors, consulted on the adaptation of my hutch, entertained the dogs, and were generally wonderful company.
Fritz the Frizzle (top left) and Big
Red (bottom right)

I'll get better pics when they are
out with the girls - next weekend.
At 8:30, I collapsed in my chair and was immediately covered in exhausted pups and a relieved cat.  Then I remembered that I had to at least start breaking down the bedroom. 

Monday was a trip into the Twilight Zone.  My two ex-colleagues and the new firm they have joined are subleasing part of the office.  This means they work in the front and I am enisled in the back.  Next week I put together my resume because this, to me, is like adding insult to injury.