Friday, November 30, 2018

Strapping in for the weekend.

'Tis the season!

I don't know what I'd do without my dry erase boards.  As long as I remember to list what I need to make, I am relatively sure I will be able to focus on the task.  Relatively.  Since we got 10 inches of snow on Tuesday into Wednesday (a 'little' more than the two inches predicted - where do they come up with their forecasts?  An Ouija Board?), I opted to take a snow day.  Other than shoveling my little arms off and dishing out the birdseed, I managed to make a half gallon of yogurt:
Have I mentioned how much I love
my Instant Pot?  Now that I fixed it?
And a batch of Mama Pea's cottage cheese.  The cookie list is for my holiday baking.  Marianne somehow (without trying on her part) got me all excited about a local town's tree lighting ceremony that she is spearheading.  Let me just add here that, if you want something done, call Marianne.  There is no stopping her.  She needed a list of local businesses and was given a handwritten list by the town clerk that was at least eight years out of date.  Yes, handwritten.  So, notebook in hand, Marianne visited every single business in her town and created an Excel spreadsheet, which she gave to the clerk.  I didn't even bother to put up a fight when she mentioned there would be a cookie table and visit with Santa afterward, nudge, nudge.  I am bringing seven dozen cookies.  Sometimes it's enough to be in the same room with her, to reenergize my batteries.

Almost all holiday gifts this year (and there are very few, thank goddess) are being handmade.  I have narrowed my list to people who appreciate them and my family, who have no choice.  Of course, my youngest sister has requested leg warmers and that kid has the longest legs in the family!  I've already given my mother a wool shawl in vibrant colors to brighten up our never-sunny weather, and a pair of socks.  I figure, since I refer to all gift knitting as 'seasonal' and not holiday, I can stretch the creation of same into February.  Crafty, ain't I?

I'm going to mix up the dough for a couple of the cookies ahead of time and then bake the whole mess next Friday night and Saturday morning.  The tree lighting is on the 8th, so I will try to remember to take pics - in the dark, hmmm.

Wednesday, when I was at the peak of morning shoveling, I heard a "kerthunk!" in the area of my sliding glass door.  I hurried over and there was a tiny White Breasted Nuthatch on the deck, stunned.  I gently picked him up and went to put him in a sheltered spot until he caught his breath.  He wouldn't loosen his grip on my glove, so I ended up doing chores one-handed, while having a lovely, one-sided chat with the little bit of wonderfulness.  It was totally enchanting.  After ten minutes or so, he perked up, yet still sat on my hand for another ten minutes longer.  I think it was because of the warmth of my gloved hand.  Whatever the reason it was pure magic.  He gave a little flutter, I lifted my hand in the air and off he went.

 I have a lot to do this weekend - sauerkraut, applesauce, making and canning vegetable broth, mending a gate, more shoveling, etc., etc.  I also need to pick up the ingredients for my famous Glog, a potent brew that will warm the cockles of your everything.  It's going to be a weekend of lists and more lists.  Much of my work will be inside because, well, they're predicting rain.

I mean...why not?

Monday, November 26, 2018

Little bursts of consciousness.

That could be the caption for most of the drivers that I follow into the city every morning.  They seem to navigate via little bursts of consciousness.  In the case of this post title, it is perfect for my memories of the past four days.  I always laugh when someone asks if I have enjoyed my mini vacation.  Whazzat?

I could beat you soundly around the brain cells with what all happened during the holiday season of Plan Bs - yes, some things never change - but, instead, I will give you a pictorial account in little bursts.

Wednesday - 2 degrees above 0.  Worked until 3:30, as the Nobs let us leave 'early'.  Then...
GF Pumpkin pie, made with Marianne's

Irish Oatmeal Cake with
Butterscotch frosting. 

Italian Ricotta Pie in an apple
slice 'crust' with rum-soaked raisins
Thursday - 5 degrees BELOW zero.  Pulled out my long underwear and found this attached:
Poor guy
I brought dessert (see above) and an appetizer.  Besides the dessert, there was not much I could eat, thanks to the fact that most of my family seems to forget that I am gluten intolerant.  Every. Single. Time.  So I had turkey, canned cranberry sauce, instant mashed potatoes (gark) and mashed rutabaga.
I didn't starve.  My dad was having a very bad day, so it was pretty much lacking in festivity. 

Friday - 19 degrees all day.  House cleaning and a futile drive a half-hour up to the vet to pick up Binkie's* sedative for his nail trimming/allergy shot Saturday morning.  I arrived to find they were closed - a little detail that was not shared with me when I called the day before Thanksgiving.  I was not pleased.

Saturday - RAIN.  Back up to the vet at 9A with an unmedicated pup to find that, because of the aforementioned holiday, their supplies didn't arrive and there were no meds for his allergy shot.  But they would do his nails for free.  I then spoke to them (probably through gritted teeth) that they had more than enough time to call me and give me the option of a free nail trimming OR waiting for the inevitable reschedule (during my work week).  Served them right that he ripped through his muzzle.
With his naked mouse ears and his warm,
stylish sweater from his cousin, Mandy.
He accompanied me to my oil change which, no surprise, ended up being a $850 oil change-cum-front-end-wheel-repair that took three hours instead of a half hour.  I think it's a bad sign that I don't even flinch now.  My sister picked us up and we entertained my parents during the ensuing wait.  I will say for my Binkie that he is an absolute delight and was very patient and loving with my demented father.  However, that shot our entire day and the only thing I managed when I got home, was to open a bottle of wine.

Sunday - WTH?  Made GF Applesauce Spice cake for the barn group.  It drizzled and rained all day.  The world must be grinding to a halt.  What is with this weather?  I cleaned the house, more or less, but just didn't have the oomph to get much done.  I did unload my crate of organic apples from Marianne, which didn't freeze in my car, thank goddess, and spent an inordinate amount of time knitting and letting the end-to-end episodes of Miss Marple wrap my aching brain in pink wooliness.  Bless her heart.  I could kiss the feet of Agatha Christie.
Still with the clay spray, but very delicious!
There is applesauce in my near future.
Monday.  Geezlouise, that was fast.  I thought you would like to see my 'wards' at the farmhouse.  I feed them every morning.
Boy Kitten on the left and Gracie on the right.
Just can't wait for the next holiday weekend.  (Can you hear the drip, drip, drip of sarcasm there?)

*Peanut Butter/Butter Pat/Pat seems to respond better (as in actually comes when I call him) to Binkie.  Go figure.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Leaving Ma Nature to her own devices.

I don't know how many times I have tried - in vain - to wrestle my garden into submission.  I suppose it is the arrogance we humans have, thinking we have control over all that goes on around us.  I am foiled every single growing season.  This past season was no different.  Even though I greatly downsized my garden - due to apathy and poor planning - I still tried to will my tomatoes to flourish.  I bullied my kale.  I cajoled my beans.  I pleaded on a daily basis with my peppers.  Pfft.

While I was wheezing, whining and windging away, two volunteer yellow pear tomato plants, from at least two years ago, popped up next to the old tomato bed.  I was too busy carrying on to be bothered yoinking them out, so they went on doing what tomato plants do when they are left alone - they grew.  And grew.  Pretty soon, not only were they the largest and healthiest plants in my garden, but I didn't have the heart to yoink them because they at least gave the outward appearance that my garden flourished.

It's really amazing how easily one (I) can manage to ignore something so large and invasive.  They ended up sprawling over two raised beds and all the pathways between.  I didn't give them the time of day.  There was no blight.  There was no disease.  I wish I could have said that about the tomato plants I DID plant.

After the relief of the first light frost, I couldn't clear the beds fast enough.  However, while preparing to give the volunteers the old heave-ho, I realized that they were covered with little green tomatoes.  I did a quick mental review of all my pickling recipes and decided that I would pick them all, green, and then pickle them to serve with martinis.

I picked two gallons of little elongated orbs.

I brought them inside and pulled out my pickling cookbook.  Then I got distracted and they sat in their buckets for weeks.  I happened to look down after a couple of weeks - and actually focused for two minutes - and realized that some were ripening.  So, I made it a habit to pull out the ripening tomatoes and leave the rest for pickling.  Ahem.  I am sure you all know me well enough to know that I never did pickle them.  Instead, I have been enjoying handfuls of ripe yellow pear tomatoes for months.  I just reached the bottom of the second bucket and I feel rather bereft.

I believe, this next year, I will just toss over-ripe tomatoes here and there and see what develops.

P.S.  Kale takes quite well to bullying...

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Welcome to the House of Liver!

This past weekend was pretty much 50 percent high frustration and 50 percent satisfaction.  That's not bad, given my usual percentages.

On Saturday, I was scheduled to pick up my latest foster dog (I know, I know), so I headed out to meet him at a halfway point - about an hour and a half away.   An hour and a half on the highway.  Have I mentioned how much dread befalls my heart for every second I have to drive on any road with more than two lanes?  We met, moved the old gentleman from her car to mine, exchanged paperwork and then off I went.  C was 13, had been found as a stray - later found to have been adopted many years prior and then dumped when he was old, tottery and was tested positive for heartworm.  Don't get me started.  I figured it was worth the trip, as I have a very soft spot in my heart for senior dogs/cats and he had been deemed good with all animals, large and small.

Within 10 minutes of being introduced to the kitchen - the "introduction area" for all fosters - he peed on the floor twice, on two beds and left me a 3 lb 'package'.  After having been walked outside for 15 minutes.  This was without starting his prescription for Prednisone.  Gah.  Still, he was a sweet boy and had a friendly, low-key interest in L & P.  Then Slimmie sauntered by to see what all the hubbub was about.  C went into laser focus and, had I not been physically nearby, would have taken down any barrier to get at him.  Sigh.  I keep forgetting that, when dogs are assessed in a kennel situation, they are usually a) shutdown or b) super-hyper and are not their true selves.  I am very lucky that the rescue I foster for are very responsive and sensitive and jumped on the problem right away.  A spot was found for C at the kennel they work with - and not an hour from me - so back into the car we went.  By the time I got him there and settled and got back home, it was almost dark.  I poured myself a healthy measure of an adult beverage, sat on my chair and a half and was covered with much-relieved furry bodies.  Other than that?  Nothing got done.

Which led to Sunday's madness.

Remember this?
As of Sunday night - and, since I
only half-cleaned the gardens, I didn't
check it off.  I'm virtuous that way.
Full disclosure:  I didn't do everything on that list on Sunday.  I just built the quail hutch stand, cut Lovey's nails, put metal flashing over all signs of entry and other flat surfaces that the rats have attacked on the chicken coop, ran the extension to said coop, set up the bird feeders, cut the tarps off the hoop house and took down all the wood sheathing, moved the hoop house (slowly and painfully) back to its original position, baked oatmeal raisin cookies for the barn, made a pot of lentil/quinoa soup, another round of GF bagels and....

Made liver treats for the dogs.  My friend who raises Randall beef cattle had given me an entire beef liver (7+ lbs) and a beef heart, along with 30 lbs of marrow bones.  Just to show you how much I love my dogs, I processed 2# of beef liver and 6 cloves of garlic in my food processor (totally gross), then mixed two cups of organic, GF oats into the mess, spread it in a pan and baked it in a slow oven for two hours.  There are many baking aromas I love, but baked liver is not one of them.  Pfft,  However, these make great, healthy treats and you can't beat the cost.
Finished product
My friends, S & C, dropped by to help me move the quail hutch onto the new, sturdier base, and I gave them a bunch of treats for their huge crew.  I also gave my dairy farmer neighbor some for his seven rescue Chihuahuas (don't even knock on their door), as he delivered and stacked the rest of my hay!

While I was stripping down the hoop house, I let Lovey and the Pat tear-ass around the double fenced enclosure.  What a ball they had!  The Pat was airborne most of the time and they romped and rassled and had a grand time of it.  After days and days of rain, it was nice to have a second day in a row with no wetness.
Out cold.

There's a Butter Pat under that
pile of blankets
We all staggered in around 4:30 and collapsed.  The dogs were roused briefly for dinner and then returned to the sofa, where they stayed until breakfast.

Speaking of breakfast, this is my new breakfast du jour - roasted Delicata squash with a butter pat (not of the furry variety)!
Delicata Delicioso!

Monday, November 5, 2018

It was like Wizard of Oz, but not as entertaining.

As with most of the country, our weather has been...challenging.  It seems as if any change in temperature must come in violently.  No pussy-footing around, when it comes to the weather.

We have had two such incidents, where our balmy October/November temps (!!!) have been temporarily swept through by a cold front, bringing with it raw, wet weather and high winds.  A week ago, the Saturday of the undone Halloween party, we were under a wind advisory.   I battened down everything I could think of (as in tied down the bright, new cover on my fuel tank enclosure to within an inch of its life), weighted or moved buckets, etc.  Then went inside and tried to ignore the howling.  After delivering the meals to neighbors - and getting buffeted across two lanes, to and from my destination, I came home to this.
You may need to bigify.
I apologize for the poor quality of the photo - there has not been any sunlight with which to properly light anything.  We have had over 5 inches of rain in the last three days - never mind the weeks prior.  One does not walk, one squelches.

I took the tarps off after it was lifted and moved (wind howling and me hoping a flying branch wouldn't finish me off) so that the wind wouldn't further toss it onto my newly stretched fence.

I am now up to 6000 units of D3 a day.  Enough about the weather.

The one bright spot during the past week was a quick and wonderful visit with Sylvie!  I took a day off and we crammed enough culture into it to carry me through the month.  She is the cheerleader of my finer self.  We walked for miles through MASS MoCA, a fascinating museum that houses all manner of contemporary art exhibits - some massive

Parts of the massive exhibit by Liz Glynn,
a very thought-provoking, poignant
Afterwards, we dodged the inevitable pelting rain and had lunch in a nice little pub-style cafĂ© in North Adams, MA, hit a local Goodwill - where they had tons and tons of jeans (what I need) but none of their clothing was arranged by size.  Needless to say, we were in and out in minutes.  We then bought dinner ingredients and a frame and...
Sorry for the blurry pic.
Sylvie has an uncanny ability to look at a space and be able to visualize objects within it, in a perfect layout.  Her friends take advantage of her skills unabashedly.  I apologize for the blurry photograph - we were totally knackered by the time we finished and we still had to make dinner!  I will take a better pic later.

I am working on another pair of socks - for me - and I am very happy with the pattern.  Once these are finished, I am on to holiday knitting.
Since I took this photograph, I've finished #1 and started
on #2.
I woke up Sunday morning (oh thank you for the time change, whatever idiots were in charge, those many years ago) to...NO RAIN!  As a matter of fact, the sun actually came out a few times.  I hung a load of laundry on the clothesline - be still my heart!  I also got a little giddy and made a list for the day.
I know.
However ridiculous, I did managed to check off half of the list, do three loads of laundry, do three things NOT on the list, clean (as in vacuum and sweep) the house, and make a pot roast in my Instant Pot.  I will squeeze in the rest as I can this week.  If it doesn't rain this coming weekend (pleasegod), I hope to get the sheep all set for winter.  This will put me in good shape - at least for the critters.  Then I can sit inside, watch videos and eat bon bons.

Quite so.