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Friday, September 20, 2019

OMGIF!

I would have been a lot happier about it being Friday, if the thermometer wasn't registering 38 degrees.  I shouldn't complain, as the morning before (actually - more middle of the night) was 33!!!  Since I do not have television, listen to the radio or read the news, I would have completely missed the Frost Warning.  Because, it is mid SEPTEMBER and I am not thinking about things freezing yet.  I happened to be procrastinating doing my evening chores and was thumbing through Facebook.  On a local news channel story, I saw the red banner - Frost Warning.  I looked at the date of the article to see if a) it was fake news and b) if it was real news, but from last year.  No such luck.  It was real news and it was actually going to get low enough for the chance of frost in mid SEPTEMBER.  (You can see that I am still in denial.)  Sighing mightily, I slogged off to get covers for the lemon tree, fig tree, basil, and mandevilla vine.  By the time I was finished, my deck looked like the dress rehearsal for a Halloween play.

I was very glad I forced myself out of denial and into reality.  The top of the lemon tree's sheet was frozen.  There was ice on my windshield!  Holeygeezloueeze.  Yes, yes, I know, Joyce.  But -- again -- mid SEPTEMBER.  Now that I am on alert, I check the weather each evening.  It looks like the next week or so is back to more normal night time temperatures.  I should hope.

I have had to rummage around and find sweaters in the morning, then peel them off mid-day, as the temperatures go back into the high sixties/low seventies.  I have yet to go out into the garden to see if there is any frost damage.  I may get up in the wee hours but, since we already are down to six hours of daylight, I don't end up with time enough to do more than basic chores in the morning before work and it's dangerously close to darkness when I get home.  Last night, after work, I met someone to hand off a cast iron frying pan (I did feel that having five was a little too close to hoarding), then swung by my neighbor's to pick up a block of feta that he picked up from BJ's for me.  I paid over $4 for a small, dinky piece of feta at the local grocery store and this bad boy is over two pounds (think 2/3 of your standard brick but in cheese form) and was $10.  Pfft.  I am going to miss my garden this winter - food prices continue to go up.

Tomorrow, along with my weekly trip to Goodwill and swing by the parental palace, I am going to a free knitting clinic at a local-ish Shaker Museum.  I am determined to go out and meet new people, as I feel I am starting to lean towards feral.  I love this museum - it's a restored Shaker community in a lovely rural setting - and the clinic is to knit squares for a charitable cause.  What is not to love?  If I have my wits about me, I will take pictures.  Sunday will be a work day, but I am having a friend over for dinner in the early evening - that way, I will have to stop myself at a decent hour.  It's a sad state of affairs when you have to try and trick yourself - and it works.  I am hoping, also, to unload more items that are cluttering up my psyche (you know, avarice, gluttony, whiney-ness, hehe...)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Change.

I miss my view of cows when I do my daily run to feed the farm cats.  The landscape seems poorer without them.

With the departure of his dairy herd, my farmer becomes another casualty in the war on small farmers.  When I first moved to the area, there were small dairy farms dotted over the county.  My neighbor farmer was one of the smallest, yet he was the last one to fold.  He hung on by his fingernails because it was all he knew - it had been his father's dairy farm and his grandfather's before him.  Now the barn is empty, except for a few heifers and calves, and his prize Hereford bull (I now know from whence cometh the term "beefcake" - wowza!)  The farm is being leveled out, cleaned and tidied to hasten its sale.

Another local dairy farm - no longer housing a milking herd - has adapted by raising calves up to heifers for the big dairies.  They started in 1853 as a very diverse farm - cattle, sheep, poultry, swine and maple syrup production.  Over the years they diversified even further, by putting in a cheese house, producing wool, chickens, ducks, calves, pigs, lambs, and lumber.  In the 1960s, new laws governing necessary equipment for dairy farms in New York State (aka the "Nanny" State) forced farmers to either phase out of milk production all together or to focus on milk exclusively.  Once diversity was gone, farmers lost control over their futures.  There are now no small dairy farms in our county. 

On a happier note, the farm cat, Gracie, is letting me pet her!  It has only taken four years!  Sheesh.  Her current 'partner', a lovely orange striped fellow, is very feral and will not get within 10 feet of me.  I hope that whomever buys the farm is a cat lover.  I have set up a Plan B, however, and will work with a rescue to catch Gracie and see if we can place her in a home, while her current partner will most likely be placed as a barn cat. 

Last weekend I started the process of deconstructing my garden.  I can tell you that planting it in the spring is a whole lot more fun.  The days are warm, but the nights have gotten down to the high 30s already!  Hang on, there, Ma Nature!  It's only September! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Leveling out.

Things are finally settled into their normal state of controlled chaos.  Lovey has stopped standing outside of the closed guest room door and whining softly - which she did every morning that Els was here.  I believe she has given up hoping that Els would take her home with her and now has resigned herself that she's stuck here.  Heehee.
My furry, plump Velcro nugget continues to be glued to my side every morning and evening.  I am letting him soak up the love, before I upend his world again and take him to the vet for his annual checkup.  I'm sure he's going to need some dental work, so I am going to try to dovetail the two appointments.  I don't know that I can stand two round trips with the full siren effects in the car.

I canned 11 pints of crushed tomatoes and four half pints of sauce over the weekend.  I have another big pot of will-be sauce on the stove and a final counter top full of ripening tomatoes.  I may have to stay away from Marianne for a few weeks... poor me.

Objects are trickling out of the house - either on craigslist or to Goodwill - but it will be a long time before I am satisfied that things have been minimized. 

My furnace will be serviced tomorrow.  Winter is inevitable.  This is also the year of septic service, wherein I gaze in admiration at the blond Adonis who mans the truck.  Were I thirty years younger...

Laundry is caught up, beds have been changed to autumn apparel and I am ready to tackle my own apparel.  It's next up on the Purge List.

I leave you with pictures of Reggie (who seems to have a crush on Dimples the Duck), the Extreme Lounge Chair and Hopzilla.


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

I was up. I was down. There was a lot of zucchini involved.

Hello?

Right off the bat, I would like to say...
Amen, Lucy.  Amen.

It's very true, that time flies when you're having fun.  My week with Els was here and gone in the blink of an eye - and it was a darn good thing that we were forced to say goodbye quickly at the train station.  (Who's cutting the onions??)  It was a weepy trip home.

Just when I thought that I would be able to take a breather, this happened.

Second round of Marianne's tomatoes.

My own garden started producing!
I had to go back in for a bigger trug!

My neighbor dropped off a 'few' tomatoes
Then, this.
A dozen ears of corn, ready to freeze.

The first round of Marianne's tomatoes!

Once I was assured that Els liked zucchini, I pulled out the stops on my zucchini recipe repertoire.  There were zoodles, of course, and a find-sounding-but-meh-tasting savory vegetable cheesecake (heavy on the zucchini).  There was Lemon Zucchini Bread with Lemon Glaze, again.  There was Tomato and Cheddar pie.  There were Grilled Fish Packets with... yep.  There were smoothies for breakfast and cheese and bread for lunch.  There were MANY cups of tea.  There was peace and quiet.

And, there was...weeding.  Who knew that there was someone out there who LIKED to weed?!
Red noodle beans on the left; yard long
beans on the right.  Zucchini straight ahead.

The cosmos went crazy!

Dahlias and kale

Cucumbers and dahlias and...
no weeds!

Pepper bed with... no weeds!

The lovely Els.
I delayed in relating this exciting news until I knew she was safely in the Netherlands and couldn't be kidnapped by my gardening friends.

While we were lounging on the deck, discussing the true meaning of life and enjoying the hummingbirds, I suddenly found myself still talking to Els, but looking at the sky through the top of the pergola.  My deck chair had decided to become an extreme lounge chair.  I would have carried on talking, but all my blood was being pumped to my head.  Looks like I will be searching for 'new' deck furniture in the spring.  Having guests was also the key to my guest shower head going on strike.  I have very hard water and faithfully soak the shower head in white vinegar to keep it flowing.  Apparently, it had had enough.  I managed to get my handyguy to come down at 9P to wrest the thing off so that I could get to HD in the morning to buy a replacement.  He was then good enough to come back down to put it on.  Who knew Teflon tape was a thing?  So - shower is go, chair is gone.  But summer is over and my days of lounging are over, too.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Bats, berries and bounty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Monday, August 19, 2019

1001 Zucchini Recipes

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

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

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

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




Thursday, August 15, 2019

Walla, Walla, Bing, Bang.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 5, 2019

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

Today's lunch.

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

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

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

Friday, August 2, 2019

Rumors of my abduction by aliens is greatly exaggerated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Coming out the other side.

Or, we lived through it.

Geez.

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

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

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

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

Lovey

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

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

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Let's talk gardens.

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

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

Weedy herb bed with Elderberries.

Weedy pepper bed.  (Notice the theme?)

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 8, 2019

It's going to be a rip-roarin' summer!

Lawsymercy.  First, let me state here that I will NEVER HAVE ANOTHER YARD SALE AGAIN.  PERIOD.  I am slated to help my sister with hers, but, as for one of my own?  No way, Jose.

Our office closed early on Wednesday, so I beat a hasty retreat home - and turned on all the fans.  It was a bona fide heat wave with high heat indexes and it was HUMID.  My least favorite combination.  Once the sun started to sink, I fired up the oven and baked my two pies for the library fundraiser - rhubarb custard.  One of my favorite recipes and easy-peasy.  Once they cooled (took hours), into the fridge and the dogs and I were trying to sleep in front of the fans.
IN the sun?  "Slimmie"?

Even with 93% humidity, The Pat
must be covered.  It makes me want
to break out in hives.
The Fourth dawned with the same amount of heat/humidity, so I opted to drop the pies off with a library trustee and then crept into the dark house, with all windows closed, curtains drawn and fans on full.  Amazingly, my neighbor - he of the semi-automatic weaponry - was a mere shadow of his usual Fourth of July self.  Last year, I truly thought we had been invaded.  There were explosions into the wee hours.  This year?  I guess the heat wave must have gotten to him, or his fuses were damp.  There were a few bangs, but that was it.  Bless him.

Friday was up to VT for errand-running, change getting, a short parental visit, and back to start sorting out and putting out the yard sale stuff.  It did not help that the heat wave persisted.  Thanks to my own genetic makeup, compounded by Doxycycline, I could only spend about 10 minutes at a go outside, before having to retreat and cool down.  That made the set-up process excruciatingly long and frustrating.  Have I mentioned that I get cranky in humidity?  Ditto Saturday, where it was even more humid, if that was at all possible without rain.  Speaking of which, in the middle of the day, a cold front moved through and there was much racing around with tarps and bungee cords.  I managed to get everything battened down before the rain.
Nightly "Cheezies" - the big blue one
is mine.  The little, bitty cheezie is Slimmie's.
As I sank into my damp chair to enjoy the sound of rain on the metal roof, my phone rang - the caller was from Tucson, so I let it go into voicemail.  I get so many spam calls, that I don't answer anything that doesn't have a name attached to it.  When the caller left a voicemail, I listened and it was my cousin, Kitt, whom I have not seen in 25+ years!  She, her husband, their daughter and SIL, granddaughter and grandson, were motoring through, on their way to Boston and could they stop to see me in the morning.

Heck yeah.

The morning of the yard sale dawned gloriously un-humid and cool.  Birds sang.  Winds wafted.  I ran around like a maniac.  I was almost set up when 1) my sister arrived (yay!), 2) my neighbor arrived with even more 'junk' (erm), 3) a 24' flashy motor home pulled into the driveway.  Luckily, they arrived early, so I had time to talk, laugh, show them around, and hug my cousin mercilessly.  Then they were off and my sister stayed for a visit, while we waited for the crowds.  And waited.  The bad news was that very few people showed up.  The good news was that I got a lot of weeding done!  I positioned myself under the big fir tree in my front yard and weeded as long as I could take the sun, then flopped in a chair and listened to my audio book.  I gave the dogs marrow bones (frozen, so they could gnaw on them and cool down at the same time), infused some filtered water with mint, made some cold brew, tidied up here, tidied up there.  Twiddled my thumbs.  Sighed mightily.  I finally had to call it quits, as far as sitting outside, shade or not, and went in to do housework.  I figured the dogs would sound the alarm should anyone arrive.
Cukes weeded - except for the middle.
In the early part of the day, it was just peaceful - with birds flitting about.  A young catbird found me fascinating and we sat about five feet apart, sizing each other up.  I think they are such pretty birds.  The only sour note was the endless cacophony of young crows, pestering their parents in the chicken yard.  I'm not sure if it is a Murder of Crows, or Let's Murder Some Crows.

I also received news over the holiday that another close friend has ended a chapter in her life - she will be staying with us for a few weeks, while she works out her next adventure.  She comes with her bestie, Fae, an 11 year old fluffy, four-pawed girl dog.  It will be interesting to see how I do, going from semi-feral, semi-hermit to roomie.  And how the pups do with a new face in the pack.  Given that Rosie is the personification of positive energy and sunshine, I think I will do fine.  I can always hide in my room!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

All I needed was a cause and other ramblings.

This energy drain is really getting on my nerves. There’s nothing worse, to me, than sitting around looking at your list multiplying and not having the energy to tackle it. However I did get a little boost from an  unusual source on Sunday. When I dropped off the baked goods at the farm, I found out that one of my gravel pit neighbors ( codename: Pinocchio) was in the process of trying to get a permit to screen over 50,000 yards of soil. Apparently, that comes out to around 2800 truckloads. Or 2800 trucks going past my house, twice. Plus the noise of the screening. I was so incensed I think there was smoke coming out of my ears.

There is nothing like righteous indignation to give one an energy boost! I got on the Internet and found the email address for the mining division of the DEC.  I then fired off an email to them and sent emails to everyone I know who has any connection with state government. I’ll  do everything in my power to make sure that that permit is not issued. Our road is in terrible shape now, with just the heavy truck traffic that we have with the two mines.  Quadrupling – or whatever-ing - the traffic is not going to make it better. There is also a small bridge that is crumbling and it would be disastrous to subject it to that kind of wear.  Hmm.   Then, again, should the bridge collapse with a truck carrying a full load, I guess that would put a monkey wrench in the traffic pattern.   I digress.

I was pleased that DEC responded quickly,  and I now have names, email addresses and phone numbers, plus some leads to influential people.    I’ve only just begun the fight.


*****


The Little Prince (aka The Butter Pat, The Pat, Mr. Stinky) had to go to the vet this morning for his first seasonal allergy shot.  And nail clipping.  This now involves:  administering half a sedative an hour before his appointment; strapping him into his brace; clipping him into his booster seat, all while Lovey looks on, worried.  He is the only dog I have had (beside Scrappy, who was 99.999% perfect) who just can't wait to get to the vet's.  He almost levitates up the ramp.  This morning, we came through the door and smack into a vastly overweight and amped up lab mix.  Who roared.  This set off the high yodeling of the Pat.  It was chaos.  His vet, Dr. Hannah, came running across the waiting room and scooped him up and trotted back to an examining room, me in tow.  There was much cooing and massaging of little ham legs and carrying-on.  No wonder he looks forward to it.  I would, too.  No one offered to massage my big ham legs, however.  And thank goodness.


While they were waiting until the reception area was clear - the 'fluffy' lab is the polar opposite of the Pat, shedding in fear like a ninja and peeing all over the place - Little Prince managed to draw a crowd - there were two vets, two vet techs and a receptionist, all squeezed into the lab, taking turns rubbing his little cranium and hand-feeding him treats, all talking in high-pitched voices.  It was embarrassing.  By the time we made it back to the car, his little head was drooping and he dozed all the way home.  There was a joyful reunion of siblings - parted for those long minutes - and then he went into his crate on his own, pulled up his blanket and was asleep before I left for work.  I want to come back as the Pat.


*****


I know it's going to be worse before it's better, but this organizing for a yard sale is horrendous!  I have piles everywhere.  There is no surface showing.  I am starting to develop a tic.  It hasn't helped that it's been put off for a week - the weather last weekend was uncooperative.  This Sunday is so-so, but I am not putting it off again.  I had planned on putting an ad in the local rag and went through the grinding process of actually contacting someone.  If you call, you get voicemail.  There is no information in the paper as to the cost of ads ($ per line), so one is forced to send an email.  A full week later, I received a reply.  Eight emails later - with me sending them my copy and requesting a price and never getting one - I got this reply:  "One problem.  Every summer we take the first week of July off and there is no paper."  Seven emails prior to this, I gave him the copy - which included the date of the sale (7/7) and told him I needed it to run in this week's edition.  I do believe he expected me to change the date of my sale to coincide with his vacation.  I will turn to Facebook.  It's no wonder that social media is taking over the world.  And that is not a good thing, IMHO.  Friday I will get my change and start setting up.  Saturday I will finish setting up and take pictures of the 'highlighted' items to post on FB.  Sunday morning, mimosa in hand (kidding.  maybe.) I will brace myself and hope that lots of people come and find just what they've always been looking for.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Mama - get lost!


When I was a child, this would have been all the impetus I would need to ditch the folks.  Happy Weekend, everyone!

*Edited to note that I now know why it's called a "murder" of crows.  It's how we  (I and all the parental crows) feel about the adolescent crows, those huge babies that NEVER SHUT UP.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Yes, this is all I have to show.

My lunch.
Saturday morning was spent at Express Care (Lyme's), herding cattle, battling migraines, picking up Roger, and hunting for my energy.  I have the sneaking suspicion that the Universe is getting tired of trying to get her point across, while I refuse to listen.  Pfft.

Another weekend lost to lack of energy.  I will have to say that that is my least favorite feeling.  It leaves (this) one with (mental) wheels spinning and stewing in frustration.  Which helps nothing and no one.  I have resigned myself to taking my doxycycline and being patient.  I seriously think that insects will take over the world within an alarmingly short period of time.  Adding insult to injury, doxycycline renders you super-sensitive to sun.  And guess what we had all weekend?  Yep. 
I did do some vacuuming, and managed a short visit with my parents after the EC visit.  I picked up quail eggs from Marianne and discovered their Highland cattle on the loose.  Luckily, her husband was home and we rounded them up between us.  It's rather intimidating, being faced with those hairy beasts, horns and all, armed with a stick - the only thing at hand at the time. 

I also picked up Roger.  Remember my reference to 'never say never'?  Well, our roosterless state lasted less than a month.  Friends of a friend needed to rehome a young RIR rooster and I, of the wet lettuce spine, said yes.  I picked him up Saturday, late afternoon, and integrated him into the coop when it was darkish.  One would think that he would be thrilled to be let out of the cat carrier, but that one would be wrong.  I could not get him out, even with shaking the carrier like a salt shaker.  I had to grope around in the dark and take the carrier apart.  However, all was quiet (except for crowing) in the morning and the mix was seamless.  He is quite handsome and seems very nice.  However, after my recent experiences (of the last four years), I am withholding judgement.  I was impressed that he refused to go in to roost until every last resident was inside.  The ducks gave him an extra dose of anxiety, as they are always the very last to go in - stretching it out until it is fairly dark.  Roger kept coming out and staring at them.  To no avail.  There is no hurrying ducks. 

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, weather-wise.  Sun, of course.  It was all I could do to dart in and out, hanging up the laundry.  I was draped in netting, hats, veils, shirts, vestments, trailing about like a wraith.  Geez.  I did get my recycling to the transfer station; I did fertilize the tomato plants.  I did not much else.  Peanut spent some time in his brace - which he cannot get off, try as he might.  I gave them each a marrow bone and put them out on the deck on their beach blankets.  That bought me a lovely, restful period of about half an hour.  While I was pacing the floors, waiting for the miracle cure, I whipped up a batch of Chili Burgers from one of my Moosewood cookbooks - the one with fifteen sticky note bookmarks.  I believe it's their Low-Fat cookbook.  I will have to say they were and are delicious!  (See photo above). 

So, onward and upward.  I am most anxious to get my get-up-and-go back.  Hopefully, by the middle of the week, I should be feeling much better.  I have my yard sale coming up this coming Sunday and I'll be damned if I will continue this slogging around for much longer.  I've set up a makeshift table in the car port and I have been toting out objects every now and then.  This week I will spend time in every room until I have a nice, big pile.



Thursday, June 20, 2019

Rising to the surface.

One would think that, having spent so much time away, I could at least make up for it with a riot of photos, memorializing all that was done.  Well, one would be wrong.  It's been a whole lot of hurry up and wait around here.  And there's a lot of the same on the job.  Which, I am happy to report, I have for another year.  I was hoping for two, but we take what we get and be glad about it.


I spent a futile night cleaning the guest room for my youngest sister - only to find out on the day she was to arrive that she had let her drivers license lapse and wouldn't be coming.  Ah, well.  As it turned out, the cleaning and fluffing was not for naught, as I had ordered a mattress topper (in my never-ending quest for a good night's sleep) and was instructed to place it on my mattress and let it 'come to life' for 48 HOURS.  What?  So, off to the guest room I shuffled for the allotted time.  This, in turn, stirred things up on the furry kids front - what was I doing down there?  Why was I up in the night?  Why did I not want company in the bathroom?  Tonight, thank goodness, my mattress topper should have come to full sense of itself and I am back where I belong.


The Pat is still under crate arrest and I have to carry him in and out, morning and night, to do his business.  I can tell he likes the additional attention, so I am sure I will have to wean him off after he's feeling better.  I will wait until its been a full two weeks before I strap him into his L'il Back Brace - I want to make sure that he can't twist himself into paralysis when my back is turned.


I continue to experiment with pickled quail eggs.  So far, every recipe I've tried, I've liked.  There was the bourbon, the shallots and white wine, and the soy.  I think the soy is my favorite, thus far.  Next on the agenda is mustard.  The four little girls seem to be settling in, being without fear of dismemberment. 


I do have a couple of pics...


Blossoms!

Squashette!
Granola

And knitting
Of course, over the period of the last week or so, I noticed that the zucchini plants were starting to sport yellow leaves - just to be thorough, I sprinkled some Epsom salt around each and gave them a good going-over with my homemade spider mite/aphid spray.   The beans are up, the chard is up, everything is holding its own, even with lots of rain, very little sun and much cooler than normal temps.  I only had one melon seed out of four germinate, so I am trying to decide whether to just go with the one (sensible choice) or replant six more (insane choice).


I still  have some things to do in the garden, but it is pretty well done - except for all the watering and weeding.  I am getting ready for a yard sale on the 30th, so that has meant lots of piles.  I have found that the most useful way for me to get ready, is to place a box/boxes in each room and then, as I am in the room, sort through things and put everything that's going into the boxes.  Then these will be sorted by price, etc.  I am only having it the one day because I thought it would be safer than having cars parked on the side of the road with all the idiot truck drivers zooming around the corners without slowing or looking.  Plus, I can only take interacting with the public for one day.  I figure I can work in the garden and on the compost piles when I am between customers.  If the weather is nice enough, I may set up doggy day care on the back deck.  It would be too much turmoil with all the comings-and-goings.


So, back down I go - into endless sheets of inventory and unending farm chores.  I will resurface next week with my own rendition of Never Say Never.  Hehe.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Really, you know me so well...

...it's almost scary.  After a totally unscientific procedure, wherein I went through many machinations and figurings and calculations, all adding up to nonsense, I decided to opt for pure numbers.  Since Michelle and Leigh were within a half-chore of each other, they win!  And, as I winged this whole process, the prizes are still a mystery.  To me, too! LOL!  But I do have some ideas...

Michelle, I have your info, so Leigh, would you please email your mailing address?

I am desperately trying to cut back on my lists.  The problem is, once I have it written down, I take it as a challenge to get it all done.  No matter how insane it is.  It's a condition.  I have always been very competitive with myself (and, honestly, just in general).  I remember, back in a past life, when I worked in the advertising industry, the agency had a 'teamwork building night' that included a volley ball game.  Apparently, by the end of the game, management had the idea that I was actually 8 feet tall and a spitfire.  Thereafter, my coworkers tended to hug the walls while passing me.  I got both a raise and a promotion.   Decades later (I'm not saying how many), I have a more laissez faire attitude about these things - except when it comes to competing with myself.  I could blame it on being raised to think that what I did was never enough.  However, that would be a complete waste of time and energy.  Once you've been dipped in that dye bath at an early age, it can become part of your DNA.  Best to just come to friendly terms with it!

Thank you again, you dears.  I appreciate those that think I am super-Sweezie and those who think I should sit down, have a martini and seize that diem!

(Now excuse me while I start my list for the weekend.... wash the dog (singular), bake bagels, laundry, Home Depot, weed wack my parents' place, plant trees, wash kitchen floor, vacuum, dust, sweep, clean deck, quit avoiding the sweater.........)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

What, ho!

Ass over tea cups is an apt description of my week - I have not forgotten my promise to gift the presager of my to-do list!  Fathoming who was wily enough to know the workings of my mind (scary thought) will take more concentration than I can dig up at the moment.  I hope to have the winner sorted over the weekend.


The Pat is in a world of hurt, poor laddie, and is on meds and crate-rest.  My office needs to be dealt with and packed up and whatever (meaning 12 rooms of furniture, etc. need to be sorted by sell/donate/store) and out of the door by the end of the month, and my next port of call is still an unknown.


Add to that complicated family matters and the farm, and it's amazing I am still upright.  However, know that the BGPs are firmly pulled up and belted, the upper lip is reasonably stiff and one foot is still placed in front of the other.   Back to you soon, poppets.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The results are in.

Make lunar rhubarb cake
 Make granola

 Wash dogs
 Clean out cooler
 Clean off deck
 Visit parents
 Knit
 Two grocery stores

 Home Depot
 Goodwill
 Tractor supply
 Laundry
 Clean bathrooms

 Block sweater
 Summerize closet/wardrobe
 Clean winter shoes and put away
 Clean guest room


I believe I need a little more balance in my weekends.  (Mama Pea, would you come down and shake some sense into me?  Gently?)  I would have washed the dogs BUT, Mr. Fragile managed to hurt his back - again.  Has anyone been keeping track?  Is this the fifth time?  Tenth?  My neighbor had called and invited me to dinner and, being lured by the prospect of not having to cook, I said yes.  I had forgotten that he considers dinner to be the minute after the restaurant opens - which means I leave my door at 4P.  (4P, my dears, is when I start contemplating stopping my labors in the next hour or so, to be followed by a shower and a glass of wine, not necessarily in that order, with dinner following, vaguely at 8ish.)  This self-made pressure had me skipping Home Depot and vaulting home.  Even so, I only had 45 minutes to get the laundry off the line and get reasonably presentable.  I managed both, but decided to leave The Pat uncrated because I had crated and re-crated him twice and I felt a twinge.  Bad decision.  When I got home (by 5:37P - nothing like dinner out with an old guy.  You never have to worry about spending time on witty conversation - it's ordering as you're nearing the table, bing/bam/boom.  Out the door.) my Butter Pat was obviously very uncomfortable.  We are back to pain meds and crating.  At least I know the drill.  We've got a Thursday morning vet appointment - for something unrelated - so we will be refilling the doggie medicine cabinet.  Whoopee.


I will have to tally the bets - does swapping out my summer tees with my winter tees count as half a point? - and a big hug to you who actually thought I might come to my senses and have cocktails with my knitting or, at the very least, ignore most of my list.   I do have to tidy up the guest room, as my youngest sis is doing an over-nighter on Friday.  Her favorite pastime is cleaning surfaces, so I need to up my game.  At least for 12 hours.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Anyone taking bets?

Here’s my list for Sunday:
(Not in any particular order)

 Make lunar rhubarb cake
 Make granola
 Wash dogs
 Clean out cooler
 Clean off deck
 Visit parents
 Knit
 Two grocery stores
 Home Depot
 Goodwill
 Tractor supply
 Laundry
 Clean bathrooms
 Block sweater
 Summerize closet/wardrobe
 Clean winter shoes and put away
 Clean guest room

Here’s the deal: the person who is closest to guessing what I actually get done, will win a surprise something!  Of course, you’ll have to trust me and you do trust me, don’t you?  All will be revealed on Tuesday, so put on your thinking caps!

( my apologies if this turns out wonky. I’m posting from my phone.)




Friday, June 7, 2019

Getting creative.

While I have every intention of being frugal and stretching things to within a hare's breath (whatever that means), I am easily distracted (SQUIRREL!) and mending tends to be down towards the bottom of the list - right above cleaning the oven.


I have had my favorite jeans on the mending pile for, oh, several months.  I have randomly moved them around, trying to put them in my line of vision so that I will focus and mend.  Ha.  I have had them on my coffee table - right, smack-dab, in front of me for over three months.  I have even moved them to get at my reading material.  I finally pulled up the worn (and also in need of mending) BGPs and got to work.


I like the result.  These were my very best, favorite Sylvie-given jeans, and I have missed them.  They were pristine until I tripped on the vet's pot-holed driveway, while holding an injured Butter Pat.  Needless to say, I sacrificed the jeans (and my kneecap) and kept a firm grip on the stinker.  For a while, I tried to convince myself that torn jeans were au currant - and they were, if you were 18. 


I am now declaring them All The Rage.


And I wore them to work.  I am now hoping for more tears - without harm to my person - so that I can continue my creation.



Monday, June 3, 2019

An Historical Weekend.

This will go down in my personal history as the first time I was ever run over by a sheep.  And not just any sheep.  A sheep the size of a Shetland pony.  Norman, you know who you are.
Evidence.
Friday dawned as a lovely spring day.  I was fairly organized for a change, and had my shearing paraphernalia all in order and by the back door.  All I had to do was wait for the call.  Since my shearer was going in reverse order this year, I figured I would be early afternoon in the line-up.  That left time for some serious puttering in the garden, and for the sheep to graze before being lured into the shearing area and closed in.  All went smoothly.  It should have been a sign but, alas, I was blissfully ignorant.


I had decided to sit out my usual assistant role at my neighbor's but, after some thought, I decided that it would be more prudent to help - otherwise, I wouldn't have my boys done until dusk.  My neighbor is totally unfocused, unorganized and a general hot mess.  So I chuffed up and volunteered, then headed down the road.  It was as I expected.  After a chaotic forty-five minutes of wrestling, shooing, dodging, cleaning, and more wrestling, we had his five sheep, one angora goat and two less-than-helpful alpacas shorn. 


Back to the Little Lucky, all seemed quiet.  (Cue eerie music)  Joe and I headed for the barn.  Joe had gone through the gate and set up, then wrestled the fat eel (Linden) into submission, when Norman appeared at the barn door - hysterical - and shot toward the gate.  And me.  It was one of those moments you remember in slow motion - NOOOOOOOOOOOoooooo - as he broadsided me, gate and all and literally ran over me.   I was flattened, vaguely protected from his pointy hooves by the gate, with thoughts of mutton dancing through my head.  Joe was horrified, but, as we do, I pulled up my muddy BGPs, fixed the gate and prepared a bowl of grain.  If anything can be said for Norman (anything that can be said in polite company, that is), his stomach overrides his pea-sized brain every time.  By the time he trotted his fat carcass through the gate and over to the grain bowl, Joe was done with the eel.  So I had the satisfaction of having Norman wrenched from his treat and plopped on his sizeable derriere.


I managed to limp through the rest of the day and was totally knackered by 8P - so off to bed.  Interestingly, last weekend I was also totally knackered and was completely (well, 90%) reenergized by morning.  This Saturday, I awoke feeling as if I had not slept at all, and dragged through the entire day.  As it turned out, it was good timing, as I was on the road from 8A until arriving home at 3P, then out the door again at 4P, arriving home for good at 6:30P.  By Sunday morning, I was back to my old self.  Which, unfortunately, included a very sore hip and knee.  This lifestyle is not for sissies.


I managed to try some new recipes this weekend which were ... interesting.  I made some almond flour blueberry muffins - gluten free and low sugar - which turned out to be rather soggy.  I don't know that I have ever had soggy muffins before this.  I think it was because the recipe called for a quarter cup of melted coconut oil - which seemed to be too much.  The flavor is very good but they are odd.  I had my neighbor over for dinner - my way of reciprocating for all of his help around the farm - and tried a slightly altered version of a foil packet dinner from The Kitchn.  I don't know why I thought it would be roasted - sealed in a tight packet, it was more like poached - but it was okay; not great.  I also tried another pickled quail egg recipe (the bourbon recipe was great!) and will make some tiny Scotch eggs this week in my efforts to use up things in my freezer.


I can hardly wait to see what next weekend has in store for me.  I hope I live through it.