Wednesday, February 27, 2019

That slippery slope.

I have reached a new low.  Not only did I forget to brush my teeth this morning (TMI??), but I am sitting at my desk in the office in my .... slippers.


Just sent a text to my middle sister, alerting her that she had better brace for the future.  Let's hope it's not the near future.


Longer post with pictures coming.  We managed to not blow away on Monday, although the pine trees in my little forest took on a domino effect.  No sheep blew by my front window.  The quail survived, yet again, but are actively petitioning their hatchery in California to be rescued from their daily dose of Fresh Hell.  I hope they take me with them.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Me : Cars / Oil : Water / Match : Gasoline

Short Pier : Long Drive.

It occurred to me that I should entitle my memoir "My Life In Cars", but it would have to be X-Rated due to language issues.

On Monday, I drove three different vehicles and none of them was my car.  Let's morph back to Friday.  I am minding my own bees-wax, listening to Rick Bragg's My Southern Journey, thinking of the long weekend stretching ahead, mentally ticking off all the items on my List.  Then, three blocks from my office building, I smelled something burning.  Like rubber.  Since there was no one in front of me, I figured it was my piece of junk car.  I asked the building super - long-suffering Steve - if he could just take a look at it and figure out what could be causing the problem.

His verdict?  The clutch.  OF COURSE.  Because I have redone the wheels, suspension, brakes, suspension, wheels, suspension and the Universe thought I might be in the mood for something different.  I was not.  I tracked down my mechanic and gave him the info and he agreed.  Once again, Saturday found me driving north to the mechanic.  Since it's a full-day repair, I rented a car from Saturday to Monday.  Saturday afternoon, my mechanic called and gave me the good news - it was not my clutch!  I did not need a new clutch!  There was an ominous pause, an audible swallow, and he told me it was the transmission... , instead of an $1100 job, it would be a $3000 job, less if he could find a used transmission from someone who would guarantee it.  He could, however, give me a loaner so that I didn't have to compound my outlay by having to rent a car for the week.

Then these things happened.  I got my rental, which was a 2019 SUV - it was POSH!  And had way too many doodads on it to make me comfortable but, still.  I had to turn it in on Monday.  We had a winter storm on Monday.  After a white knuckle 25 mile drive over slippery roads, I made it back up to VT and turned it in.  I got a ride from the rental company to the mechanic where I found out the loaner had not been returned and wouldn't be returned for another 5-6 hours.  BUT, I could use his truck in the meantime.  His truck was the size of a 747, had 215,000+ miles on it and all kinds of "quirks".  A beggar could not be a chooser, however, and I took it.  It should have included a ladder and crash helmet (I don't want to tell you how ungracefully I clambered into that giant vehicle - barely).  Off I went - 25 miles back home.  Needless to say, I did not get much checked off The List.  I did, however, decide that I was miserable enough to tackle my filing and clear off my desk top.  At 5:30, I clambered back up into the behemoth and bounced my way back up to VT.  Where I collected my loaner.
I couldn't even get it all in the frame.
Luckily, it is only the size of a small school bus, and not an airplane.  However, it has dawned on me that I will be pumping enough gas into this beast to pay for a rental car.  Sigh.  I have added "Find a good, used Toyota Rav 4" to my list.

Since I will grab onto any tiny good thing like a woman drowning, there was a plus:
Yaaaaassss!  I squeezed in a loaf of GF bread - using yeast this time! - and it turned out like bread!  This is a good thing, because I did not have time to do any other cooking and had to make PBJs for lunch.

The other good thing was snuggle time with my girl.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Remoting in and other ramblings.

That dull red was blood-red, just moments
before.  Yo!  Sailors!
Thanks to the Weather, with a capital W, I was forced to stay home Tuesday and Wednesday.  We had, in no particular order, sleet, rain, ice, snow, wind, sleety rain, icy wind, and more snow.  It was a very unusual snow - dryish, as in it didn't stick to my shovel, but abundant, as in it really piled up.  Because it did not stick, it was easy to rake it off of any roof, but it was heavy.  When I let HQ know that I was weathered in (we are into weird-speak now, I see), I was told I could remote in and finish my multiple tasks (yay, tasks!) including my onboarding placeholders.  What?

Sometimes I wonder what planet I woke up on.

I am back in the office today, but my brain seems to be hardwired into thinking it's Friday.  I hope I show up tomorrow, but it's 50/50.

I used a new conditioner this morning and my hair now has a bad case of the flops.  Which, given my genetic make-up, is not a good thing.

In a mad fit of cabin fever, I organized all my patterns.

Just when I thought things were too boring, I had to get a certain someone to the vet.  Out of the blue, there was mad head-shaking-ear-flapping.  Non-ending.  I poked around in the Pat's flappy little ears, but just came up with ear wax.  Into the car went the booster seat, seat belts were strapped in all around and off we went - just before the second round of ice.
My co-pilot in half-mouse-ear pose
We did a quick feeding of the barn cats and were off.  Thankfully, the main roads were in better shape than the secondary, and we made it safely.  After PB made the rounds - front desk, office, hospital - whatever doors are open or people appear, they are all his dear friends - Dr. Hannah dredged out his ears and found the beginnings of a yeast infection.  Then it was on with the tiny muzzle and the nail clippers were applied.  Geez.  High drama screaming, while rapidly wagging his tail.  He is too much.  He got treats and I paid the bill.  Back home, Lovey was thrilled that she hadn't been left an orphan and we got back to normal.  Except, I now have to add ear cleaning and squirting of ointment to our morning/evening schedule.  While it was all fine and dandy with Dr. Hannah, with Mom it's an entire different (and highly dramatic) ball of (ear) wax.

This Saturday, it's a hot time in the old town, with a Valentine's gathering where my sister and I are the youngest in attendance by a long shot.  I am spending Sunday firmly planted at home.  I've made a tiny bit of progress on my office/craft room and I am all fired up!  I may have a desk by the end of the weekend.

As for Valentine's Day - one of many minor holidays I normally ignore - I may rustle up the energy to shape the dogs' dinners into hearts.  Or not.  Bah, heartburn!

Monday, February 11, 2019

A little of this, a little of that and little more of both.

I think I have finally gotten to the point of not struggling against my weekends.  There have been too many Sunday evenings where I am sitting, stewing over lost opportunities, lack of 'fun', frustration at the snail's pace of checking off my to-do list.  While I don't exactly go with the flow - I will never totally be that type of person - I am trying to look at each unexpected turn in the road as an opportunity.  For instance, I took my car in for an oil change and - you guessed it - was there for two and a half hours.  I was prepared.  I had a book on Libby, my ear buds and my knitting.  I was lucky that the repair was covered under warranty, so I counted that as a bonus.  I was there long enough to finish the second sock in a pair; bonus #2.  The downside was that I had brought my freshly washed sheets to pop in the dryer at Mom's, but I ended up not having enough time there for a dryer cycle.  I did my few errands, got my car washed and visited with Marianne for a bit.  Then I went home and draped my sheets over the drying rack.

There is always a bonus when visiting with Marianne - in addition to spending time with her.  She is, what I would define as, fiercely intelligent, cloaked in a generous, modest persona.  I ended up coming home with some massive organic sweet potatoes and two dozen eggs.  Woot!

(Insert sound of dragging soapbox)
I want to veer off and talk about the sorry state of customer service.  It has become a rare commodity.  In my little town, there is a hydroponic lettuce grower who has a ginormous sign in front of their glowing greenhouses:  LETTUCE SOLD HERE.  Local lettuce, all year around?  What's not to love!  The problem is, it seems to be a secret to the employees.  I have made three trips to find the door locked.  It was hard enough finding the right door.  The last two times, there were lights on and the sound of people talking inside.  I was just able to see the lettuce table and it was fully stocked.  No answer to my loud knocking (okay, pounding) on the door.  Crickets.  On Saturday, I was giving it one more try before peppering their Facebook page with barbed comments.  I saw two employees, smoking outside of a different door.  I went to the unmarked lettuce door and it was locked.  I knocked.  I then sashayed around the corner and said, "Hi there.  Your GREAT BIG ASS SIGN by the road says you sell lettuce.  Is there a secret code?  Are your hours a GREAT MYSTERY?  Would one of you please open the door so I can BUY THE LETTUCE YOU ARE ADVERTISING IN YOUR BIG ASS SIGN?  Or words to that effect.  One of them slouched, bitterly, inside and reluctantly unlocked the door.  I bought my lettuce and then yelled, "HAVE A NICE DAY!" before going on my way.  I refrained from slamming the door, should it lock behind me.  Honest to Pete.

Same day, I had stopped at the Aldi's I always visit.  The shelves were a mess, stock was low and there was only one cashier.  And a very, very long line.  The cashier indicated some of us could move to the next register and, lo and behold, another cashier emerged from a door, fairly bristling with indignation, an attitude she maintained throughout all her transactions.  As I paid my bill, I casually suggested she look for a job she would enjoy, as this clearly was not the case.  Pfft.

End of oration.

Let's look at Marianne's sweet potato, shall we?  A much nicer subject:
For reference, it was the size of my forearm!
I did end up getting some things ticked off The List.  I cleaned up the dining room/deck entry area and discovered a treasure:
My dad's school lunch tin
Still in excellent condition
after almost 90 years!
Local lettuce - worth the aggravation!
I had taken one of the last two ducks out of the freezer (we're making progress, although I could use some ideas for frozen, sliced beets...) for my weekly dinner with my neighbor.  Unfortunately, he was down with the flu, so I will be dining in style all week.  I tried a new method - slow cooking - and it worked wonderfully.  I also found a maple bourbon gravy recipe that was mmmmm-good! 

I made up another batch of Greek yogurt (how have I been able to survive without my Instant Pot?),
3 hours and 32 minutes to yogurt!
took the dogs out multiple times, raked up the sheep yard, restacked hay, altered a hoodie for a friend's dog and watched multiple episodes of New Tricks.  It was a very satisfying weekend.  I also got a bit of good news -
The socks fit!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Stepping up to the plate, or Night of the Zombie Rooster!

I felt like Dorothy, stepping out of her house after landing in Oz.  The fact that the temperature on Saturday was NOT subzero was disconcerting.  But very welcome.  The sun even came out.  I am cautiously optimistic that we will have at least a week of relief.

I worked from home on Thursday and half of Friday - Thursday, because it was double-digit below zero without factoring in the wind chill.  Friday, because I had my annual physical that dragged on for half the day, and it just made sense to go home and work, rather than travel another hour plus to the office.  Late afternoon, I trotted out to the coop to top off their feed and check for frozen eggs.  I walked in to find Fritz had been beaten to a bloody pulp by the big asshat rooster, Red.  It was the final straw.

I will admit that I usually push off these unpleasant but necessary tasks on my neighbor.  Frankly, he doesn't enjoy it either and I figured it was time for me to yank up my BGPs and step up to the plate.  Yeesh.  I waited until it was dark (WARNING:  IT'S GOING TO GET GRAPHIC FOR A PARAGRAPH!!), put my headlamp on, grabbed gloves and my air rifle, and headed out to the coop.  Just so I couldn't chicken out (pardon the pun), I marched in, grabbed him by his ankles, marched outside, threw him down on the ground, put my foot on his neck and shot him in the head.  Holymotherofgod!  I had forgotten about the spasmodic results when one has offed a chicken - I swear to the goddess he was coming after me!  I ran around in circles, squealing, while his carcass gyrated after me.  Mercifully, it didn't last long, but I went straight in the house and had two glasses of wine to calm my nerves.  It is not a job I like, but sometimes it has to be done.  He had become very aggressive, attacking me every time my back was turned, and turning on Fritz was the tipping point.  I sure hope Fritz doesn't turn into a jerk.  I do not want to experience Return to Night of the Zombie Rooster.  It has taken him a couple of days to venture out of the coop - he looks left and right, as if waiting for Red to jump him.  His head is healing and I am sure most of his feathers will grow back.  It's too much drama.

It was an unusual weekend of ups and downs.  Luckily, the ups were way better than the downs.  My middle sister got away from the Parents (well, Dad) for an overnighter with me.  The dogs were delirious and even Slimmie was getting in on the attention and love.  Poor Butter Pat was completely worn out from trying to grab ALL the love, ALL the time.  We tried a new local Mexican restaurant and it was fabulous!  I do so love spending time with her.

Efforts in the kitchen were not as rosy.  It is very frustrating to try and make a decent pie crust that's gluten free.  Without gluten to hold it together, you get this:
For the sake of convenience, I typically use King Arthur Flour's GF pie crust mix.  The end result, although totally aggravating and crumbly, tastes good.  Once you piece it back together.  This weekend was all about eggs - quiche, Scotch eggs, egg salad.  Oooh, I thought.  How about I whip up a loaf of GF bread for my egg salad sandwiches?
"Someone" left out the yeast.  Sigh
I did finish my sister's socks and am working away on my last two pair.  Then I think I will take a sock break for a bit.  If I can help myself.
Loved, loved, loved the yarn.
I am on my fourth pair in this pattern - Hermione's Everyday Sock, for those who are wondering.  They are very thick, comfy, warm socks and I know there are some cold nights still to come.  I bet more than three.

This week, I am going to tackle the back room, again.  And start laying out my garden.  I am so ready to get out and dig in the dirt, but it will be a while until I can actually see dirt.  I've got to take advantage of this respite from the brutal cold, to get some things shorn up for the next round, coming up this weekend.  Spring is going to be mighty welcome this year.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Cleo, Queen of Denial

Sun! The claustrophobic deck door
of Winter.
Never mind that I can't see my garden, let alone think of planting anything in it for months.  The sun may be shining (at least, I think it's the sun - it's been so long....) but it has just reached the plus side of the thermometer, just in time to slide back through the night.  I turned my back on reality and threw myself into denial (without a bathing suit, nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

I got all my seeds ordered, found that I already had some in my stash (note to self: this is the year to organize) and got out a brandy-new notebook with which to carefully keep track of this year's garden.  Of course, a lot of this will only happen in a perfect world, a world which I do not populate.  However, I have the best intentions.
Definitely needs organizing. 
Winter peas and mangels, anyone?

New-to-me seed catalog - notice the
Some of the new seeds ordered:

Kajari Melon (Baker Creek)
Green Zebra Tomato (Sweet Yard /Sustainable Seed Co)
Tangerine Tomato (SSCo)
Pineapple Tomato (")
Bulgarian Carrot Pepper (SSCo)
Vintage Wine Tomato (SSCo)
Red Noodle Bean (Pinetree)
Mexican Sour Gherkin (Pinetree)
Crimson Forest Bunching Onions (Pinetree)
Blueberries Tomato (Pinetree)
Delicata Squash (Peaceful Valley)
Plus the usual cast of characters already in stock and waiting - zucchini, cucumbers, onions, garlic (planted in October), chard, kale.  I am trying carrots again.  Yes, I never learn.  However, I am going to try to grow them in buckets.  My motto in re: gardening, is "What the Heck".  I have also caught Marianne in a weak moment and she's offered to start tomato seeds for me...I'm going to start some, too.  I wonder who will have a better turn out....

Since I know I can't actually start any seeds, I will spend the next month or three organizing and laying out the garden.  A few raised beds need new frames and I am going to trellis the melons, noodle beans and gherkins.  I think I will not grow any potatoes this year, as I get plenty from my neighbor.  I am also going to boost the bee, butterfly and hummer plantings, along with growing more of my own herbs. 

It all sounds so wonderful, grand and doable in February, doesn't it?

P.S. Quail made it through another night, bless their little hearts.  One more to go before relief.