Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Call me the Maiden of Mold.

It has rained, drizzled, sleeted, and/or dripped for days.  I believe we have had an hour and a half of sun in the past three weeks.  It can get a girl down.
Sun or rain, I love my linen
sheep transparency
All was not dreary!
Ain't it loverly?
For Administrative Assistant Week (that used to be Secretary Week - but we have become way more inclusive since those PI days), I got these absolutely gorgeous flowers.  That are on a living plant.  Halleluiah!  I can take it home and plant it.  I also got a lovely wrappy type of bracelet that seems to be all the rage.  My supervisor does her level best to make me stylish.  She got me a beautiful cashmere wrap for Christmas - I'm afraid to wear it!  Oddly, the bracelet was very musty-smelling and I am wondering if it had been dormant in someone's drawer before being passed on.  This is not a big deal with me at all (although I could live without the musty-smelling bit), as I am a firm believer in secondhand, regifting and generally not perpetuating the gluttony that is this country.  If anyone has some tips on how to rid it of its 'aroma', I would be very grateful.  It is made up of thin leather straps (which, I believe, is the problem) and other loops of ersatz jewelry-type materials.

I had half of Friday off because of some tests that were scheduled pretty much smack-dab in the middle of the day.  It started raining early that morning and did. not. stop.  Saturday?  Wash, rinse, repeat, plus snow.  Sunday?  A hopefully bright start to the day that rapidly went downhill into...rain.  I did manage to get out to a Cornell extension to pick up some bare root trees and a flat of sedums that I got at rock-bottom prices.  The only downside was that it was not a local extension and I had to drive over an hour each way.  I am trying to plant more flowering things to make my little plot a haven for bees, birds and all things pollinators. 

While whizzing by Marianne's to say a quick hello on Friday, she gave me a bag of greens.  And shiitakes! 
Bag o' greens



Mixed greens
Given my glut of eggs, I made a Sorrel/Spinach/Mushroom Quiche for dinner - and a week's worth of lunches.
In its GF pie crust (pre-made)
Aside - I often buy frozen, pre-made gluten free pie shells, as I have had mixed luck with GF pie crust mixes and they entail the use of a LOT of butter.  The crust for the quiche was fine, but I learned the hard way that you cannot blind bake this crust - no matter what the maker says.  I had to blind bake the crust for my coconut custard pie and it was totally, completely, without-a-doubt inedible.  Luckily, I don't mind having coconut cream pudding.  Not one bit. 

I did manage to rebuild one raised bed - in spite of the constant interruption by a neighbor who, having seen me working on it, decided he must step in and "help" poor, pitiful woman me.  I do appreciate help, believe me.  But when I need it.  I was doing perfectly fine on my own.  Pfft.  Ah, well.  I will take a picture of it when it stops raining.  Sometime in June.  One down, three more to go~!  I also have to fix my coldframe and the chickens have ravaged my downspout.  Because, obviously, I don't have enough to do.  WAY too much downtime on my hands.

I have yet to stencil my quail egg boxes, but thought I would share just how darn cute they are with you:
Thought using $ to give you
and idea of size was appropriate.

Marianne and I have decided on a price and I will be finishing the stencil and decorating the boxes this weekend.  They hit the market the second Saturday of May.  Fingers crossed.  Meanwhile, things have settled down in the quail colony, thank goodness.

In an effort to try and keep my couch cover ON the couch, I purchased a special bed for the Burrower, aka The Pat.  The jury is still out.  He seems to like it more if there is an additional fleece blankie inside the pouch. 
The bed within a bed.
And, it's official.  Slimmie is a dog in mink fur.  I have found that the easiest way to administer the dogs' daily allergy meds is with the liberal application of cheese spread.  Slimmie decided that he, too, was in need of a twice-daily administration of cheese.
Waiting for cheezies.
After a lot of trial and error, we seemed to have fixed the morning cat-vomit trend.  I had fixed the 'stinking to high heaven in the litter box' problem with a new cat kibble, but we were still faced with breakfast in/breakfast out.  I got a variety of tinned wet food and, not surprisingly, the most expensive of the lot went in and stayed there.  (Why is it that, in essence, a tiny tin of canned cat tuna costs five times the amount charged for the human variety?)

I'm hoping for at least one afternoon of non-rain this coming weekend.  I need to get at least two more raised beds finished and installed, along with prep for coop cleaning.  Can't wait.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

I have the power.

Sunday sunrise - it lied.
I have the power to make it rain.  Or not.  Please feel free to bow to my greatness.  Want rain?  Let me plan a day of errands for you on a day when it is "not" supposed to rain - these errands must be carried out at a distance from your homestead and in places of no cover and crowded parking lots.  Tired of rain?  I will happily come and bring my lemon tree to put on your deck.  It's guaranteed to make the sky as dry as toast.  No payment necessary.  I will just bask in the glow of your adoration.


I had a coconut cream pie to bake on Saturday for the upcoming Easter dinner on Sunday.  I almost had everything I needed.  Figuring I would make a dash north early in the morning to do a ninja shopping (dash in/dash out) because any rain that was forecast was for late afternoon, I raced around, did chores, made a list and off I went.  About halfway to Bennington, the skies opened and stayed that way until I pulled into my driveway.  Then it stopped.  It was magic.  Black magic.  While I was on my way home, I got a text from my sister that both she and Mom were battling colds and could we postpone Easter (or, more precisely, our celebration of same - there are limits to my powers...) until the next Sunday.  Hmm.  Would I mind not spending six hours making a coconut cream pie?  Not in the least!  I put everything away and realized I had grabbed a carton of non-fat half and half.  Sigh.  Really, though.  Why is there such a thing?  I called the store and they said to just bring it back and exchange it.  Heavier sigh.  It's a half-hour drive.  Instead, I donned garden gloves, grabbed a bucket and attacked the garden.  Three hours later, I had weeded out two raised beds, weeded my line of garden tires, clipped all the dead stuff, raked, shuffled the residue out to the woods (trying to levitate through Tickville) and then dragged myself in and made a quart jar of nettle tea.  Yes, I am still on the virtuous road.  Plus, my fresh nettles are popping up all over!  I have to say that I love nettle tea.  I know that drinking spinach-flavored water is not for everyone, but it's the bee's knees for me.  I worked on transplanting the rest of my pepper starts and started some zucchini and more kale (can you ever have too much kale?  I say, no.)

Since Sunday was supposed to be a mostly rainy day, I once again got in my car at the crack of dawn, drove north with my ersatz carton of cream, drove home, pulled up my BGPs and tackled moving my lovely lemon tree outside.  By applying physics and a lot of bad language, I did manage to wrestle it out of the sliding glass door and onto the back deck.  I placed it where it would get the most rain and sun, then cleaned the quail condo before the downpour.  Which never happened.  The skies cleared, sun came out and it hasn't rained since.  See?  Mystical powers!  My neighbor came over and we managed to get two of the willow hybrids pruned - not an easy job and he's finally letting me help (at 84, he has twice the energy that I have, but, still).  I selected a few more willow stems and stuck them in water to root - I have found homes for all the others.  I put up my bluebird house (although I think my timing is slightly off - but I'm hoping they will notice it and make a note for next year).  After ticking a few more things off the list, I went inside to see if there was something I could bake (purely out of self-defense).  Going through my fridge freezer, I came across a gallon bag, crammed full of frozen bananas.  Luckily, I have a great recipe for GF one-bowl banana bread.  Done! 

I tried a new-to-me recipe for dinner, Sweet and Sour Lentils, from one of the volumes in my vast Moosewood collection.  It turned out great - great enough that I am still enjoying it three meals later.

Of course, there is still a list a mile long of spring to-dos.  And there is every chance that I will run out of spring before I run out of things to do before it ends.  And so it goes.  Next weekend is stacking up to be a hair-raiser:  Friday night is a family birthday dinner for my youngest sis, followed by dinner at my place on Saturday with my friend, Cynthia, then Sunday is the new Easter.  I have broken down my pie-making steps to spread them over all three days - both to make sure it's finished and to save my sanity.  Blind bake pie shell Friday.  Custard Saturday.  Whipped cream topping Sunday. Then I am taking a baking hiatus.  Don't tell the barn crew.
The Spring Line-Up


Tuesday, April 16, 2019


I believe that most of what I got done this past weekend can be listed under the heading of "Things I Never Learn".  Buoyed by a false sense of the onset of spring, I set up the rain barrels, unplugged the water heaters and planted three of my six hybrid willow starts.  So far, the temperature has plummeted by 30 degrees, we've had rain, sleet, sleety rain and {{{{snow}}}.  I've had to skim ice off all the (now) unheated water surfaces every morning.  There has been thunder, lightning and the usual gale-force winds.

I've started clean-up in the garden and boy-oh-man do I have a lot to do.  Most of the original raised bed frames are falling apart, but there is no way I can replace them all this year.  I've decided to identify the 3-4 worst ones (depending on the cost of lumber) and then leave the rest until next year.  I pulled up all the rebar stakes and rolled up the chicken wire barriers that were around each individual bed.  While this barrier worked well at keeping rabbits at bay, it didn't do diddley to repel deer.  I've decided to use an electronet fence around the perimeter.  I get all my electric fencing from Premier1 - their products have never let me down and anytime I have had a question or needed to contact someone, they have been forthcoming and helpful.  Given this day and age, that's saying something.

So.....half of my birthday/xmas money went to the fencing, while the other half went here:
I love it!
I have been wrestling with a workable solution to feeding hay to the El-Destructos (aka the sheep).  I had two welded steel hay feeders in the barn for winter.  I now have half of one.  The other has been entirely taken apart.  I  have no words.

I stumbled across the design - well, actually, just a picture of it - for this feeder on the internet.  I had Billy (Love of the Pat's life, although he is entirely fickle, as you will see below) whip it up, along with a salad table, that I am planning on installing in my soon-to-be hoophouse/greenhouse.  The only thing left to be done is to put hinges and a handle on the top, so that I can lift it and drop the hay into the feeding area.  It will reduce hay waste a great deal, hold the seeds - which the sheep love - in the bottom and generally make my life easier.  There are holes drilled in the bottom to make sure water drains out.
Extreme roots

Little newbies between the full-grown
hybrids.  Which are in need of a good haircut.
(You'll have to biggify and squint hard to see them)
Since it took an hour to dig three holes for my willow starts (there is a reason there are two gravel pits on my road), I decided to put the remaining three up for grabs on my local Facebook marketplace.  Is it just me, or am I expected to divine the meaning of "interested"?  Is it to mean "I am interested and would like them", "I am only interested in being the first person to be interested", or "none of the above"?  I have had four people send me a message either saying they are 'interested' or asking if they are still available.  Then....crickets.

Speaking of crickets - I think I have four female quail and one male.  The females sound just like the spring peepers I can hear off in the distant wetlands.  The one male - that I was sure was a female because I am an expert on quail - does this rather abrupt and alarming trilling crow that always makes me jump.  Egg production has started, albeit a bit unevenly.  But, still.  I am working out a name for this very valuable, rare and special product and came up with this:
Let me know what you think.  I have decided on pulp (paper-based) cartons, as I loathe plastic and am trying my best not to have any more in my life.  Once the design is finished, I will turn it into a stencil and put it on the top of the cartons.  The quail pic needs to be 'deconstructed' into a much simpler design that would lend itself to stenciling.  That is one of my tasks over the weekend.  I'm hoping to start boxing them next week.

I whipped up a Cranberry Cake for the barn guys this Sunday and got a very enthusiastic reception.  As a matter of fact, it was declared the best yet - then the milk truck driver entered the milk room and there was one lone piece left.  He eyed it.  The farmer eyed it.  Then the farmer sighed and offered it to the driver.  I think I saw tears in his eyes (kidding).  The recipe for the cake is here.  I do not put the topping on it because that would be gilding the lily.  I also bake it in a bundt style springform pan because this baby is dense!  I saved the other half for my neighbor.  Because he came over last week and raked up my entire yard.  At 84, he is a marvel.

Now that I've segued to recipes...

I could not find my original recipe for the fermented carrot ginger slaw, but here is basically the same thing.  As it ferments, the carrots get very tender.  It's great - the taste is bright and slightly sour with a little zing from the ginger.

The damper on the fireplace has been fixed - with, as always, the Pat's invaluable help.  Honestly.  The chimney guy came with his crew, one of whom the Pat became particularly enamored with.  The poor guy was down on his side, with his head in my fireplace when the Pat broke out of his crate and made a mad dash for him - bringing along six toys.  He forced himself into his arms and kissed him wildly.  It was embarrassing.  However, the fellow was just as enamored with the Pat and I thought I would have to forcibly separate them.  The other fellow looked at Lovey and said, "Is that a Pit?" with an obvious sneer.  I said (trying mightily to hold the fury and distain out of my voice), that she was, indeed, a Pit mix - half Pit, half sweet roll.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Sock it to me!

(Or, this is what procrastination looks like.)

Pile 'o socks
And I am giving you the unvarnished view of my kitchen counter - I hand-wash my socks in my kitchen sink.  Vitamins to the right are mine, all meds on the left are the Pat's.  The toaster is still relatively shiny.

While I adore my own socks, I do not adore hand-washing them.  So they pile up until I am one pair shy of running out of clean socks.  My goal?  To knit enough to keep me in socks for a year.  THAT will be some pile 'o socks - more like a mountain o' socks.

I have broken my to-do list into a variety of Post-It notes.  It seems to lull me into the false sense that I can make great progress on a weekend.  I did make some good progress this week - I've vowed to resist the gravity pull of my chair-and-a-half in the evening until I get Something Done.  Ergo, the great sock washing.  I also made a batch of yogurt and found my Carrot Kraut done.  It is good!  It's from a recipe that came with my Mason Top fermenting kit.  I have always wanted one, but resisted until it was sufficiently marked-down and I tapped into my birthday/xmas money.  The rest of my bd/xmas money went to something else.  All will be revealed...

My car is now totally legal and I am beginning to relax around it.  I even let it get dirty.  So I can run it through the car wash tomorrow and gloat when the car wash owner gets an eyeful.  He did everything but sneer when I went through with the Hyundai.  I took it personally. 

After numerous attempts to reach the chimney cleaner/repair people - I started calling three weeks ago and it's been...(crickets) - I went on their website, pulled down their Contact Us form and said that no one had called me, I was unhappy and I was going to give them an honest but unfavorable review on Facebook.  Literally minutes later, my phone rang and an appointment mysteriously became available.  There IS power in social media.  I just wish it didn't bring out the snarkiness in people - people are the worst when they are cowards.  Can't we just use it for good?  I'd like to order up about 1000 tons of fairy dust and dump it on the world.

Anyhoo.  Can you tell I had TWO lattes this morning?  I hope I can burn off this caffeinated craziness before bedtime...

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Human origami, anklets and at least there's Spring inside.

I am slowly settling into my car.  Apparently, I have become my mother and am fighting change at every turn.  Good gawd.  I used to embrace change - demand change - create a change for change's sake.  Now I grumble and fret.  This needs to be addressed, toot sweet, as they say in Paree.
Basically, my car.
 Can I point out that there is a mere fraction of an inch between the pavement and the bottom of the car?  While this would have been a breeze when I was 30, I am now finding that I must fold my limbs in a complicated and death-defying manner in order to get into and out of my car.  Once I'm in, I'm fine.  No more worrying that the profile of my car will lend itself to being blown off the high, scary bridge.  As a plus, I am so low that I no longer need to look vaguely to the left or right so that I won't notice that I am three miles above the Hudson River in a speeding tin can, surrounded by lunatics.

I have also just realized how traumatized my Hyundai has left me.  I imagine dire sounds, worry that the wheels will come off when I go around a curve.  It's going to take time and deep breathing.

My sweater knitting was on hold for a bit.  It seems that, as soon as momentum has ceased, so does my focus.  All I had to do was a light steam blocking so I could start the sleeves.  That was weeks ago.  I finally forced myself to take the five minutes it took to steam it.  So now I'm a hand-wringing wreck of a procrastinator with creaky joints.  Lawsymercy.
While I was procrastinating, I knit up a pair of anklets for my youngest sis out of the yarn I had used on her (creep of a) boyfriend's socks.  (I hope your socks shrink.  You know who you are.)  Anyhow, she should enjoy them.  I believe I might knit up some more of these babies -  but with a little cuff instead of a roll (Rose City Rollers is the pattern, if interested).  However, they will have to wait until I finish the sweater.  Yes, I pulled up my BGPs and started the sleeves.

The weather is still below freezing at night, which is very frustrating, but still better than below 0.  It's been alternately windy, cloudy, foggy, rainy, cloudy.  Thank goodness one has seeds, right?  Even if this one has now set herself up for Tomatogeddon.  I started twenty tomato plants, conveniently forgetting that Marianne has started another 40 or so for me.  I guess I will have enough tomatoes this year.  I also started two kinds of kale - a brilliant blue and a Russian red.  My peppers, celery, celeriac and bibb lettuce seeds have germinated:
Such a lovely sight.

One type of pepper has yet to germinate as well as my marigolds.  I still have more to sow.  When the weather gets me down, I toddle back to the office/craft/greenhouse room and snort soil fumes.
Sorry for the blurry pic - top row is
first planting; second is tomatoes and
third is kale.
I also need to deal with my willow cuttings, which have gone crazy in their bucket.  Since the ground is still frozen and there is 'talk' of a colder-than-normal end of the month (just shoot me), I may have to put them in pots until I can safely put them in the ground.

Starting to leaf and sprout little
Last weekend (and, in my case, weekend means Sunday), I took the Plexiglas storm windows off the quail hutch and washed them (two eggs a day, so far!) but put them back on every night, gave the hutch a thorough cleaning and re-vowed to do this ever week, and swept off the deck.  While I was at it, I decided to check the grill - I wasn't too worried about mice, as I could still smell the moth balls - only to find that they had wedged in a condo and then had the bad manners to die on my grill pan.  It's a good thing I checked, as I have plans to lure my friends, Steve and Christina, to a deconstruction party, followed by BBQ and literary cocktails (Tequila Mockingbird, anyone?)  I have the box fan going under the house during the day - I'm trying to stave off mold! - and am slowly, but surely, checking things off my list.  It's such a big list.... 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

A Pillar of Virtuosity and I do memes.

In my ongoing, yet futile, attempt to assuage vengeful gods, I have been striving to be the Pillar of Virtuosity.  Alas, I am naught but a tower of sea salt.


There is a new car.  There was a new water leak.  There is progress on the sweater.  There are no fires in the fireplace, due to a faulty flue lever.  (You remember the fireplace - the $3,000 chimney replacement?)  There are duck eggs.  And I saw a bluebird.  There was more quail drama - but there was also the arrival of "The Egg".  There was mud, then there was lots of snow.  We are currently heading back to mud.  The weather is finally heading in the right direction, although the next 500 days have rain in the forecast.

In an attempt to negate all this vengeful action by whatever gods I have so royally pissed off, I have been pretty virtuous.  Almost cloyingly so.  Since all my moaning and groaning and gnashing of teeth has not seemed to make things any better, I'm trying to clean up my act.  Instead of my usual go-to meal when highly stressed (nachos), I made butternut chili.  And carrot ginger kraut. 
Cannot wait until it's ready!
Carrot Kraut Nachos, anyone?
And baked falafel. And caramelized onion quiche.  I am so virtuous, I can barely be in the same room with myself.  And let me tell you, I can stretch a butternut squash to within an inch of its life!  There was chili, Buddha bowls and GF butternut/onion pizza.

The only resident of the LLF who seems to have had a banner week(s) is The Pat.  Peanut's favorite things in the world, besides food of any sort, are men.  Especially workmen.  He has been in workman heaven this past week - we went to the mechanic, there were two visits by the plumber, and his all-time favorite, Billy.  When he sees Billy, he levitates across the ground like a heat-seeking missile and launches himself into Billy's arms.  If I had video production skills, I would film it in slow motion and put romantic music in the background.  It is interesting that, no matter how large and hairy the workman, they all reduce themselves into falsetto baby-talk.  I'll have to admit to liking the plumber - he was working away on the shower drain when I hear him say, "Could you send Peanut back in with that gasket?"  Just as Peanut the Helper appeared with the self-same gasket clenched in his teeth.

The car.  After finding out that the power steering was on its way out on the Hyundai, I slogged through the jungle of car dealers (I actually felt that I needed a shower after one visit - talk about oily...), ending up at the Subaru dealer.  We hammered out a fairly good deal (if you think paying almost as much as a house for a car that drops its value by half as soon as you drive off the lot a 'deal') - I wanted to be sure that they knew I was not a pushover, so I went armed:

Thank you, my Canadian gal-pal.
Saturday I picked up my red Impreza.  I have gotten the basics down, but there are many things that are still a mystery.  It has taken some getting used to - I feel as if I am riding two inches from the pavement and there are no mysterious and alarming noises.  Plus, it is only the second car in my long and inglorious car-ownership-past that has had an automatic transmission.  I am still grabbing madly for the shift.  It has been raining and drizzly and snowing and overcast, so I don't have pictures.  But, if you've seen one red Impreza, you've seen mine.  I really am trying to get excited about it, but I am still suffering the effects of sticker shock.  And I'm not the only one having a hard time getting used to the change.
Mom, there's a strange vehicle in the
driveway.  I'm going to growl and bark continually
until it goes away.
Heading into spring (please god) on an up note:

Now, excuse me while I go inhale some damp earth aroma.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Get Lloyds of London on the phone!!!

I need to insure my $500 quail egg.

Ketchup post soon.