Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Going full hygge

 I've given up trying to figure out the weather.  Once again, it will be a Winter of All Jackets.  Rain, vest, down, windbreaker.  In an effort to lift my mood, I have pulled out all the stops on the hygge.

The pups were all for it.  Lovey on top,
PB in the princess bed.

Although I am no longer canning and preserving like a 1930 prairie housewife, I did manage to put up some applesauce from a wonderful mix of heirloom varieties that Marianne gave me.

I have also been cooking up comfort foods, like mushroom rice.  There is a local business that grows the most amazing mushrooms - the concoction below has shiitake, lions mane and chestnut.

I've been doing a little knitting, but have been concentrating mostly on a big clear out.  I am girding my loins for a foray into the laundry/tool/garden/storage room.  My plan is to get rid of at least one third of what's in there, so that I can stop cringing every time I open the door.

Apria was finally buried a week ago, Sunday.  It was, unfortunately, as ungracious as I had hoped it wouldn't be.  (Sorry for the convoluted syntax.)  It broke my heart and I wept copious tears.  I think I totally unnerved the excavation guy.  When I asked him if I could write him a check, he said he would send me a bill and got out of there as fast as someone driving a large earth-moving piece of equipment could manage.  I haven't gotten the bill yet, which is like having the sword of Damocles hanging over your head.


...a sweet, older gentleman sheep is looking for a cozy retirement home.  He seems to be adjusting to the loss of Apria, but he is lonely.  Winter is never a good time to rehome a sheep or any other livestock.  He comes with his own hay and can be transported, so fingers crossed.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

So complicated on every level

Bless your heart, you good, good

On Sunday, Apria cushed (llama speak for settled in a bundle on the ground), gazing into the distance.  By Monday she had passed away, before I could get a vet to the farm.  She was in her early 20s and I had hoped for another five or so years with her.  It was not to be.  I think that her blindness, oncoming deafness and challenged dentifrice just wore her out.  

As if that wasn't bad enough, the process of removing her and giving her a decent burial has been somewhere between planning military maneuvers and juggling with swords.  It is a nightmare which, I hope, is over today.  I'm not holding my breath.  So far, I've had to cut trees down, remove a section of fence and I'm on the phone with farmers, excavators and loggers - leaving messages and waiting (and waiting) for return calls.  My neighbor and I managed to get four of the five trees that needed to be removed (all are pines and all are dying) cut down but the fifth needed a professional.  Enter Dreamboat Arborist, Llew.  He cut the tree down last evening as the sun was setting, climbing up the tree in near-darkness.  I have yet to see the excavator, but I hope he'll be here today to see what equipment will be needed.  A farmer friend has offered a spot behind his barn for her final resting place.  Now, if all the many pieces of this gawd-awful puzzle would just fall into place, Linden and I can get some peace of mind.  

Then, there is Linden.  I need to find him a home where he can live out the rest of his retirement years.  My only other option is to add a companion animal to the farm, but, frankly, my heart just isn't in it.  Neither is my pocketbook.  Fingers crossed that this lovely girl can finally be released to her next adventure, or go to the place where llamas gather.  Linden and I could use some rest, too.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Tsking and tut-tutting and curmudgeonly moments. The War and Peace version.

Thanksgiving Day was overcast but a typical fall day.  I met up with my friend, Rosie, and we took a mesmerizing stroll through a wetland reserve in Bennington.  I got to try out my new app that identifies plants - watercress!  (none of which is shown...)

It was magical (except for the litter strewn about the grounds - insert tut-tut and tsk-tsk).   Fresh from the forest primeval, we tottered to mom's for a wonderful dinner.

Then, "black" Friday. 

Turned into "white" Saturday.

No pussy-footing about this winter.  BAM!  From zero to 8 inches overnight.  There was a lot of tut-tutting and tsk-tsking, as I had to locate boots, gloves and winter coat.  I did have the presence of mind to haul out the snow shovel.  Having apparently morphed into a frugal old lady, I did toy with the idea that I would shovel out my driveway by hand.  That was until I viewed the Hoover Dam of snow piled up at the end of the drive by the town's snow plow.  I am now, officially, a frugal, old, kvetching, curmudgeonly old lady.

The snow plow guy was called and I did a half-hearted job shoveling pathways until I realized that I had to reach the driveway in order to pay the plow guy.  There were many breaks.  There was more than one thought about apartment living in the south.

Job done(ish).  We hunkered in for the night.  This morning, sticking my nose out from underneath my self-made weighted blanket (fleece sheets+fleece blanket+down blanket+down comforter) I immediately got frostbite.  After shivering into robe and slippers and re-covering dogs, I found that the furnace (just serviced this past Tuesday) was not on.  Nor would it turn on.  A call to the furnace guy got me their new emergency set up consisting of some unfortunate guy who asked me a hundred questions - most of which were beside the point.  When he requested my email address, I snapped.  "No way, sonny!  You have no business with my email address!  I will not have you sending me spam and promotions that I do not want or need!"  There was a pause.  "Okay, ma'am (curmudgeon).  It is not mandatory.  A technician will contact you shortly."  I harumphed and went to get wool socks.

An hour later, with no call from the technician, I was working myself up for another telephone tirade when the dog alarm went off.  It was pitch black and the fleece curtains were drawn.  I shuffled to the window and could make out a small, white sedan in the driveway.  WTH?!   Gripping my robe against the cold, I opened the door and saw a dark figure trudging up the path, holding what looked like a pan.  The figure said "Shelly?"  I said, NO.  I am NOT Shelly and who the heck are you?  What he had actually said was, "Chilly?"  It was the son of the local fuel/furnace guy who had serviced the furnace earlier.  Sheesh.  An old lady with bed-head hair and eyeglasses askew, surrounded by yapping dogs.  I can only imagine.

Wonder what I will morph into next - Pippi Longstocking's grandmother?

Peanut takes the Oreo sleeping position.

P.S.  I was in such a snit that I forgot to add that he did - finally - fix the furnace.  In an effort to make nice after my crusty beginning, I gave him a cup of coffee.  I always forget that my coffee is S.T.R.O.N.G.  I swear his hair was standing on end when he left.  Probably thought I was trying to poison him.  

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Fun with food and bunny burnout.


Gratuitous Lovey pic.

It must be getting on winter, as I find myself back in the kitchen again.  There has been a long dry spell (if you don't count the wine/whine) on the epicurean front.  And let's not forget the creative dry spell.  I've had a heart to heart with the BGPs and we have decided that I need to buckle down and post more often than once a month.

I recently discovered Molly's Magic Potatoes (aka Peruvian blue fingerlings) at my favorite farm store.  There has been no looking back.  I've had them boiled with butter, mashed with garlic, roasted with O/O and I am not close to being tired of them.  I even made a shepherd's pie with a blue potato top for dinner with my neighbor.  Unfortunately, he was scandalized, being a good soul but with absolutely no gustatory imagination.  

Aren't they gorgeous!?

Then, in the wee hours of the morning - a dangerous time for someone with access to the internet - I purchased a seasonal (as in Autumn/Winter) baking pan.

Not bad, if you don't mind pocking
on your pumpkins...

So far, I've baked a GF sweet cornbread loaf, two pumpkin spice loaves and the GF banana bread you see here.  My only issue with this pan is that the top (bottom) of the loaf rises and you have to trim if off, if you don't want your lovely loaf listing to port.

Not pictured (it looked like a hot mess and, if I wanted to show you a hot mess, I would have included a selfie) is a new favorite salad - Arugula, wild rice and sweet potato.  As per usual, I didn't have 50% of the ingredients called for in the recipe, but I made it my own and it was delish!

I have officially reached the end of this year's bunny production.  While I certainly appreciate the fact that they are popular with the parents/grandparents of my acquaintance, they are very tedious to knit and assemble.  Not to mention, hard on my hands.
The next-to-last lot

Besides, the holiday season approacheth and I need to get cracking!  I also need to relearn how to build a fire in the fireplace.  I have been looking forward to cozy wood fires all summer (call me crazy) and had laid out the perfect (I thought) ingredients for my first one a week ago, when the temperatures took a plunge.  What I had forgotten is that one side of my glass doors had shattered a year ago.  I did everything I used to do and managed to generate enough smoke to set off the smoke detector and drive the dogs under their blankets.  The house smelled like a campsite for days.  The chimney is clean, the flue was open.  Any suggestions from you campfire gals and guys out there?

Falling temps have also lit a fire under my BGPs to get things outside battened down and plugged in.  The deck is cleared off, bird feeders at the ready, rain barrels emptied, Llama/sheep water bucket cleaned and plugged in.  I'm not sure if I am going to get the garden finished - we have had rain or snow almost every other day.  Plus, I'm a little gun-shy after finding another well-embedded tick, the fifth one in a month!  It does make me want to never set foot outside.

I'm harvesting the last of my Swiss chard and arugula - there is still kale until the deer discover it.

I've gotten some of the major things crossed off my list - snow guards on all the vents on the roof, fuel tank enclosure replaced (although that is not quite done and deserves a post of its own), hay in the barn.  I need to do some work in the chicken coop and set up the winter feeder for the llama/sheep.  I have lots of projects inside to keep me occupied this winter (both fun and not-so-much); there is a stack of books with my name on them; a full freezer; bionic hips.  What more can I ask for?

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Driving Ms. Z and a lot of etcetera,

After we strapped in and drove down the driveway, it was an adventure all the way.  Ms. Z, Max the Dog and I stopped at the local post office and...

Yes!  There was a heron, staring in at the PO door.  I tried for a better shot, but he/she was right in town and causing all kinds of looky-sees.  It was just magical!

We then headed SSE, then SSW, then SSE again.  The first day brought us through NY, PA and perilously close to Baltimore.  We found a Motel 6 in the hood that was pet-friendly and brought in the bare necessities for the night.  We also managed to find a good Japanese restaurant nearby.  Max, bless his heart, is not a barker.  I was lying in bed, thinking about how different it would be if Mr. P was there.  Someone would shoot my windows out, I'm sure.  The M6 was clean and reasonably quiet.  I didn't take pictures, since there was a good chance I'd be mistaken for an undercover cop.  Snort.

After Maryland, we ticked off a corner of WV, sliver of VA, whole big whack of NC and SC and then, finally, arrived in Savannah at 10PM.  It's been MANY years (decades?) since I drove that many miles.  As a matter of fact, it was brought home to me how long it's been since I've traveled at all (other than a delightful trip to Minnie Soda six, seven years ago?) when I opened my smaller duffel bag and discovered tampons, compass, cork screw, and screw driver inside.  At least I had been ready for everything, those eons ago.  Ms. Z is great company, and she entertained me with tales of NYC before art was a business, patriotic songs she had learned when she was a girl, verbatim ad jingles and more.  It was a blast!

Saturday we collapsed, unpacked, had a delightful visit with Z's southern friends, and got to glimpse tantalizing tangles of Southern Moss and live oaks.  Her house is delightful the the flora is exotic and lush.   We collapsed again and then I was off at the crap of dawn to the airport.  I won't name the airline, but it should really be called Sardinia Air.  I was picked up in Albany and then it was home, sweet home.  My house/animal sitter was great, so I am hoping that I will be able to go on more forays (SoPo) in the near future.  I will also revisit Savannah and Ms. Z in the daylight.  It looks like a beautiful place.

The new screened-in porch, Max-approved 
and guarded.


Live oak!

More moss!


Mom was back in the hospital just before I left and still there when I got back.  She was moved to a rehab center near her doctor (whom she's never met - this makes doctor no. 3/4) and my sister and I went to see her on Tuesday.  I know that there need to be strict protocols due to Covid, but geezelouise.  There is no phone in her room - which is not a huge problem, as she does not have her hearing aids - we can only see her once a WEEK and we have to make an appointment to do that.  Our 'meetings' are limited to 15 minutes and are attended by a rehab center staff.  Trying to get information or talk to a person has proven to be very frustrating.  We are lucky enough to have a connection to someone who works there, which allowed me to talk to mom last night via the friend's cell phone.  We have an 'appointment' to see her again on Monday afternoon and we hope to break her out of there.

Back on the home front, I have been working on cleaning up the garden.  I ended up selling all the stuffies I had knit that were in the salon gift shop and they are clamoring for more.  Oy.  I am trying to get four done by the end of next week and that will have to do.  I have holiday knitting looming.  While I was inside, furiously knitting stuffie parts, my dear neighbor came by to help prepare for winter.  He, apparently, comes from the school of Torched Earth Landscaping.  My lingonberry bushes have disappeared.  

I am not sure if Peanut is still recovering or if he's hit his stride in high drama mode.  I am still hoisting him up the steps and into the house.  Slimmie got a new self-heating bed and we haven't seen much of him lately.  My chickens have ceased laying eggs so are now officially classified as freeloaders.  Some good news - my barn has been filled with hay!  Once again, my wonderful farmer neighbor has packed the barn for winter with lovely second cut hay.  At $2.50/bale.  Shhhhh.  Don't spread it around....  This is much appreciated by my ancient llama, who is down to two teeth.  And by me.

I started two fermentations this year - carrots and ginger, and curry kraut.  The carrots need more time, but I have to say that the curry kraut is now my favorite!

Lastly - for now - I have started up my bread run again.  I flounced into Perrecas and just inhaled.  Then I hyperventilated my way to M's store, making sure the windows were up so that I wouldn't miss an iota of warm bread aroma.  Heaven (and hell, to be honest).  On my maiden drive, I was reminded that I needed all my senses on high alert.  There were deer, school buses, heavy fog, and lunatics behind the wheel.  Ah, Autumn.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

It has been all "hurry up and wait!" around here.

 There have been times, recently, when I wonder how I managed to fit a full-time job into my life.  I guess the Universe doesn't like a gap, so fills every-single-one in, whether you like it or not.  A friend has had a rough patch and I have been shuttling her to various appointments.  And, since all of these appointments involved doctors, none of them were short.

Can you guess which of the waiting
rooms pictured above belonged
to the cosmetic surgeon??

Not shown is the parking lot of the vet's office, where I have had to pick up more pain meds for the boy.  And there is the fact that my mother has been in the hospital for the past two days - my sister, thankfully, does the waiting there.  AND since I have hired on to drive an elderly friend to Savannah, Slimmie's vertigo seems to be coming back and the mice have started emigrating back to their winter resort (Chez Moi).  I am a little angst-ridden because of the fact that I am hoping to break in a new house/farm sitter.  This is turning out to be a real rodeo around here.  If she makes it through all of the hefting of the sausage dog, pill giving, barf cleaning and the challenge of the indoor mouse population growth, I might be able to take a spin to SoPo...sylvie...  I will only be gone three and a half days, so I am hoping that no calamities will have time to foment.

In between my forays to medical professionals, I have managed to get three and a half raised beds weeded, garlic planted and mulched.  I still hope to weed the rest - the weeds were so bad (having gone to seed) that I am putting a layer of cardboard on most of them.  It will be a weedy spring.

Got weeds?

The slugs were having a kale
feast, little buggers.

Garlic planted.

Last week, there were some absolutely beautiful days.  I have started planting perennials that will attract pollinators.  There's nothing quite like working in the garden, along with the bees.

Busy bee

And look what I found!

I had picked up four zucchini seedlings shortly after my second hip replacement and had hobbled out to plant them in the only clear(ish) bed.  I wish I had written down the type of squash because that is all I want to grow from now on!  Even the ones that got away from me weren't all seedy.

Autumn has definitely arrived and it was a paler version than usual.  I think there was too much rain and have read of various creeping maladies that made trees just dry up and drop their leaves.  The last storm that went through pretty much stripped the rest.  I think that Autumn is my favorite season.  The air is clearer, light has a certain luminescence, the geese honk their way through the sky.


Happy fall, y'all!  I'll check in after my road trip.

P.S.  Mom is due home today - she was in for observation.  You can't be too careful with these 98 y/os. xo

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

What is wrong with this picture?


If you guessed that the dog bed was not in its usual place, then BINGO, you're correct!  It has been used as transport for a week.  No sooner did I go on and on about the noodle, he came up lame one morning.  The biggest problem with Peanut is that there is so much drama, it is hard to figure out what is hurting and how much.  I had to carry the sack of potatoes to the car (in the above bed so as not to distress him) and then a very nice vet tech toted him into the clinic.  The good news is that it was less (by a whisker or two) than $500 to find out that they did not know for sure what had happened to his back left little ham.  I've been dosing him with two pain killers and an antibiotic for a week, not to mention serving breakfast and dinner in bed.  While he can now get around pretty well, he still cannot bear his weight on the leg.

Upon hearing that room service 
was over, there was a dramatic

You can't make this stuff up.

What have I been doing other than acting has handmaiden to the invalid?

Buying chicken feed from the local grainery.  Enjoying the cooler weather - although I could easily do without the two-day rains.  Coming home from Vermont this past Sunday, I took a quick photo of the clouds that mirrored the mountains.

Marianne gave me these beautiful eggplants, so I have been making baba ganoush every week.

I also finally made ratatouille and polenta, trying to squeeze every ounce of summer goodness into the short time we have before full-on fall.

I do have to admit that the idea of sweater weather coming up is making me giddy with joy.  

Thursday, September 23, 2021

And now he is seven.

(With apologies to Mr. Milne.)

It's hard to believe Peanut has been with us for five years.  It seems like 20.  In honor of his birthday, let me introduce you more thoroughly to the nut.
First, a little background.  Peanut Butter was removed from his original home due to serious neglect.  He and his brother (a Border Collie) were kept 24/7 in their crates.  He was taken in by my favorite rescue and put into their foster program.  His foster mother was very tearful when handing him over.  I believe she must be a saint.

Personality:  Cheerful, manic, loving, stubborn - all traits are exhibited in five second intervals.

Motivation:  Food.  And more food.  His food, Lovey's food, the cat's food, my food.  He could consume his body weight every 15 minutes.
Strengths and Super Powers:  Protector of the house (and yard, street, any street in the area), can turn into a heat-seeking missile when a piece of food hits the floor, even if he is in another room, can completely cover himself with his blankets, world's best cuddler.

Weaknesses:  Selective deafness, tendency to evoke high drama at the drop of a hat

Fears:  Food supply shortages.  Flies.

I adore him.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Super power or albatross? But, first...

 I've got Cooties!

It's officially a relic.

What I actually have is an ancient relic (redundant?) from my childhood.  My sister and I stopped in a local estate sale establishment and found this treasure.  We both yelled, "COOTIE!!!!!" at the same time.  It is a little unnerving to find that your childhood toys can be exhibits in a museum.  We have yet to play this - a simple, thrown-die game in which you try to be the first to build your cootie.  It was an educational game and we may have been the only kids in our neighborhood familiar with the proboscis.  Not that it impressed anyone.

The discovery of the game led to fond reminiscing about other toys and games.  As I waxed eloquent about my much-missed Poor Pitiful Pearl doll, my sister stopped me in my tracks by telling me she had it.  I was thrilled until I realized that she meant to keep it, quoting the "possession is 9/10ths of the law".  I did my best to press for the remaining 1/10th, but she wasn't moved.  Maybe she'll give me visitation rights...


They say that, as you get older, your sense of smell diminishes greatly.  My sense of direction may be skewed and my focus may have gone out the window (along with the fruit flies), but my sense of smell has sharpened to an alarming level.  It is both a blessing and a curse.  I can walk outside and revel in the smell of the pine trees, but I cannot make it down the laundry product aisle in the grocery without gagging.  I love natural smells, but wonder if the people in the lab who concoct scents for candles, dish soaps and laundry detergent have ever made it outside to experience what these scents actually smell like.  I recently got a Mrs. Meyers dish soap (all natural and blah, blah, blah) that was supposed to be mint.  Well, I have a long history with mint, and it doesn't smell like any mint I've met.  Unless, perhaps, there's a jasmint?  Don't even get me started on a simple scent, such as vanilla.  I have yet to meet a vanilla-scented candle that is even close.

Citrus and pine scents seem to be closer to target, but even those tend to go so far awry that one is left with a tang of chemicals in ones nose.

I'm going to go with Super Power, as the alternative would be rather unpleasant.  (Dead bird pendant...)