Monday, July 28, 2008

Blackberry Season Has Begun

The Song ofthe Blackberry Fairy
My berries cluster black and thick
For rich and poor alike to pick.
I'll tear your dress, and cling, and tease,
And scratch your hands and arms and knees.
I'll stain your fingers and your face
And then I'll laugh at your disgrace.
But when the bramble-jelly's made
You'll find your trouble well repaid.

We went for a walk around the "back 40" early this morning and saw that the wild blackberries needed picking. We sent the kids to pick some of the thornless variety while the man and I picked the wild ones with all their thorns. The difference in size is amazing. It took the man and I alot longer to fill our buckets.But after what seemed like hours of pain, we crawled out scarred and bleeding. I decided to use the scale #1 daughter bought me for Xmas to see just how much we picked and was amazed when it came out to 14 pounds!!!! Not bad for a mornings picking.
We decided to try this recipe for Blackberry Pie Filling since we used frozen berries from last year to make jam earlier in the spring. The canner holds 7 quarts so we used 35 cups of berries and Mom and Uncle will eat the rest after dinner tonight. It went quickly and we cleaned up while it was in the hot water bath. There was a little bit that didn't make it into a jar and we all taste tested it and announced the recipe to be a keeper. I thought it would be tarter because you use alot more sugar to make jam but it is perfect. Mom thinks we should test how it sets up in a pie, so she is baking one tomorrow...who am I to argue with my elders!!! With the next picking we will make pint jars to be used over cheesecake, ice cream, pound cake or even pancakes. I also want to make cordial again this year and if there is enough maybe try making wine again. I do think my trouble is well repaid.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The tides are turning.

Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I've got a wonderful feeling,
Everything's going my way
~ lyric by Oscar Hammerstein II

Early yesterday you would NOT have heard me singing that song or any other for that matter. It started with the ex calling to say he was waiting for the garage to open before he could come pick up the kids. We are still waiting on him.

Then the man went to see the building inspector because he hasn't returned our phone calls...the inspector said we used R38 instead of R38C and said we might have to tear it down. Of course they approved our plans which stated R38 insulation.

We were still waiting to hear from the store manager about the drywall.

My SIL had a migraine and told her kids to go play so they were here all day leaving the door open so the dog kept getting out.

It was just one of those days and I said " I am going to spinning, I need to get away." So #2 daughter and I got out of Dodge and had a relaxing time. I really needed it before I just struck a match and lit the dang house on fire.
Three hours later we came home and .....

SIL had gone to work and brother wanted his kids home to eat.

The inspector had called and we don't have to tear the insulation down.

The store called and the drywall will be delivered on Monday or Tuesday. We don't have to pay the new (double) price but we lost the 10% discount. I can live with that.

AND THEN as if things could get any better, the man had gone to my grandparents house.
Nobody has lived in their house since the 70's. There is a built in hutch that I wanted and an enamel double bowl sink with a sliding drainboard. My mother told me I could have them so the man had gone and picked them up. He had even hung drywall and shoved the cabinet into place in the new house. It will have to be moved so we can spackle and paint but boy did it look good there. It needs a good cleaning but I love it. If you pull out the drawers there is a spot to hide money, papers etc. But then I found that it was signed...My great grandfather built this in 1931, which makes it even better.
I didn't get a picture of the sink but it looks like this picture I got off the internet except the faucet is on the top and not on the back of the unit. I love the two different size sinks and it has a sliding drainboard so you can put all the dirty dishes in the deep side and slide the drainboard over it if company is coming! Yes I would do that if someone was knocking at the door and you would too!It was on a Youngstown metal cabinet unit. I don't want the cabinet as I want a curtain in the front so the man needs to build a support for it.
After dinner I left #2 son (who did test positive for Lyme's) to do the dishes while #2 daughter and I went to visit friends. When I got home I was informed we are meeting #1 daughter and Sir T today to go fishing. So I need to go cook some vittles for a picnic and then go pick up the beer. I hope you all have a beautiful day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rain in Summer

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and the heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Rain in Summer

We had a little rain late yesterday afternoon, nothing much but enough to cool it off. I was able to take my wheel outside and spin for an hour without being eaten alive. And it cooled it down so that I was able to sleep without the fan running.

At 5:30 this morning I was lying in bed and heard distant thunder and a couple of drops of rain and then the sky opened up and it poured. It continued for approximately 45 minutes so there is no chance of getting into the garden this morning and that is what the plan was for the day. Oh well like they say..“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” Oh shucks, I guess I will just have to ply the yarn I finished last night!

I gather from watching the weather that a cold front (finally!) is coming through the area today and tomorrow and we are expected to get 2-5 inches of rain. My garden will be in heaven. After the rain yesterday I was able to take some pics of what it is doing so far. The garden huckleberries are just starting to ripen and boy are they loaded and still producing bloom. The blackberries are just starting to ripen. In two weeks they will be blackberry pie filling and juice as we have enough jam. The corn is just starting to tassel. I would love to find out how to take my corn relish recipe and can it. I will have to see if some on the net are close to mine. This is the first zucchini and knowing zucchini, it won't be the last. The potatoes are blooming, thanks to the kids handpicking the potato bugs the plants don't look half bad. The cabbage are heading up and will be used to make sauerkraut and haluski. The cuc's are small but numerous and will soon be ready to be made into bread & butter pickles. Peppers which I have never had much luck getting anything from before the frost, this year are doing quite well. The plants are big but I am getting peppers.And the spaghetti squash (look between th weeds which won't get pulled today)and buttercup are literally climbing up and over everything...such as 5 foot tall amaranth.Sis, be ready because by the time you get here, the proverbial sh*t will be hitting the fan so far as the garden is concerned! So dig out that 80's sweat band, you will be needing it!!!

As an update to the Doctor’s visit….My uncle had his cataract surgery on Monday and we went back for a check up yesterday and it was a success. He goes back for another check up in a week and has the left eye done on August 11. Yesterday on the way back to the Drs. Office he was saying how much further he could see and that his depth perception was coming back. Needless to say he is a happy man….He said all he needs now is a hair transplant, some little blue pills and he will be ready to go “cattin’ around”!

The children both have swimmers ear and are banned from the pool for a couple of days. They won’t mind the rain as it makes the pool less tempting! We are still waiting on the results of #2 sons Lyme test but they did start treating him as they said the rash basically was the diagnosis which is what Grace had already told me.

So far as the house, we are waiting on the inspector to call us back since Saturday and we are fighting with the contractor store. We priced drywall, locked in that price, paid for it and they said to call when we wanted it delivered. However, the employee that locked the price in is no longer there so they want to charge us today’s price which is double. So the store manager has copies of everything and we are expecting a call from him, but meanwhile the vacation time is slipping away. Oh don’t get me wrong I have found lots of things for him to do and he has escaped my list by going fishing a couple of times! Slippery as an eel he is! Wouldn't be so bad if he did more catching than fishing!!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Don't Be Rash

A smart mother makes often a better diagnosis than a poor doctor. ~August Bier

I guess I am a dumb mother because when my son complained of a rash near his underarm I blew it off. Because of the heat I told him it was probably heat rash. About this same time I noticed that his allergies were picking up and I thought it was because I was cutting the field and he was mowing the lawns. I told him he had to start taking his medication to control it.

Today was hot again and he came in complaining of a headache. I told him to go in the pool and just cool off and if that didn't work we would get him a Tylenol. Then while I was slathering his back with sunblock I got a good look at the rash and thought there is no way he can get a rash that far back so I had him pick up his arm and saw a "bullseye" pattern. I have taken ticks off his right shoulder and his left chest but we all must of missed that one.

So tomorrow if we can get our ducks in a row....the man will be taking #2 son to be tested for Lyme Disease (and check his ear which he now says is hurting also) and I will be taking my uncle for cataract surgery. My uncles quality of life will improve so much with this surgery so he is very excited. They are doing the right eye tomorrow and we will be returning for surgery on the left. I had to take over doing his medications as he was unable to read the bottles. And hopefully the large magnifing glass he carries around will be a thing of the past.
So two patients, two doctors, two drivers and hopefully two good results. Wish us luck!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Doggone Hot

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it." - Russel Baker

It is wait, it is H-O-T... HOT. And yes I know that there are area's hotter than this which is why I don't live there. I am far from a delicate flower but this is just disgusting. We are officially in the dog days of summer and the heat is even kicking the dog's butt. It was 88.3 when I checked the thermometer this afternoon and the humidity just smacks you in the face. It is definitely "air you can wear" as the weatherman calls it.
I found that some ice cubes in a blender with a generous splash of Bailey's makes a great heat chasing drink! The kids make do with watermelon slushies and we have spent an inordinate amount of time in the pool as it is the only place that is comfortable. I did muster up enough energy to water the garden since the rain keeps missing us. Other than the lack of rain the garden is loving the heat....I will have to use a machete to get into the squash patch and the corn will be as high as an elephant's eye.

The ex never showed up for the kids so they called friends and hosted an impromptu pool party. And as usually happens some kids end up spending the night so right now #2 daughter & friends are camping out in a tent with a "small fire to keep the animals away" and #2 son is out in a boat on the river night fishing with the man.

So although we can't say we enjoy this suffering- we do love the results of the garden which loves this suffering and we do love Baileys Irish Creme slushies.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Speeding Along

"Just remember, once you're over
the hill you begin to pick up speed."
~ Charles Schultz

Since I was literally going down a hill, I wonder if I can use that as a defense? That isn't how you interpret that? Work with me people because yesterday while taking my uncle to the VA clinic in NY for some lab work I got my first speeding ticket! As I didn’t know where I was going I was just going with the flow of traffic…seems traffic was moving faster than allowed. I was the last car in the line so I got a ticket for going 47 in a 30. I have to send a form in and tell them how I pled and they mail me a bill or a court date. Since ignorance of the law is not a defense I will be pleading guilty. From looking on the net….there is a $55 DMV surcharge and for 11-30 miles over the limit the fine will be from $90 to $300 and 4 points to my license. Crime doesn’t pay. The man thinks it is funny because I always tell him to slow down....kinda ironic huh?

My vehicle is not the only thing speeding up around here. We passed the electrical inspection and the insulation installation has already begun. The man has all of next week off for vacation, so if the insulation inspection is done by Monday (cross your fingers) we will have the week to hang drywall. I have to keep reminding myself I have waited a long long long long long long time for this so I need to have some patience now that the end of the tunnel is in sight. I can hear my mother “Patience is a virtue”….bah humbug I am a speeder remember?

We have a field by the house that I usually mow to keep the snakes and ticks at bay. With the price of hay I decided to let it grow as it is all birds foot trefoil, clover, timothy, alfalfa and rye. I figured I would put it in loose, if nothing else I would use it as bedding. We have a walk behind sickle bar mower that I was suppose to use…it didn’t start….so I got out the weed whacker and cut about ¼ acre with that. Then I ran out of twine and was unable to get the knob off to put string on so I borrowed my mother’s. I killed that one also, I think it is a clogged fuel line or filter (do they have filters?) The scythe disappeared so out comes the swing blade, much quieter and no parts to break…my kind of tool. Having tools that I can’t get to run is one of my pet peeves. Needless to say no spinning or knitting got done that night as my arms felt like rubber. No speeding here but I did get another ¼ acre done and only have another ½ acre to go.

We picked enough black raspberries to make two batches of jam. Since there were still more berries and currants, I kept picking and we froze both to make black raspberry/apple and apple/currant jelly when the apples are ripe. I am still picking broccoli but nothing like last year. The tomatoes in the large garden are nothing to rave about although I have picked some.I picked the first pepper. the cucumbers are blooming, the cabbage heading up and the beans just starting to bud. Soon we will be tied to the stove.

Cooper will be 16 weeks old this weekend and is definitely growing into his paws.He is stubborn but I found the key to making him listen…a deep inhale and he starts paying attention quickly. It works better than treats. Every night the neighbors dog and him have play time and he comes home exhausted.
The kids just found out they are not going on a two week vacation with the ex but a friend gave me an 18 foot ring pool that is 4 foot deep which has helped ease their pain. They no longer have to wait for me to go down to the river so they are in the water from sun up to sun down. Oddly enough the pool works on the kids the same way the deep inhale works on the dog! Chores get done quickly now instead of drug out all day.

So today I will be speeding into town for shopping and feed for the animals. It is suppose to be 90 so I think I will slow down for a dip in the pool later today too.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ma D

A tear at my-death is like raindrops for the stars, as I believe in life not death.....
Someday, you may catch a glimpse of a butterfly landing on a flower. Or of a bird softly settling on a branch. It may be me......

That is part of a verse on Ma D's prayer card. Ma D died on Monday and was buried yesterday. Ma D is my friends mom who has battled alzheimer for years. I use to spend every weekend at her house so she was like my second mom. The past 1.5 years I have been helping my friend when ever there is a free moment, redo that same house. However, it has been five years since Ma D was in the house as she has been in a nursing home because it became dangerous to keep her at home. She woke up one night and did not remember her husband and tried stabbing the "robber" that was in her bed. She was never told that her husband died 19 months ago as she had not remembered him in years and it upset her if you told her she had a husband.

Today Ma D's granchildren were swimming with my kids and an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was flitting around for most of that time. It is nice to think that it was her.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Garden Try-Its

“Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.”

I guess I had a enough unsure moments earlier in my life that I now keep my "trying new things" nicely contained to the garden. Having been a Brownie leader I like to think of these as try-its. Try its are brownie patches they earn for trying something new.
So each year I try some new tomato, bean or squash. As most places around here only carry a limited variety I have to start mine from seed. My mother likes the tried and true varieties, which is why we have two gardens. The main garden is all her old stand-bys- Blue Lake beans, Big boy tomatoes, Early Girl tomatoes, katahdin potatoes etc.- while the greenhouse garden is for things that she doesn't want to give up space for. As we can or freeze most of the garden for winter use I can understand her reluctance to possibly do without spaghetti sauce because I grew a tomato variety unfavorable to our area. "The proof is in the pudding" with her. So I try the new things and sometimes she agrees it is worth continuing to grow and we make room for it in the main garden such as Amish Paste tomatoes or LI Cheese squash....other things we don't grow anymore or they become old stand-bys in my garden...Reisentraube or Blondkopfchen tomatoes.

This year I tried Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry's and Garden Huckleberry. The first planting of the ground cherry did not germinate. The second planting didn't fair much better but I did get a couple. The huckleberries thrived. We make the same jams and jellies every year. I have to pay for blueberries so I was thinking the huckleberry would be a quick growing substitute and the ground cherry would be a whole new experience.
The huckleberry plants now stand 4 foot tall, the buds reminded me of comfrey, the flowers are small but the fruits look like they are going to be much bigger than a blueberry or huckleberry. I can not wait to try these.
The ground cherry plants that I nursed along look stunted. As I only managed to get 6 plants to survive I don't foresee a huge crop but they are flowering and have tiny little husks already.Hopefully I will get enough to make jam or a pie to see if it is worth growing again.
But until I can try these fruits of my labors, I have to make due with the old stand by, readily available I am off to pick black raspberries with all the thorns.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Long Weekend

"That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thursday we took these did a little of this, some of this and this and ended up with this. AKA Yummy... 10 jars/7 pints currant jelly. Did you get all that sis? The blackberries are loaded and should be ready for your visit!!! Guess what you will be doing!!!!!
Friday we started Independence Day with a good ole small town parade, which #2 son participated in as a newly ranked second class Boy Scout. Then while the man worked on the house I was making salads and dip to take to a friends house for a BBQ before our town fireworks. Her house sits right across the river from the fireworks-great view. Saturday dawned and we had plans with #1 Daughter and Sir T. They said they would be here by 10 and I thought they were joking…they were not. With some delays we finally got to the lake and just got set up when two nice state park rangers came to visit. Unbeknownst to us we were not to set up a picnic area there. I guess the presence of a picnic table gave us the wrong idea. They were very nice and let us continue with our festivities. After filling our gut with some good eats the guys got ready to go fishing.Well do you see them paddling to get back? Poor Sir T, I don't think that this was in his plans for the day!The algae in the lake was more than the little trolling motor could take and obviously they did not have an oar. They were lucky to get back to where we were. Thank God for the wind! Due to the earlier delays which put them fishing on the lake at the hottest time of the day and the motor clogging flora, there were no fish caught at this time.

After breaking "camp" we went around to the other side of the lake for some nature seeing
and then came home to drop the boat off. We next headed out for the “secret place” for some more fishing. Not to besmirch their fishing skills but I am glad there is some great scenery as I was not using the camera to take pictures of anything they caught unless you call this a catch! Around 8 PM we headed up the mountain for some more fireworks. We were literally right under the fireworks. It was awesome! The colors, the sounds reverberating between the mountains…and for the first time I filled the card in the camera so I was unable to film the finale. By the time we got home it was after 10 and everyone was more than ready for bed.

It was an amazing day but beyond the hoopla there were two things that I want to remember. The first is that #1 daughter made a dessert(the flag cake). When she pulled it out I started to laugh because #2 was in the kitchen right then making a flag cake. I didn't realize that #1's was something I use to make - (graham crackers layered with pudding/cool whip topped with cool whip and fruit) I could not believe she had remembered as I had totally forgot about that but will have to start making it again as it was delicious. #2's flag cake was brownies with cool whip because she knows #1 likes brownies.

The second thing is that #1 bought Sir T to the "McMansion". The McMansion being the 23 foot travel trailer that has become home while we finish the house. The fact that it has saved us money in rent and allows us to live here and work on the house whenever and that the house is mortgage free means nothing when you want to bring your bf to meet the parents. So we have met at other places but she has never brought Sir T "home". It meant a lot that she finally did it. We are honest, what you see is what you get people which is not always pretty. Sir T got a tour of the house and made a big mistake when he said he would help! I wonder if he knows how to drywall! I would agree to have masks and Yuengling on hand if he did.

Sunday found most of us awakening with a headache from the previous days activities. I downloaded all the pictures and sent some to #1 of her and her man. Shortly there after it was off to take one of the lambs to the butcher. We stopped at Wal-mart for a new keyboard as the old one took a coffee bath and did not enjoy it and then it was back home. The man went to work on the house while I did laundry and worked in the gardens a little. The man finished the inspectors punch list and is hoping to get them back out here today.

The kids and I have another day of enormous plans...we get to pick potato bugs (boy doesn’t that just sound soooo exciting?) Didn't I say it wasn't always pretty?!