Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Be like a postage stamp

“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.” ~Josh Billings

Every once in a while I find a project that I just fall in love with and will work on until it is done.  Such is the case with Saroyan.  Sunday night I was perusing Ravelry trying to find something that would strike my interest since I have not been knitting in a while.  I printed out the pattern for Saroyan and went to bed.  Monday I went to find some yarn which I could play with.  I saw this green and decided that was the color it was going to be eventhough it is acrylic and not wool.  I don't know if that will effect it in the end.

The pattern is quick and easy. 

Without sticking to it like a postage stamp, I am still 1/2 way done.  Love it!!!

And a quick peak at some more spinning-black Finn. Terrible pic but I was too lazy to get up and take a better one!

And for those who would rather see flowers....
Now the kids will be gone for another hour so I am going back to knitting. Hope you find something that holds your attention like this has mine.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Work Worth Doing

Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.~Theodore Roosevelt

Oddly enough the man and kids like to eat.  Yeah! go figure!  So this is what sends me out to the garden each morning.  That and I have been told I have to do my part.  So each day I strike out to the garden to put in my time in the hopes that they won't go hungry.  I guess you could consider that work worth doing.
Daily I battle the bugs which think they have more of a right to my produce then I do.  I pick and pick and squash them but the next day they and a couple of their buddies show back up.  The urge to chemically annihilate them surfaces every year.  That's when I break out the cash and pay the kids to search and destroy.   The other vicious bugs which think they have a right to me...these I do use chemical warfare on.
After the bugs is the endless battle with the weeds and some plants which I naively planted.  They have gone haywire.  I once gave Cyndy Jerusalem Artichoke and she cursed me.  Now I curse myself as I planted the same... and mint... and comfrey.  If you even think of getting rid of the comfrey it senses this and makes every effort to reproduce like a rabbit on an endless supply of viagra.
Then there is the battle of the weather.  When you want a little rain to save yourself having to water everything, it pours for days.  Before you can get back into the garden the weeds have taken their cue from  Jacks proverbial bean stalk and are reaching for the sky.  When it has rained for days and you want it to dry out and warm up you find yourself trying to machete your way thru the garden gate in 90 degree temps with 100 % humidity.
Exiting the garden, I stumble thru the door, finger nails ravaged from pulling weeds, hands blistered from hoeing, nearly blind from sweat running into my eyes, face filthy from trying to wipe the sweat away.  My morning cup of coffee has long since been spent and I am dehydrated.  I am either unable to stand straight from being hunched over or my knee's are caked from crawling between the rows to weed.  On top of alllllll that I am  red from sunburn or bug bites. I open the fridge and freezer to find no ice cubes and the ice tea container empty.
When something has finally beat the odds and survived all of the above, it has to be canned which is a whole 'nother battle.  And I do this all for the happiness of my family.
NOT!  I can not even pretend that I am overworked and under appreciated for that is just not the case, I am spoiled rotten.  If there came a point where I did not want to bother with the garden or canning, the man and kids would never say a word.  And if the man ever told me I had to do my part he would be the gone.  So until the time comes when I am to old to deal with it, the man will till when I need it tilled, (his fault for buying a tiller to big for me to control) haul manure, keep enlarging and do a walk thru even when all he wants to do is go sit down.  I tend the garden because I love it and the family loves to eat.  The man tends to me because he loves me and loves to eat.   Yes it is aggravating at times, but so are my kids and I love them...even when they do empty the ice trays and the tea container.

And when I am not outside tending to the garden, I get to do this....
Oh yes I have been spinning.  I even cracked out the electric Babe that I bought 2.5 years ago.  I had tried to use it once and thought it was too fast.  Of course that was my fault for pushing the pedal like I was driving the Indy but now I am doing better. 
This is my first bobbin so be nice, it's a learning experience.  I also forgot I don't have the woolie winder on this one.

Some might say none of this is working hard or worth doing, but I think if you enjoy doing your work you don't consider it hard and something that makes you and your family happy is worth doing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sending a hug up through the opening.

"Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” ~Eskimo Proverb

It is one year ago today that we lost my mom.  It has been a rough year.  All the "firsts"...my first birthday without her baking my cake (yeah I was spoiled and still got that), her first missed birthday, the first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first garden without any input or help from her. 

You would think it was the big holidays and things that were the worst to deal with but it wasn't.  It was the everyday things...Not going to have coffee with her in the morning and watching the grass fill in the pathway between our homes OR seeing that a store that we had shopped at and had been around for years with a closing sign and thinking I had to tell her only to remember I didn't have to do that anymore OR baseball season starting and eventhough I am a Yankee's fan, not printing out the Mets schedule so she could watch every game.

The grandkids all stopped after school every day and they have missed running to her house to get what ever she baked to celebrate their first day back to school.  They would eat and talk at the same time telling her about their teachers, schedules and getting lost stories OR bringing home the report card/candy order form for her to see OR her waving to them from the audience at their band/chorus concerts/sports. 

I was sitting in the car the other day and watched an older woman walk up a flight of steps, both feet on every step.  I remembered what a defining moment it was when my own mom started to do that.  I started crying now because she would not have approved of crying then.  Knowing she had cancer and seeing it's effects on such a simple act was totally different.  Then I had to laugh because that woman was just as stubborn as my mom and would not walk the ramp, use a wheelchair or take the elevator.

She was not a huggy kissy mom but she showed you in a thousand other ways.  She never had much, lived most of her life in the trailer my dad and her bought in 1965.  She never went to college, never had a job that paid $10 an hour, only ever owned one new car and never traveled far.  She never sought the spotlight but was a constant behind the scenes helping out with whatever needed to be done. For such an unassuming person she left a huge whole in our lives.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Canning Jars

Since I am done mulching the garden the next step is to prepare for the canning of the garden. Hopefully I haven't jinxed myself and it will produce something!  But I digress, I have been organizing jars.  Normally they just get taken into the basement and put willy nilly on a shelf.  So I have been sorting them into pints and quarts/ regular or large mouth.  I have also been condensing what jams/jellies/beans/etc sare till left on the shelves from last year.  This will determine if I bother with somethings.  For instance I still have some jars of currant jelly.  I moved the currant bushes this Spring.  I didn't expect a large harvest and now it doesn't matter.  They are now off the priority list.  If they get picked, that is wonderful but if there are 1000+1 more things that need doing I won't be upset if the birds take them and save some jars for something I don't have.  On the other hand I only have one jar of hot pepper mustand and three of salsa so I know I have to make even more this year.

If I remember I canned over 600 jars last year so I need to know I have enough for this year.  Not everyone is nice enough to return the jars.  They just toss them into the trash.  I found this poem that will be attached to all gifted jars from here on out....

My Canning Jar~
To some it's just a little jar,
To me it's so much more.
I have to go in search of these,
From store, to store, to store.
I fill them up and give them free,
With fruits and so much more.
I wish that I could get them free,
But canning jars don't grow on trees.
I've worked real hard to fill them up,
And it has been such fun.
`Twould be a special gift to me,
If returned when you are done.

I don't know who wrote it but kudos to them!!!  I love getting calls from friends asking if I would be interested in canning jars that their cousin, sister, uncle or friend found in the basement, garage or barn  Heck yeah!  I never turn down a canning jar...or recipe books.  In the boxes there usually ends up being old mustard, coffee or mayonaisse jars.  I know the screw bands fit on the mayo jars but I don't trust them so I take these to recycling.
Sometimes there are old juice jars.  I tend to keep a few of these on hand and take the rest to recycling.
Other times they end up being the old jars with the wire bales. 
I don't use these to can with but I do use them to store buttons, marbles, baking soda/powder, cocoa etc.  If the jars are very old, or colors like blue or amber I keep them for storage also and use the zinc lids with porcelain lining that usually come with the boxes of jars.
So far as cookbooks, I read recently that you need to have cookbooks written prior to the 1970's to find things made entirely from scratch.  Luckily I have been given or bought at yardsale and thrift stores alot of them.

I may not make use of some of the butchering part of most of the older cookbooks but they do still have some good recipes.
The older canning books have a lot of great recipes and you can see how preserving has changed over the years. And boy have they changed since 1918!  I use the newest editions (2009) to give me precise cooking times and best ways to preserve but keep the old for some information in them that is not available in the newer books.
Each year I learn more and more about canning...and cooking for that matter.  This year I want to learn to can more soups so on busy days I just have to pop a lid off.  I would also like to learn to can some meat so I can lower my electric bill by turning off one of the freezers.  Actually, I remember seeing a turkey in one of the freezers so I think I might start with that.  No time like the present to learn while it is still cool out.  And if you have jars put them on http://www.freecycle.org/  as there are plenty of people like me willing to save them from the dump.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fungus Amongus

“The Smurfs are little blue people who live in magic mushrooms. Think about it.” ~ Unknown

I use to love the Smurfs, Papa Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Smurfette but I don't know anything about magic mushrooms.  Actually I don't know anything about mushrooms but I have to learn because I now have this...

Yes I know it is a log.  A and #1 son are building a house.  The men folk spent a weekend clearing the area of all the trees for the house, garage and lawn.  We (my brother and I ) will make use of the wood later but a friend of his wanted to make use of the wood now.  From what I have read you can only innoculate freshly cut logs.  My brother loaded up some four foot logs and took them to his friend.  Said friend belongs to a mushroom club.  The other day my brother showed up at my house with this log.  If you look close you can see rows of holes that were filled with spore and then covered with bees wax.
I have been given instructions to bury this log 3/4 of the way and in two years I will have shitake mushrooms.  From what I have read so far, once it starts, this log will continue to produce for five years.  The man loves mushrooms and I had always thought of getting one of the kits so we are excited about this.  A long wait but then years of dining...similar to asparagus.  Now these babies I don't have to wait years for, just a couple of more weeks....
Oh I love me some tomato sandwiches, salsa, tomato soup.  Patience is a virtue.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ins & Outs

Ins and outs and ups and downs
Life's road meanders aimlessly?
Or so it seems, but somehow
Leads us where we need to be, ~ John McLeod

Oh, it has been one of those weekends.  Friday night, #2 daughter had 2 friends stay over... #2 son had my nephew over....kids laugh...and talk ALOT...and LATE!  The man went to work Saturday and the nephew had to leave to go visit his grandma.  #1 son came along and picked up #2 son and took him for the weekend.  Which just left us girls here.  We got some work done in the garden and then the man came home.  We decide to take the girls swimming in the river.  We were all hot, sweaty and covered with hay....and then we were freezing!  The river still has not warmed up.  Whereas #1 and #2 son were swimming in 72 degree pool we were swimming in 50 degree water.  Well actually it was 64 but felt like 50!!!!  We were not hot again for the rest of the day!!!  We shivered our way home and had steak on the grill.  Then we decided to take the girls fishing.

It is now after 7 pm so all the canoers are off the river.  We cast in all the lines and here comes two male adults and a female adult walking down to the rivers edge.  They are carrying a kayak and they stop right by us.  It becomes apparant that they are going to go swimming right near where we have our lines cast instead of anywhere else on the river.  My man asks "Excuse me, are you really going to go swimming right where our lines are"  and the man replies that they just want to get their feet wet, won't be splashing around and will kayak up the river away from our lines.   My man realizes he doesn't have his license and leaves to go get it.  The woman gets in the kayak and paddles out.  The men start chucking rocks bigger than softballs at her!  She thinks it is funny but the girls are asking me why they are doing it and won't it scare away the fish.  I say some people's idea of fun is a little warped and they fail to take other people into consideration.  My man returns.  This rock throwing continues for about 10 minutes and by now he is fuming and then he finally explodes.  He asks them "Are you ****ing serious, do you have a ****ing problem or can you not see that we are trying to fish here."  The woman comes in and one of the guys gets in the kayak and the other guy says "Yelling at me is not the way to get me to do what you want, you should ask"!!!!! My man says "I asked you before you even got in the water"  The guy says "I would never use that word in front of my child"  My man says "Normally I wouldn't but I've had it with the rock throwing"  And I had to get into it and say "You wouldn't swear in front of your child but you have no problem ruining a fishing trip for these girls,  Yup that makes you a good man"  So the rocks continue flying because the guy is a total dirtbag.  We sit for a good five minutes and then my man goes and gets his biggest pole.  He starts baiting it and says "You know what? I am going to cast right at your friend in the kayak"  The guy on shore throwing the rocks says "why because I am throwing rocks?"  My man says "Yeah, you are ruining my fishing, I will ruin his kayaking"  So the rock throwing stops.

All is peaceful on the riverfront.  Across the river we see a deer walking the shoreline. Ah nature! The girls start wondering if she has a fawn hidden in the bushes. #2 says Bambi use to be here favorite movie.   Then the deer runs up the embankment and proceeds to get hit by a van driving down the road that parallels the river.  No I am not kidding.  The girls get upset wondering if she is still alive and what will happen to her baby now if she has one.  As we are talking to them, in pulls our local fire department to re-fill the fire truck because they filled someone's pool. (Something they are not suppose to do anymore)  We gave up, hauled in our lines and left.  Mr. Rock thrower was nice enough to give us the one finger wave as we drove away...very classy guy don't ya know.

We dropped #2's friends off, had coffee with their mom then came home to an early bed.  I let everyone sleep in Sunday morning while I enjoyed the peace and quiet and spinning.  After a breakfast courtesy of #2 daughter we did barn chores and started working in the basement.  I needed to organize the shelves a little to see what canned goods we had left.  We heard thunder so we go upstairs to check the Weather channel.  The man decides he wants to watch Shutter Island.  The rains pour down and we have a stream running down the drive.  It stops, the movie ends and the man goes to light the burn pile while everything is wet.  I start taking down the laundry that was on the line to rewash since the line bowed down into the grass and dirt....and it starts to rain again. I have no clue how much rain we got yesterday but suffice it to say I will not be working in the garden today.  I will be back down in the basement sorting the canning jars for the up coming season.  Sometimes we don't always get our jars back from friends and family and they need to be replaced.   We have been having the oddest weather....cool then hot which makes storms which drowns everything and cools it down again.  I hope it doesn't have any ill effects on the garden.  Everything is looking real good right now. 
I already know I have to put up more corn, beans, salsa, hot pepper mustard, tomatoes and tomato soup and I don't want to buy it to do it.  And hopefully the fence continues to keep the deer on the outside of the garden

Monday, June 07, 2010

In need of a new thermostat!

“If you don't like the weather, wait a minute” ~ supposedly Mark Twain

Mother Nature and I have to work on things as neither of us has been good at regulating our temperature's recently.  Last week we were in the 80's.  Saturday it was hot.  Early evening we decided to go fishing and a t-storm blew over.  We got wet and I got cold and I mean shivering, can't warm up cold.  Sunday we were putting up fences

(with help from Domino!) 
and a t-storm blew over.  We got wet and I got cold.  We came in to eat, then it was back to fencing and a t-storm blew over.  We got wet and I got cold.  We finally finished the fence.  I came in showered and was hot again.  We went for ice cream and I was cold again.  I came home and closed all the windows.  Woke up this morning to 46 degrees.  I am typing with a hoodie on!  I feel like my grandmother that wore sweaters all summer!

But I am not really complaining.  We got a lot done.  We were in a tornado watch but nothing came of it and no hail fell to beat down my plants.   I got some fleece washed and some spinning in.  And since I don't want to go in the garden while it is so wet I will probably get more spinning in today.  Things could be so much worse than needing a hoodie.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Still Plodding Away In the Garden

“A positive attitude may not solve every problem but it makes solving any problem a more pleasant experience.” ~ Grant Fairley

I am positive that it has been such a productive week that I was almost afraid to say anything for fear of that changing!!! 

Tuesday night the man retilled the empty area in the garden and around the tomatoes to keep the weeds down. 

Wednesday I raked the empty area and  planted the squash,  more tomatoes and Hidatsa Red beans.  I laid the black plastic by the row of zucchini and yellow squash and around the hills of cushaw and LI Cheese.  The heat of the day caught up to me and I retreated to the house. 

Thursday morning I weeded the parsley and dill, tied the blackberry canes up,
planted some more gladiolas and elf lilies.  By then it was time to take the dog  to the vet and he now has an appointment to be neutered on June 29th.  On the way home we stopped off at #1 son's lot and picked up a load of firewood.   After dinner it finally dawned on me the weatherman whom had preditions of rain/t-storms all week was a liar.  We got nothing so I watered half the garden.

Yesterday the kids and man left and I had tea and toast outside under the maple tree while a load of laundry was in the washer.  It seems the kids "forgot" they had any dirty laundry until  they realized they were going to their dad's for the weekend.  So before they left they for school they dropped 4-5 loads on me!  Realizing nothing was getting done with me sitting there, I hung up that load, started another and went to water the other half of the garden.  While the sprinkler was going I started laying woodchips on the permanent pathways. I remembered I had a gallon bag of thyme sitting in my fridge so I came in and put that in the dehydrater.  Just then the washer was done so I hung that load and put in another.  Back out to the garden to fill in missing spots on the peas.  Because the greenbeans did not look like they were amounting to much  I planted the old standby's...Blue Lake Pole right next to them.  I have to put the poles in and string up some fencing but I have to have green beans!  Before calling it a morning in the garden I hilled up the potatoes.  I came in, hung out another load of laundry, filled the washer again and made a bottle to take to Domino.  He has been moved out of the house (finally) and in with his breathren.  He was in the barn with Ayla (the bottle baby from two years ago) and made quite the noise when he saw me come in.  After devouring the bottle we went out to the field and sat in the shade of a tree to watch the other sheep.
 Watching them made me yearn to play in fiber so I grabbed Bozo's fleece and started picking thru that. 
The kids came home and I put it away to finish another day.  They left with their dad, the man and I left for shopping.

Since we didn't get any rain last night either I was back out in the garden by 6:30.  I priced straw at $7/bale and decided hay would be cheaper to mulch with.  It adds more weed seed to the garden but so does manure and I need too much to pay $7 a bale.  So far today I hoed, hilled, weeded around, papered and mulched the 30 foot rows of cabbage, brussel sprouts, green beans, yellow beans, squash and the few tomatoes I planted the other day.  All that still needs to be papered and mulched is the tomatoes I planted earlier.  There was a slight wind which made it so much fun...NOT!  I finally had the hose laying next to the row and would paper, wet it down, paper, wet it down until I finished the row and then I would mulch it.  My back is screaming and the sun is full on the garden so I am taking a break until later this evening. 

#1 daughter is up in a plane right now, flying down to Florida with her sister, her dad, and his wife.  As part of her sister's Make a Wish they are going to Disney.  I hope they have a great time together and that they get to know each other a little better.  I also hope that Sir T remembers to maintain their garden while she is away!

Now that I have cooled down a little I am going to wash the wool I picked out yesterday and then take a shower to remove the hayseed.  Then I am going to sit out under the maple and spin until the man gets home from work.  Shade, peace and quiet, fiber...what more can one want for?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Garden 2010

Now seeds are just dimes to the man in the store

And the dimes are the things that he needs,
And I've been to buy them in seasons before
But have thought of them merely as seeds;
But it flashed through my mind as I took them this time,
"You purchased a miracle here for a dime."
- Edgar A. Guest, A Package of Seeds

This post is really for no reason other than to document the garden as it stands now.  The North corner would be by the clematis.  There are still Green Striped Cushaws, Hales Best Canteloupe, Cherry Bomb Peppers and extra tomatoes to go in....somewhere between the tomatoes and zucchini!!!  Not noted on here...there are sunflowers planted at every fence post.  If you are walking in the garden gate, on the left by the lovage is gladiola's. Broom corn is planted between the posts behind the carrots and down the side three posts.  There is Hopi Red Dye Amaranth planted between posts down by the tomatoes and Elephant head Amaranth planted between posts by the potatoes. 

The blueberries are 2 Bluecrop and 1 Blue Ray purchased from the Wayne Conservation 2010 seedling sale.  The Gala apple was purchased there also.  Somewhere is the name of the other apple tree which I purchased from them last year.

I am unsure of how this garden will perform since it is newly tilled land.  I did not invest much money into seed because of that.  I used alot of saved seed.  The seed I did by was from Agway or Walmart, some was only 25 cents.  I have never tried these bush beans before, usually I stick with Blue Lake or Kentucky Wonder.  The chickens conspired against me and broke into the garden early on.  The carrots and peas were the only things planted then and the carrots took the brunt of their scratching.  I weeded them and didn't find many so I am deciding if I should put the peppers there or reseed.  Carrots are fairly cheap and I would use the peppers more so I am pretty sure which way I am leaning on that!  So far I have only mulched the carrots, kohlrabi, pea and one row of cabbage.  Lots more work to do.

After I decide what more I can squeeze in, it will just be weeding, harvesting, canning and eating. Something to look forward too.