Sunday, May 31, 2009
Last Saturday, there was a plant sale to raise some money for the library. I have many plants that are in need of dividing, so I did some digging and potting between rain showers on Friday. I really was not in the market for new plants unless there happened to be some vegetable sets so I did have to check out what was available. I did not need any more perennial flowers, but then of course I succumbed to the desire for some.
The sale works like this--you look around and find your first pick and then stand by it, guarding it until the leader gives a signal to make your first pick. You grab the plant and then run to guard your second choice. Your first choice costs $5.00; the second, $3.00; until its just grab what ever for 50 cents. I picked out an oxalis, dahlias, obedient plant, zinnia starts, and a small ground cover plant, the name of which I have now forgotten. Since my car was parked fairly far down the green, I piled my plants together in an out of the way spot and went to pay up. Then when I went to gather the plants into my vehicle--no plants to be found. I assume that some one's child or spouse was helping out a plant purchaser and loaded them unnoticed into a car by mistake. It was a disappointment though. Still, I didn't need them and sometimes the universe conspires to remind you of things like the difference between wants and needs. No harm done. And now I do not have to look for another place to expand or start a new flower garden. Taking on the new veg patch was enough for this year.
Well, rhubarb is hardly a nuisance. Did you know it can be used to clean burned pots and pans, as a hair lightener, as an insecticide, as an ingredient in homemade art paper? Everything you could possibly want to know about rhubarb can be found in The Rhubarb Compendium (http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/). What a thorough resource. I wish I could find a similar site for chives!
So I have been harvesting the chives and adding them to my (but not Mike's) salads, potatoes, and soups. A bit here and a bit there and I do find it quite satisfying to have something freshly plucked out of the herb garden, but, let's face it, this amount of use is not making the slightest dent in the two thriving clumps of chives I keep.
Poking around on the Internet, I did find a recipe for chive oil that can be served over pasta. It uses a lot of chives and sounds like it would be delicious over hearty pasta with a grating of Parmesan cheese and good Italian bread on the side. Next time we have guests I'll try it--and reserve a bowl of pasta to serve with plain oil and cheese to Mike.
Puree in a blender:
1/4 cup extra virgin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 3/4 cup chopped chives
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of coarse salt
dash or two of ground pepper
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Wrap sections of your damp hair in cotton tube socks and tie the ends of
each sock together. Go to bed for the night. Socks are more comfortable than
rollers, you see. (Does anyone really do that? Sleep in rollers, I mean?) Then
in the morning take out the socks, fluff your hands through your hair and enjoy
My hair is already wavy so I don't think that I'll try this. Because my hair is wavy, I naturally yearn to wake up with perfectly straight hair. Also no one in the house has tube socks. It would not be worth the trip to K-Mart or where ever it is one goes to purchase tube socks. This little beauty secret would pretty much hatchet any chance of getting lucky that night and I still think it would be hard to sleep with knotted socks all over your head so you might want to be occupying your time somehow. And really, if I ever did try this, that would be the night the furnace blows up or the chimney catches fire. I'd have to run out of the house and wait for the volunteer fire department on the front lawn while curious neighbors wonder why I'm wearing socks on my head. Nope, I skip this one.
Monday, May 25, 2009
In Flanders fields the poppies blow (1)
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
by John McCrae
Today I went to the cemetery to plant flowers at my parents' grave sight and reflected on the life and opportunities they gave to me and on the dream of peace, an end to war and whatever it is that gives cause for wars.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
At the same time, officials in Alaska plan to prosecute a man for actually feeding bears. Apparently he is quite friendly with the neighborhood bear population and has even been seen scratching a bear tummy. Sure some bears can be dangerous, but here is a clan that seems willing to work on a peace initiative with humans and they've found a man with enough courage to sit down with their tribunal and hash out some kind of deal. i say more power to them all.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
On Friday we took a couple paddles out and around looking for signs of spring and possible wildlife activity. We've seen, in the past, a snapping turtle, an eagle, loons, otter, deer, beaver, a moose, camp site marauding bands of ducks. This time it was something new--at least I'd never seen a sight quite like it--hundreds and hundreds of toads in a marshy area in the farthest corner of the pond. It might have been mating season. Or, they might have all been on a toad holiday and were playing rousing games of horse-back rides. Oh, and then there were the dozens of butterflies floating around the little beach at our camp site. So, I guess we found our signs of spring. But my point is that there were no canoe mishaps that day either.
So, as it nearly always does, it started to rain on the last morning. We packed everything up and headed out. It was rainy but not windy/choppy and I was kind of getting mesmerized by the sound of the water lapping against the metal canoe. Paddling in very calm water has a wonderful sound. But then--clunk--we were in too shallow water and hung up on a rock. We were stuck good, too, and surrounded by more large rocks. I stopped breathing. Getting free involved a bit of rocking, very careful rocking, and a lot of pushing this way and that with the paddles. Luckily, we did get free before I passed out from the lack of taking any breath or before we were tossed onto a slippery and cold, wet bed of rocks.
We got free without dumping!! Imagine the relief that flooded over us--me especially! We got the canoe turned around in the right direction and there was a beaver swimming in front and watching us. I swear it. He was laughing at us. Laughing, the cheeky bastard.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I have quite a growing selection of fabric pieces so I decided to use some of these to make a couple dust covers for suits and dresses. Well, I whipped up a pair this morning and was putting them on the designated clothing in the closet when my husband happened to come in from running his day's errands. Of course I had to explain to him about dust covers and garment bags. His response, "You have too much time on your hands and I think anyone who saw those would say the same thing."
Personally, I think anyone who saw my dust covers would say I have a very organized closet. Maybe we are each thinking of a different camp of "anyone."
Monday, May 18, 2009
So, yes, some people wear their seat belts because it's the safe and smart thing to do, but some people need to be reminded and the police will remind them with a ticket. "Like Mike," I said. "Sometimes he needs to be reminded to fasten his seat belt."
"And my dad, too," she commented. "Why are men like that??"
Good, classic question.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The story is told from Alice's perspective. Her life as a Harvard professor, high-powered neuropsychologist, internationally famous for her research in linguistics is all drastically and dramatically changed when she loses a word and the losses start quickly piling up. It is a fictional account, but realistic. So many of the experiences described rang true. Lisa Genova apparently has some background with Alzheimer's disease and access to current research and treatments. It did comfort me to be reminded that there could be a dignity and a quality to life even without an intellectual component.
I'd rather not experience it first hand (not surprisingly, a constant fear). I was intrigued by her plan (set up in her Blackberry, no less) to commit suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills when she reached a certain point of decline. That's definitely my solution to long term care insurance. But then she forgot to die and that wasn't so bad. Still don't want to experience it though.
I did find one thing unbelievable, however. After her diagnosis, Alice stops settling for frozen yogurt and starts eating ice cream again. So in one scene, she goes into a Ben and Jerry's scoop shop, gets three (that's three) scoops of chocolate peanut butter cup in a cone, pays with a five dollar bill and leaves the change in the tip jar. Please. Five dollars for three scoops of Ben and Jerry's and change left over. Never happened, not in 2005. Maybe I missed that it was another sign of her failing ability to cope--that she actually gave them a twenty dollar bill and left the change.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The arguments were pretty straight forward:
- It will change the way you eat--meaning that you learn to appreciate food in its season. We have great strawberries locally, for a very short time in spring. Local tomatoes and fresh green beans cannot be beat in the summer. Apples and pumpkins and squash are yummy in the fall. So that makes sense.
- It's green--no long distance shipping mean fresher produce and no big carbon footprint from transportation across long distances. Green is good, all the rage.
- It will change the way you cook--meaning that with all the fresh veggies in the fridge you're less likely to turn to processed foods. Sounds like a good enough idea. We all are aware that processed foods are not good for us and eating more vegetables and fruits is always in nutritional advise.
- It will help a local farmer--and no problem with that.
- It's easy--just sign up and pay your money. Then pick up your food as it's ready.
So why don't we sign up? Well, if you knew my husband and you read the whole of #3, "It will change the way you cook," you'd instantly see the deal breaker. Here it is (with emphasis mine):
I shouldn't blame our lack of support for local farmers entirely on my husband who never eats soup, never eats anything in the onion family, never eats beets, eats carrots only raw, and, I am quite sure, doesn't know what a parsnip even is. Goat cheese and parsnips are deal breakers for me too.
There's nothing like a refrigerator full of vegetables to make you pass up
processed foods when you shop (which is pretty infrequently for me
now). I use web resources and the CSA's recipes and tips to find
unique ways to use the foods in my share. Maybe I''ll find a recipe
on EatingWell.com for a big batch of potato leek soup that will last all week. When company's coming, I'll recreate a restaurant dish by wrapping beets, carrots and the share's local goat cheese in filo dough and serve it on a bed of parsnip
puree. While it's not essential to get really creative when using
your farm share, it's certainly easy and definitely fun.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
I didn't take typing in high school, but my mother insisted that I learn to type. Her plan had always been to go to college and that was certainly her plan for her children. Unfortunately, her dad lost his business in the depression, which hit just as my mom was graduating from high school. He could no longer afford to send her to college and she ended up going to a secretarial school so she could get a job and help support the family. Of course that made her more determined that her children should go to college, but she wanted to hedge her bets with me. "You have to learn to type so you will always have an employable skill" was her mantra to me. So I ended up taking a night school class. I remember a young man taught the class and there were a dozen of us. I was the youngest, still in high school. There were two electric type writers and ten manual type writers available and the teacher warned that we would have to rotate around to use each machine. After my first attempt on a manual--when not a single letter actually showed up on the paper (weak hand strength)--I was assigned to an electric on a permanent basis. Oh, well for everybody else.
But even if it just for the superior ability to type stuff--well, and shop on-line, of course--I'm glad we have the computer. I just wish it didn't make me feel stupid and bereft of any employable skill.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
The upright, bagged machine I have now is fine for carpets, which cover most of my floors, but it has no attachments. Instead, you get the little canister thingy with the attachment assortment. I'm sure you've seen it--it is capable of sucking up a twenty pound bowling ball. Sucking up toast crumbs and cat food off the kitchen floor--not so much. Since I rarely to never feel the need to suck up kitchen cluttering bowling balls, I'm not particularly impressed with this little system. Not only does it not do the kind of cleaning up service I would want, especially for the price I paid for it, but it routinely falls apart in my hands. The hose pulls out; the wands fall off; the attachments stick when you want to take them off and fall off when you need them to be on; the hooks for winding up the cord has been replaced at least twice and it fell off again today; the front wheel fell off and the rear wheels wobble badly. You would think from looking at it that I was a demolition derby style vacuum babe.
I'd like to demolish it, but I can't justify buying a new machine at this point since I mange to get things reasonably clean in spite of the personal aggravation. I'm trying not to be wasteful. On the other hand, I know if I live to be in my 90's I'll not be taking that particular machine to the nursiing home with me.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Last year we took a trip down the river in May. The water was kind of high and moving fast--made for an easy paddle. We stopped at an island to have a picnic lunch. Mike wanted to go to paddle around to the back side of the island. On the way we veered too close to the shore and tipped over so fast we didn't know what hit us. The day was warm and sunny but the water was still cold. We ended up laying our clothes on trees and having a naked picnic lunch. Then when things dried out a bit, we headed on. Just passed the interstate bridge, we came to fork in the river. We headed to the left, hit a submerged log and over again in a wink. We dumped the water out of the canoe and kept on going another mile and a half to the pullout spot.
Later in the summer on another canoe trip on a pond, Mike yelled, "Take your paddle out of the water...So that's how you do that!" I don't know how I do it--tip the canoe--but it is clear it is my fault. Always my fault. Yeah, I'll be convinced to take another river ride real soon.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
When I had my first teaching job I had two small children and a husband just out of the army who was going to start college. For a while, he was a "househusband," pretty rare at a time when women were almost embarrassed to be "just a housewife." Now, I know plenty of "stay at home moms" and "stay at home dads" but no "working moms" because that implies that those at home do not work. You have to explain earning an income if you're a woman but explain not earning a salary if you're a man
Some of the labels stay throughout our lives. I'll always be a parent. Some labels get added. I'm a grandparent now too. Some labels get modified. I'm a retired teacher. Some labels just never seem to fit though. I spend most of my time at home now doing traditional kinds of things like cooking and cleaning and gardening and sewing (and enjoying my home immensely!), but I never say I'm a "housewife." I just can't or don't or won't.
I thought that Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos would be kind of a light read. It is essentially a romance but with and added fairy tale like element from the perspective a young girl who is trying to find her parents.
Now that HBO is running the series, I decided to re-read the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. The TV version was striking me as very similar in impression to what I had remembered about the books, but I'm finding that the books are richer than I had remembered. I'm enjoying and appreciating them more with the second reading.
I just finished reading Jodi Piccoult's Handle With Care. I thought it was pretty typical JP--topical, prodigiously researched, and sadly soul numbing. To me, she has an odd JerrySpringeresque take on life but I still get sucked in.