Friday, March 27, 2015

Come out, come out...wherever you are .....

 The new baby girls, 5 reading up on what's happening on Wall Street, the other 2 on the other end, keeping track of the sports scores. 

  I forget, from one time to the next, just how fast baby chicks grow. It's amazing.  I have been missing in action for a few weeks, I know.  It's been an interesting March.  I bought 8 chicks on St. Patrick's day. Husbandman (who's not the boss of me)  said 5.  I (the Queen of quite a lot) said 10.  So, I (ever the perfect wife) compromised and got 8.  Within 24 hours, 2 of them were dead.  I called the Rural King and they said bring them in and they would replace them. So I did.  I was keeping the tiny babes in a large cat carrier, (cleaned and sanitized, of course), until I could get the big cage cleaned and disinfected and moved into the office.  Husbandman (who is often wrong about things) said they could live in the garage, it would be warm enough with the heat lamp.  I gently disagreed (ever the perfect wife) and reminded him that we have had issues with raccoons getting into the garage, even with the door closed. And IT WOULD NOT BE WARM ENOUGH.  Usually we use the guestroom for the chicken pen, but, alas--it is occupied at this time. So, I generously suggested that we move them into my office and all would be well. He wasn't particularly happy about that.

 Another chick died.  I have never lost a chick before and this was starting to worry me. It occurred to me that perhaps the cat carrier was trapping too much ammonia for their delicate little bodies to process, even though it was ventilated...So, out to the garage I went and finished disinfecting the pen and with the help of my roommate, we two wild women carried the monster into the house and into the office and got them all set up. So...7 chicks, pullets, happy as clams.  The minute I set them down in the cage, they started running with joy, 'round and 'round, jumping over the little 2x2 divider that runs down the center. Such a fun thing to watch.  The cats are not particularly impressed by them. 2 of the dogs pretend they don't exist.  But Miss Molly McGee, the Jack Russell Terrorist---another story entirely. She is obsessed.  Tries to get in here every time the door opens. Sniffs around the bottom and sides of the pen. Stands there, staring, every muscle in her body quivering 50 mph.  I don't think she wants to eat them. Husbandman disagrees.  But she's never been a bird eater/killer.  I think she wants to mother them and when she hears them peeping and cheeping, she thinks they're in distress.  I let her come in and sit while I'm in here sometimes...constantly reminding her to "get back...back up"... until I can't take it anymore, then I have to put her out.  lol

   Since last I posted I have done some canning...chicken breasts at 1.69/lb.  Barbeque sauce.  Dehydrated 10 packages of celery (.69/package).  Made 5 dozen meatballs for the freezer.  My sister-in-law had surgery for her recurring brain cancer. I made lasagna and soft garlic breadsticks and a big salad and we went down and spent an evening with them. I have attended 3 funerals.  I am having some goofy issues with muscle weakness and visited the doc a couple of times. Started some dental work. 

 You know--the usual stuff.

  But I feel like I am coming out of my winter doldrums (I HOPE!!!!)  and things are looking up all the time. We had a few days of some incredible weather around here, but then it started yo yo-ing and this afternoon had some snow flurries.  I am so ready for warm weather.  But at least all the snow has finally melted and if it will stop raining a while, we might be able to get out into the garden beds and get some stuff done. I made a seed and potato order and the seeds came , but the spuds are back ordered and should be shipped mid-April. A little late, but we are always late planting anyway.  Did get the garden journal ready and made decisions about what to plant and what not to. Went through all the saved seed from last year, and we actually did alright. Yay !

   All in all, we have survived the winter and life is good at Honeysuckle Hill.  The grass is greening up, the lilies are about 3 inches tall--crocuses and daffodils are everywhere.  Can't wait to eat some yard salads--dandelions, violets, chickweed, plantain--yum.

  Trying to finish up laundry tonight, as I have a busy day tomorrow. Going out to the La Vista Ecological Learning Center at 4 for a movie, potluck and an evening under the stars for Earth Hour.  It will be a very nurturing event. Husbandman is leaving for Southern Illinois for an Area Assembly and will be back late Sunday night. 

  Sounds like the dryer has stopped.  My cue to say...


Monday, March 2, 2015

Ich habe schnee nicht gern.

 Not that I really hate it...but I am soooo ready for spring and green grass and garden work and warm weather,. (AND--not that I'm sure how rusty my high school German  We got some more snow since I posted last. We may have more coming in a few days.  Go ahead, winter...give us what you've got.  In a bit it will be the Spring Equinox and then  you will be on your way.



   It's been a rough few days...a friend lost her oldest son to a heroin overdose-services tomorrow. My heart hurts for her and for all the untreated addicts and alcoholics out there.  Once again I am shown how incredibly blessed I am to be walking around clean and sober.  Once again, I see the first hand anguish of an incredible loss that every mother fears...loss of a child. Because no matter if they are 10 or 17 or 37, they are always our child.  And once again I am so grateful that I have (so far) been spared that horror.  And my heart hurts for my friend in the face of this unspeakable incident.

  My youngest sister's husband is a twin, and this week his twin brother died after a battle with cancer. That battle was mostly won, but the treatment of it wreaked havoc on a liver already decimated by cirrhosis. He was 66 years old and we will have a memorial service this evening for him.  I cannot yet imagine the grief of the loss of a sibling, and I know it must be even worse when you are a twin.  My heart goes out to them all. And the only thing I can do is suit up and show up and be there, in whatever little ways I can.

 We (and when I say we, I mean I) feel our most helpless in the face of grief, I think...when there is nothing anyone can do to change what has happened. When all you can do is stand by and watch the pain and hurt of the people most deeply affected by the loss and  not even find the words to say that are not trite or empty or sounding foolish.  And yet...and yet... I will go and I will offer up my love and that's all there is.


  So...more snow. And deaths. And I am so tired of being cooped up and am ready for a little break in the weather, which we are getting today and tomorrow. And it will be good.

 I canned about 20 pints of boneless/skinless chicken breast last week.  2 jars broke, (one from the rim down) but I was able to save the chicken as the canner hadn't started yet. 2 jars didn't seal...after 75 minutes of pressure canning--never had that happen before either.  I suspect they are not making canning lids like they used to...I had several last year that buckled (they still sealed) and looked weird after canning. Another thing I hadn't seen before.  Ho Hum.  The older I get, the more new lessons surprise me.  lol

 I have been offered another writing opportunity-- writing a sustainable/local/healthy food article for a newsletter that goes out only twice a year. No pay for it, but it's a cause I am deeply involved in, so there's that.  It is the ministry connected to our local ecological society, the Mission for the Integrity and Justice of Creation ... the newsletter goes to over half the states in the country, and I thought it would be a good challenge for me to try to write a short article. lol   I am excited about doing it.


   Last night I made a Middle Eastern supper night...falafel, hummus, lots of fresh veggies to dip, pita chips and lettuce leaves to wrap the falafel in. It was seriously good finger food. Tonight I am making peanut butter chicken per my husbands will be served with basmati rice and steamed broccoli , and I need to get it started so that I will not be putting supper on the table too late. I don't plan to stay too long at the service today, so hopefully...Thing is, that Irishman comes home from work hungry as a bear. lol

  Alrighty. I have been very slow getting started this morning and am now seriously behind. lol  Need to get it up and running.  I pulled a muscle somehow in my back/shoulder/neck and couldn't sleep. When I finally did, I dreamed of gardens and 20 foot tall tomatoes and  incredible bounty. Hopefully that is a vision of the year to come...heaven knows we don't particularly need another year like 2014...


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Winter on Honeysuckle Hill

  We've had 14 inches of snow in the past week.  Not much, compared to some places.  Not much compared to how it was when I was a kid. Sometimes the snow would drift so high you couldn't open the downstairs doors to get out of the house.  That doesn't happen anymore.  But when you get old, some snow is too much snow. I didn't leave the house for about 7 days this time.  I maybe could have..but why would I ?  I had everything I needed and wasn't willing to risk going off the road and getting stuck and having to walk back home. Or worse yet, wrecking my car.  No thanks..I just snuggled in here at Honeysuckle Hill...and waited it out.

  I haven't been blogging much. I haven't been doing anything that I should. lol  This winter has pressed me into a state of dormancy it seems. I always have this whole list of things that all summer I think "As soon as things slow down, when the gardens and canning are all done...I'll do these then..."  Well--I haven't done any of them I don't think.

  Not sure if it's malaise, depression or what.  I rarely think of myself as a depressed kind of person, but...I'd rather think it's this blood pressure medication. That may not be true either, but every time I take it, I feel like I'm ready for a nap. I think it's starting to worry the Irishman a little.  Once I get going, I can get things done, but there's the rub. Getting going.  Anybody else feeling like this ?  (PLEASE tell me it's not just me.)  lol

 The chicks are already showing up at the farm store. Ridiculous !! We are getting new chicks, but have nowhere to put them. They don't usually come out til the middle/end of March. Even then it's too cold to put them in the coop, so they have to stay in the spare room in a pen. But that room is now inhabited by a friend staying with us until she gets on her feet, so I'm not sure where we can put them... I suppose it will all work out, one way or another, as things are wont to do.  My son and husband are going to renovate the's 10 years old and was built from all recycled materials, many of which now need to be replaced. The basic structure is solid, but the roof and some of the other stuff needs replacing.  I guess 10 years is not bad.

 The pantry is starting to look a little ...used up.  It's a good thing. It's the way it should be.  I have only 1 jar of carrots left, but plenty of green beans still. Because last year I upped the amount I canned by about 20 quarts, since I ran out in about March.  The tomatoes (whole and sauces) are holding up okay too, but the corn is about gone and there are no more plain broths left. Only jars with chicken and turkey in broth. Not a big deal, but next year--more plain broth.  It's a never ending constant learning process. But one I take great satisfaction in doing...

  Alright...I really need to go work on another MEN blog..I'm behind. They did some work on their site and now it's even harder to use. I started and finally gave up a couple of days ago, as it didn't want to give me editing privileges or something.  sigh...I'm going back in...wish me luck ! 


Monday, February 9, 2015

A Monday Kind of Day...

  And yet...and yet...

    Here I sit, the weather has turned cold and bleak again. Much more a February day than the past few have been.  Yesterday was almost 70 degrees and so sunny  you had to wear sun glasses all day.   Now it is 25, tomorrow will be 40 and then the descent begins again.  As if Mother Nature cannot decide how to  be...the weather out of control like a willful child. It's been a stay at home kind of day, doing some basic chores, making granola and doing a few small loads of laundry.

     The Irishman will be home soon, and then turning around and back out the door. He is hanging in there with the current book discussion out at the ecological center.  I am not. The book wasn't interesting to me and I was ready for a break, so I slipped out the side door.  lol  So, I shall stay home and stay warm, and probably watch a movie.  I'm reheating some French Onion soup I made on Wednesday, and made him a sandwich. He can eat the sandwich as he drives and eat the soup after he arrives.

    I was on the run several days in a row and am now more than ready for some quiet time. Yesterday was the Irishman's birthday, and we went out for lunch and then I went on to a meeting and a sober birthday celebration for someone with 40 years.  Got home around 6:30 and whipped up a yummy vegetable stirfry with quinoa for supper.  Saturday, I was part of a flat breads workshop and was off to meet a friend for lunch afterwards, so I was gone from About 8 AM til 5 or so.  Early in the week we had some crazy icy/snowy weather and all in all it was enough to make me tired. lol  At any rate, today I have been all lazy and laid back, doing just enough to stay afloat. Made a batch and a half of granola and gave some to the boy.  Baked some brownies with pecans.  You know...the usual stuff.

   The workshop was fun. And we had a full house signed up for it, which is always nice. There was a lovely woman named Maria, from Columbia, who made arepas and pandebonos.  I made American Crackers.  And another woman named Modesta , from Mexico, who made tortillas.  It was more a demonstration workshop than interactive, like we usually do.  But we did lots of tasting and talking and had a really fun time. Here are a couple of pictures...the pandebonos are a cheese bun made with white corn flour and baked in the oven and the arepas are a bread made daily also made with white corn flour and cooked on a griddle. 


American Crackers


It's gotten late here and I'll be heading off to bed soon. My volunteer day at the office tomorrow, so I have to be down there at 2 PM.  Have to make supper for the Irishman to eat when he gets home. It'll be a busy enough day... and I'm feeling a little tired.



Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wait...What ?? January was here and I missed it ???

  Been lots of mud here.  lol   AND lots of stars.  

 And the month of January has gone whizzing past me and I have been woefully behind in all my blogging and writing and  well--EVERYTHING.  It's been a crazy month of ups and downs and  annoyances and irritations. We've had desperately cold temperatures and then a week of temps in the 50's.  We've had some fiercely troubling health issues in the extended family--have a baby great nephew in the ICU for 11 days now with RSV. He is finally getting better. Had several down with the flu and other crazy stuff.  Had car troubles and sewer troubles and animal troubles. My husband's uncle died down in Texas.   It has been chaotic and distressing and I think I am glad this month is over.  If nothing else, at least February will only have 28 days.  LOL

  We have a house guest ...and it has been really nice having someone to have coffee with in the morning.  She is a friend of mine who is having a hard time and was having to move with virtually nowhere to go, so I offered her the spare bedroom to share with the squash and potatoes. lol  It's great having her here...we've been cooking up a storm and she is helping me with a couple of cleaning projects and we have a good time together, laughing and chatting. 

 My birthday was uneventful...truck was still in the shop and $$ was all headed to the mechanic. But I turned 62 anyway. lol  Finally got the truck back and it is all good. My car  on the other hand...we put a bottle of catalytic converter cleaner in it and the check engine light stayed off for over 2 weeks. I thought it was a miracle...but it came back on again. It seems to be running alright, so I just pray and watch the gauges when I go somewhere.  So far, no problems. The mechanic said that the O2 sensors on the car are extremely sensitive and his dad has had the same problem with his Accord. 

  I wound up in the doctors office with a bad UTI...bloody urine and extreme pain.  She gave me a shot and a prescription and had me back 9 days  later for a follow-up and all is well.  That was icky. I was in agonizing pain and it was pretty scary.  Because of my pelvis injuries that have disabled me, I have to be very careful about this stuff. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does...LOOK OUT. I am pretty careful about my diet. I drink millions of gallons of water   :)     I don't drink sodas or alcohol, I don't hardly EVER eat fried foods, I stay away from dairy.  Still...every now and then...

 Just glad it's over.

 This goofy weather is messing with the trees and flowers. I have irises coming up and the trees are budding and it's January.  Hope the weather stays's supposed to be a low of 45 tonight. But then possible snow on Sunday. I knew that the eastern weatherfront was going to have to find it's way here at some point.

 The critters are all hale and hearty.  The peoples are doing okay too.  Life here at Honeysuckle Hill isn't always all rainbows and glitter...but it's all ours.  The gardens are all dormant and the skies are bleak this time of year, but there's lots of love and good cookin' in I suspect we'll be okay.

  Hope all you east coasters are hanging in there...


Sunday, January 4, 2015 I come !

 ...and here we are.  A new year, all wrapped up in crazy, and it's only the 4th day. Tonight or tomorrow night is the Wolf Moon, January is the month of the Full Wolf Moon. It appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages. It is also known as the Old Moon.   

  The weather has been erratic.  2 days ago it was 40. Today it snowed and was cold as all get out with crazy winds.  Right now it's 15 and feels like 0.  Wednesday the high will be 7.  The low will be an actual 0.  The furnace is running a lot, even with the thermostat set at 67. I am chilly, even with sweaters on and blankets.  All the critters are staying in and barely going out...just to do their business, then right back in again. As a result of that, they are all sluggish and snappy.

  I haven't been out at all today, though yesterday I did walk down to the mailbox. (Or was that Friday?) lol I have been hit with the stomach bug going around...feeling bad since early on New Year's Eve.  No symptoms except serious stomach cramps and pain. And exhaustion. Spent most of  Wednesday and Thursday in and out of bed. Had to cancel a couple of appointments. Felt a little better Friday and much better Saturday. So, naturally, I did too much and today have been back at a borderline place again. Stayed out of bed except for nighttime the past 3 days though.  Stomach just icky all day, and now and then some stomach cramps. But otherwise, okay ?  Everybody and their brother is sick around here.  And all around the country as well.

  The truck was supposed to be repaired on Friday. 5 PM came and no word from the mechanic.  We called and there was no answer, so we left a message. Saturday morning we called again, and again it went to voice mail and we left a message. Have not heard a word. My theory is that A) He was kidnapped by gypsies OR  B) He has been struck down by the dreaded flu too.  My son went into town and said the garage was closed and all locked up, and he could see the truck sitting in the center bay.  No idea what is going on.  Then on our way south on Saturday morning, the check engine light came on in my Honda.  SERIOUSLY ?!?!?!?!
Went by the auto parts place and they did the free diagnostic on it and said it was the catalytic converter.  It's either clogged or is starting to go bad. The car seems to drive and run alright, so we bought a bottle of CC cleaner and poured it in. It has to run so he has something to drive to work. Please God.  I have nowhere to go, so we can make do with the one vehicle.

   I live in a small rural area, snuggled between a small town and a village. Thursday night a 30 year old man not far from us was murdered in his home.  The police caught the guy, apparently it was some sort of revenge thing. But believe me, we were all quaking in our boots for a little while there.  Just a little too close to home. ..

   I made a lovely lentil soup for lunch today. A new recipe that has coconut milk and Indian spices in it, and it was wonderful. Neither of us were very hungry come suppertime, so I made us each a bowl of miso soup, with scallions, chickweed and seaweed in it. It was remarkably good, and my stomach seems to have stopped cramping. Hmmm...the fermented miso, perhaps ?   Ah...the mystery.

   Well, it's late and I'm tired. Got my Mother Earth News blog finished and submitted (late).  Got my kitchen cleaned up. Think I'm ready for some shut eye.

  Happy 2015....


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December's end...

 A rough ending to a rough year. Looking ahead to some easier times, hopefully.  We're in the middle of a vehicle crisis right now that's costing us in the neighborhood of 1200 dollars...not a lot by some standards, but pretty much a wipeout by ours. Just when it seemed we were starting to get a little caught up...

 Isn't that the way of it ?  This is one of the VERY few times I wish we had a credit card...just to soften the edges a little.  But...but.  We made that decision and it's best to stick by it. Although, we may be re-visiting it soon. Who knows.  We have only 4 more truck payments left and we could be rid of that.  The truck is in the shop...originally for a ball joint, alignment and tie rod job. To the tune of only 400 dollars, which is easily doable. Not pleasant and not ideal, but doable.  And after that was done, the mechanic took it out for a test drive and came directly back to his garage and called us after putting it back up on the lift. The rear end is shot. He called this morning, found another one and parts and labor for what needs doing is another 800 dollars, Sigh...We trust him, so don't immediately think what  comes to mind. When we took it in, we had had it at another place who quoted us 900 for the 400 job he did. That's what we told him needed repaired and so he didn't even look at anything else. 

 I'm tired. It's been a rough year.  If one more thing happens, I swear I''ll go over the edge. lol Just let this year be over.


  On a bright note...we had a nice quiet Christmas and party on the 20th was a huge success.  There were about 35 people in my home, and we ate like big dogs and talked and laughed and finally the last of them left about 10:30.  (Note to self: if I ever do this again, set a start and END time.)  It was great fun and everyone had a good time. I was exhausted for 2 days afterwards. lol

  The temperatures have been dropping the past few days and it's finally feeling like winter. Xmas day was about 50 degrees. Crazy. Still no snow here, but Sunday night we had a seriously hard frost that almost looked like snow, and completely froze the pond.  Brrrr....

  I have a MEN blog to get written (almost late) and a nap to take (only slept 4 hours last night, from 5 AM til 10 AM.  Went to bed but couldn't sleep, and the Irishman was snoring like a freight train and that was the final straw. SO, I just got back up and waited for his alarm to go off. lol Then I stumbled back to bed and was asleep within an hour. SO really, only 4 hours of sleep I guess.

  Need to get something going for supper too...although it might just be breakfast.tonight. Not sure. 

 Have to go up and make a partial payment to the mechanic when he gets home from work (he's having to drive my car, so I am semi-stranded), but at least he's only working 8 hour shifts this week because of the holiday.  Also have to make the 20 minute drive to the credit union to get some money out of the savings account. He gets paid this week, but not til Friday.

  I seem to be having some side effects from the bp medication. Why now? I've been on this same one for almost 4 months.  Sheesh... strange hissing/ringing in my ears. Palpitations. Silly stuff.  One of my nursey friends said it was probably the meds, so I looked it up on the Mayo clinic website and sure enough, there it was. Crikey.

 Wanted to stop in here and wish you ll a very Happy New Year. Didn't realize it's been over 2 weeks since I posted. Oops...I'll do better next year.   (wink)

  Blessings of prosperity and peace on us all....