Friday, August 18, 2017

You can call me "Your Highney-ness"

  It's a strangely beautiful day here on the prairie...temps in the low 80's, humidity is moderate and the skies are clear and sunny.  My laundry day is almost complete (last load in the dryer).  I am doing a little, sitting a little and trying to just ease through this Friday afternoon. Probably going to go out tonight for a meeting and then some supper with my honey.  It'll be an early evening.

   The world is a shambles.  Feels like, anyways. Seems like every day one more unimaginable thing happens. Or gets said.  Or ...something. I am suffering from an even worse case of media burnout than I did during the election.  And yet it's like driving by a train wreck--you just can't not look.   I was listening today to a clip of one of Hillary Clinton's campaign speeches where she was talking about Trump. It was frighteningly prescient.  It was sent to me by a Canadian friend of mine.  I have friends all over the world and none of them can believe what is happening in Washington DC either. It's like a satirical horror movie with very dark comedic undertones. Except it's not. 

   So all I am capable of some days is staying where my feet are.  Which feels a lot like burying my head in the sand, because I am not capable of rationally managing my outrage.  It's a fine line sometimes between accepting and trusting. Accepting that the world's gone mad and trusting that it's gonna be alright somehow, someday.  And staying informed. And discerning between the real news and the not so real news.  And hearing it all without wanting to slit your own throat.  Trying to retain balance in an unbalanced world.  Trying to just...breathe in and breathe out.

   I am struggling with some personalities, people in my life with addiction issues, people who act like spoiled children because they don't get what they want when they want it. People who refuse to hold themselves accountable for their own actions or try to change anything to make themselves feel better.  People looking for a magic bullet to make them feel okay. News flash: there IS no magic bullet that will make you be anything you are not. Nothing changes you but hard work on YOUR part. And boo hoo-- nobody can do the work but you.  No person , place or thing holds the key to your transformation.  Nice try though.  I've been trying to be more even handed about looking at the world the last 50 years (and I can do that now that I'm almost 65), and see if I can tell where the great divide happened. That gaping maw of an event that changed human personalities to the extent that everyone feels entitled and no one feels responsible. Where it became okay to be mean and petty and selfish.  I listen to all these people denouncing political correctness and I want to scream -- You insipid bastards !!!  It's called HUMAN DECENCY !!  I hear all the hate and all the anger and I just want to wave my magic wand and stop it all. Engender a condition where if you can't say anything nice-- you can't say anything at all.  Selective muteness.  How many chances do we get ? How many times can we continue to make the same mistakes and still not learn a damned thing ?

   On a good day, I feel the song of a new world.  I can hear it breathing.  On other days, I am beyond brokenhearted.  And then of course, I am reminded of one of my favorite Zen Buddhist koans: 

     "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After         enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."

  Guess there's always wood to be chopped and water to be carried.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mid week musings...

   It's somewhere between Wednesday and the almost wee hours. I had a lovely massage today following a night of cough cough cough-ing.  Sleep was knocked into me by a cough elixir and it isn't good sleep apparently. Himself says I am combative and twitchy and moaning in this sleep. Keeping him awake. I, of course, have no recollection of it. But I do feel wretched in the morning.  This morning, I woke up  before 5 AM  coughing like a TB patient.  Got up, took more dope, (uh, I mean ELIXIR)  put out the dogs, let in the dogs, went back to bed and slept until 10 AM. And woke up feeling like I'd been run over.  Then just stumbled around drinking coffee and having a little food (that helped some) before heading into town for my massage appointment. I'm still coughing a bit, but we'll see what happens when I go lie down. That seems to trigger it the worst.  Instead of the elixir, I'm taking just a mucus relief capsule and see if that helps.  Probably more information that you care to have, but there it is.

   So.  2 weeks ago, I went for my yearly mammogram and they found an abnormality.  I kept saying (out loud, to my husband and myself) that it was nothing. I was sure it was nothing. I would KNOW if it was something. They said I would come in for more shots of my left breast, coordinated the appointment to make sure that the ultrasound people and the radiologist were both there to decipher the pictures on the spot. They told me that I would know the results before I left there.  First the breast x-rays. Then they said they needed to do an ultrasound too because they still weren't sure what the lump was.  They were kind and efficient and professional.  When all was said and done, it is just a cyst and they will see me next year. I breathed a sigh of relief, as you can imagine. Because I swear....everyone I know is being diagnosed with one form of cancer or another these days. And I like to believe that I am bodily and mentally different from my fellows,  But I was harboring an anxiety that I couldn't admit and facing down a fear that I would rather not have to deal with.  That was my health issue I alluded to before and didn't want to say anything until I had all the facts. 

  Really glad that's over.

  I've been canning beans, canning chicken, canning tomatoes.  And am ready to flip my lid (hah) over a problem I'm having with Ball and Kerr lids.  I am having more jars not seal than ever EVER.  I don't buy cheap brands. I follow directions.  About a year or 2 ago, they changed the way they make lids. Less rubber in the seal (I suspect) and a different way of prepping them for use.  This must be the problem, as I'm canning the same way I have canned for years. I'm getting tired of it.  Out of 21 quarts of beans 4 didn't seal.  I put them in ziplock bags and froze them. GGrrrr.....

  We finally had a serious thunderstorm with lots of rain here this evening/late afternoon. The humidity has been godawful lately, even though it's not been as hot as normal. I'm going out first thing in the morning to cut okra. There's a fair amount of it out there. Probably just dehydrate it, unless there's more than I think. Then I'll can pickled okra. My other favorite is tomatoes okra and onions canned together.  Yum. I'll check the beans too, and look over the tomatoes. Going to visit a friend in a neighboring town tomorrow morning and see her new place. Probably be home by 1:30. My carpets need cleaning, another friend is having a birthday and I am planning a little surprise for her when she gets off work with another friend, and the list goes on and on. And anything I don't get done will just go on tomorrow's list. lol  Kind of a job security thing. (yea...right.)

  I've taken to dividing up my supplements and the BP and arthritis meds I take into 2 batches. One in the morning and the other at night because something started upsetting my stomach. So, I've taken my night time stuff, checked the pet food bowls, put the cats out (they hate being in the house in summer), put the dogs out for a final pee and I guess I'm about ready to hit the hay. Fish are fed, dishes are done, dog toys picked up and put in the basket --  I guess that's it.   Signing off from a little damp and humid spot on the planet we call Honeysuckle Hill...  sweet dreams to you and yours... and praying for peace on earth.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hello again ?

   Whew. Yesterday I canned 14 quarts of assorted  beans.  Great Northerns, Kidneys, Garbanzos and Baby Limas.  Dried beans cooked into a state of submission by the pressure canner. I want to can more kidney beans if I can get myself dressed and go get some.  I still have about 5 pounds of pintos to can as well.  Having canned beans in my pantry as opposed to all dried beans (which keep great, I know. But it takes so much water and power source to cook them from there that having them already canned/cooked makes sense to me)  seems more convenient. 

  Canning beans is an almost canning meat-like endeavor. A few extra important steps when you can high protein foods, and a lot more time.  Each batch of quart jars takes an hour and a half at 10 pounds of pressure. So that's about 3 hours total by the time you get them up to speed, process them  and let them cool completely down. But worth it. I use a lot of pintos for refried beans or other yummy meals.  Garbanzos for salads or hummus, which we love.  Kidneys for chili or minestrone soup or salads. Great Northerns for Senate Ham and Bean Soup  (or just cornbread and beans sometimes).  Red beans for red beans and rice with a little cajun sausage (andouille)  thrown in.All good nutritious foods.  And ready to eat with little prep. And there you have it.

  We lost our last hen last night or this morning. She was terrified and would not come out of the coop and when I went out there this morning, she was dead.  It is done. NO more chickens for me until we get that coop completely rebuilt. It was not a raccoon this time, apparently a weasel. Chewed a small hole in the corner of the door and got in that way. Killed the chicken in their way and left the carnage like they do.  Then back out through the same hole, taking some of the electrical cord from the heated waterer with it. A year with no chickens... I find it hard to grasp. I have been raising chickens for eggs (and the occasional rooster for meat) for 12 years.  My daily routine involves chickens morning noon and night.  That's a lot of years of habits for an old dog like me to have to change... It's been a brutal taste of nature, I guess.  Survival isn't always pretty.  I've watched enough nature programs over the years (back in the days when we had tv) that you'd think I'd be better prepared for the brutality, but I am not.  Ever.   I am alternately heartbroken and relieved that it is over. That her terror is finished.  And right now, that's about all I can say about it...


   So, I'm off to a slow start this morning. So much tragedy in the world. My son's oldest friend died Saturday night of a blood clot in her heart. She was in her early 40's.  He is stricken.  And I know there is nothing I can say to him that will make it any better for him.  Or her parents, who were friends of mine from the 70's.  And when we lose people there is nothing to say. Just love the ones left behind. And that is all we can do.  Another tragic loss of a life with so much living yet to be done.  And it makes me hold my son so much closer and remind myself and him that we just never know when our number is up. That we must live every single day to it's fullest. And tell the people we love just how much we love them and do every thing we can to enjoy life and do the things we always wanted to do and be the person we always wanted to be. Every one of us only gets an allotted number  of trips around the sun.   And we'd best wring every little scrap of goodness out it that we can.

  Well, I've wasted most of a good day. lol  Or have I ?  I didn't go to sleep until 1 AM. Hadn't slept but about 2 hours the night before from coughing, so I took a dose of a night time cough syrup and it knocked me out. It was great.  I slept until almost 10:30 this morning. And then coffee'd myself up, tended the coop, got on the computer. Let dogs in, let dogs out. Breakfasted (lunched?) and here I sit, feeling the need to get some of this stuff out of me and onto the page. Good therapy. A friend of mine was carjacked yesterday at gunpoint but not hurt.  This morning they found her crashed car. She is shaken but okay.  That scares me. It was in a subdivision, in her garage.  25 miles from here.  And I think--well, I have no money, my garage is so full of crap that there's no room for a car and I drive a 20 year old car that looks worse than it drives, so maybe I'm safe.  But for maybe the first time in my life, I am not feeling generally safe.  And I don't like the feeling. Not at all.

   Okay. I'm off in search of kidney beans. Think I'll make a giant pot of chili today and can it tomorrow and have some for supper tonight.  THAT might be the best idea I have had all day...

  Later, taters...

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ambling down the backroads ...

 Having one of those days... you know, the kind where you fixate on something from the past and then start ambling through your memories and wind up miles from where you started ?  Does anyone else have those days ?   You're laying around, minding your own business, when a stray thought triggers something... a spark sometimes, a landslide other times... and suddenly it's like you are falling through time, through your life, through your mind.   The day started out innocently enough. Except maybe I didn't get quite enough sleep, lately I'm suddenly having a hard time falling asleep. Often I can't stay asleep, but lately it's been going to bed and tossing and turning, my mind going a hundred miles an hour. I lie there, thinking--Any minute it will stop and I can sleep. I know that if I get up, I'll have to contend with the dogs who are currently sleeping peacefully all waking up and getting their jig on, so it's safer to just stay where I am. Sleep finally comes, but this is something new.

   Anyway.   We've had a week or so of calamities of the sort of normal type (for us).  Chicken massacres, health issues, broken sewer pipes, nasty summer colds, truck repairs.  I was ruminating on how the problems today are so different from the problems of our past. Which led me to the impact age has on all the things we try to deal with, physically, mentally and financially.  Thinking of times when we had so much less money than we do now, and how much easier it was to deal. Sometimes. At least in my mind now. Maybe it really wasn't.  How different our life was before we came here. Thinking about those early years, when he was in college and I was at work and we managed to pay rent and eat well and and pay bills and still go to the movies once in a while anyway. About how many more bills we have now, between insurance and taxes and medical care and just, well--life.  How much the world has changed in 25 years. The things we think we absolutely can NOT live without today (cell phones, computers, central air conditioning, 2 cars, etc).  Thinking about how my dad bought a 4 bedroom 2 story Victorian house on an acre for 5 thousand dollars when I was 15.  And how,  40 years later I bought a 3 bedroom doublewide on a half acre for 15 times that much, because it was out in the country.  And this August 20th, it will be 32 years ago that I lost my dad.  That means he's been gone half my life now. My biggest cheerleader in life, The guy who always told me I was beautiful and smart and could do anything I wanted to in this life. That guy, who worked in a steel factory to support his family of 8 and never complained about a bit of it, because he felt like the luckiest guy on earth. He had been in the second world war and come back home again. He lived in America, the greatest country in the world. He had 6 wonderful kids that he loved with everything he had. Yup. One lucky guy.  Here he is in 1953, with his first child, a baby girl.  Me.

  I get a lot of my optimism from him. And my heart.  And every year about this time, I mourn the way too soon loss of a man who just turned 60 (4 years younger than I am now)  and wonder what he would think of this world of ours.  Wonder what his life would have been like. Wonder the same about my mother, who died 5 years before he did, at 55.  Rambling, ambling, walking through memories that never were.

  This morning I learned that a friend of mine (my age) has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  Another friend has it too, though I'm not sure of his age.  Other friends being diagnosed right and left with cancers, with aneurysms,  with assorted and sundry illnesses and ailments of a mysterious nature. My peers starting to die.  This is the stuff that I don't think about any more than I have to, except when it's right in my face.  One of the great things about being in a 12 step program is that they hammer into you how important it is to just live one day at a time, to focus on the present, to stay where your feet are.  That kind of thinking goes a long way in helping you stay sober in the beginning, and then not freak out about your life and the world later on. When you're sober enough to be scared shitless about what's going on, because you're paying attention. Like now. Today there was a mess in Virginia. A rather young man drove his car into a crowd of  people protesting a white supremacist rally. People are scaring me.  The tsunami of hate that has rolled across this country scares me. White supremacists scare me.  And someone like me cannot go around being scared through her life.  It's hard to hold fast to a faith in a generous and compassionate supreme being when stuff like this is happening. And at a time when I need it the most. 

   I am blabbering I guess.  What do you do ?  If I listen to my own noise maybe I don't have to listen to the ugly noise in the world. If I get lost in my thoughts and my memories and my little world out here on Honeysuckle Hill, maybe when I wake up things will have righted themselves and it won't be so scary anymore.

  But I'm not holding my breath...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

 It's currently 85 degrees with 70% humidity. A bit stifling and makes this summer cold of mine even harder to bear.  I need to be out there picking green beans, but I was out twice already and had to come back in because I'm wheezing and my chest hurts. I've been on slow for about 3 days now. As you can imagine, it makes me impatient. lol

 Getting ready to finish off the peaches.  Lost part of the second box because I just couldn't get to them. But did can 24  jars of peach jam (some pints) and 4 quarts of frozen peaches, not to mention the peaches and whipped cream we've had for dessert a couple of times.  I may get more and can peach slices, haven't decided yet. I'm feeling like such a slacker this year... and it's partly me but it's mostly the crazy growing season.  Everything is so late and not especially great quality. We had way too hot temps way too soon and then it got downright cold. Then uber hot again and now, in August it's in the low 80's and high 70's. And overcast a lot, so the tomatoes aren't ripening right. I am going to get some tomatoes from my go-to guy who sells at farmers markets just so I can at least can some diced or whole tomatoes. 

  I am in the process of really  inventory-ing my pantry right see what there is and and what I need. I spent an unprecedented amount of money (for me) this past week at the grocer buying stock-up items for the freezer and pantry.  I have a very uncomfortable feeling about world events right now and I think to not keep an eye on these things might be tragic. Last night we watched a really great movie called Into The Forest, about a family of 3 (dad and two sisters) living in the Pacific Northwest  and the power grid went down on the west coast and more. The timeline is about 18 months by the end of the movie.  Really got me thinking (again) about these things.  Definitely recommend this movie... At any rate, I feel like I have been lazy and am looking at the big stack of bags of beans [for one thing] that are sitting here that I could can and use less water, power, etc to be able to make a meal should the need arise.  And those green beans out there aren't going to pick themselves. 

 We have been engaged in a war with a chicken killing raccoon  and finally found the spot last night where he is getting in. Himself went out to put them up and he was inside the coop door, eating another chicken, he scurried out and went up to the very top of the wire roof where he had torn a hole in the chicken wire that we couldn't see when we've been searching for where he was getting in. I only have 2 chickens left.  Unless he's been back since I was out there this morning. I have a heart full of dread every time I go out there...when these hens are gone, there will be no more chickens for at least a year I think, until we can completely rebuild the coop and run.  This is the life we have chosen. It often isn't pretty.  Everybody is food for somebody.  And that includes us, in extreme circumstances (bear ?  sharks ? mountain lions ?)  But I'm having a hard, hard time with this one...

   So tell me...what are your thoughts about the state of the world and what you are doing to ready yourself for unforeseeable circumstances ?  The movie last night brought home some things that I have known but not thought about in a while. Like, if the power grid goes, there will be no gas pumps working.  If there is no gas, there will be no grocery deliveries. Your average big box store carries approximately 3 days of inventory on it's shelves. What then ?  Do you have a water supply ?  Do you have alternate cooking and heating sources ?  Do you have the kinds of food on hand that you can eat without extended cooking ?  Nourishing food, not just lunchables.  Do you have a back up of paper or paper alternative products ?  (Thinking toilet paper mostly--every thing else you can probably live without)  I have a stash of clean rags too, that can be used, washed and reused if necessary.)  Have you thought about your pets ? This is a thing I continuously overlook, and you know how much I love my animals !!   I need to buy some cases of canned food that will keep for a long time. Those could be supplemented with rice or oats if necessary.  There's a lot to think about, when you ponder the possibilities  Do you know enough--or at least have a book or two-- on foraging edible plants ?  I also have a couple of small plastic back-up boxes that contain Vitamin C, a multi vitamin and well as toothbrushes. bandages, neosporin, etc.  And don't forget antacids -- anxieties will be running high I suspect. Do you have an emergency plan in place at your house that your whole family understands and can carry out ?  Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, famine, war,  and even just personal catastrophes...these are things we need to plan for, and not just wait until it's too late to do anything. We have stopped learning things that mean survival because we live in a world of conveniences.  We have dumbed down way too much for own good.

  On that chipper note, I'll go.  But think about these things. Not sure why I woke up thinking along these lines, but it could be the looming  possibility of a nuclear war with North Korea. I am not paralyzed with fear, but I am uneasy. And I am going to do everything I possibly can to make sure my family is alright.  How about you ?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

This life ...


   Not been blogging along, have I ?   I have been feeling a serious need to write of late and then when I tried getting back it wouldn't let me into any of my 3 blogs. It would let me read but not do anything else.  I added a second email to my Google account because I am the recording secretary for our Area AA and needed a separate account so's not to lose any of the forty million emails they want to send me every week. lol  It's been all uphill from there, as this new email account has taken precedence over the old one and shows as my primary email and ...oh...never mind.  At any rate, I think I fixed it and here  I am and so there you go. lol

  It's been a crazy summer.  Again.  The weather has been insane, gardens didn't get in until very very late. Weeds went wild. It was prematurely scorching hot, the cold again. Then rain rain rain. Then none. In 2 months we got 2 days of rain. We need more, but it's not looking good. It was in today's forecast, but the sun is shining and the skies are blue.  And this seems to be what keeps happening.  I have not canned one single vegetable from my garden, though I have lush looking green bean PLANTS out there, but very little beans themselves. I have usually canned 40 quarts by now...

 Everything has seemed  almost surreal this year...we got a new puppy in late March (and why oh why did I think I needed a puppy??)  and she has been alternately a blessing and a nightmare. She is now 7 months old and is still not potty trained. It is driving me insane. AND she is a chewing destroying everything, little monster. I have come home to things like this more than I care to say 

 Last week a raccoon (or something) killed all my chickens but 1.  It was horrible. This is the second time we've had this happen. And leaving one chicken alive, by herself, was just cruel. She wandered despondently around until I found a local with some 1 year old Gold Laced Wyandotte layers for sale and brought them home yesterday. I've never had that breed before.  Now there are 5 chickens out there again, and none of them seem to know what they're doing. I figure I give them a few days to settle  down  and figure things out. Hopefully this will work out, as I had to buy eggs and I do not like that. lol  We had 2 plus weeks of 100 degree plus temperatures and I did very little cooking. Too too hot when the humidity is in the 90's.  Now we are having unseasonably cool temps, in the low 80's for gawdssakes, in August.  It's crazy, I tell ya...

  So, as you can see, life here at Honeysuckle Hill has not been dull.  I have been extremely busy it seems, with not much to show for it.  I'm really missing the blogworld and the people I used to read regularly. But sometimes life just gets in the way and that is happening to me. I am feeling like maybe things will slow down as I am making some pretty serious decisions about the direction my life is taking. Here I sit, halfway to 65 years old and  thinking about changing the direction of what is left of my life.  That's almost funny...

   I'm eating celery sticks stuffed with cream cheese and peanut butter (separately) for breakfast and having my second cup of coffee. It's almost lunch time, lol, but I hope to get a few things done inside and a few things done outside today. Who knows ? Have to figure out what to feed himself for supper, keep checking on critters of various and assorted types, start some laundry so I don't have to do it on the weekend, field some phone calls and probably clean more carpet spots and pick up tootsie roll sized puppy poops.   Yes, this is my life. 

  Good thing I got that college degree...

  (Oh yes--here she is when she still weighed 5 pounds. She weighs 12 now. She's a MinPin and Miniature Beagle mix, and her name is Myma (mee-mah), which is Irish Gaelic for "Beloved".)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Rainy days are the best...

  Hello there. I've been missing in action the past couple of months, I know.  I'm starting to feel like the boy who cried wolf, so I won't even say that I'm going to do better, or get motivated or any of that. lol   It just is what it is. And today it's rainy -- a soft rain, thankfully --  and I have a touch of a cold,. so I am more than happy to stay indoors and putter.  I'll probably be lying around a bit and maybe even sleeping some.  I'm not real sick, and I'd just as soon not get that way. I started drinking Golden Milk when the first sore throat symptoms appeared 3 days ago.  It's a mixture of almond or coconut milk with turmeric, ginger, black pepper and honey. A great immune booster. An anti-inflammatory. Anti-oxidant.  So not only are the cold symptoms relieved, but my joints aren't hurting either.  The osteoarthritis has been one giant flare this summer and fall.  It's been a strange year...

  The garden wasn't much to speak of this year. Very little canning have I done, except for a few green beans and lots of pickled beets.  I have plans to can pinto and Great Northern beans in the near future. I have canned chicken breast too, about 10- 1.5 pint jars. Somebody has some beef roast on sale this week and I might buy some of that and can it too.  I have been dehydrating and freezing some mushrooms. In fact the dehydrator is full of the first of the years chicken of the woods right now and I need to jar that up. The dryer is stopped so there are clothes to fold. Something about today reminds me of that wonderful song by Carrie Newcomer, Holy As A Day Is Spent:

Holy is the dish and drain
The soap and sink, and the cup and plate
And the warm wool socks, and the cold white tile

Shower heads and good dry towels
And frying eggs sound like psalms
With bits of salt measured in my palm
It's all a part of a sacrament
As holy as a day is spent

Holy is the busy street
And cars that boom with passion's beat
And the check out girl, counting change
And the hands that shook my hands today

And hymns of geese fly overhead
And spread their wings like their parents did
Blessed be the dog that runs in her sleep
To chase some wild and elusive thing

Holy is the familiar room
And quiet moments in the afternoon
And folding sheets like folding hands
To pray as only laundry can

I'm letting go of all my fear
Like autumn leaves made of earth and air
For the summer came and the summer went
As holy as a day is spent

Holy is the place I stand
To give whatever small good I can
And the empty page, and the open book
Redemption everywhere I look

Unknowingly we slow our pace
In the shade of unexpected grace
And with grateful smiles and sad lament
As holy as a day is spent

And morning light sings 'providence'
As holy as a day is spent


   And so it goes...this life on Honeysuckle Hill. The laundry room ceiling collapsed a couple of months ago and yesterday was the final day of getting the roof replaced.  It has been a mess (still is out there, although I spent a part of the morning  picking up shingles and boards and plastic  from all over the yard) but now it won't leak (I pray) and the hammering and sawing has stopped. I didn't realize just how much I value the peace and quiet of my life. It has been stressful and expensive and daunting.   And now it is finished. The gutters still have to go back up, but the rest of it is done.

  So, feels like a soup day, with temp highs in the 60's.  Not sure what kind, but something. I made a Tuscan Tortellini soup last week and it was excellent. One of the many reasons I love this time of year.   Soup.   Yum.  

...Good to be back.