Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another day in the life...

  Just a quick post this morning...I am off to a funeral about 2 hours south of here. My darling sister-in-law's mother passed away and we will lay her to rest this afternoon. A sad  day...and a wonderful woman who will certainly be missed.

  I've been very busy trying to juggle my new schedule with all the garden work that is happening this time of year...been up early and late canning and freezing and drying the bountiful harvest from the earth. Yesterday I canned tomatoes and okra, diced tomatoes, pickle relish, freezer pickles, tomato juice and baked bread.  For the moment, there are absolutely NO vegetables sitting on my center island that are not in jars!!!  It's a miracle, I tell ya !!  lol

  The weather has let up a bit, still hot but not so much stifling humidity. I was surprised to see that yesterday's heat index was still 102...didn't seem so bad after 110.  lol Had a little rain early this morning...

 I still have some errands to do before I hit the road... a dryer full of clothes to fold and put away, chickens to feed and dogs and cats to see to. Won't take long, and I will be on the road by 10.

 Life and niece Skyler is having a hard time losing her grandma...she called me and sobbed..I just want my granny to come home, she said. I am the closest thing to a grandma she has now...she is 7. This is one of the most beautiful close knit families I have ever known, and they will help each other through this hard time with love and support. Their mother raised 4 beautiful strong daughters and has been the guiding light that has kept them all close.  She will be missed...a loving woman who always made me feel part of her family. Finally free of the arthritic body and pain she has known for a lot of her later life.  ON her way to the next great adventure, wherever that takes her...

  Okay--I'm outta here.  Don't forget to tell the people you love that you love them. You never know when the time will come that Creator calls you or them home...


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Harvest Home...

  Up early, trying to beat the heat...picked about 30 pounds of mostly Roma tomatoes, which I will grind and sauce tomorrow.  Picked a few big ones too, one of which I cut in to for a bacon and tomato sandwich on Italian herbed wheat bread I made last night. One slice covered the whole sandwich!!!  It was heavenly.

  I dug probably 10 pounds or more of Red Pontiac potatoes,  they are gorgeous. Picked another 7 or 8 pounds of green beans..will can again in a few days.  There was a small amount of okra and several cucumbers. I'm going to chop some of the big cukes today and can sweet relish.  I think I will dry some more of the smaller ones, as I was real happy with the way they turned out.  Picked a few peppers, but not many. The plants are loaded though, and the fruit is glossy and healthy and firm. Picked a few jalapenos too, and will make some fresh salsa tonight.'s only 10 AM.  lol...

  I have to go to Miss B's  at 1 and stay til 5.  She's been going through lots of old things and "finding" papers she's never seen before. Of course, she has seen them...she just can't remember.  This is really an experience for me, as all my grandparents and parents have died at relatively young ages, and I've not dealt with this up close much. It's horribly sad...she'll have little moments where she suddenly "remembers" that her daughter died in March or that her husband died last month...and she starts to grieve a little all over again...assuming she did grieve in the first place. She is losing herself,  little pieces at a time. 

 The Irishman is gone to a meeting and I stayed behind to work in the garden. I startled (or was startled by) a beautiful huge long grass snake when I was digging potatoes. I finished the one side of the long bed and declined to do the other side. Let the wildlife guy do it. lol  The a little further down, I found a long snakeskin he had just crawled out of. It was still soft. Watching snakes shed their skin is remarkable, if you've never done it, I hope you get the chance. I watched a big rattler go through the process once. I was mesmerized. Rattlesnakes intrigue me anyway...

 Had another big storm last night..the days have been brutally hot and humid, with temps in the high 90's and heat indexes at 114.  No playing outside in that much, lol.  But the rain and sun have been good for the gardens. We are going to have a stellar harvest this year. That's a good thing, as the pantries are looking a little bare. I need to get out there one more time this morning and pull the seed tops off the big basil plants as they are starting to bolt in the heat. They are about 3 and a half feet high and beautiful. I'll be pulling them up to dry soon. I want to get a planting of beets in this week if I can figure out where to put them. I also need to check the edamame to see if any of it is ready to pick. I know nothing about the times of things on that. A couple of days ago, there were pods. Gotta watch it....

  OK--busy morning and have to run to town for cat food. My kitties are indignant that I've run out of canned food.  I say, let them eat cake. lol


Thursday, July 22, 2010

This is what it's like now...

Green beans, before and after. lol  I wound up with 6 quarts and 6 pints of these bad boys out of the first well as one big pan of beans stir fried with olive oil and fresh garlic. Not bad for the first haul...and there are tons more out there as well as flowers, so it's going to be a good green bean year. yippee!!!

  These are the ivory peppers. Pretty, huh?  Also had some okra and quite a few Roma tomatoes. This was next on the agenda...

Not sure if I'll dry more okra, shrivels away to nothing. Tastes really good though.....I generally grow it to pickle it, and freeze a bit for gumbos and stews.  Just thought I'd try this though.

And just for you, my darling Prayer are some shots of the peach tree this morning in the already too high humidity. The heat index today is supposed to hit 110...advisory for folks to stay in and be careful...

See how the branches are weighed down to the ground?? (Click on picture to really see!!)

 The peaches are only about the size of  baseballs...but they are incredibly sweet. I picked about a dozen so far...mostly off the other tree behind this's always ripe earlier.

   Ok.  I still have more to do this morning before I head off for my "visit" with  that darling little 80 year old woman. I'm going to take her some new potatoes, if I can dig some without keeling over. It's very hot out there...the dogs won't even go out, lol.  So far I've vacuumed, done laundry, talked on the phone, swept down the front porch and sidewalk, put chicken legs and thighs in the crockpot and fed all the assorted and sundry critters that I serve. Have to leave in 2 hours, but it's only a little more than 15 minutes away, so...I still have to time to dig, and then shower.

  Off I go....


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

And...we're OFF !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wanted to stop in quickly and jot a note. Big time storms last night and yesterday and couldn't get on the computer. No matter, as I had a date with my sponsor and spent about 3 hours getting myself grounded and advised on some issues in my life. And last night the lightning was so beautiful...dangerously close, but incredible.

  Have a big day of canning green beans and tomatoes, drying some stuff and laundry (maybe). I have to go out and check the garden and pick the beans too before I get started on the 20 pounds I already have picked.  We had a lot of rain last night, so I imagine things have changed out there in the past 24 hours, lol. One of my favorite things about gardening is the remarkable changeability that comes with weather. The edamame experiment is going gangbusters. There are now 2 inch pods on most of the plants, which, by the way, are about 3 feet tall. They sure seem to love that location. The pods will fill out and be a fuzzy purple (I think) when they're done. I can't wait!!

  The peach tree is hanging heavy with peaches. The branches are so loaded this year that they need to be propped up, and that will be the workday on Friday when the Irishman is off. As well as more blackberries. They are really bountiful this year too, and huge and juicy. It's a good year for the garden this year, and I am very thankful, as my pantry is getting pretty empty of home-canned foods. I have changed my mind about selling my upright freezer, and I told himself last night. It will be a perfect place for storing the dried foods as well, and he agreed. I got it at a sale for only 75 dollars, I and I couldn't replace it for that if I changed my mind about need ing a second freezer. And you know me and my

  The kittens are healthy and playing all the time. The pups are enjoying these dog days of summer.  And I am stalling...have to get to work!!

  Pictures later...


Monday, July 19, 2010

Beginning again...

The week, that is. It's been busy busy garden time around these parts, and naturally, I'm trying to juggle too many things. rest for the wicked.

 This picture is not from this year. I haven't been out there with my camera in a bit. But you get the idea, lol. I have about 15 pounds of green beans in the fridge ready to can. They are producing like crazy. The peppers are coming into their own...beautiful and shiny, red and green and ivory and yellow. The okra is teasing me with a good sized pod here and there, but is flowering profusely. And the tomatoes are all starting to ripen...cherries and romas and several varieties of large beefy beauties. I've dried some cucumbers yesterday. They dried beautifully, and the idea is that in the dead of winter they can be crumbled into salads for a taste of summer. We'll see.  I'm going to dry some tomatoes in the next few days too, and hopefully I'll get enough onions to dry some of those too. The price of onions (well, everything, almost) has gone through the roof in the markets. Where I was buying a 3 lb bag for anywhere from 49-99 cents at Aldi's, they are now 2-3 dollars. It's crazy. I'm using them like they were  

  We spent a time on Friday weeding and clearing the garden. Sunday morning we had a monsoon rain that lasted about 2 hours, drenching everything. A nice drink, although it was very windy and knocked out the power a couple of times and blew down a lot of small to medium sized branches. I got the call to go sit with my little lady, as she is terrified of storms due to having been banged about in a tornado that lifted their house off the ground when she was a child. Of course, by the time I got there it was over and she had forgotten about it all. I have noticed she often speaks of herself in the third person, as if she were watching her long life (80 years) as though it were a play. She has 5 cats and a little male dog named Princess. lol  I took her a small tomato and cucumber and zucchini from my garden, and she was tickled to death. She told me some great stories...

  I have an appointment this morning at 9, and it's 7:45 now. Guess I'd better haul my sweet self into the shower.  Maybe I will come back later and edit and add some more, and maybe I won't. Depends on how busy the day gets.  I strained my back a little out in the garden yesterday and this morning I am stiff as a board.  I put some icy hot on it, and have used a heating bag while sitting here... hopefully a nice hot shower will loosen the rest of the kinks,

  Have a bountiful and blessed day....


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot enough to fry an egg...

  Got 2 dehydrators going...just took the strawberries out of one because they were done. It's still full of cherries and blueberries.  The other one (in the picture) I just got yesterday at a ridiculous price at a local discount store.  The grocer had a great price on blueberries and so I bought  7 pints...May go back for more.  ( Strawberries too, probably, as they really dry well. They're gorgeous (see picture) and they taste wonderful.)The first batch I didn't follow instructions (IMAGINE THAT!!)  and so they are taking longer to dry. The second batch (majority) have all been dipped in boiling water to crack the waxy skins and I made a wonderful mess everywhere..including the front of my pajamas  (Yes--I often cook in my pj's...) Blueberry juice everywhere.  I loaded the second one with more strawberries and pineapple as well.     The next batch of dehydration is going to include some peaches off our trees. They are starting to ripen. Then I'm going to play with tomatoes and peppers too, and maybe even some lemons and oranges if I can find any that are less than the price of gold...

 The weather is stifling hot here,. with heat index yesterday up to 105.  This morning when I got up all the windows were fogged up, I opened the front door and it was like a blast furnace. At 9 AM, it was already a heat index of 97 degrees. The animals are pretty much staying in and napping to conserve energy.  lol  I was out a while yesterday, and it was rough. When I got home with groceries and 80 pounds of chicken feed, I had to do everything in 20 minute max increments. I got the chicken feed out of the trunk and into a wheelbarrow, and left it there at the back of the car so the Irishman could handle it when he got home or it got cooler. (It never did.) The central air ran nonstop all day, until almost 10 PM. And it's only set at 75.  Looks like it's gonna be like this awhile too.  I need to get out in the garden, but don't know if I can handle it...There are green beans need picking for sure and probably okra. One thing's for sure...the okra will be LOVING this weather.

  I made a  batch of granola bars last night, and cocky little thing that I am, didn't bother to measure the honey and molasses. Needless to say, they are sticky and overly sweet. Oops. Arrgghhh....some things have to be attended to in a proper manner, and measuring the correct amounts of sweeteners to make a candy hardness is one of them. I made them with dried mangoes and blueberries and papayas this time. They are way too sweet for my taste. Plus, I like them crispier. Live and learn...I had a hard time finding decent honey , as I've used all ours now. I did discover a little place called the Woodburn Country Store, just a little bit from us, out here in the well, country. lol  They are mostly wholesalers, she said, but they sell a few things, like dried fruits and Amish jams and honeys and molasses. So I bought a quart of honey from her and molasses too.  She said their honey comes from Iowa.  There is a guy in town who supposedly sells honey, but I haven't found him at home yet. I'll keep trying, as I prefer local honey for a lot of reasons.

Okay...lots to do today, and if I get off this computer after a bit of reading, I might get it done. Maybe.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday on the Prairie

 Been a bit of  a  loud world of late.  I am spending some quiet time right now, with a tiny kitten curled up on my chest. Not exactly conducive to keyboarding. lol  But she sleeps away and the house is peaceful, and that's all good.  Was up early and on the road, off to a meeting that started at 9. Scurried around getting animals fed before I left. and wound up being a little late.

  The new phone does not work well here at the house. Damn.  I may be stuck with AT&T...which will annoy me even more than I already am.  It works like a charm in town. Very clear and strong and everything except what I need. Which is to have  phone at home.  Arrgghhh...whatever happened to tin cans and string ????  I am not giving up yet though. I still have the other phone connected, and thought I'd better try this one first. Glad I did.  

  I need to make some fertilizer for my garden, I think.  Maybe I'm just not being patient.

  Yesterday I had to come up with a vegetarian dish for the Irishman  to take to his potluck.  I happened upon one of my Vegetarian soup books and thought--ooo.....a chilled soup would be the bomb in this heat !!  So I started looking around the garden and cupboards and sure enough, I had all the ingredients to make Gazpacho. So I made that (and a mess of my kitchen!) with juicy organic tomatoes and bell peppers and cucumbers, parsley and cilantro, garlic and onions and tomato juice.  A little honey, a little cayenne....a little dill weed, a little sea salt.  YUM.  It is beautiful yo look at and scrumptious to eat. Just had another cup of it for lunch.  Husband said it was a hit at the meal...everyone wanted the recipe.  Of course, I won't give it to them.  lol

  Sigh...the woman has not called me about my schedule for the part-time job. I don't know what this means, but it is getting on my nerves.  I guess she has a lot on her plate, and I will call her this evening if I don't hear from her, I think. Of course, all my doubts and anxieties come rushing right up to the center stage...and I wonder if she is a flake, or has decided not to hire me.  

  Okay. I guess I should go out and see about the blackberries. Am freezing about a quart a day. Things are getting ready to rev up here in the food production business.  I'll be a regular whirling dervish.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Caught between the worlds...

 Can't believe it's almost Monday already and I haven't posted in a week. Can't believe it's the middle of July either.  Time flies this time of year. I get so busy with the yard and gardens and every little thing.  Feels good working until I'm tired and sleeping like the dead.

 I had a job interview today and got the job. It's a part time gig, being a companion to an elderly woman. She's 80.  She had a handicapped daughter that she cared for all her adult life, the daughter passed away in March. She had a husband who had to be put in a facility with late stage Altzheimers 2 years ago, and he passed last month. Her only family is a niece who cares for her. It will be enough to help us out here and not so much that I can't take care of my own stuff. I am very grateful....

    Will probably start canning before beans and tomatoes and okra all coming on. The potatoes are all doing well, as are the squash and cukes. I may can some relish, but mostly am just eating the cukes fresh.  The edamame are flowering, and will start producing pods any day now. I also have all kinds of peppers in all stages of production.  Those are easy though...I just cut them into strips, bag and freeze. Although I may stuff a few and freeze whole, just to see how they do.  The peaches are coming on--we ate 2 ripe ones today at lunch.  

   The tiny baby kitten, sole survivor of a litter of 4, is doing famously. Growing and now (finally!!) eating canned kitten food on his own.  He's active and playful and growing. I can't tell you how happy that makes me...I don't think I could take the loss of another kitten...
We named this beauty Jinga.  

    Been a busy week of meetings and events and life in general. On top of it all, I have read and finished 3 books, started a 4th and am finishing up another.  If there is any avenue of escape I have not used....I don't know what it is.  lol

    Picked enough green beans the other day to make my absolute favorite dish of braised green beans with fresh garlic and olive oil. Topped off with some cracked black pepper, I was in heaven. Also dug some new red potatoes. They were marvelous.

   I am babbling. Time to get some sleep and try to blog better this coming week.

  One can hope.



Monday, July 5, 2010

  Suffering from some vague angst tonight...not sure what..or why.  Feeling disconnected and unloved and hopeless and useless...and all for no reason really. But I don't like it one bit. No sir, not one bit.

   A busy weekend.  All sorts of weather, from balmy days to blistering heat, to torrential downpours.  Friday was my boys birthday, 39. Yegods! (No wonder I'm all crazy!!).  Saturday was a stay at home day,  some garden and yard work. Sunday was a fishfry/fireworks party at a friends house. Today was a nice picnic at a local park with the Irishman, where we sat around in the great outdoors reading, playing checkers and eating. Then we played a few games of bocce. I beat him 2 out of 3 games. Tonight I was home alone for several hours. I played with the idea of going out to a meeting, but wound up staying here. Worked in the garden weeding and picked over a quart of the years first blackberries. Huge. Most of them the size of my thumb. (The pic today is not them, lol. It's black raspberries.) And now it's past my bedtime.

  I don't know what these brain glitches are that sink me from time to time. I've been thinking alot lately that I'm not ready to be old. There were so many things I wanted to do first. I'm in a mood about the state of humanity too. I have several young family members that I see on a certain social networking page...and they sadden me and scare me with their hatefulness. Their ignorance and racism and general lovelessness break my heart. I have already blocked most of them from my feed, because I cannot bear to even see it.  They live in the south,  where it seems to be socially acceptable to act the way they do. 

  And then I read the things people write, and they use all sorts of heiroglyphics: they can't spell, they misuse words,  and they say things that make no sense.  They quote things out of context and make statements that have absolutely NO facts to back them up.

  Am I getting old????????????????????????????????

  Maybe I should just go to bed...things are bound to look better in the morning. I am tired...and I have an early morning.  I wish I could go on retreat...just for a few days to clear my head. Or have an electroshock therapy treatment. Maybe that would clear out the cobwebs....

 Wish me luck.


Saturday, July 3, 2010


 Independence Day weekend. Interesting to look back now, in light of what we [think] we know about things like tyrants and dictators and apartheid and the murder and torture of  citizens around this present day world...and realize how ridiculously giddy we get in this country, celebrating our independence from Britain, for godssakes. I am a bit jaded on all this nationalistic, patriotic stuff, I know.  And it isn't that I don't appreciate a LOT of things about the country of my birth. I guess I'm just a little cranky today. But--I did put the flag out.  lol

 My little town, Bunker Hill, IL  puts on a huge brouhaha  every year for all these kinds of holidays..the 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day. Even as I type, there is a huge parade making its way down the main street--floats and firetrucks and tractors and horse and buggies...Shriners, Boy Scouts and VFWs, children with balloons, politicians hugging babies and dumping loads of propaganda everywhere in the form of flyers and ballcaps and frisbees printed with their names on them.  There will be big doins' all and picnics and horseshoe tournaments and it will end with a big fireworks display out at the Reservoir tonight.

  I just finished a batch of granola bars. Rather plain this time, since the Irishman apparently ate all the rest of the dried fruit in his oatmeal this morning. lol.  So, they got oats and peanuts and sunflower kernels and flax seed and sesame seed and raisins.  I need to make bread today too, but am also thinking of a pasta dish for supper with homemade Italian bread.

  Yesterday was my sons 39th birthday. The fam came over for a supper of bbq'd ribs and chicken, potato salad, devilled eggs and a big green salad.  I made a blackberry cobbler with ice cream for dessert, as it's his favorite. It's noon, and I'm still in my jammies.               

  Having a hard time getting going today.  Maybe if I jump up and get dressed I won't feel so blah....Home alone, with the kitties. The pups are all outside and the weather is beautiful again today.  NO reason for being like I am....all mopey and blue. Maybe I need to take a trip out of the neighborhood....I've been staying close to home the past week....