Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Last Sunday of 2012...

...and here we stand, on yet another precipice, leaning into the upcoming year. Thinking about the year past. Thinking about the year on board.  What will we do differently ? Better ? More ?  How will will we face the uncertainties that life and the world throw at us ?  How will we manage to keep our families intact and our finances in check and our heads from exploding ?  How will we keep the animals fed and the gardens planted and the table laid ?  And how can we possibly sleep at night with all this jibbir-jabbar running through our minds like a downhill freight train ?

  If my only doomsday prophesy is that we don't sleep well, then I guess it will all be okay. lol  I don't sleep that well anyway, and neither do most of the middle aged women I know.  I can think of a lot of things I need to do differently.  But I can also see a lot of changes I have already made, which makes it all seem less daunting.  I have high hopes for 2013. For all of us. I am sensing and sometimes seeing a subtle shift in human nature,  we are becoming more compassionate, more realistic, and more gentle.  With ourselves and with others.  And it makes my heart smile.

  It's a frigid, but sunny morning here on the Prairie. The sun is glaring brilliantly against the white snow and blue sky.  It's blinding, really.  And my car hasn't been moved in several days and is frozen, doors, big icicles hanging down from the wheel wells and bottom of the doors. They look like crystal spears. Everything looks gorgeous out there.  I am going to try to get out there today...certainly by tonight when I'm attending a speaker meeting and potluck.  I may just wait til then..I wanted to stop by the store and pick up some lobster tails for our New Years Eve supper.  We never go out on NYE. We always stay at home and have a feast and then sometimes even stay up til midnight.  The Irishman has to work Monday, but is off Tuesday.  So, it will be good and we will be home safe and warm. Just the way I like it.

  Thinking about making a coconut pie today.  I'll just take pumpkin bread to the potluck. They're making chili and I don't know what is an "apprpriate side dish" to go with that. lol  Unless I make some cornbread. Or bring hotdogs and buns. Hey--that's a thought. Chilidogs, piled high with chopped onions. That sounds good...I'm not a big hot dog eater, but every now and then, a Nathans sure sounds good. hmmm....

  I've been up since about 7, which means that I got about 6 hours of sleep again. I feel drowsy now, after having a bowl of oats for breakfast. I loaded it with raisins and walnuts and cinnamon. The Irishman is gone to his home group, of course and I am not even dressed yet. Thinking about a nap, actually, and it's only a little after 10. lol 

  I finished the first book of the Hunger Games Trilogy. A quick, good read. Saw the movie first this time, and the movie actually did a good job of following the book. Yay!  I'll start the second book--Catching Fire--in a bit.  Suzanne Collins wrote these three books in three years. I am flabbergasted by that !  I guess when books want to be written, they get written. BOOM!  Last night we watched  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel again. God,I love that can you go wrong with Judi Dench and Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson   and the rest of the wonderful cast? And the story is so dear to my heart...I want to read the book. I had it on my list at one time and now I can't remember the name of the author or the book itself.  It was not called TBEMH...oh right--It was called These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach.  Which was then republished a little differently, with the screenwriting changes I'm assuming, and marketed under TBEMH.  At any rate, I want to read the original. So there.  lol

  Alrighty then. I think I shall wander into the bedroom. One of two things will happen :  I will either lie down for a nap, or get my clothes on.  Either way, I win.  lol

  Have a peaceful Sunday, my friends. The doggies are snoozing, the cats are lazing about and the new age music (Moodscapes) is playing and lulling me into a  serene and comfortable place. This station sounds like massage room music. That probably why I like it so much. lol

  Carry on, and enjoy your day !


Thursday, December 27, 2012's back to normal....?????

 Maybe not. lol

  So....the big holiday is finally over. Still New Year's to come, but we don't really celebrate that in a big way...just the two of us, home together.  We had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner, with my son, nephew and a friend. I had some gifts for everyone, nothing big, but thoughtful...we ate like kings, naturally. I bought a big local ham that is the finest ham I have ever eaten in my life. I only buy it for special occasions, as it's a bit pricey (and -face it- ham isn't the healthiest thing in the world anyway...), but it was wonderful. And we've already had 4 meals out of it and there's a third of it in the freezer, whole. So, all in all...if you have to splurge on something, it might as well be that.  :)   After our big meal--baked ham with pineapple and cloves, like my granny used to make it, sweet potatoes (the final batch from 2011) with brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and pecans, mashed potatoes with country gravy, and a big pot of home grown green beans with bacon and onions and garlic.  Oh, and home made rolls. It was crazy good. Oh..and a custard pie. Which, if I do say so myself, was magnificent.

  My nephew stayed here until this morning early, when he hitched a ride with my son on his way to work and went home. (He lives about an hour south of us).  So, now the house is all quiet and the pups are looking for everyone and finding only me. lol
I love that boy. He is my middle brothers middle son. He is smart and compassionate and loving and funny. And if he wasn't almost 30 years old, I'd adopt him.  lol

  Our Christmas morning was good.  The Irishman got me a couple of books I wanted . JK Rowling's first book for adults after the Harry Potter series was finished, The Casual Vacancy.  The Hunger Games Trilogy. A beautiful scarf, a set of Egyptian cotton bath towels.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel dvd. And Sandor Katz book-Wild Fermentation. Actually, he didn't realize he had gotten me the last 2 until we opened gifts. lol  I always try to help him out like that.  (That's just the kind of wife I am). 

 I made a big Christmas morning breakfast of scrambled eggs with ham and home made biscuits and gravy. And a fresh pot of coffee. The guys ate like there was no tomorrow.  It was a late breakfast, becasue I had no plans to do a lot of cooking on Christmas Day. I had made a spinach dip the night before our big supper, and we didn't even open it. So for Christmas night, I had crackers and chips and dip and sliced cheeses and ham and summer sausage and pickled bits of everything--onions, okra, green beans...and we simply noshed the night away. We feasted on pumpkin bread and chex mix and nuts and candies. It was heavenly.

 And now, after eating like this for 3 days, I am queasy. lol  Not too bad--I did manage to control myself. Mostly.  Last night I made a scalloped potato dish with ham and onions in it and it was SO good. I don't make scalloped potatoes hardly ever, and I don't know why. We ate it with leftover green beans and finished off the last bit of sweet potatoes as well. And topped it off with pie. Well, the boys did, anyway. I was too full.

 My son may have found a place to move to...he'll know in the next few days I guess. It's perfect, on 18 acres and a beautiful little house . Of course I am hating it/loving it for him. I know he can't stay here with his old mum forever...but it's sure been nice having him here.  And I will hate to see him go. It's about 40 minutes from here. Far enough away that we'll probably go back to me not seeing him very often.  I guess this is what happens...but his time here has sure been a nice respite from that for this old mom.

  Alright. I am going to ease back into my routine, maybe vacuum a little. Don't really have any plans to do anything today, but you never know what the day might bring. I haven't been out of the house for 4 days. We didn't get a lick of all the snow that fell across the midwest, and there doesn't seem to be any in the immediate forecast. My brother in the southern part of the state, on the other hand got about a foot and a half.  Perfectly okay with me, except I know we need the water. And it's bone chilling cold.  I was out to do the chickens this morning, and I'm betting it's not a hair above 20.  But at least the wind stopped blowing. It was atrocious there for a couple of days, 50 mph and better.

  Hope everyone had a good Christmas, however you celebrate it.  Hope you all reenter the normal atmosphere with as little difficulty as possible.  lol


Sunday, December 23, 2012

And the countdown continues...

 And today I am puttering about and considering a nap.  It's a little after 2. I was up way too late last night and out of bed a little too early.  I have managed to accomplish a few things so far today,  and of course there are always so many more,  lol,  especially the day before a holiday.  Right now, I have bread dough raising for rolls for tomorrow night's supper. I am going to make a custard pie and an Impossible Coconut Custard pie, because I have quite a few eggs on hand (and I can). lol.  I have laundry ready to come out and be folded and another load done and ready to go in the dryer. One more load after that, of the Irishman's particularly dirty work clothes. I have cleaned up the kitchen a little, scrubbed the Irishman's lunch box (a job I have been meaning to do for a week--I swear, it looks like it belongs to a coal miner!!), cleaned the chicken coop, burned some paper trash and fiddled around a bit. Nothing too strenuous.

  The boy is off to his grandmother's house for a Christmas dinner.  His half brother will be there with his children, and the boy bought presents for them all, even after the mother said don't because they didn't have much money for Christmas this year. The boy said--well, I do, so all the more reason I should buy them! And then he also got some $$ cards for the brother and sister-in-law. I know they will surely appreciate it, and am proud to have such a generous son.

  The Irishman is out and about today as well. First, his home group meeting and then to meet up with a friend for a short hike. Then (hopefully) he will remember to stop and get the gift for the boy, some shells for his new shotgun. And finally, by my sisters house to pick up the stove she is giving us because she got a new one.  I have been wanting to set up a summer kitchen and this will be perfect. The range is electric, which I don't care for in my day to day cooking, but it will be easy to use wherever we decide to set it up for canning, etc.

 So, I am home, reveling in the quiet. Tomorrow my nephew will come and join us for a few days and we will have baked ham and sweet potatoes and platters of crackers and dips and pickled veggies of all sorts and bread and pie and green beans and fresh baked 12  grain rolls, and all the hoo hah that goes along with a holiday meal. And we'll eat until we're sick and then later, we'll start all over again. We'll exchange gifts too. I got both the boys some really nice lined leather gloves,  the books and dvds that I ordered through Amazon came the other day and are now all wrapped and ready for the Irishman's Christmas.  I was going to make him a fleece blanket with Green Bay Packers on one side and gold fleece on the other...but the store I went to looking to get it had closed out their fabric department. I am not going shopping again until after the holidays. Maybe he'll get it for his birthday. lol

  Last night we attended a lovely winter solstice celebtration at the La Vista Ecological Institute. One we attend almost every year. It was delightful, as usual. Driving past the area Walmart on the way home, the parking lot was as full at 10 PM as it was at 6 when we went by the first time. Yowsa.

  We have not gone over the top this year. We have had a calm and peaceful time leading up to these holidays and I hope it stays that way. 

  Think I'll go take a nappie poo.  Everyone--take it easy and don't forget to BREATHE......


Friday, December 21, 2012

Winters Solstice

 Celebrating the return of the sun...

  But not celebrating with friends here on Honeysuckle Hill... got knocked on our keisters yesterday by our first winter storm. It was crazy...looked like  blizzard out there, because the winds were at 50 mph.  It actually ony snowed about an inch, but it came fast and hard and now all the country roads are iced over and packed down and although not completely inaccessible, I am afraid our city dwelling friends would not be able to navigate out here. Country road, no street lights, no in the country. Designed to keep the riff-raff out. lol

  Soooo...we have cancelled/postponed the big party until another time.  Maybe Valentines Day.  When the "weather" came rushing at us yesterday, I stopped in my tracks.  I didn't make any soup, I didn't bake any more bread. I finished the cleaning I was doing and as the electricity kept going in and out, I knew there was a very good chance that this would happen.  And I started to relax.  lol

  The Irishman called after work and asked if I absolutely HAD to have him stop at the market for a couple of things I had listed for him last night, and I said no, just come home safe. Well, on the way home in the storm, he slid off the road and a guy stopped and picked him up and brought him all the way home.  So, this morning we had to slowly pick our way up the road and go see about his truck. We called the tow truck and before they could get there (a 4 hour wait) a couple of guys with 4 wheel drive came by, procured a tow strap and pulled him out. So he called and cancelled the truck.  Thank God, he wasn't hurt, the truck wasn't hurt, and I made it back down our icy road with out sliding off the road.  All the roads in town, of course, are clear.

 So, everyone has been contacted and the party is cancelled, and I don't know what to do next, because my list is MOOT.   :)   Not really.  I took the bread dough out of the fridge and made balls and set it out to raise. Rise.  (You know, get bigger).  I am going to finish a couple of little things I started yesterday, like taking furniture polish to the dining room table legs and the chairs.  I MIGHT  make a batch of granola bars. Or I might not. lol  I'm kind of on vacation.  I did make the bed, do the breakfast and lunch dishes and vacuum the furnace filter.  And in a little while here, I'm going to sit on the couch with my feet up and a warm fleece blanket pulled around me, and watch The Young and the Restless.  Bahahahahahaha....the Irishman is out right now, taking a load of stuff to the recycling center and stoppibng on his way home to pick up my Christmas ham.  I may not have to leave this house for a week.  lol

  Today is cold (30) but sunny.  Once the sun goes down, it will drop to 21 degrees and all the melting slush will freeze again, hard as a rock. Slick as snot.  haha  Starting tomorrow, temps are warmng up again into the mid forties for 2 days and then back into the 30's for Christmas. Who knows? We might get snow for Christmas and we might not. I don't care either way. I'm sure there'll be plenty more chances.

  Alrighty then...I'd better get in the kitchen and check on those 2 loaves of bread.  Thinking I might have a cup of nice hot tea and a biscotti to go with it while I watch Y&R.  It's an exciting life I lead, I'll tell ya, lol


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mid week mayhem

  Just a little reminder to myself about the important stuff.

  It's one of those days. I was up pretty early, as hard as it was to get out of that mahogany sleigh bed with the king sized quilt. A chilly 35 degrees this morning...68 in here, of course. But easy day to just snuggle in and burrow under the covers.  But--I got up and came in and warmed up some coffee and sat in front of the computer. (That was my first mistake).  lol

  An hour and a half later, after saying good morning to 4000 people I've never met (and a few that I have) I got up again and went out to let the girls out.  I gathered 2 beautiful brown eggs (thank you, girls!)  and looked around thinking-what a yucky mess.  So, I pocketed the eggs and got my little rake and my big wheelbarrow and cleaned the chicken coop. These short days mean that they spend a LOT more time inside the coop, as they always go in at dark. And if it's really cold, I leave them in later in the mornings. All that means is more fertilizer for me to clean up and put in the compost bin.  It's not a big job, maybe takes me 25 minutes if I'm really diligent about scraping and raking. (And I am-the ammonia builds up in there if you don't). So, I refilled the inside feed dish, cleaned the water bowl and refilled it. Put fresh pine shavings on the floor to help deodorize and soak up chicken pee. Then fresh straw on top of that and put the food and water dishes back in.

 And now I'm back in, eating a bite so I can take some aspirin and my B Complex and Vitamin D. I simply cannot take anything on an empty stomach.  If I don't take the aspirion, I'll be hobbling like a wounded soldier by noon.  if I don't take the B Complex, I'll run out of gas.  And I have way too much to do.  I was getting a lilttle nervous last night, as I felt my throat getting scratchy and there is SO much crud going around out here. I dug the zinc lozenges out of the cabinet and took one. It feels immensely better this morning, so far, no trouble.   I was talking a lot yesterday--maybe that's all it was. I hope so. I don't feel sick at all, just a little overwhelmed by all the stuff I haven't done yet for this party.  But that's par for the course, right?  Seems like the past 2 days, everybody and their sister wants a piece of me. My phone (which has been uncharacteristically silent lately) has been ringing off the hook. So, I haven't gotten a lot done. Today I am possibly meeting someone in Litchfield who needs to talk, so I am planning my final shopping trip to Aldi's to coincide with a meeting for coffee. In the meantime, I am waiting for word on the time from her.

  So--my plan is to get some baking done this morning. I will bake pumpkin bread and get the Chex mix made, possibly, after I go to the store for almonds. I need more nuts! Haha.  I have pecans and walnuts and peanuts and sliced almonds. Maybe I can just skip the almonds.  I get so over the top with this stuff....sheesh. But I love cashews and whole almonds.  For snacks, I am putting out the mix, popcorn--maybe carmel corn, maybe not.  Have to see.  It's easy enough to make.  I have chips and salsa. I have crackers with cream cheese and jalapeno and sweet  red pepper jelly.  I have biscotti.  And I will have soups and breads and more crackers. And some people are bringing Christmas cookies and maybe fudge.  I have hot chocolate, herbal teas, coffee, and spiced cider for drinks. I am using all my dishes and cloth napkins, which will drive people mad (it always does) and I don't care. I need to just make sure I have plenty of soup spoons.  I have plenty of bowls. And mugs (which, that reminds me, I need to get out of the storage). I have a lot of cloth napkins's one of those things I pick up at yard sales and thrift stores all the time.  I may get some more out and wash them., just to be sure I have plenty. This is gonna be fun.

  Alrighty.  One of my friends who has been unemployed for a while, has 2 job interviews today. Saying a little prayer for her.  Another one recently got another job after beig unemployed for over a year.  Grateful that things are looking up...grateful for my quiet and challenging little life here on Honeysuckle Hill.

  I'm off to the kitchen!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Another rainy Monday...

 So...okay.  What do you do on a rainy chilly day, when you're having a small party at the end of the week?
 For starters, you do all the mundane things you do every day...tend to the critters, straighten up the house a bit...look around and see what can't wait. (Like when you're completely out of bread AND granola.) Oops. So, first thing, I started a batch of granola, mixing up all the dry ingredients and then cooking up the granola goo that coats everything. It's oil and honey and vanilla and cinnamon and dark brown sugar (or, in this case, barley malt syrup, because I have some).  Turn on the oven to toast the granola.  It's a nice low heat, and will warm up the kitchen nicely for the bread dough to get started. I'm making the big batch of the artisan bread, and will keep the extra dough in the fridge to make more loaves when I need them.  This will make approximately 6 one pound loaves.  That's a good amount for us to have ready to bake, and will easily keep in the fridge for 2 weeks or more.  I have to make a confession.  I haven't baked any bread for 2 or 3 weeks or more.  I got tired of doing it and went to the store. The sticker shock of paying FOUR dollars for a loaf of decent whole grain bread nearly sent me into apoplexy. So...I'm baking bread again. lol  Funny thing, we don't eat nearly as much bread, it seems like, when it's store bought.   Imagine that... : )

   I have a list made of things to do today.  I have a master list of all the things that need doing by Friday. I live by the list, lol.  So, this morning I'm baking, toasting, and going to make some biscotti. I am cleaning the office and putting a new cloth on the altar in front of the window which is full of plants now. I'm watering plants and dusting all the bookshelves (4 in this room) and spiffing the place up a little with some decorations (not much) and some candles. This is my hideaway back here. My computer, my books, my Bose system, my altars, my rocking chair.  I really should do a better job of taking care of it. I've been soaking the plants in the bath tub and they're ready to come out and go back where they belong. They needed a good long drink of water.

  This morning I took 3 of the 8 cats away and gave them a new home on a farm.  I got an email last night asking if I knew of someone who had some to get rid of and I jumped up in the air hollering and shouting--PICK ME!! PICK ME !!   They would have taken 4, but I didn't have another cat carrier. I may be making another trip out there. They're very nice people, and it's a nice insulated barn that's overrun with mice.  I've been having an awful time with these male cats ...peeing everywhere and marking territories at each other. Hissing and fighting.  I've been ready to tear my hair out, because I just can't stand it one more minute. This email was a gift. SO..the 2 worst ones are gone and one female. They are all neutered, and still they sprayed and peed everywhere.  So done with it.  And I felt only a twinge of regret...guilty as charged.

   Okay. Granola's out of the oven and I mixed in raisins and dried cherries. Was going to put some of our dried apples in too, but....this is enough. It smells good and tastes good and once it's cool, we'll see if it's crunchy enough. If not...well...I hate to put it back in the oven with the dried fruit in it.  But I think it's okay...

  Feels like a soup day.  Thinking I could make a batch of turkey totellini, since I have a half a bag of it sitting on the counter. Not a big batch--just enough for supper and the Irishman's lunch tomorrow.  Soup and some homemade bread. Mmmmm....

   I'm a little hindered in the cleaning department because it's just yucky enough that the dogs don't want to go out. lol  And they are all scared  of the vacuum. I'm sure I can find plenty of things to do though....I have some relaxing music playing and it's cozy warm, and the smell of toasted granola is competing with the smell of yeasty goodness as the bread dough rises.  It needs to rise at least 5 hours, until it falls on it's own. Then it's nearly ready to bake. This relaxing music may not be the best motivational thing I've got going...but it feels good to go slow today, to savor the peacefulness, to be grateful for holidays and friends and family.  I'm picking someone up tonight to go to a meeting. I don't go out at night a lot...but I will tonight.

   Tomorrow is promising to be sunny and about 60 degrees.  I'll get a lot of outside stuff done and maybe even some more baking.  I'm going to bake a coupe of batches of biscotti today...cranberry almond and regular.  I LOVE that stuff, and it will be good party fare too (if it makes it that long).  I'm fixing some Chex Mix on Wednesday and another batch of some kind of cookie.  I haven't decided if I'm going to just bake bread for the party or order some of that grand stuff from Panera...that was my original plan. The big micha loaf will cost me in the neighborhood of 10 bucks apiece...we'll see.   It's awfully good

  Okay--I've stalled long enough. Take good care of yourselves this holiday season.  Peace on's what we're all wishing for....


Saturday, December 15, 2012

When good technology goes bad...

  And I was a lot better off.


  I have been fighting computer connectivity issues for 3 days.  At first it was just Facebook not opening without multiple tries.  And sometimes shutting back down in the middle of something. VERY annoying.

  Today it has been more of that, PLUS the internet connection coming and going.  It's enough to make me want to throw the whole thing out the window. 

   On top of that, for some reason my cell phone bill...(You know--the ATT plan that is 89.00/month, which never costs less then 145.00/month) --is suddenly 200.00 this month. And I can't find out why. Haven't actually called the customer service people yet, but looked at my account online, and it's all a bunch of BS about data usage being delayed..blah, blah, blah.  

    And I am ready to start fresh in the new year...with NO cell phone, no computer and nothing electronic. I'll become a Luddite and live out here on Honeysuckle Hill, waiting patiently for the mailman to come and bring any communication that anyone needs to have with me.  

    Does anyone else ever get this frustrated with these things? Or is it just me--am I so addicted to this life that I cannot function when things go awry, as things will do?  I swear--I am half serious about all this. Because we live out in the coountry, we are held hostage by a phone company whose headquarters are in NY, whose service is atrocious, and there are no options. We can't just choose another provider.  So my house phone and computer access are what I have. Unless I go back to satellite again (which I won't) because every timne the wind blows the connection goes out. I tried that for 2 years with Wild Blue.  ATT is the onlt cell phone service we have out here.  There is a new one that might work, and I will never get a phone with a data package again. I just need something to talk on and maybe text from time to time.  This smart phone is all well and good, but I don't need it. I use probably 10% of it's capabililties. It's ridiculous. 

   I'm just too old for all this.  LOL

   I want to scream and yell and throw a temper tantrum.


    Well, the weather here has been insanely warm. It hit 60 today and is supposed to do the same tomorrow. I got outside for a bit and ripped out the dead clematis (which still had some green on it AND a couple of flowers!!!!)  and I got the rest of the garland put up on the porch railing. It looks very pretty.  The house is coming together too. I have a couple of long lists of things to do and bake and buy before Friday.  I have no doubt that I will get them all done and we will have a grand time on Friday night.  The weather is supposed to stay warmer than normal, and I hope dry. It rained last night a bit this morning, so the dogs have made a mess of my  (as yet) uncleaned carpet. Also,  the front porch is a muddy mess, of course and the area of yard in front of the porch looks like a motocross pit.   Hopefully it will dry out nicely and all be well.

    Today I seasoned my cast iron skillets. That was an ordeal. And the house still smells like hot grease and cast iron, lol, and I opened all the doors and turned the ceiling fan on high.  (I remember now why my mom and grandma always did this outside over the burning barrel.)  

    The tragedy of the shootings in the elementary school are weighing heavy on everyone. I don't watch much news coverage, so get my information in bits and dribbles on the computer.  Tell me again why everyone is against gun control.   I am rendered speechless by it all. 

    My son and his girlfriend are off to his company Christmas party tonight. The company throws a big bash and puts them all up in a nice hotel for the night, so that no one has to drive anywhere.  They'll be back tomorrow sometime, and then he will go to his dad's family Christmas celebration.  I was surprised they are doing it so early, but I guess there are so many families involved now that it's difficult to make it work for everyone.  My ex had 3 children and has a young one at home and his wife has 3 as well.  Fun. lol
 My nephew is coming up to spend the holiday with us and my husband and son will be here. It will be a cozy day of non-stop eating, I'm sure.  We're not buying much in the way of gifts...probably a little here and there.  My son says he wants nothing, that he's got everything he wants. lol  MY husband says he wants a vacation in Fiji. LOL  I can't think of anything I want either.  We are really blessed.  

    We went to the movies to see The Hobbit last night. In 3D.  Woohoo. I had never seen a movie in 3D and now I've seen 2 in 3 weeks.  lol  They did a pretty good job with the movie, directed by Peter Jackson, so how bad could it be?  It was a nice evening out with my honey.

   Well...I should sign off and see if I can get this to post before the connection goes out again. It has gone out and come back at least 4 times since I started writing.

   Happy Saturday night, y'all. I'm going to make it an early sleep....maybe.  lol


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

And so it goes...

  Nothing really ever gets too fancy around here. lol  It's nothing short of a miracle that this is still on the table, given the cats penchant for all things kickable to the floor, and 2 dogs with table sized constantly wagging tails.  I've actually moved it to the little coffee table/chest in front of one of the love seats...even more kickable now, but for the moment it looks pretty good.  lol

lol...I must have been listing to the left... Anyway, you get the idea. Sometimes it looks like my house was decorated by the Marx brothers... (BTW--the little black lump on the loveseat is Miss Roxie.)  lol

  Oh my goodness. I looked at the Calendar and see that I am down to 10 days til the party.  I couldn't really get motivated to get much done yesterday...and it's looking like the same today. Oh well.  I did cross 6 things off my list of 10 that I had hoped to get done or at least start.  This morning the only thing I've done is a half hour of yoga for my joints and the first part of Mama Pea's Qi Gong tape.  And took a long hot shower afterwards. So I'm feeling pretty good right about now. Good enough to head into town??  Maybe...
maybe not. We'll see. It's nothing life or death, so I don't really have to go. But sometimes it's good to go out in public for a minute.  :)  I have a station playing right now that is all piano and guitar...the music is so soothing and the house is warm and some pups are outside and some are in here snoozing in the sun. Makes it hard to leave my little sanctuary here on Honeysuckle Hill. Oh...and it's wicked cold outside today again...finally up to 38 at almost 1 o'clock.  Supposedly getting up to 43, but I'm not holding my breath.  lol Yesterday couldn't crest 31 to save it's life. 

   And so it's winter finally on the prairie. Guess it had to happen. I was talking to my neighbor yesterday or the day before, and we agreed that cold , even snow, was long as the sun was shining. Because we had 2 days in a row of grey bleak rainy yuck.  That soul sucking greyness that is so different here....when I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I loved the weather...the soft rain, the some point you get a little tired of the lack of sun, and then it will get brilliant for a few days to give you a solar fix before it retreats again. But that damp was different than here, for some reason.  Oh well.. it is what it is. I've always wanted to live in Washington...I've lived in far northern California and in Oregon...if I ever move again, it's  Washington, I've decided.  

    I made a lovely stuffed butternut squash last night for supper....and a salad made with our garden greens. They are hanging in there (the ones in the fridge--not the outside guys : they're done.)  I have some wild rice from Canada that my cousin gave me, and I cooked it mixed about 70/30 with brown rice before adding it to a skillet of sauteed onions, celery, garlic, ginger, pecans and portabella mushrooms.  Then I took the butternut squash I had baked and stuffed it with the mixture. I drizzled a scant teaspoon of honey across the top of each one and put it back in the oven for about 20 minutes. Man was it good...not sure what I'm fixing tonight,. but it won't be a show stopper like that one, I'm betting.  lol  Might do something simple like turkey or tuna noodle casserole.  

  My oven magically started working again. I decided (after looking at new ranges and comparing prices YIKES !) that I needed to have someone come look at this one and see if it can be repaired. So, I got in the phone book and looked up a couple of local repairmen and wrote down their numbers. Then I wrote a short description of the problem. (The flame bar won't ignite). Wrote down the brand and model of the range and was looking for a serial number or model number. Then I thought...I better try to turn this thing on and make sure it's not working still. Lo and behold. After a false start, the damn thing lit right up. I did bang ion it with a hammer (gently) because my theory is that there's a piece of rust or gunk from the tank or something clogging up the jet. The igniter got hot and that should have started the whole process, but it wasn't working. my oven is working again, and I'm debating calling someone just because it maybe should be looked at to insure that I don't have an explosion in the kitchen. LOL  But I baked those squash yesterday with no incident.  Who knows. I hate to spend any unnecessary money right now...'s getting later by the minute and I have done nothing and don't care. lol Thinking about hitting the dollar store for a few more scented candles...if I can find spruce or vanilla.  I figure there's no point in doing too much too soon, as I'll just have to do it all over again before the party.  (Like the way I have justified my sloth??)  I'll get the Irishman to help me with a few things on the weekend, and the rest I'll accomplish as the week progresses. I'm sitting with my neighbor's husband on Wednesday and Friday this week, so that will pretty much fill up this slot. lol  Then starting the weekend, I can get serious about the party preparations.

   Have a grand week, everyone...and spread as much loving kindness as you can muster.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

On the road to Jungle Bells...

  Ignore the haint in the mirror...focus instead on the Gifting    The Gifting Stag is a Celtic tradition . He comes to inspire moderation and balance  in our hearts. This is necessary this time of year, as it is so easy to go to extremes as the days get darker and we find ourselves seeking ways to keep ourselves on an even keel, emotionally and mentally.

 We have , of course, adapted the gifting stag to a reindeer, pulling  the sleigh full of gifts for our Santa Claus, but I like the idea of the stag better. Representing a spirit of good sense, and showing us the middle path. Something I'm pretty sure we could all use this crazy time of year.


  The boy came and helped me move boxes of decorations in the house. I'm unpacking and sorting  and finding things I didn't know I had. I don't want most of it.  For some reason I have a white tree with colored lights on it, about 5 ft tall. I'm sure someone was throwing it away, and scavenger that I am, said--here, I'll take it ! I took it out of the box, thinking maybe I could put it outside, as I don't really have the room nor the desire to have it in my house. But I don't know if it can survive outside...Almost all the lights work and it is kinda pretty...but a white tree? I don't think  I have my tabletop sized green tree out with the big Santa next to it.  I have scattered some wreaths around and have some garlands up. And , of course, my Gifting his place of honor at the front door.  lol

 My house looks like a yard sale right now and that is making me crazy. I'm stopping for a bit to eat, that's why I'm here now. I keep going back and forth about what I should be doing. There's laundry in mid-process. I found enough garland to finish the front porch rail and need to take out the old dead clematis to put it the rest of the way around the railing. It's cold and damp today, rained all night. I need to vacuum. I need to....slow down. I really need to slow down and just do one thing at a time.  First, decide what's staying in here and then move the boxes out.  And go from there.


  I've also started a list for the party. Things I need to do (and a timeline for that), and things I need to buy (apple cider) .  Plan the menu.  I think we've invited about 40 people so far. And can expect about half of that probably.  Maybe.  Depending on the weather.  It'll be like an open house, sort of, with folks coming and going. I've instructed them to each being a green or recycled gift for an exchange.  I am going to have fun doing all this. I already am. If I can get enough things done ahead of time, it won't be a problem the day of.


  Tomorrow or Monday, I'm going to make a centerpiece of evergreen boughs, 3 champagne glasses, ribbon,  taper candles and holly berries.  I think I have all the stuff to do it with and look forward to the challenge of being artistic.  I'll be sure to take a picture and show you when it's done. I also want to make a Yule log.  I'm thinking that if it isn't raining the day of the party, I'm going to set up our little fire pit in the front yard and have a fire going outside, then we can burn the Yule log. Traditionally this is all wrong, of course, but we don't have a fireplace and it will be what it will be.  :)

 Okay...guess I've stalled about as long as I can.  I made a big pot of chili last night, so I don't really have to cook supper...maybe a chili and cheese omelet, with potatoes.  Something simple for a Saturday night supper, unless the Irishman comes home insisting on taking me out for supper, since we stayed home last night.  He's out and about today, so I have no idea really.  But that's not anything I have to worry about right now.  For now, I'm going to get back in there and make a decision about this gaudy tree, lol. And just go from there. I need to turn on some music too...

   And not Christmas music, either.

  Happy Saturday, ya'all...


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Such a day I've had...

  In honor of World Aids Day, which was December 1st...PBS World showed a documentary on Independent Lens today called We Were Here.

  I was at my neighbors today when it came on and I watched it and cried like a baby through the whole thing.  I didn't know I was going there today, thought it was tomorrow. So when she called me this morning I was still in my pajamas. I had fed the chooks and all the critters had been outside and were fed and watered. So it felt like I hit the ground running this morning and was about two and a half steps behind all day.

I hate it when that happens.  lol

 Anyway, I have been uber-emotional  for a couple of days....I finished the book I was reading by Julia Gregson called East of the Sun (very good read--recommend it)  and by the end of it I was crying...and a part at the end about her mother sent me down that road I try to avoid. That's what I was crying about as much as anything.  Then last night I read an article in YES! magazine by a writer named Susan Griffin (I think--it's not in front of me) but anyway, some of the things she was saying hit me square in the solar plexus and I could barely breathe.

So I knew I was in trouble when this film came on and I couldn't not watch it. Listening to these first hand accounts about the epidemic and how it was spreading like wildfire, about how nobody knew what was happening or how it was spreading or what to do......about the man who was in one of the first trials for a drug and how he dropped out because he couldn't take it, it made him so sick. His partner stayed in it though, and then , in the end, all the participants but him were dead.

  This is a really fine film and deserves to be seen.  It is such a poignant experience...I moved to northern California in 1975,  and although I did not live in SF (but 2 hours  farther north) I did spend a lot of time there. All through the 80's, when this nightmare began. It felt very personal to me.  It did then too.  I was telling a friend of mine today, that when I read Randy Shilts book "And The Band Played On" in the late eighties...I was furious. I was so angry. Today I was just incredibly saddened by it all...and so deeply touched.

 Oh...have you had those times when you feel like you are feeling all the sadness of the world?  I think about the sudden rise in suicides in India...of the wars and the fighting around the world. Of all the homeless and the hungry children and the missing and the runaways ...and oh my goodness.  There was a blurb on tonights news about donating gifts and $$ for Christmas for kids in the foster care system, and  they were reading some wish list letters from the children and it broke my heart...most of their wants were such simple things...things we all take for granted.

It's late and I should be in bed, but I decided I wanted to write a bit first and maybe get some of this out of me and onto the page.  Maybe I'll sleep better.

I'll finish this tomorrow...


  Okay, it's tomorrow. Feeling a bit better..not that I was really feeling bad yesterday,. but rereading that post, it sounds like I was.  It's a chilly day, 45 at 11AM, and I have showered and dressed and fed and cleaned chickens before that. Some dogs are outside and one little doxie is anticipating a car ride in a minute. I wanted to eat something fist, so had a small bowl of granola with almond milk. Now I can swallow down those 2 tabs I take every morning, Super B Complex and Vitamin D.  And a couple of aspirin.  

  I slept until 8 o'clock this morning, after going to bed a little after 1. That's pretty good for me. It was a good restful sleep too. And not terribly stiff and sore this morning.  Yay!  I'll tell you, this barely being able to walk crap is for the birds. lol

 So, I'm off to the farm store for a compressed bundle of pine shavings. I use it in the coop to deodorize and soak up excess urine.  Helps a lot to lengthen the time between completely changing out the straw (which, BTW, is almost 5 dollars a bale this year.)  We buy 4 bales at a time, so it isn't painful, lol, and that's about all we have the room to store.  It will last quite a long time. 

  It will be good to get out and about.  I think we are going to a potluck tonight for the 50th anniversary of a meeting in Litchfield.  That means I need to make something to take along.  

I'm thinking pumpkin bread will fill the bill.  I baked a loaf last night from the leftover opened jar of pumpkin I made pancakes with last weekend, and it needs to be used.  The Irishman has already eaten half of that one. lol

I'm outta here like Vladimir.  See you on the flip flop ...


Monday, December 3, 2012

Life is like an egg...

...and you get out of it what you put into it.

 We buy the more expensive natural chicken feed. It costs more, but my eggs still probably don't cost 2 dollars a dozen, like at the store. (And certainly not the $4.oo/dozen for the ones at the health food store.)

 I spend time talking to my chickens every day.  I let them out of the coop with a cheerful "Good morning, girls!"  In the middle of the morning/afternoon, I go out and pick handfuls of  fresh greens for them to eat, and I sit in a chair and watch them enjoy. In the dead of winter if I can't find anything green (not so last winter--I had kale growing all season), then I sprout seeds and feed them odds and ends of salad makings and we all eat a little healthier. lol  When I gather eggs, I have one hen who comes to greet me in the coop as soon as she sees me go around to the back. She comes over for a scratch and a cuddle every time. She loves affection and wiggles with delight when I scratch the back of her head. She even lets me pick her up and hug her.

 As a result of this--good food, clean water every day, clean bedding and lots of love...I have really gorgeous eggs.  The yolks are as orange as an orange. The whites are thick and viscous. The shells are solid and the taste is out of this world. The results of what little extra time I spend on my chickens far outweigh any labor or expense.  I have only 7 hens, and am getting 5-6 eggs a day.  A bag of layer feed and scratch grains will last almost a month. And we have beautiful healthy eggs in the fridge, enough to give to friends occasionally and enough to store. Right now I have about 6.5 dozen stored in the back room. All lathered up in vegetable shortening and stored in a cool dark place.  I just had an egg and muenster and onion sandwich for my breakfast. I used 2 eggs in the ricotta mixture for my veggie lasagna last night.  I'll use 5 or 6 in the egg fu young for tonights supper.  We eat a fair amount of eggs, as do most people who have chickens. They are a considerable portion of our food system.  PLUS, of course, we get lots of yummy manure for our compost pile and ultimately our gardens. Every time I clean the coop, all that dirty straw goes directly into the compost bin. Manure and urine for fertilizer, straw for tilth.  Win/Win.  You can't go wrong with chickens. Even just a few....we do not butcher the chickens themselves for food. Maybe some day if we decide we need chicken that much. But not they give me beautiful eggs and run around outside in the dappled sunlight and warm breezes....

   Sometimes I give kitchen scraps to them to eat instead of putting those directly on the compost pile, but like I heard Joel Salatin say once "Who cares? It all winds up in the same place anyway."  lol 

   I have finished my yummy egg sandwich, almost finished my first cup of coffee, and still need to get dressed. (Yes--I let the chickens out and feed them in the mornings in my pajamas.  Almost every day. LOL)

   I don't really have a lot to do today (I already got the morning chores done and straightened up a bit) except maybe some party planning. I am going to have the party on 12/21/12...yes, the end of the world. Or the Winter Solstice. Or, as I like to think of it, the Beginning of the New Paradigm.  It falls on a Friday, but I think that will be okay. Still gonna clear it with the Irishman first and see. Maybe Saturday would be better, but that is getting awfully close to Christmas as it is, and I think lots of folks do their last minute shopping that weekend. (Unlike me, who either never shops at ALL, or runs out on Christmas Eve.  lol)

   Have a wonderful Monday, dear ones.  The mercury here is heading for 75 degrees. It's crazy I tell ya !


Saturday, December 1, 2012

How does this happen?

  Time is whooshing by...even daily. Hard to believe that it's December today...that November even has come and gone.  Sometimes it seems like it's just been spring, watching the garden seeds sprout and enjoying the wonder and miracles that are involved in eating the first greens and seeing the fragile little seedlings start getting stout and developing leaves and then flowers and then--BAM! It's winter.

  Or at least, it's supposed to be. 

 December 1st, and the projected high today is 66.  Monday they are saying 71.   What????   We are possibly due for some rain tomorrow. We've not had much. And no cold and snow means no other precipitation either. As much as I can mostly do without the cold weather and winter, I know we need that snowfall for our land.  We need that cold cold weather to kick the bug population down some. For the ground to rest. Right now I still have so much stuff growing out there it's crazy. The dirt still working hard for me, with no vacation.  Soon, though.  I hope.

  Anyhoo~~~  now it's Saturday already. I have had a restful week, for the most part. I had company for lunch on Thursday.  I went to the chiropractor on Friday. And today, later, the Irishman and I are going to a matinee to see Life of Pi. It will be my very first 3D experience. I am excited.

  For now though, I am still in my pj's. I made pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, and they were heavenly, with real Maine woods pure maple syrup on them and butter, of course.  I cleaned up the dishes and watered the dogs and fed the cats. Now I am here, but soon I have to get dressed and be ready to go when the Irishman gets back. Tomorrow he is taking a trip to Bloomington for an Area Assembly. So I'll have the day to myself. I think that in honor of the movie (about a young man from India, if you don't know it), we will have a nice early supper/late lunch at the new Indian place in Edwardsville.  We have our favorite place, of course, but this one is new and we haven't been there. I think it's called Raj's...but I could be wrong about that. I'll report back.

  This week went by quickly. I fell flat on NaNoWriMo this year...stalling at about 12000 words and not getting anything else written. However--I am not abandoning this particular project. I am almost in love with it.  This is a first...I have loved other things I've written, but this feels different somehow.  I'll keep you posted.

   I think we're going to have a cozy, small Christmastime party...probably a soup buffet with desserts and breads and crackers.  Just an open house kind of a thing...nothing particularly fancy, but it will make me get in the holiday spirit a little more. And get my house decorated some.  Not a lot again --this year I'm going for a little more moderation...seems like either I decorate worse than a Macy's window...or I do nothing at all.  Somewhere in the middle would be good.  Some twinkle lights are always nice, (except that then I want to leave them up year 'round...which maybe isn't so bad-they are really happy in the dead of winter, late Jan-March).  We'll see how it unfolds. 

  I have a grocery list and a birthday card to mail to a fellow who seems to not get any word from his own family (been there) and he gets very depressed about it. I'm not his family, so maybe it doesn't help him at all...but it makes me feel hopeful that it just might give him pause to know that somebody cares enough to acknowledge his far as the groceries go, I thought maybe I would go after the movie, but...maybe I'll wait and go by myself tomorrow. I really don't like shopping with my husband.  IS that awful?  But he makes me crazy, buying things we don't need, making comments and acting bored. Even when it's his idea that he go with me, he acts like he can't wait to get out of the store and that distracts me from my mission.  LOL  Because I don't particularly like it either and that's why I go armed with a very definite list of things and rarely vary from it. Yeah...I think I'll wait and go tomorrow.  It's one of those goofy lists...dates and flour and butter and celery...things I can't grow or produce here (yet). And holiday baking kinds of stuff.  Toilet paper too, now that I'm thinking of it. And if it's on sale, I might just buy a LOT.  :)

  Alright. I'm dressed now and have folded a dryer load of clothes and put another load in. Checked on chickens, gathered 3 eggs and pulled a lot of chard, kale and chickweed for them-they love that.  Trying to decide if I want to trust that the Irishman will be back in time for me to send him out to clean the coop or I should just do it.  I swear, I just cleaned the damn thing. But with the early nightfall, they are spending a lot more time in the coop. and that accounts for it, I reckon.

  I'm thinking about making some beeswax candles.  I saw some on a craft blog, and they look so pretty. And they don't release all the toxic chemicals into the air that regular wax candles do. (And even though I know this, I still burn them. Go figure.)   They melted the beeswax and then poured them into jelly jars and half pint canning jars. They were gorgeous.  I made candles years ago, but stopped doing it.  I made soap too. And paper. And oh hell....all kinds of stuff. But I make it until I get really good at it (translates to: bored with it")  and then I kinda stop doing it, knowing that if I ever want to do it again, I can and know how.  lol  One of my projects for this winter is woven rag rugs. I have a frame and I have a couple of reason why I can't do it. 

  Hope everyone has a happy Saturday. I can't wait for the movie...I absolutely adored the book.



Monday, November 26, 2012

Hey brother, can you spare a dime?

  No, but how about a meal?  I could do that. It's that time of year again, when the food banks are all coming at us with pleas for help. The Boy Scouts are having their canned foods drive, local churches are doing things too.  As a matter of tradition, I have always donated to help families in need, especially at Christmas and Thanksgiving.  One year I was told that they "didn't accept home canned foods--too much chance of food poisoning."  I nearly died laughing. Then they told me what they would accept, and it was a bunch of empty caloric food like substances.  And I demurely declined to donate that kind of stuff.  I did wind up going to buy bags of potatoes and donated those. Hysterical, isn't it?  Now, around here anyway,  they are asking for donations of fresh garden produce in the summer, something they don't get enough of. I always donate some, but mostly I grow what we need and I can and freeze and well...YOU know.  I have been trying to think of something I could do this time of year, being rather short of funds, and started thinking about the local womens shelter and wondering if maybe I could like, cater a nice meal for them around the holidays. Since we live so far from town (20+ miles)  whatever I do would have to be there and not here, at my home.  I nearly always find some one who is down on their luck, has no family here, --something, and invite them to our house.  Some years I throw a little pre-Christmas soiree and have a nice evening of soups and desserts and breads...  Last Christmas I didn't want to do anything. This year...I don't know. Guess I ought to decide soon.  LOL

  So, back to the real world. The post High Holy Day of Gluttony olympics that takes place at my house has made me almost giddy.  As you can imagine, the Turkey Stock race was crazy, and is finally finished.  I had my roaster going for what seemed like forever, and the end total was 27 assorted pints and quarts of turkey stock. Some plain broth.  Some mostly broth with some turkey. Some mostly  turkey with broth.  And the beautiful jars are all finished, all sealed, and all awaiting labeling and putting away. THANK GOODNESS. 

  Last night I started tackling some cleaning jobs that were long overdue. Mainly our bedroom and the big master bathroom. Yuck. Today  I did things that normally get left undone, like vacuuming under the bed,. cleaning mirrors and scrubbing back behind the toilet where no one can reach. I scrubbed floors and took down curtains and washed them. I cleaned windows and windowsills. I scrubbed the sink and vanity and shower.  I took the cannister vacuum and sucked cobwebs off the ceiling and out of the corners and in doorways and windows. I cleaned both nightstands to within an inch of their lives. (Books, books, and more books!!) We have a dresser that is a really long and heavy thing    ( dinosaur)  that collects every thing imaginable--if himself walks into the room with ANYTHING in his hands, that's where it goes. Well, gentle can now see the wood top of that bad boy!!!!  And it's clean--I furniture polished everything, including my big sleigh bed.  I stripped the bed and washed the sheets. I got everything vacuumed,. the slipcovers in the laundry, 2 loads of laundry done (small loads)  and made a turkey pot pie with biscuits on top for supper.  And right before I started that pot pie...I suddenly was in excruciating pain (left hip) and could barely walk. Feels like a pinched nerve. I sat for a while and tried to take it easy, but it still really hurts, so I guess I'm going to the dr tomorrow morning.  I'm pretty sure I did it trying to vacuum 4000 pounds of dust bunny colonies out from under the bed. Because I can't move that bed (and NO--I didn't try)  so I resorted to squirming around on my belly and reaching and stretching--pretty sure I looked like I was playing a game of Twister with myself.

  This sucks. All I could think was--I don't have time for this. (But at least the turkey is all done.)

  When I got hurt, my pelvis was crushed. So there was lots of nerve damage and stuff. For years I would have to go to the doctor every 3-4 weeks for injections of a time released painkiller/steroid cocktail that he would inject into about 8 different nerve areas in trigger point injections. It hurt like hell, but the good news was that I could walk. This feels kinda like that...but I haven't had to have them for about 5 years now. I hope that's not going to be the deal this time.

  So...the Irishman is home safe and sound.  And he came home bearing gifts and with lots of dirty laundry and many anecdotes of family fun. And all I can think is, I'm hurting so bad that I can't stand the sound of his voice. Anyone's voice, actually. lol

  I have a lone pain pill here leftover from another time and I think I'm going to take it and go to bed.  We'll re-assess things when the sun comes up. The big question is, do I go to the Chiropractor, or just go straight to the Urgent Care?  Guess I'll have that answer when I wake up. All I can say is that I'm lucky to have a very high pain threshold because otherwise, I'd be in the ER right now.    :)

  Have a grand night, duckies.