Thursday, September 28, 2017

3...2...1...


  Sure feels like that, anyway. Every time I think things can't get any more surreal, they step it up. The weather events have devastated territories of this country and they are on the bottom of the list of getting taken care of.  In Owensboro, KY they rounded up some kids from a school in the gym and told them they had no parents to go home to because they  were being deported and then proceeded to call DFS to come take the kids. CHILDREN. Who were born here.  The POTUS publicly called football players "Sons of Bitches"  because they are peacefully protesting racism. The government is purposefully sabotaging the websites and phone lines for the affordable care act enrollment to try to cause the whole system to break down to prove their point.  They are now dismantling the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and god only knows what else they can get their grimy little hands on.   And I am ashamed and embarrassed and afraid.  And I don't know how to deal with any of it.  Some of it is like watching "Animal Farm" right before my eyes...people that I would never have guessed to be so heartless and cruel and  discompassionate...people that I thought I knew.  


  It feels like a time of transition. People are coming  into and going out of my life with a scary regularity. Feelings of disconnect and separation are looming large.  

In A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957), Leon Festinger proposed that human beings strive for internal psychological consistency in order to mentally function in the real world. That a person who experiences internal inconsistency tends to become psychologically uncomfortable, and so is motivated to reduce the cognitive dissonance: either by changing parts of the cognition, to justify the stressful behavior; or by adding new parts to the cognition that causes the psychological dissonance; and by actively avoiding social situations and contradictory information that are likely to increase the magnitude of the cognitive dissonance.[1]

  The word dissonance keeps niggling around in the back of my brain. I am off balance, confused and easily annoyed. I can't bear the thought of what is happening in this country.  People that I love are being affected by the roll backs on civil rights, the climate of fear and the extreme racism that's going on.   I am ready to cry at the drop of a hat. I want to live somewhere else. But I can't.  And it's frustrating and it hurts my heart and I probably shouldn't be writing when I feel like this, but there ya go-- and here I am.  I want to scream.

Like many, all I can do is what I can do...


 This is in the flower pot at the end of my driveway facing the road.  I'm surprised no one has defaced it or destroyed it or taken it.  I can speak up. I can make calls to DC and I can encourage others who are as afraid as I am.  I can attend rallies and vote and do whatever small things I can.  And it isn't enough and I know it. But giving in to hopelessness is not the answer either.  Hating people who hate people isn't it either.  Acknowledging that fear is our number one problem is part of the solution.  And speaking out against those who spew hate and stir up  all this emotionally charged fear based behavior that's going on across this country... my heart is breaking..and I don't know what else to say.

  I went to the doctor Monday for a shoulder/neck issue I am having that won't be resolved no matter what I do  and so I am getting an MRI tomorrow.  Could be a possible labrum tear.  She told me I have a "quiet" heart murmur. That's news.  Either she's wrong, or my heart really is breaking....(it occurs to me that maybe I should stop using those words).  My guts are in an uproar a lot.  I am having headaches. Things that I rarely have to deal with, and I am chalking it up to the stress in the world that I am experiencing. I guess I need to pray more and meditate more and spend more time in the quiet. Cycles of spiritual attention seem to be the best recourse for me when I get to feeling like this. Feeling the need to drop out and recharge isn't always convenient--there's a lot going on  with the people in my life these days and I feel a responsibility to be available for them too. All about balance. All about not letting the fear of what might happen get bigger than my trust that everything is happening exactly the way it is supposed to.  I see people pulling together. People taking a stand who normally would never rock the boat.  People looking to love as the answer.  The Course in Miracles tells me that a miracle is just a shift in perception. Can I shift my perception enough to expect a miracle in the midst of all this hate and fear ?  That book talks a lot about fear as well.  I would do well to get my book out and start studying it again. 

  And in the meantime, I cook and I can and I garden and I try to do the next right thing. What's in front of me ?   What am I grateful for ? (A little AA practice of writing a gratitude list every morning, to keep gratitude in the front of my brain and not letting fear crowd out the good stuff.)  Of loving the people I love, and loving even more the ones that I don't.  Of trying to see everyone through God's eyes,  of remembering that humans are fallible and afraid, no matter which side of the line they stand on.  And taking it all just one day at a time. I got through today and maybe I can get through tomorrow too.  

  And remembering the words of my dear friend Mary Arnold 

  "Life comes at us like a sledgehammer sometimes. 
     No time to duck."


  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Simple Truth


What is the truth, anyway ?  It seems like it always falls somewhere between what you believe and what I believe, between my perception of the facts and yours.  In the public and political arena these days,  there has been an insidious re-branding of truth and lies. You never know what to believe. It's a form of gaslighting.  As a result of this, we are befuddled and dizzy.  And as a result of this, we are exhausted. And we are forced to turn away from it all, and hide in the dark to protect our fragile psyches. Or--is it just me ?  William Faulkner once wrote  "Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”   I remember reading this eons ago and the sharp impact  it had on me.  I thought , we can change things. We can prove that right and love wins. And every now and then I actually see it happen, but more and more I am sadly disappointed and tired. 

I was having a conversation about the night of the last election with someone the other day, and she said, I don't think ANYBODY really believed that this could happen here. Well, it has.  And in the midst of natural disasters, one on the heels of the other,  we are teetering on the brink of yet another war. And not a boots on the ground war, but a nuclear war.   I just read an article in The New Yorker about Kim Jong Un (today he threatened to blow some Japanese islands into the sea) and I already have first hand experience about Donald Trump (he tweeted that North Korea  will be  “met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before”  .  Two inmates running the asylums (asylums that are filled with nuclear weapons).  An ex CIA guy just publicly called the POTUS a "circus clown".   Never in the history of this country has there been so little respect for the man in that office. But then, no time in history has there been someone like him IN that office.  It is embarrassing and frightening at the same time. 

So--fear.  And simple truths.  The simple truth is that all I have control over is my own life.  I cannot change anyone else, only me. So how I deal with  fears and events and people and things is what I can manage.  Be where my feet are. One day at a time, trying to not peer into the future (that scary scary future of possibilities and things that MIGHT happen) and not be paralyzed by the present or shackled by the past.   Keep my eye on the things I can control- like my attitude, my emotions, my actions and my words.  (That's not easy) lol   Stay busy doing practical things that make a difference in my life, taking care of things for my family.    I am trying to stock my pantries (an ongoing thing, but might be more important than ever, as I suspect North Korean missiles are probably aimed at all the Krogers and Piggly Wiggly's and  the insane weathers we are experiencing can only result in worse blizzards and tornadoes and floods here where I live).  I am  stockpiling books and  if you can guess, that's a lie I tell to avoid admitting I'm a book hoarder.  LOL   At any rate, when the apocalypse comes  I won't be hungry or bored. 

I am moving slowly into this day. It's beautiful and sunny out there and purportedly getting up to about 85 today. Temps have been strange and in the low 70's for a few weeks now, pleasant enough, but not August and September typical temps for here. But I guess nothing is typical much anymore is it ? 

On a brighter note, today I am going to make and can 2 things I have never done before. That's exciting, isn't it ? lol  One is a French Vanilla coffee creamer, made with no chemical crap in it that will be shelf stable and be there when I need it every now and then (sometimes for comfort, sometimes for company). The other is something called Monkey Butter, which is a kind of banana, pineapple and coconut jam.  Neither are exactly subsistence items, but sometimes life needs a little indulgence.  I canned a dozen plus jars of a beautiful plum jam the other day and I am looking in my pantry and thinking--where am I going to put it ?  The local grocer has  a beef roast on sale too, and I am out of jars of that and was going to maybe do that as well.  Then I started inventorying the other meats in there: chicken breast, corned beef (won't be getting more of that until  March when it goes on sale after St Paddy's), pork loin and whole chicken quarters (bone and all). I haven't quite figured out what to do with those yet.  I would like to try my hand at canning some fish this year, if I can convince the boys to start fishing like it's their job. lol  I need to get in the other (spare) room and get that cleaned up and out-- it has turned into a junk catch-all and I cannot even get into the  closet back there.  The "junk" of course, is stuff like: canning jars, dehydrators, crockpots, water bath canners, small appliances, etc.  I could have a freaking estate sale in that room alone. lol  Stuff finds it's way there because I don't have that much room anywhere else.  My niece offered to come "clear out" things for me and I just looked at her.  There's not much that can really GO, it's all stuff I use. Mostly.  lol   I do feel an "Uncluttering" coming on though....

  So, the Simple Truth is never simple. Clutter is a way of life for me.  World events are frightening.  People can be cruel and hurtful.  People can be kind and good and loving.  I can be hurtful to those I love sometimes without even seeing what I am doing, but I also get to make things right if I so choose.  And that picture at the top ? That is my road.  I get to live here, in about 1500 square ft of space that I try to make comfortable,  keep clean (not so much), utilize efficiently and  be grateful to own.  I have just enough space for gardens and chickens and fruit trees.

And Just For Today, I shall try to make the world better instead of adding to the pain and turmoil.  If I can manage that, I'll be happy. If I can't...I'll still be happy. And try again tomorrow.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Is it the end of the world as we know it ?



   Not to be all gloom and doom here , but... how about this ??  



Aye, and the world's a scary place lately. 

Safe and secure here in the middle of the country, until the tornadoes start spinning off from the hurricanes, I guess.  The media frenzy is hellacious.  The highways heading north OUT of Florida are jammed with freaked out people running for their lives.  I have friends in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands who are battening down their hatches, boarding up their windows an praying that they can survive this.  Texans are still wet and whimpering, but I read that their Republican lawmakers have said they will not accept any aid from Canada (?).  Hurricane Irma (on the heels of Hurricane Harvey) is heading up to the East Coast.  Wildfires across the upper west are threatening lives and homes and animals.  Not to mention the respiratory problems that go with all that ash in the air. Allergen counts are at an all time high. The Mayor of Chicago has declared his city a Trump-Free Zone and publicly stated that Dreamers and DACA are welcome there. (Gotta love Rahm Emanuel.)  Instead of hating us the way they used to, much of the world feels so sorry for America in light of the Donald and his presidency. Everything is  surreal in this world today. 

  And still life goes on. Birthdays, funerals, moving days, weddings.

I have been busy canning the past 2 weeks. 2 bushel of green beans. Some okra and other assorted and sundry vegetables have made their way into my pantry and freezer. I have some jalapenos that need to be canned into Cowboy Candy before they get yucky. Some more out there on the vine, but whether they will ripen or not is anybody';s guess. It's been unseasonably cool. Time to dig up and have a look at the potatoes out there, but we haven't yet. The plants are all died off though.  I have some secretary business to take care of and have been dragging my feet, so now I am under the gun. And I have absolutely NO motivation to get busy and do anything.  I just want to go take a nap. lol

A friend gave me some kind of a weird butternut type squash the other day. It weighed 10.5 pounds. It was light skinned and in a horseshoe shape. I made a lovely soup with about half of it yesterday evening. The flesh is not a beautiful orange like the butternut, but more of a yellowish color.  I wish I had thought to take a photo of the squash itself before I cut it all up, but I didn't.  Here's the soup itself though (I had some for breakfast too). lol


 With banana bread from the weekend. 


Not sure what's for supper tonight, guess I'll peruse the pantry and freezer and come up with something. Last night was a salad with grilled chicken and squash soup. So...something a little more hearty for himself I guess might be on the docket.  Ribs maybe. 

We upped my blood pressure meds a little and it makes me tired--more than usual and generally right after I take them. So I lay down and take a nap. Because I can.  Don't see myself getting anything done when I feel like this, so here I go...a good hour nap or so should fix me right up. Then I'll be rarin' to go.  Right ?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Last Day of August



   One last 15 hour stretch to get all things August over and  done with.  lol   I am feeling pretty good considering I got maybe 4 hours sleep last night.  Having neck and shoulder issues. Got up at Zero Dark Thirty and put on the inflatable cervical traction collar for a while and that helped.  Having this shoulder pain pretty regularly lately.  Not liking it at all. Don't know if it's the way I am sleeping or what. Hoping it's not old lady shoulder stuff-- I've seen several of my friends have to have surgery for that sort of thing. lol

  I have been busy canning the past week or so...green beans, pickled okra, Dilly beans. Going to start some of the lacto fermented pickles later today. Will also do some pints of sweet relish if I have enough or can find any cucumbers. Canned 21 quarts of green beans with 5 pints of "soup" beans. The beans not in their prime (or that have gotten too big)  that will do well cooked to death in soup. lol  I need to take a walk out back in the pitiful garden and take a look at the jalapenos. Hope I can get enough to make a few batches of Cowboy Candy. Not sure if I am doing salsa this year, but need to inventory that.  Also need to hit the market and pick up more dill, pickling spices and eggs.



  Texas. Oh my... Mother Nature can be brutal from time to time.  Terrible pictures on the news, animal and people rescues abound. More than a trillion gallons of water has fallen in Harris County alone, CNN said.   They have broken the previous record set in 1978 with Amelia, with 51+ inches of rainfall. That's a lot of water, folks. And it's still raining.  Keep the people of Texas in your prayers...this is devastating. Around the world, Bangladesh-India-and Nepal are suffering the worst monsoon flooding in years, with over 1200 dead so far. Millions are stranded and the flooding has wiped out farming areas, so there will be serious repercussions later in the year from that as well.  Makes me remember one of  my first encounters with a national disaster that broke my heart...when over a million people starved to death in Biafra in 1969.  It was a  disaster and political tragedy that led to one of the worst famines the world has seen.  It still makes me cry...



  I have a couple of errands to run this morning, one of which is going to a friends house and picking up more canning jars. Her friend was getting rid of them and she said--Hey! I know someone who could use those!  And there you are.  Nothing better than free canning jars. I love having extra jars to share... the Irishman thinks I'm insane. But generally keeps his mouth shut about it. lol  And I have wonderful friends who bless me with jars and hook me up with people selling jars for a good deal. A REALLY good deal.  lol  This evening I am a speaker at an Alanon meeting. Every 5th Thursday this group has a speaker meeting with an AA and an Alanon (friends and family of alcoholics) speaker. It will be a short talk, the meeting is only an hour long.  And refreshments to follow.  They asked me over a month ago and if it wasn't written on my calendar I might have forgotten, even though a woman I don't know called to remind me. lol 

  So...I will make a batch of one of my favorite soups for supper for tonight-- Posole.  It's a pork and hominy stew with green chiles and rich broth... I use my home canned pork loin in it. I forgot to remind the Irishman that it was tonight, so I will be gone before he gets home. But the soup will be ready, with some warm tortillas for sopping up all that rich gravy. The weather is weird. Might hit 80 today, ( only 66 right now at 10) but tomorrow's high is forecast to be about 73.  And here it is Labor Day weekend, so that means the Irishman will have 4 days off in a row again.  He might take a day away by himself and go camping somewhere. It would be good for him, though this is the last big hurrah for the season, and he may have a hard time finding somewhere to lay his weary head. lol  I will just stay home and lay low, tend my critters, can another 25 quarts or so of green beans and dream of slow quiet winter days that feel isolated and endless. After my errands I will come directly home and a small nap I think. 

  I am reading a 20 year old David Baldacci book. It seems to be going slow, compared to his other books I have consumed lately. I have read him completely out of order, all willy-nilly. The last 2 I read were his very newest.  I have a bag of his stuff, borrowed from my great pal Mz.Milly, and they are all older ones. I am reading these in order. It will be fun to watch his style develop and see him grow as a writer I think.  I am over the moon for this guy... he's one of the most prolific writers I know.

  OK-- so here I go, off into my day. Hope everyone stays dry, eats well and loves unconditionally.  That's about as good as it gets....



 


 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday Night Ramblings



  This is my road. I realized tonight that I have lived in this house longer than I have lived anywhere since I was a kid. 13 years.  I had another startling epiphany driving home this evening when I passed the turnoff to the town I lived in as a kid, and realized that it was 50 years ago. Whoa...  I guess I have arrived at that surreal time of life where time changes and life marches and old people start turning out to be you.   


   I went to a big picnic today that we hold every year in my AA district. It's a lot of fun and you get to see people you don't see all the time (when you live out in the boonies like I do). There were between 100-150 people there I think.  The district provides the meat and drinks (we bbq) and everyone brings a dish. They said we went through 190 pounds of meat. Crazy. Anyway, there were lots of young women there that I love and it was a good time. I was looking at a couple of the pictures from today that people took and I think--bloody hell--that's ME. These youngsters are constantly taking pictures of themselves and I DESPISE having my picture taken, so you can imagine. lol But I am struck by how old I look next to them. It isn't that I don't KNOW I'm old.... it's just... I don't know. Inside I'm still that 24 year old, ready to conquer the world. But apparently I am mistaken, and I am forced to deal with it when I see things like this:


  That's me in the red Hawaiian shirt. You know, the old one.  sigh...  I remind myself that getting old still beats the alternative, but some days reality likes to rear up and smack you in the face, shattering all your illusions.  lol  If I lost 60 pounds and dyed my grey hair...I'd still be schlepping towards 65 . All the Miss Clairol in the world ain't gonna change that. 

  So, the world-- Texas has been hit hard by Hurricane Harvey.  Looks pretty scary down there. Florida is getting lots and lots of residual rain-- a tropical storm I think ?  I have friends and family in both places.  The amount of water falling out of the sky is staggering.  And during the normally hottest part of our year, we have been having fall-like temperatures. Last year at this picnic, we were nearly dying from heat stroke.  Today's high was 78.  People are wondering if they should plant fall gardens and I honestly don't know.  I have a feeling that it is suddenly going to be winter and snowing and nobody will be prepared for that. Well, except me. lol  I have lots of pickled okra (25 pints last night) a bushel of green beans ready to be canned tomorrow. All the peach and strawberry jam I can eat. And maybe a few other things.  I have canned lots of meats this year...chicken on the bone (leg and thigh quarters), chicken breasts, pork loin, corned beef, roast beef.  I have canned beans (pintos, great northerns, chickpeas, kidneys and small red beans).  I have stocked up on canned tuna and peanut butters and assorted and sundry pantry items. I am debating on whether I want to buy a few cases of tomatoes and can them, or just save myself the time and trouble (and probably a little money too) and hit the Aldi's sale and buy canned diced tomatoes.  I already keep tomato paste stocked, because I just cannot see doing that myself when I can get perfectly good paste for about 59 cents a can (or less sometimes), and it takes a LOT of tomatoes to make tomato paste. Not to mention the time. Like a few other things, I did it once and decided it was not an efficient use of my time or resources.  I probably need to inventory my dry stocks--flour, sugar, oats, rices, etc and make sure I have that stuff all stocked. If we have a particularly bad winter I want to be ready. On all levels.

   I have been craving fermented foods lately.  Eating lots of kraut, drinking my home made Kombucha. Eating pickled things.  Going to use my sister-in-law's mom's kitchen counter pickles recipes to make some old fashioned ice box pickles. They ferment to the point of sour that you like, and then into the fridge. They are a lacto-fermented pickle. Thinking I'll do a few jars of giardiniera-- pickled mixed vegetables too. No beets ready yet, and I'm not sure what I have in the pantry from last year.  Oh well, plenty of time for that...


  Well, it's the wee hours and I really should go crawl in the big sleigh bed and get some sleep.  The monster puppy is asleep in her kennel. When we got home from the picnic, she had destroyed the side of a square cube of a storage ottoman, ripped the whole side out of it, pulled things (fish supplies mostly, for our aquarium) out and tore them up all over the house.  Later she got ahold of a New Yorker magazine and started tearing it up before I caught her. Tonight she wouldn't do anything she was told, and sat whining outside the closed bedroom door where the Irishman is sleeping. (She NEVER does this). Finally in desperation, I moved her kennel back here into the office and put her inside. She's been sound asleep now for 2 hours. She's the most hyper dog I have ever owned and is driving me crazy. Will not potty train. Will not stop destroying things. ARRggghhhh....but she's adorable...when she's asleep.



    Sweet dreams....

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.  https://www.facebook.com/NowThisPolitics/videos/1664333856931431/  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 Thursday...in 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....lol  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 Monday...you 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 now...to 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 aspirin...as 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".)