I was a canning whirlwind today. I started out doing 5 quarts of green beans, then the girls and I went on to the bushel of peaches sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. The three of us got an assembly line going (or as Angel #2 referred to it 'a sweatshop') and got the peeled, pitted and turned into pie filling and jam. At the end of the day we ended up with 7 quarts of pie filling, 15 pints of peach jam and 3 additional quarts of plain peaches. I love hearing the 'ping' of jars sealing. Such a feeling of accomplishment. I don't have a few key pieces of canning equipment and couldn't find them at our local store, so instead of a canning funnel I had to cut off the bottom of a plastic McDonalds iced coffee cup and use that. It didn't work nearly as well as an actual funnel would, but beggars can't be choosers. I also found out that I only have 3 wide-mouthed jar rings, so I had to use regular jars, which made the whole funneling thing an even bigger challenge.
Friday, July 29, 2011
I think we've finally hit the end of the pet parade. WE came home last night with a year old black lab mix named Diesel. Diesel is a pretty good dog, but it'll take a little while for him to learn the rules at our house, like no going on the furniture, no licking and no begging - apparently those things were all allowed at his last house. He's slowing figuring it out, he's already learned to stay out of Angel #2's bedroom - his presence there causes all sorts of ruckus since she's got 2 birds in there, along with a very freaked out kitten.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Angel #2 got a kitten a few weeks ago. I think it was the runt of the litter, it's really tiny. Then her boyfriend brought a cat over, a 7 month old that really dwarfs the little one, but doesn't stop the little guy from trying to attack. Angel #4 took over ownership of Muse, the big cat. But now, Pepper, the little guy, is no longer the little guy. Angel #2 got a call from the vets office where she helps out, someone had a tiny kitten abandoned by its mother, did #2 want to bottle feed a 2 week old kitten? What a silly question. So now we've got this tiny little thing mewing and bottles and formula lying around. WE is still on the lookout for the perfect dog.
In other exciting news, hubs got my oven working correctly finally. It had been sooting everything up and making a real mess of my pans and my kitchen in general. After working on it and being completely stumped, he went against all his good manly judgement and read the instructions printed on a big metal tag attached to the inside of the cooktop. After following the instructions, things are now soot-free and cooking nicely, though hubs IS in danger of being kicked out of the he-man club for stooping so low as to read instructions.
My garden is starting to produce something other than weeds finally. Saturday I canned up 7 quarts of green beans. I should have some yellow summer squash and some zuchinni within a week as well. Yay for fresh veggies! I also painted the entryway by the back door on Saturday. We bought the paint for the kitchen & dining room a couple days ago, but I don't really have time to do it right now, but I really wanted to get something on the wall. Since the entryway is going to be the same color as the kitchen, I figured I'l slap a coat on those walls so I felt like I accomplished something. It's a gorgeous turquoise color and really pops out with the white trim. Now I'm really antsy to get the rest painted. Oh, to find the time.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Hubs and I went to Lowes yesterday. One thing we've noticed since the economy is taking a nosedive and people are losing their jobs left and right, is that in many places, especially those mega building supply stores like Lowes and Home Depot, employees are trying desperately to be invaluable. This was especially evident in Hawaii, when, at the height of the building boom there, store employees acted more like you were an interruption than a paying customer. But now, things have changed, they're falling over themselves trying to help you so they don't get discovered standing around, doing nothing, and getting downsized. Hubs and I were standing in the middle of an aisle, discussing something non-hardware related, at Lowes yesterday, when an employees asked if he could help us find something. I told him no and we moved on, but hubby started complaining to me about being constantly pestered by sales clerks. He goes to these stores all the time for work, and is sick of having his shopping constantly interrupted, especially since you can never find any of these people when you actually need help. As we were escaping the first employees, a 2nd one was right behind us, talking on the phone with a customer. In an effort to dodge her, we went down a different aisle, only to have her follow us, still yakking away. We ended up going outside in the garden department, hubs saying that there shouldn't be any employees out there since they prefer to stay inside in the air conditioning than be in the 95 degree heat. We split up and hubs was a few aisles away when I heard someone ask if he was finding everything okay. I was standing there, all by myself, when I burst out laughing so hard I started to snort. Anyone watching me had to think I was deranged. Which leads me to my next adventure.
Since, as I mentioned before, it was really hot and humid outside, I just wanted to do a quick scan of the reduced plants to see if they had any interesting veggies I could stick out into the garden at this late stage in the game. A lady standing next to me started up a conversation about flowers. She said she just wanted to buy them all because she hated the thought of leaving them there to die. I wanted to remind her that these were begonias at Lowes, not puppies at the animal shelter, but just smiled nicely and said I was looking for vegetables. She said that with only the two of them, she didn't bother planting veggies and I said I was feeding a houseful of teens and needed all the help I could get. Then she said she didn't have any two legged kids, only the four legged kind, and I knew I was in trouble. I said I wasn't much of an animal lover, hoping to deflect what I knew was going to come, but it didn't work. I got to hear all about her 9 cats and 2 dogs, her troubles finding a vet and about the cat that she's had for 11 years that won't let her pick it up. I was polite, but kept wandering away, hoping to get out of the garden department and back inside where it was cool and critter-free, but she kept following me around and chatting away. I know she was lonely and I should have spent more time with her than I did, but I figure that 10 minutes in the sun and heat was about the limit of my good deed for the day. It was hard looking at her when she was talking anyway. She had pure white hair, but no eyebrows, so they were drawn in with brown eyebrow pencil. But they were only about half an inch long, so were only little dashes above her eyes, and they kept moving up and down when she talked. I could not resist looking at her bouncing eyebrows, it was like I was hypnotized. Eventually, I made my excuses and escaped to the coolness and safety of the store. I found hubs and we picked out some linoleum for our new upstairs bathroom and paint for the kitchen and dining room. Now I've just got to find the time and ambition to paint those rooms. As much as I want to get going on it, it may have to wait until winter. I got my first big batch of green beans today and will have to start canning them up within the next couple days. I've got fresh peas to shell and the battle of me vs. potato bug still wages on.
Angel #4 got home safe and sound yesterday. She had some really good flights, so she landed early in Chicago, which helped her catch her final flight home, which also landed 15 minutes early. She met a friendly man on the first leg of the journey and had a pleasant time chatting with him. She said the flight attendant thought they were together until they explained that they were just flight buddies. That's a great thing about my youngest, she makes friends wherever she goes. She worked hard in the garden this morning pulling weeds and squishing bugs, so things are starting to get caught up in the weeding department also. Summer is So busy.
Monday, July 18, 2011
We had another bird-y morning the other day. They were pecking at the screen and dive bombing the window. I went outside to see what was going on and about 30 birds flew off my roof. I don't know what the big attraction is in my shingles, but I wish it would stop. After the mosquitofest we had the night before, I was really wanting my sleep. I bet I killed about 25 of the blood suckers before we finally got enough silence that we could sleep. The mosquitoes are big here too, like B-52 bombers, which is helpful in a way, they make an easier target when you slap your hands together to get them in midair. The day after the great mosquito massacre, hubs fixed the screens on some of the windows. With this being an old house, some of the screens are in pretty bad shape.
Screens aren't much of an issue at the moment, though. It's so hot that we turned on the air conditioning. Hubs got the ductwork and the inside of the furnace all cleaned out first before turning it on, who knows how many years of dust and crude were in there. But, things are working fine now, which is nice. The temps have been in the 90's and it's really humid. No one likes this kind of weather but corn and Jeanie C. Fortunately, with our house being perched on a hill, we usually get somewhat of a breeze, which helps a little, even though our breeze feels like someone opened a hot, wet oven.
Angel #4 comes home from her Virginia trip tomorrow afternoon. She's a little nervous about flying by herself, mainly it's the plane change in Chicago that's making her nervous. We've given her instructions on what to do, and even if she misses her connection, another flight leaves for the same airport an hour and a half later, so she'll get home eventually. Then, we'll have to deprogram her after all the spoiling I'm sure she got while she was out there. It's nothing an hour or two out weeding in the garden won't take care of.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I woke up this morning at 6am to the scritchy-scratching of little feet over my head. I lay there, eyes wide open, wondering if we had rats or mice in our attic, then wondering how they could make scritchy-scratchy noises while walking on the insulation in the attic. I heard banging on something metal on the outside of the house and deduced with a sigh of relief that there must be birds doing some kind of tango on my roof. I crawled across the bed to look out the window and suddenly, a bird landed right on the window sill about 2 feet from my face, then just sat there looking at me. I was thinking "what the heck???" when I heard WE voice verbalize my exact thought from his bedroom. I asked him what was going on, and apparently he had a bird on his windowsill trying to get into his room. I looked back at MY bird, who decided to fly away. He wasn't gone for long though, a few minutes later, he came back with a friend, they each took a window and started pecking at them. Especially weird since they weren't even woodpeckers. WE said his bird was now next door at Angel #4's bedroom window, pecking at that. It was like an audition for an Alfred Hitchcock movie or something.
Finally, all the psychotic little tweeters left to find somebody else's window to peck at. After lying in bed for a little while, I realized I wasn't going to get back to sleep and got out of bed. It was then that I realized that my marathon weeding session on Monday had come back to haunt me. My neck was so sore that I could barely move my head to the right and the joints in my right hand felt the same way those red glowing hands did in those arthritis commercials Patricia Neal did back when I was a little kid. I put stinky muscle relaxer stuff on my neck and hand, but I'm still pretty sore. A hot shower didn't do much either. I think I'm going to lay in bed with a heating pad tonight and hope for the best tomorrow. This must be what getting old is like. It sucks.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
After my marathon gardening session yesterday, I took a little break today. I headed into town to restock my library books and do a little grocery shopping. I also had to take back the loaner cell phone booster that didn't work, so I still have very unreliable cell phone service. We may have to go retro and get a land line. I did a couple loads of laundry and made a pasta salad for supper, since it's been too warm to want to do much cooking, though today was nice and only got to about 80. Last week, I noticed some asparagus plants randomly growing in the yard by the garden. I assume that that was where the long ago asparagus patch was back in the day. Since I planted a new patch in the complete opposite side of the yard this spring, I figured I'd try to dig up the old plants and put them in with the new ones. Hopefully, they'll take, because you can never have too much asparagus, in my opinion. I know that it likes rich soil, so I mixed in some really old pigeon poo before planting. I don't care what anybody says, you can call it fertilizer as much as you want, but at the end of the day, it's still pigeon poop. I got this stuff from our little silo room, and it's probably decades old, since it's about 4 inches thick on the floor. I can just imagine how many feet are in the bottom of the silo where the birds actually roost.
After spending quality time shoveling poo, I headed back into the house. I've been without an oven now since we moved in, and frankly, I'm going into oven withdrawals. I commonly make a batch of cookies impulsively, simply because I've got the munchies. I haven't been able to do this without an oven and it's really starting to drive me nuts. Today, just to feed my cravings, I made a batch of chainsaw bars, at least, that's what my mom always called them, she said they were so chewy you needed a chainsaw to cut them. I've never made them before and when I looked them up on allrecipes.com, I couldn't find them under that name, so I entered the ingredients. Apparently, the rest of the world calls them Scotcheroos. They'll always be Chainsaw Bars to me.
Angel #4 posted a status on her Facebook today. She headed into Washington DC and went to a museum. She said it was "like a nightmare, just room after room of stuff." That is no spawn of mine. I love museums. She didn't know what museum she was at, but if it was the Smithsonian and she's complaining about it having too much stuff, I just may have to disown her. Spending an entire week at the Smithsonian has always been a dream of mine.
Monday, July 11, 2011
We had a big storm last night, lots of wind and rain. The rain was perfect for watering the garden and softening the dirt for easy weeding. I've been working my way through weeding the garden all week, but the going was hard since the ground was dry and solid. Well, not today, things just pulled right out. I went out about 9am and started pulling. I needed to make a run into town in the late morning, so I was planning on stopping around 11. Then the people started coming. First, the Jehovah Witnesses stopped by, they came out and talked to me by the garden since I was weeding so industriously that I didn't notice they'd driven in. Shortly after they left, the internet guy came (early). He was the reason I needed to go to town, since he was going to put an antennae on the house so we could be new internet since our old stuff doesn't work real well. Turns out that we're so far out in the boonies that HIS internet service doesn't come here at all, so we're stuck with the old stuff, but then I didn't need to go to town because there was no reason to pay him since he didn't do anything. The internet guy was still here loading up, I went back into the garden and then someone else drove in. He was selling books we don't need, so I sent him on his way without listening to his spiel since I really wanted to get back to the garden. This house was quiet and abandoned for over a year and in one day, everyone and their uncle shows up. I guess we just attract people.
I came inside for a little while and ate some lunch, but just couldn't stay away from the garden. The ground was rapidly drying out and I knew my time of easy weed pulling was limited, so back out I went. I finally came in for good around 5:30-6:00, very sweaty, dirty and really sunburned. Since my skin is immune to the sun most of the time, I very seldom use sunscreen. Today, by the time I realized that I had a sick weeding addiction, it was too late to put some on. The thought of smearing greasy cream on my sweaty, dirty body just didn't appeal to me. So, I've got red thighs and a red right arm. No biggie though, the way my skin works is that the burn will fade within 2 days and my skin will be lily white again. It's a gift.
After a day of frenzied weeding, I've got all 6 rows of potatoes nicely cleaned out. I discovered some plants had potato bugs on them, so WE and I squished lots of bugs and had orange bug goo all over our hands. I hate potato bugs.
Jeanie, your comment about nuns being regular people made me laugh. I think the thing that first attracted me to my nun cousin when I was a little girl was the fact that not only was she an active participant in the annual family reunion water fight, but many times, she initiated it. It's been years, but I've still got the vision of Sister GeorgeEllen, in full-out nun regalia, pelting my cousin Joe with a water balloon.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Just got back from the neighbor's house. Every year he holds a huge party after July 4th and this year, we were invited, along with literally hundreds of other people. It's all the beer/soda you can drink, along with a booyah feed followed by fireworks. Neighbor guy told hubs he spent $10,000 on fireworks this year, and I believe it. They topped just about anything I've seen municipalities put on. Neighbor guy has a big private lake, about 17 acres, surrounded by beautiful manicured lawns, a huge shed full of man toys and the cabin, which would make a really nice house for somebody. No, he doesn't live there, he's got a big house about 40 miles away. Some guys use their basement for a man-cave, Ken has a 200 acre one. So anyway, every year he puts on this party for all his friends, which, fortunately, we've become. They shoot the fireworks out over the lake. It was a little awkward, since the only person I knew out of the hundreds that were there, was the host himself, and since hubs and Angel #4 are both out of town, we were missing the family extroverts, so we didn't do a lot of mixing and mingling. At events like this, I usually trail in hubby's wake and let him introduce himself to people and I just sort of hang in the background and smile. I'm not particularly outgoing, but since hubs is, it makes us a perfect couple.
Angel #2 got a kitten today, so our animal population has grown to 16 chickens, 2 cockatiels, and a kitten. WE wants to get a dog yet, and Angel #4 has plans to get a cat of her own when she gets back from Virginia. We're also going to have to get a couple of cats for the barn to keep the rodent population down. I think our zoo is going to keep getting bigger and bigger.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
"I'm sorry I'm late getting to the convent, but I couldn't find the tattoo parlor."
Just the fact that I made that statement today means that my life is filled with 36 flavors of awesomeness. Aren't you jealous? You should be. Not many people can use the words 'convent' and 'tattoo parlor' in the same sentence in general conversation. My mom's cousin is a nun and has been now for almost 50 years. When I was little, I idolized her and wanted to be a nun, just like she was. Of course, the fact that I was a little Lutheran girl as well as the fact that the only Catholic stuff I knew was what my mom taught me from her years in a Catholic elementary school, which consisted of "Hail Mary, full of grace, washed her hands and forgot her face," which I'm pretty sure isn't even doctrine. Anyway, flash forward 35 years, I got over the wanting to be a nun thing, but became reacquainted with Sister GeorgeEllen. Through a bizarre series of events, she moved to Hawaii on the very day that I moved away from the Aloha State, but she's now up in Wisconsin on home visit, staying in a convent only 25 miles from my house. So today we arranged to meet up after so many years. As long as I was heading in that direction, Angel #2 asked that I drop her off at the tattoo parlor, her boyfriend was getting a tattoo and she wanted to be there for moral support. We had a little problem finding the place, and I really question the wisdom of getting permanent body art done at a place called Stinky's Tattoo Parlor, but hey, it's not my back getting inked. Eventually, we found it, but I was late getting to the convent, which necessitated me making the statement above.
I got a full on tour of the convent, I'd never been to one before and have only been to a Catholic church for a handful of weddings and funerals, so it was an interesting experience. The convent itself is almost 200 years old and looks like a big old castle with gorgeous wood carvings inside. I got to see the kitchens, infirmary, library, etc and met both the former and present Mother Superiors. Very interesting. After the convent tour, we went to a public garden right on the shore of Lake Michigan and afterwards, went out to eat. Of course, the obvious place to go to eat with a 70 year old nun is Taco Bell, where we pigged out on burritos and gorditas. During the entire 5 hour visit, we talked constantly and had a wonderful time. We've decided that we're going to get together again next year when she's back on home visit.
In farming news, we had another weird egg today. This one didn't have a shell, the inside egg goo was just floating around inside the membrane. It was all floppy like a water balloon and looked utterly disgusting. It went directly into the compost pile. Life with chickens just leads from one adventure to another.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Summer is finally here and it's gorgeous! Warm and sunny during the day and a nice cool breeze at night. Wisconsin summers make up for the horrible winters. The mosquitoes seem to be enjoying it also. Last night, I was in the kitchen and when things got quiet (which occasionally happens around here) I could hear them all buzzing and whining at the screen. Made me pretty darn grateful for the little bit of mesh between me and the great outdoors.
I dropped hubs off at the airport this morning. He's got to do his part to keep the residents of the state of Hawaii cool and dry. Funny thing though, he wasn't nearly as eager to go this time as he was back in January. Amazing the difference an 80 degree temperature change can make. Before he left, he had a list of things I needed him to do. He busted his butt and got the whole list done, which is pretty awesome since I had no intention of spending the next 10 days of him gone with no stove or washing machine. Not only did he get those much needed appliances hooked up, but he also rehung most of my upper kitchen cabinets which, up til now, had been sitting on the dining room floor. They're now up where they belong and full of food and dishes. I still don't have everything unpacked, but I made a pretty good dent. We moved the kitchen table into the dining room now. It had been in the kitchen, which made sitting at the table kind of a challenge. With this being an old, old house, the floor in the kitchen are a bit sloped. By 'a bit' I mean a LOT. Our kitchen chairs have wheels and we all got a chuckle that first night when WE sat down at the table and the chair rolled to the opposite side of the room. I suggested we just drill a hole in the northeast corner of the room and when it's time to wash the floor, I just hose it down and let all the water run out the hole. I think it would work and would sure cut down on my housekeeping time.
With hubs in Hawaii, Angel #1 in California and Angel #4 in Virginia, my family is a bit spread out at the moment. Angel #2 spent the weekend with her boyfriends family at a reunion, so it's just been WE and me today. He's got his bedroom all done to his specifications, one of the chores on hubs list last night was putting up WE's bedroom door. He's got his computer set up there now and he spent most of the day holed up there. I thought I'd give him the day off since he's been working his butt off this last week. He spent 3 long days helping hubs on a furnace job on a new house a couple hours drive from here, then worked like a trooper helping with the move and all the construction that went with it. I figured the poor kid needed a break. But tomorrow, I'm cracking the whip again and sending him and Angel #2 out to weed the garden. As much as I like doing it, the garden is much too big for me to handle on my own, especially since we don't have a tiller. Before you know it, we're going to start doing some harvesting, then we'll have a whole new brand of work to look forward to. Summer just isn't long enough for all the stuff that needs doing.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Since moving in, Angel #2 and I have been blaming mysterious noises, everything that goes wrong or gets lost on 'the ghost'. We haven't had any evidence of a ghost, but it's much easier to blame an invisible being than to accept the fact that we keep loosing things. Last night, we heard a loud bang upstairs, like something fell over. We went up to see what the noise was and didn't see anything, granted, we didn't look too hard. We figured that with all the junk we have piled up, we wouldn't notice if something fell over anyway, it got blamed on 'the ghost'. Until hubby came home and headed up to our bedroom, then called down for me to grab a broom and garbage can. Turns out the noise we heard couldn't be attributed to kin of Casper after all, but a chunk of our ceiling fell onto our bed. I'm really really glad it chose early evening to fall, since waking up to 50 pounds of plaster falling on me doesn't sound like much fun. I know it wasn't fun cleaning it up off the bed. We're still placing the blame for the lost fingernail clippers onto the ghost though.
Jeanie, you can come on over for chicken any time.
Friday, July 1, 2011
Well, we're out of the old house and into the new. Of course, now the work is just beginning. Since we're in the process of remodeling the new house, there isn't really places to put all our stuff, so it's just sitting around in bags and boxes all over the place with little trails for walking. I feel like I live in one of those houses on the Hoarders show. I've got the living room mostly cleared out so we've got one room that we can relax in, otherwise, things are pretty chaotic. But, it's home, so it's all good. Now that we're onsite, maybe I can manage to spend a little time cleaning up the garden as well, but I'm taking a small break this morning. Yesterday, Angel #2 and I cleaned and scrubbed the old house for 5 hours straight. I like to make a point of making sure that a house is as clean or cleaner when we leave than how it was when we moved in. Some people appreciate that, other landlords still charge a cleaning fee, just to get every stinking penny out of your security deposit that they can. I've dealt with both, most of the time you see a security scammer ahead of time, but I optimistically clean anyway in hopes that I'm wrong. I'm usually not though, which really sucks. I don't foresee any problem with the place we're leaving now though, we've always had a great relationship with the landlords. I just want to make sure they get a clean house back.
In farming news, hubs caught a cannibal chicken red-handed, or yellow beaked, as the case may be. She ate 5 eggs right in front of him. She's since been put in solitary confinement and is sentenced for execution tomorrow. Once an egg eater, always an egg eater, so now we're going to be chicken eaters. It's a tough life out there.