Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Yes, no, maybe so

What's the best use of garden space? I have lots of yard, but the plowed garden is limited. Now that the growing season is ending, it's time to make some decisions for next year. Under the Reaping and Eating categories of the blog, I give you (drumroll):

The only perfect red pepper I was able to grow this year.
I'm saving the seeds from this baby! The flesh was just the right thickness, the flavor was sweet and I managed to pick it before any bugs, worms, slugs or critters got to it. I used it in a stir-fry for dinner last night (along with the homegrown celery to the right of the pepper).

The entire cranberry bean harvest fits in a one-pint jar.
This photo represents a 25-foot row of cranberry bean plants. To be fair, I lost some of the plants to bean rust, but still. I can buy a one-pound bag of dried cranberry beans for $1.39. I think I paid $2.29 for the seeds. I won't be doing this again.

A dried black-eyed pea pod.
I soaked a few (20, maybe) black-eyed peas in a wet paper towel one night, and threw them in a short (10 feet, maybe) row just to see what would happen. This is a very cool-looking plant, and each pod yields several beans, sometimes as many as 10 per pod.

Several pods' worth of dried black-eyed peas.
I have half a bucket of dried pods left to shell, which is a pleasant and mindless task sitting at the picnic table in our pine grove. I probably will plant these again, because I think it's my good fortune to grow my own black-eyed peas for New Years' Day Hoppin' John.

There are, of course, lots of decisions left to make about next year's crops. It's helpful to start the list when you're still working in the garden. Once the snow flies, it's easy to be tempted by those pretty pictures in the catalogs. You know … the cranberry bean ones.

Monday, August 30, 2010

So where was I?

Oh, right, on the couch, hacking my lungs out.

I'm feeling better, but still got a lot of couch time over the weekend. The cough just won't go away. I don't have time to be sick any more, can I just will this thing away?

Remember when I said my dad and his wife would be here in 17 days? Well, knock 10 days off – they've changed their travel plans and will be here sooner rather than later. Which is great for us, the sooner we can see him the better. But I'm not sure I care much for the reason he wants to get back to Florida – he's having some breathing problems and his legs are bothering him a lot. He needs to see his doctor.

Please let the breathing problems have more to do with the difference in climate between Florida and Ohio. Please let his leg problems be something that can be fixed. (There's been talk of replacing his knee replacements, a difficult procedure with a long recovery period, but still – fixable.)

Anyhoo … it's time to make a long to-do list and start systematically checking things off. Things like mowing, tidying up the garden, cleaning the guest room/guest bathroom (not to mention the rest of the house!), figuring out menus for the week they'll be here … I'm amazingly calm about the amount of work that needs to fit into the amount of time available.

I guess I've learned – finally – that it all gets done, eventually. And that no one is going to think less of me if there's a cobweb in the corner.

’Specially my dad. Heh.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Quote Day

There is no pleasure in having nothing to do;
the fun is having lots to do and not doing it.
~ Mary Wilson Little

Wish I'd known about the second part of that quote earlier this week. I had lots to do, but I sure didn't have fun not doing it. I felt the weight of the weeds – and the rotting tomatoes and the slug-attacked cantaloupes and the not-too-late-to-plant greens – as surely as if I'd been carrying a heavy load of compost from the bin to the garden.

Oh. Well.

The first part of the quote I've known all my life. I always feel better when I have something to look forward to. I have a little countdown calendar widget that I can update with the next event; it tells me how many days until, for instance, my Dad comes to visit (17). I could put several of them up on my computer for upcoming events in September. I'm busy every weekend next month.

The more I think about it, the second part of that quote doesn't apply to me at all. If I have lots to do, I'm excited and engaged and, well, busy, which is what I want my life to look like. My husband thinks I do too much. His theory is I got sick because I was doing too much and my immune system was compromised and the first germ I ran into stuck like glue.

The four most important words in the world are "You could be right," and he could be. But I maintain that staying busy is better for me, even when I eventually get knocked down for a few days, because  busy-ness means I don't have time to eat.

I'm Debbi and I just proved I have an eating disorder. Heh.

Hope your weekend is better than my week. I'm not only going to remain vertical today, I'm going to venture out. I need eggs, flour and sugar from the Amish store; fruit from the farmer's market, and milk from Elora. I may have to collapse in a heap when I get home this afternoon.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Second Harvest

When I've gardened in the past, I planted all the seeds at once and that was it. Once I was done planting, I was DONE. But I didn't feel that way this year, and managed to get a second harvest of snow peas. I stir-fried them with mushrooms, rice, sesame oil and soy sauce, and we had grilled chicken sandwiches for a main course. Mmmm!

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where is my lung?

If, in addition to reading the blog, you're one of my Facebook friends, you know I've been sick. It's easier to send a short status report from a two-inch keyboard than it is to create a blog post.

I shall try.

I started coughing Sunday evening and haven't stopped since. Cough syrup helps, but when four hours have passed (the elapsed time between recommended doses), believe me, I know it.

I could have gotten so much done the last couple of days. Apparently I can't learn to slow down and take it easy on my own; I need to cough up a lung in order to take a break.

I'm reading and playing solitaire and knitting and napping. All I need is a cat and I'd qualify as an Old Woman.

Cough, cough.

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Monday, August 23, 2010

In a fog

Cotton candy in the mountains, 8/21/10
This is what the landscape looks like most mornings here in the Middle of Nowhere. I love how the clouds kind of settle in in front of the mountains.

This morning, the fog is as thick as pea soup, how's that for an unimaginative comparison? I can barely make out the woods a hundred yards behind our house.

The fog in my head is equally thick. I've somehow picked up a summer cold, I guess. I've been taking antibiotics for a sinus infection, and they've helped that issue, but I now have a hacking cough and wheezing in my chest and it hurts, people, it hurts! I just hope none of the children who visited us this weekend were infected. I really didn't start coughing until after they left, which means it was incubating while they were here. Grrr.

The children belong to my husband's son and his wife – three two-year-old boys and their five-week-old sister. They have traveling down to a science, I don't know if I'd be brave enough to try it. All went well, the boys are delightful and the baby is adorable.

In case I ever wondered, God had a good plan when he made women my age infertile. I do believe if I had a young child now it would have to raise itself. I'd be passed out on the couch after a couple of hours!

Our evening meal Saturday was nearly all from the garden; the meat and eggs came from nearby sources and everyone ate heartily and appreciatively. They went home with a box of jelly, jam and pickles; a bag of tomatoes and three spaghetti squash. We couldn't fit a cushaw into the car. Imagine that! Four children, two adults and enough gear for a battalion and we couldn't find room for a 20-pound squash. Heh.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Quote Day

Never complain, never explain.
If you don't like the way things are, change them,
and if you're not willing to change them
then don't complain.
~ Henry Ford

Henry sounds like a stern old grandmother, doesn't he? But those stern old grandmothers carried and shared a lot of wisdom, often when you least expected it.

You'd think when you complained to someone (especially your grandmother), you'd get a little sympathy, or at least a little helpful advice, right? None of this "never complain, never explain" nonsense. How unhelpful is that?

The things I've been complaining about lately have an end date, thank goodness, and I'm not really complaining. I've been, um, busy with the produce: picking, canning, freezing, cooking, and otherwise using or storing the fruits and vegetables of my spring and summer labor. I love it! I stopped at the grocery last night and was completely underwhelmed by what I saw; my pantry and freezer look so much better to me than what you can buy at the market.

I did bend a little and picked up a couple bags of tortilla chips. I made and canned some salsa, and we're having company this weekend. Might as well serve it, rather than just look at it sitting on the shelf. Chips are almost never on my grocery list. At least I bought the good kind: Garden of Eatin' Blue and Black Bean varieties.

But I'm looking forward to that end date, the day the garden gets put to bed for the winter. At that point, the garlic will be planted and heavily mulched with straw and the rest of the space will be cleared of the detritus of dried cornstalks and a fairly good crop of purslane. (What does it say about my soil that purslane grows so well in it?)

My friend Elora calls this time of year "garden fatigue," and she's absolutely right. It's not that there's so much physical work to do in the dirt, but there's a lot of work to do taking care of the harvest and, frankly, sometimes you'd just like to run through a drive-thru and get your dinner in a bag. Well, she wouldn't, but I'm tempted!

I'm not even going to try to bring this post around to weight loss or fitness or getting in shape. I've nothing to complain about in that department. I've come to accept the fact that if I stay busy I don't eat as much, and if I don't eat as much I'll s-l-o-o-o-w-l-y drop about a pound a month.

And believe me, I've been busy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Suh-weet!

A quarter of a Sugar Baby. Mmmmm!
How sweet it was!

Watermelon is definitely my favorite fruit, and might just be my favorite food. Or maybe I think it's my favorite because I only eat it in the summer and that first bite of deliciousness is just so-so juicy and sweet and good and …

You're probably saying, "I'll have what she's having" by now, aren't you? Heh.

When I listed what was left in the garden yesterday, I forgot to include the melons, although I wrote about them earlier in that post. I can't seem to stop writing about them.

And then when I went out to the garden yesterday to pull a few okra pods, I found more green and yellow beans. Enough for another meal, at least, and I'm going to cook them Saturday. My husband's son and his family will be here for the night on their way home from the beach. They won't go hungry. I'm going to stuff a cushaw with a ground beef-tomato-onion-bread crumb mixture and bake it, along with a pasta-and-roasted vegetables combo, fresh cottage cheese and the beans. For dessert? Fruit cup, of course, with vanilla custard.

Last year when they were here I had no idea how to babyproof my home for three one-year-olds. They were everywhere, all at once, and managed to find all the things I forgot to do. This year I'll be ready. And they're a year older, so maybe – maybe – they won't need to do so much exploring.

But I'll be ready anyway.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yesterday's haul

The okra (top of photo) was a gift. Everything else came from my garden.
Plus, I picked about 10 pounds of tomatoes day before yesterday. Now to do something with it!

The little Sugar Baby watermelons are delicious, so it's no trouble to share one with the husband for dessert every day. The cantaloupe appear to have gotten crossed with a honeydew: the flesh is green, but soft and sweet. Oh, well. We're eating them anyway.

I'm going to Google "spaghetti squash" to see if it freezes well. I think it should and, in fact, I tested some earlier this year. Guess I should get it out and see what happened to it. They'll keep for a while, but not too long, certainly not long enough to eat them all.

I've been chopping and freezing the red peppers, and will do the same with the remaining celery, which is still in the ground. I pulled the cranberry bean plants yesterday, and will shell them after a couple more days' drying time.

What's left? The edamame and black-eyed peas (dried beans, like the cranberry beans); carving pumpkins, butternuts and cushaw; Japanese eggplant and, of course, more tomatoes! 

I wish you all lived closer. I'd give you a spaghetti squash. Whether you wanted one or not. Heh.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How do you spell relief?

C-e-p-h-a-l-a-s-p-o-r-i-n.

A headache has been following me around for about three weeks, not a lovely companion at all. It's the kind of headache that makes you want to slit your throat – at least if your head were severed it wouldn't hurt any longer.

A combination of factors eventually made me take a second look at this pain. I was feeling stuffy and congested, I had a post-nasal drip and a couple people asked me if I had a cold. Could it be that my headache was really a sinus infection?

Apparently it could. I called the doctor yesterday to ask if he would please-please-please call in an antibiotic prescription without my coming into the office. The PA did so, but ordered a generic cephalasporin (at four times the price) rather than the usual amoxicillin.

Well, I'm here to tell you it was well worth the money.

My husband thought the headache was stress- or tension-related, as it did abate now and then, and was gone almost all day Saturday when we were away from home. I wasn't staring at a to-do list, I wasn't checking things off the to-do-list, and I wasn't adding to the to-do list. I was just watching the world go by in slow motion, with nothing to can, freeze, pickle or preserve. No watering, no weeding. No laundry, cooking, cleaning. We didn't even pick corn!

But it came back, that headache did. After my daughter and granddaughter both asked (over the phone) if I had a cold, I decided to call in the cavalry.

In the weekend mail yesterday was a $70 debit card – a rebate for the BlackBerry we bought in June when we switched cell phone providers. Making the prescription almost free!

I can rationalize anything. Heh.

Seriously, I'm pretty amazed at how quickly I feel so much better. Good thing, too, since I'm making pickles today. And cleaning. And …

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Quote Day

“It takes as much energy to wish
as it does to plan.” 
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Or, as my mother used to say, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."

Or, as we say in AA, "Plan the plans, not the results."

It's a veritable quote-fest here at Chez Knit. Run. Reap. Eat. this morning!

Honestly? I haven't had time to either wish or plan lately. I'm too busy doing. Yesterday someone I hadn't seen in a while said I looked like I'd lost some weight. I told her, honestly, I haven't thought much about weight loss lately, because nearly every minute of my waking hours is scheduled – planned for me mostly by Mother Nature and my own reluctance to let perfectly good food go to the compost bin.

Last year's garden was half the size of this year's, and we experienced a terrible tomato blight. My total food preservation last summer consisted of a few bags of frozen jalapenos and edamame. We ate what was there, but there just wasn't as much as there is this year.

Planning pays off, especially if you follow through and actually do what you plan to do. That's the beauty of blogging for those of us trying to get healthy, slim down, eat better, etc. We can jot down our plans right here, right now. We can go back and examine them later, to see why they worked, or didn't. We can make new plans, abandon the old. No one is judging or scolding or berating – unless they're doing it in Chinese, and those comments get deleted immediately anyway.

My husband and I going on a little getaway this weekend, where our hosts said we'd most likely be harvesting produce. A busman's holiday for me! And maybe Gardening 101 for my husband.

At least that's the plan.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Puh-lease!

Headline from my hometown newspaper:

Are you freaking kidding me? Is it so bad out there that counterfeiters are reduced to passing fake ones and fives?

I'm sorry, but that's a hell of a way to make a living. And how embarrassing is it going to be for this guy in prison, when he admits he forged small bills instead of the customary $20s-and-up?

I'll stop. You're right. This has nothing to do with knitting, running, reaping or eating.

Knitting:
Still working on my little cabled bowls. Two are done. I need to make some tags for them and take them to my neighbor's shop; she's very excited to add them to her inventory.

Running:
See the first sentence in the second paragraph, above. It's been so damned hot and humid here that running for an overweight, out-of-shape woman is, well, a distant dream. The combination of cooler temperatures and less produce to preserve should mean I can at least begin a walking program again in a couple of weeks.

Reaping:
About all that's left to harvest are tomatoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon and winter squash. And a row of late snow peas which have just started to flower. I have to shell the dried cranberry beans, edamame and black-eyed peas. The melons are still ripening, which gives us much to look forward to!

Eating:
Dinner last night was my go-to dish when I'm busy, penne with pesto sauce, chicken and whatever vegetables I have that need to be eaten. (Eggplant, zucchini, onions, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms. Mmmm.)

I did end up making a to-do list yesterday and checked off more than half the items. Eight down, five to go. Except that I've added a couple more things to the list. I guess that's the nature of to-do lists.

Or busy people.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Finally, a sit-down day

I have a handful of graphic design projects to work on today. The apple jelly and tomato sauce will have to wait until tomorrow. The ice cream and mozzarella can't wait, because fresh milk has a shelf life and we're getting to the end of it.

My husband and I are visiting friends in Virginia this weekend. They garden, too, so I'm not sure that taking them pickles and jelly would be a good idea. Bread and jelly might be a better combo.

Time is at a premium, though, as I'm also (tomorrow) participating in a health fair at the prison where I volunteer.

A to-do list would be a very good thing right about now. Heh.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'd mark this offensive, if I could

Facebook offers "recommendations" – either people you might know or pages you might like to "like." Sometimes when you click the little "x" to get rid of it, you get the opportunity to state why you don't want it cluttering up your page any more. Since most of the ones I banish are for right-leaning conservatives, I mark them 'offensive.'

The Weather Channel's farm forecast comes to me as an e-mail every morning; I'm not a Facebook fan of TWC. I will probably lose this alert, as it's very similar to the regular daily forecast I also receive. With the farm forecast, you get an idea of soil moisture. You also get an ad:


I'm not a farmer, I don't even pretend to be. But it's offensive to me that Monsanto sponsors the farm forecast. Monsanto and its genetically engineered seed are responsible for the demise of hundreds of family farms. Planting GE soybeans is raping the soil in the great heartland of this country. Seeds have to be purchased new every year (no seed-saving allowed), adding more profit to this giant corporation, whose mission is to control what we eat and how we eat it.

I'm a gardener, and we need more gardens. My soybeans are organic, delicious and full of healthful nutrients. The row is cluttered with weeds (there are no weeds in an industrial field of soybeans, because the plants are Roundup*-resistant). I've made peace with the weeds, mostly because the remaining seed pods are drying, to provide seed for next year's garden. Also because it's garden fatigue time. You can fight those weeds for just so long. Once the rains stop coming and the crabgrass takes over, it's a losing battle.

I'm sure farmers thought all of this was a great idea when Monsanto started it. I think many are changing their minds but, like commercial chicken farmers, are now beholden to The Mon. (Please watch Food, Inc. for more analysis of this issue. I'm not doing it justice at all!)

*Roundup also is made by Monsanto. They sell you the weed-killer as well as the weed-killer-resistant seed. A win-win for them, but a loss for anyone who wants to farm outside the lines.

Monday, August 9, 2010

8/9/10

If I hadn't had to pay bills, I'd never have realized it was such a cool date.


Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Also? My dog can sing.



Feel free to share with all your friends. I'd love for Hershey's YouTube debut to go all viral. Maybe we'll end up on "America's Got Talent!" Heh.

Foreplay

Have you seen or heard of that book called "Porn for Women?" (I think that's what it's called, but I don't want to Google to make sure. You understand.) It's a book of pictures of guys doing things like cleaning the toilet, or ironing, or taking out the trash, or tending to the children. Well here's my contribution:

My husband, bless his heart, helping me shell five pounds of edamame.
9:06 a.m.
1:45 p.m.
Dinner!
You can't see our dinner very well, but here's what we had. In the foreground, a roasted chicken from our Amish neighbors. (Imagine our surprise Friday evening when an Amish brother and sister drove their buggy up our driveway to give us a freshly dressed chicken!) Behind the chicken, on the left, homemade sourdough bread, then "succotash" made with fresh corn and edamame from our garden, and on the right tabbouleh made with wheat from my friend Elora. The rest of the ingredients came from our garden. There are garlic dills and bread-and-butter pickles on the table, as well.

I worked really hard this weekend, doing lots of food stuff. This reaping and eating isn't for sissies! Heh. And you? How did you spend your weekend?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Quote Day

There is no more lovely, friendly
and charming relationship, communion
or company than a good marriage.
~ Martin Luther

What's that quote have to do with the price of tea in China? (That was one of my mother's favorite sayings. Ack! I'm turning into my mother!)

Well, yesterday was my husband's and my fourth anniversary, and most of the time I feel our marriage is a darned good one. I get a little distracted and busy sometimes, which makes him feel left out. He gets a little demanding sometimes, which makes me feel burdened (because I'm already so busy!). But all in all, we've had a good time together and feel that we're a good match.

We lived together for nine years before we plunged into matrimony. Second time for him, fourth for me – you can imagine my reluctance!

I've posted a quote on my refrigerator that says:

Often the difference between a successful marriage 
and a mediocre one consists of 
leaving about three or four things a day unsaid.
~Harlan Miller

I find myself biting my tongue at least a couple times a day, and it does help. Sometimes ya gotta pick your battles. I'm not sure if my husband has read the quote or not. Heh.

So what did we do on our anniversary? 
  • He removed the hardware from an old dresser.
  • We painted it together. (Teamwork! I felt like a Wonder Pet!)
  • I pulled weeds in the garden.
  • I picked a wheelbarrow full of produce.
  • I froze some corn.
  • I made ice cream.
  • We watched it rain. Again.
  • We ate leftovers for dinner. (This is delicious!)
  • We went to a reception at our newly remodeled library.
  • We put the hardware back on the dresser and moved it into his office.
  • We ate ice cream.
Nothing special at all. And yet, it was a very special day. No cards, no flowers, no fancy dinners. A little community involvement and a lot accomplished.


Lovely.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thunder!

Thunder all through the night
Promise 2 see Jesus in the morning light
Take my hand, it'll be alright
Come on, save your soul 2night 

Don't you just love Prince? (Why yes, as a matter of fact, I do. Heh.)

Wow. Two pop culture references right off the bat. Y'all are going to think I'm slammin' (that means "hip" or "cool" according to this list at Pop Culture Madness).

It was a dark and stormy night. My husband (the list doesn't have a word for that, can you imagine?) and I were playing Scrabble after dinner, since the satellite reception was, um, challenging. The wind was whipping, the rain was coming down in sheets and the sky was eerily orange before the sun set, all the better to see the huge flashes of lightning which accompanied the crashes of thunder.

In a word, it was sweet.

I'm one of those weirdos who love thunderstorms. The majesty and power overwhelm me, and as long as I feel safe, I get a thrill out of the experience.

So we're watching this thunderstorm perform its magic outside while we're safe inside making up words (so yesterday), when this HUGE crack of lightning and/or thunder split the air. We both jumped and got up to look outside, expecting to at least see a fallen tree and possibly see the garage on fire.

Talk about power!

Amazingly, no harm was done, the power stayed on and we even got a quarter of an inch of rain out of the storm, which the garden badly needed.

The husband beat me at Scrabble (props to him, I usually win), and the weather event headed east, leaving a couple of toppled plants and half the birch tree leaves pasted to the driveway.

And that, my peeps, is what we call excitement out here in the Middle of Nowhere.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ta daaaa!

Before (left) and after of my new little bowl/basket.

I used some generic natural wool, size 6 needles for the bottom and size 8 for the main part of the bowl. It didn't felt as much as I thought it would (could be the white wool or it could be that I should have used larger needles), so I'll be trying again.

Any number of cool stitch patterns would work. I haven't found too many textured handknit bowls/baskets, either completed or patterns. Saw one with bobbles, and then there's the Nantasket Basket, which I love, but which isn't really textured.

Thanks, GS, for the encouragement to try Etsy. I'll open a shop as soon as I get a little inventory built up. Looks like an easy-peasy way to sell handcrafted work.

Hope your Tuesday is a good one. No jury duty for me (I was notified early this summer that I was part of the petit jury pool). This is the second consecutive week that jurors have been excused. Looks like I'll be calling the courthouse every Monday to find out what I'm doing Tuesday until the case is finally settled. Or goes to trial.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Friday Quote Day on Monday

A human being has a natural desire
to have more of a good thing than he needs.
~ Mark Twain

Ain't that the truth?

I hope you ended your weekend feeling as though you'd had more of a good thing than you need; I sure did! I'm still tired from all the fun we had, which included a parade, a picnic, kite-flying and lots o' family time.

Amazingly, I've lost another half a pound, bringing the grand total for the year to … drumroll, please …

8.5!

I know, not a big deal, laughable, really, but my husband can testify to the consistency of my calorie deficit. I'll take every half-pound loss I can get. I'm not suffering or starving, mind you, but I'm also not overindulging. Or even indulging on a regular basis. (I guess if you indulged on a regular basis, it wouldn't be indulging, would it?)

The thing about this long, slow loss pattern is that while I might bounce up or down a pound or two, I've managed to continue losing – and maintaining the loss – for seven months. I should be at goal about the time I qualify for Social Security. Heh.

I have just two more rounds on my knitting project, then the felting/fulling/whatever you prefer calling it, then I'll post the before-and-after photos. It took just a couple nights to knit. I have another one in mind and then I think I'll knit half a dozen and put them in the shop where I sell my felted tote bags. Or maybe I'll even open an etsy shop.

'Cause you can't get too much of a good thing.