Sunday, March 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, No. 1!

The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits - Hervey Allen

Probably the happiest period in life most frequently is in middle age, when the eager passions of youth are cooled, and the infirmities of age not yet begun; as we see that the shadows, which are at morning and evening so large, almost entirely disappear at midday. - Thomas Arnold

After 30, a body has a mind of its own.- Bette Midler.

Everything I know I learned after I was thirty.- Georges Clemenceau

Time and Tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a woman of thirty.- Robert Frost

You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely.

Lookin' good, girl! - your mom.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Food Flight, food wrap, extermination, Em's famous catfish, gardening, etc.

Several years ago, No. 1 drove off to California with some friends. I made sandwiches for them to take in a cooler (which they left in California) and thought hard-boiled eggs might also be good for the drive. I started the eggs to boil, got busy with something else (as I'm wont to do) and eventually went to bed for the night. Em was working out-of-town on contract somewhere during this period in our lives.

I was awakened by what sounded like missiles zipping through the air and got up to determine the source of the noise. The water had burned off the eggs and they'd launched, flying all over the kitchen. Might have been 2 or 3 years later when we'd hired two guys to wash all the walls that I found myself saying, "Pay special attention to the egg on the ceiling over there, please."

Fast forward to last night. The garage freezer was pretty empty and needing a defrost, so I did that last week in order to take advantage of the seasonal sales being advertised. Yesterday's "haul" took many hours of separating and wrapping, so I might have been a little tired when I made dinner of garlic chicken, slightly breaded asparagus spears and sweet potato casserole for the convection oven. Tired or not, I set it to bake a few more minutes than necessary and the pecans atop the casserole turned black, as did a few asparagus spears. Using oven mitts (as is my SOP), I put the glass casserole dish and the much lighter racked chicken/asparagus pan on a cooling rack which I carried from the counter to the island for serving. The counter was only TWO steps from the island, but during those two steps the glass casserole dish launched, hitting the floor 8 feet away (I just measured), throwing sweet potato casserole as far (into the frontroom) as 14.5 feet! I cleaned up the obvious last night, but doing the routine Friday cleaning today, both of us found more sweet potato casserole in the weirdest of places. Projectile missiles come in many forms.

After our trip to the stores yesterday we came home to find an exterminator working on the house nextdoor. We're familiar with exterminator "talk" because we hired one once to help us get rid of pharoah ants. I'm pretty sure we still have pharoah ants, sugar ants, fire ants, and the latest addition is carpenter ants. We also have spiders EVERYWHERE, using the vacuum method to semi-control them. We don't expect to EVER be free of ants, spiders, or any other insects. We live in Texas, for goodness sakes. We're grateful we don't have the BIG ones or the scorpions.

But, Em was concerned because he's been watching a trail of large ants marching up the side of the house outside the TV room window, so he asked the guy to stop by and talk to us when he was done. The guy charges over $500 (every 6 months) for a complete "guaranteed" extermination and pointed out how we have spiders (DUH!) and fireants outside. Heh. They make their living scaring people, so I pointed out how our spiders are also brown recluses, but how we couldn't do a complete extermination because I'm growing food in places he wants to lay poison. I left them then to go wrap food and launch missiles, but we'll be taking a much more nuanced approach to extermination. I'm not opposed to using insecticides IN the house for immediate results IF that method doesn't result in breaking up a nest into 40 or 50 nests in the process. Carpenter ants don't tend to respond to insecticidal sprays like pharoah ants, so when I saw carpenter ants crawling up the outside of our bedroom today on the INSIDE of the windows, I gave them a spray. I doubt they have a nest here YET, because this is the first time we've seen them and right now is their "season". If we'd been seeing them year-around, it would be more likely that we have a nest in-house. We'll keep our eyes tuned to them, though, and approach them like we approach the other ants that seem to like living inside our house (baiting them with boric-acid in some form of sugar or protein).

I coulda/shoulda got a few pics of that mess last night, but I didn't think of pics beyond the fish wrap. Em makes the bestest ever fried catfish and we were down to one meal left at defrost/inventory time, so bought 15 pounds yesterday (which will make 13 meals for the two of us). I tried cutting our portions in previous packaging, but always felt cheated, so this year's portions are less what we should eat and more what we want to eat.

The gardens are doing well. 60% of the asparagus have sprouted, 2 of 3 rhubarb have leaves, the blueberry bushes are leaved and those from last year also flowering. Bought tomato plants from Home Depot because the seeds I'd planted sprouted and then withered before getting to the transplant stage, so we have 9 celebrity tomatoes and 9 better boy tomatoes outside along with maybe 20 strawberry plants that are doing well, along with 2 cilantro plants (also purchased, although seeds have been planted outside, as well), and one lemon balm. In addition, we have volunteers of maybe cantelope or cucumbers all over the place.

Haven't yet seen life on any other bushes besides blueberry and don't even know how to recognize life on the horseradish. Set the sweet potato starts out before the recommended date because they were drawing fruitflies on the bathroom window. Turned out one of them had died. Also got the regular potato "apartment house" going with more potatoes (white and red) that had been growing on the windowsill. Got some green bell pepper starts yesterday, but we're having a few days of cooler weather this weekend, so I won't put them out until next week.

Can't remember off the top of my head what seeds I planted around things in the past few weeks, but I wrote everything down. I know I started lettuces and spinaches, but didn't yet get around to kale or other greens.

Been doing much better moderating my time ... gardening, wedding planning, indoor activities, entertainment, chores, communication, etc. No. 1's wedding shower will be coming up April 11th and I'll be making pulled pork sandwiches (on my homemade buns) and potato salad for the group. That will be our next meat purchase and I'm thankful that I won't need to separate and wrap it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rain, worms, peach trees, and wedding dresses.

We've had more than our share of rain the past week (for these parts -- said with a John Wayne old cowboy movie accent). Officially, we're in a drought ... AGAIN.

We bought two more 5-gallon buckets (with lids) to put on the patio to catch the rain last week and they're now full (along with the two that were already full before the rain last week). Em moved them a little, I think, because when I asked if they were full ALREADY, he mumbled something about how I might not approve of him having moved them to where they captured runoff from the roof. We don't have gutters on our roofs here so much, so it's not as though Em set the buckets under a gutter downspout. He set them where he saw a lot of water running off the roof, much like I set the shower bucket where I see a lot of water hitting the floor.

. We're thinking about buying two more buckets (with lids) ... just in case it rains again someday, but we've had other concerns lately.

My worms came from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm. I ordered 2000 of them, but I'd be hard-pressed to testify under oath to 200 being in that little bag I got. I spread them about the yard in all the places where I want worms before I read the instructions that said to dump them all in one place because they like to live in societies. Heh.

My peach trees seem to be doing the opposite of what they did last year (respectively). This guy:
Photobucket bloomed like crazy and produced 10 peaches last year while not being able to get the strength to open its buds this year.

The other one (which did absolutely NOTHING last year) is blooming its heart out this year.
Couldn't remember if they needed each other to cross-fertilize.

You can see some of the fence garden areas in the photos. I put wet newspaper up against the fenceline to deter weeds and set bricks to hold them in place. Took me 2 days to recover from that day of hauling bricks.

Been spending a fair amount of time lately working on No. 1's wedding plans. There's a lot of protocol to be considered and it's all been new to me. Dave's mom and I have been communicating and one of her questions revolved around what I was wearing. That's standard protocol, as the groom's mom is supposed to wear something that compliments the bride's mom's outfit. Who Knew? So, last Friday there was a 50% off clothing sale at the Thrift Store and I found a very comfortable dress to wear:

When Em took the photo to send to No. 1 and No. 2 for their approval, he said, "It's really not very flattering, you know." I said, "In what way? Style, color, fit?" He said, "Style, color, fit." So, over this past weekend we went over to Kohl's to see if I could find anything I liked. I found two white blouses that I tried on with a long black skirt. I hated the way EVERYTHING looked.

Today, we made a second stab at the Thrift Store. Wearing my first attempt, I found Em and moved him to right outside the dressing room. He didn't approve of the second attempt, either, so I went on to the third attempt. Whatdya know? He LIKED it:
It fulfills, IMO, the criteria of: being comfortable, as well as somewhat amenable to my brown birks. The terrain at the outdoor wedding location has the potential to be slippery/trippy, so I want safe shoes.

Next fashion concern will be for how to wear my hair. Tips are welcome.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Gardening (and HR 875?)

Spent MOST of the day yesterday working in the back yard. I really had a good time laying wet newspaper as a weed barrier along the fencelines, hauling bricks to ensure the newspaper stays in place, and then very slowly and carefully watering the fruit bushes, strawberries, and other things we planted last week.

Too windy today to plant seeds (my next step), so I cleaned up the back yard, set out two new water buckets (might get some rain this week), tended to the bushes planted last year, did a little laundry, ordered some shower-head shut-off valves and basically tended to other activities.

Meanwhile, No. 3 read this about HR 875.

I think many of us appreciate more oversite after salmonella in spinach or maybe tomatoes and salmonella in peanut products, but something doesn't sound right in this legislation, and it's certainly worthy of some chatter.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Plastic. Bah, Humbug!

I mentioned sometime back how we'd switched from buying litres of juice to buying cans of frozen concentrate. Em's quite the juice hound. The litre juice/soda bottles can be recycled, yet the tops can't. How much damage could a little plastic do?

h/t to Beth at Fake Plastic Fish. In other news, the cable guy came out but couldn't find the line that's been cut, so he told Em that if he can find it he'll come back and splice it. ???? So, Em found it within 5 minutes after the guy left. We're now wondering if we should try satellite instead, so that's my research project for the day.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Feels So Strange.

I'm talking about dental work that my tongue's been ruminating over for the past 2.5 hours. I suppose at 62 I should consider myself lucky to have my own teeth, even though they look like they're 50 years old. I'm not proud of my smile these days. My front teeth (EVEN!) have been repaired many times after developing cracks, chips, cavities, and (yesterday) another chip from biting into the bone of a porkchop.

So, I called Richard's office to see when they could fit me in this week and there was an opening at 11am today. I asked how much it would cost to fix a chipped tooth and they couldn't say because the chip might be so big as to require a crown. I've never had a crown ... or a root canal, although it seems like most people have had either or both. So, it was recommended that I come in for an exam of that one tooth ($45.00 to look at one tooth) and I suggested that it was time for my 6-month checkup ANYWAY, right ... and when they checked my file they learned that I was PASTDUE on my 6-month checkup and why didn't they send me the reminder card I'd been awaiting?

So, we decided to pay $125.00 to check ALL my teeth, X-ray them, and clean them. Over an hour later, I walked out $373.00 poorer, but my teeth were checked, cleaned, x-rayed, and my chipped No. 9 was not just corrected, but corrected with a little screw so the chip wouldn't easily break off again, and a cavity in No. 20 filled.

Can you see the screw in No. 9?
I can't.
In other news, took some time this past week to start some old seeds to see if they're still viable. Pay attention, Diane, as I'm testing seeds you sent me in 2005, including tomatoes:
1. Black Krim
2. Cherokee Chocolate
3. Creole
4. Costaluto Genovese
5. Aunt Ruby's Green
6. Super Sioux
7. Wisconsin 55
8. Riesentraube
9. Fox Cherry
10. Yellow Perfection,
and peppers, etc.
1. Chiltepin
2. Sweet Italian Pepper
3. Peter Pepper
4. Jalapeno
5. Poblano
6. Garden Salsa
7. Hot Salsa
8. Hungarian Wax
9. Long Green Hatch
10. Red Bull
11. Gypsy Bell
12. Yellow Bell
13. Orange Bell
14. Black Beauty Eggplant.

Washed used plastic bags and set them about to dry:

Cleaned my home office (and have since moved on to some Spring cleaning of other areas of the house.

On one of the chairs was the juicer to send to No. 2. Did you receive it, No. 2?

Currently in a box in my office waiting for Ken to till and amend the soil in the areas we discussed are:
25 Chandler Strawberry plants
5 Apache Blackberry bushes
5 Austin Dewberry bushes
3 Victoria Rhubarb
3 Horseradish
10 Asparagus
2 Ozark Blue Blueberries
5 Heritage Red Raspberries
5 Cumberland Black Raspberries

They arrived last Thursday. I hope they don't wither waiting.

We used faxzero to send our information to Gexa last week, and got confirmation in the mail which I had to confirm by phone today. Electric companies here go out of their way to ensure no slamming or cramming charges.