Friday, October 9, 2015

Did You Miss Me?

And a happy October to one and all.  October is a wonderful month in Oklahoma.  It signals the beginning of the fall garden, if you've been able to plant one.  It's the magical time when certain things that lived through the heat of the summer without producing much, begin going full steam ahead.  Of course, it would be helpful to be having some rain right now.

This is Friday, October 9, and we finally got some rain this morning. I have not written in awhile because I have had NO internet service. For some reason, NO ONE who had service through Valnet, the company in Independence, KS that provides our connectivity, had any service from a week ago yesterday to the following Monday. Anyway, I assumed that from the recorded message that I got when I called. But my problem was additional to that, in that the unit that provided power to what they call my “radio”, the antenna-thingie that sits on my roof and looks at the tower about a mile away, also went dead as a doornail.  I had to wait till yesterday to get one in the mail, and then I needed the tech to tell me which hole was input and which was output, so I had to wait till they opened up this morning.

So I apologize to those who commented on posts since then, and who sent me e-mails asking if I'm OK and all. I am, in fact, physically OK but not so much mentally as this has been stressful for me in that I've been watching too much of the television programs that Hubs chooses to watch / fall asleep in front of, which is mostly news and those programs that discuss the news in minute detail. I have discovered again what I already knew and that is that I don't give a Rat's A$$ what the wives of ball players, musicians, TV executives and so on think about what's happening in the news. Moreover I'm just sick of all this jockeying around the politicians are doing and heartsick for all those folks who are flooded out of their homes, mourning loved ones lost at sea, mourning children shot down at school, and I'm pretty darn mad at the press for all the sensationalizing they do about it, poking their cameras into people's faces and asking them questions meant to make them cry on TV. Yeah, just keep poking at them till you make them lose it.  Dang, it's a shame you can't make these poor folks bleed a little for us, even.  Throw those shoes out into the middle of the intersection. Go on, it'll make a good news story. What a bunch of crap. As if that's not bad enough, they're too lazy to find new news every day so they talk about the same things for three days before they finally go on to something else. That's not “news”. It's “olds”.

I'm trying really hard to count my blessings, and yes, I know I have many. The knee is healing a little each day. I had my follow-up appointment yesterday and the x-rays revealed the bone is growing into the implants nicely. I'm cleared for working on climbing the stairs in a normal fashion, (whatever that is) and I can go to the workout center and use the bicycle if I do not have any resistance programmed into it and if it's only for ten or fifteen minutes. I've been able to get into the bathtub now for almost a week and it is so soothing to have a bath again. I even do some of my knee exercises while I'm in that warm water and follow up with a nice rubdown of coconut oil and Basil essential oil, to relax the tight ligaments afterward. I'm sleeping just a little better each night. The bed that was in my office was removed from my office space a day or two ago, so I'm less claustrophobic while I'm down here. And that's important because this is my “woman cave”. I know I take every opportunity to ridicule men for wanting a “man cave”. I tend to think it's an insult to the family. I ask, “What the hell did he get married for if he's just going to hide from his family while he's home?” And “What's he doing in there that he can't do in front of his family, for Pete's sake?" But maybe I'm guilty of double standard thinking. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have a place I could go where I was in control of what kind of “mental stimulation” I was being exposed to. I've always had a problem with going into overload when I have too many people around me all the time. Lots of people at work, kids at home, neighbors, friends and family some evenings and weekends. I remember how I used to look forward to those Boy Scout meetings because Hubs would load up the boys and they'd all go. Ahhhhhhhh. Home Alone.  Quiet house. Then my neighbor across the road figured out I was there. She'd watch the house and as soon as the truck left with three pointy-heads in it, my phone would start ringing. *Sigh.....*

Hubs used to be offended if I didn't sit in the same room with him while he watched all the stuff on TV that he watches, but eventually he accepted the fact that it's more pleasant to just let The Ugly Troll That Lives Under The Bridge hide out till a transformation back into a regular person can be performed. He's never said to me, “OMG, you're in such a bad mood, why don't you go to your office and close the door?” because that wouldn't be advisable. But I imagine he's actually relieved when I do that of my own volition. The only other option would be to turn off the damned TV and read or something but he has to have the TV on from the time he wakes up in the morning till he falls asleep at night. Aggggghhhhhhhhhh!

We had another stressful situation yesterday in that we stopped at a car lot in Owasso because I wanted to look at a Nissan Altima that they had. It was a Chevrolet dealership and so of course they had new Chevy's and a few program cars, which is recent years' models that they've had at the dealership and used as loaners and so on. All I wanted to do was talk to them about the Nissan and maybe drive it and we ended up being there for a little over three hours because Guess Who wanted to try out the Chevy Malibu and the Chevy Impala program cars.

I don't understand why the process took so much time. Maybe it was made to be that way by the salesmen, seeing that we were old and probably easily worn down. First the salesman took down what features we wanted.  I wanted something I could get in and out of easy, something that didn't take up the full space available in the driving or parking lane, didn't smell like cigarette smoke and had some warranty left on it. Good value and economical to drive. The salesman could've stayed behind and lined up the next car for us to test drive, but he had to go with us each time. And so we had a long wait in between while he found the key and where the car was parked on the lot. Twice, we had to go to the gas station first because the tank was sitting on empty. We asked about price but he “would have to look it up” and I found that to be annoying. So, after both Chevy's were test driven we had to go in and sit with the salesman at the desk where he told us the prices, which were kind of high considering what they were. I had to ask twice to test drive an Altima, which was on the used lot, still under some warranty but not, of course, the length and quality of the warranties offered on the Chevy program cars, which is the same as that offered with a new car. Then the salesman went and got his boss and they ganged up on me, asking pointed questions about why I was even interested in a Nissan and had I even driven one before, and I said, “No, that's what I thought I was here for.” Then the boss got kind of pissy and said, “Look, you said you wanted good value and we're just trying to give you that.” By this time I was really getting tired and a little bit hacked off and I was pretty much ready to go home. Hubs didn't say anything or even act like he noticed that the salesman was being kind of rude to me. Hubs is like that. Once we had carpet installed and the installer got it crooked. I told him about it and he was so rude and hateful that I got so mad I was in tears. He left thinking he'd really done something, I guess, making some man's wife cry and not having the man do anything to him, the little a$$hole, and it really hurt me that Hubs didn't defend me. But I called the owner of the shop and had him come out and look at it. He fixed it himself, that day. I don't know if the installer got in trouble for how he treated me, but I got my carpet installed the way it should've been, instead of having to settle for it the way it was, and I never bought carpet from there again, even though the owner was really nice and I was satisfied with how he fixed it. He had to make a seam but it was in a place that didn't show. I suppose I could've made him tear out the job and start all over and if I was half the bitch I get accused of being sometimes, I would have.

But anyway, they brought out the Nissan Altima and we test drove that and they kind of changed their tune after I told the salesman that I was tired and I needed to go home and think about everything. I was nice about it, as he'd spent a lot of time with us, not that I didn't recognize that the whole thing could've been done a whole lot faster had he been better organized. I didn't see many customers on the lot so I don't think we kept him from any hotter prospects, but I caught myself feeling a little guilty for tying up so much of his time and going home without buying anything. I got his business card and then his boss came back around and said he could come down $1000 on each of the Chevys and that he could give me the Impala in practically any color I wanted. Additionally, if we applied to be members of USAA he said he could give us an extra $750 off. He said the Nissan was priced at “about what he had in it”, and I didn't believe that for a minute. They're not ever going to quote someone their rock-bottom price first rattle out of the box. So we thanked them both and left at that point, with the salesman looking rather glum. I can't help that he took so much time to do a test drive for three vehicles. And I was so dang tired by the time we finally got home that I just literally crashed.

They asked for our phone number so maybe if we don't contact them in a few days, they'll call with an offer we can't refuse. Or not. I don't care. I'm not in any hurry. Maybe I don't even need to be buying a car right now.

We really haven't been doing very much for about the last week.  I had Hubs come out to the garden with the weed wacker and showed him where to scalp it.  The grass has taken over and I won't be able to dig out the roots for awhile yet.  I'm keeping the cheese peppers alive and some of the tomato vines that're putting on tomatoes, but everything else is pretty much done.

Here is some stuff I had written before I lost Internet connectibility:

We watered out the bullet tank on Tuesday (Sept. 29), and by the time it ran out, I was tired and ready to go in.  The pepper and tomato plants that didn't get a drink then got one today (Oct. 1), out of the cistern.  Tomato and pepper plants can stand there wilting and looking like death warmed over for a few days and still come back to life once they do get some water, if the temperatures are not too hot.  And we have been blessed with some cool nights and days of warm sunshine that are cooled by a nice north breeze.

We never know, here in Oklahoma, whether we're going to have a long enough fall to be able to grow a fall crop.  Sometimes we get a freezing night before the month is out, and then after everything that could've produced anything has turned black and, if not pulled out, is standing there all dried up and ugly while the days afterward have turned back warm and sunny.  And then, once in awhile, we don't get our first killing frost till December.  One year I picked little green tomatoes three times before the forecast of our first killing frost actually materialized.  What do you do with a bunch of green tomatoes that are too small to ripen?  I made Green Tomato Bread, which was just ok, and that was only because I hadn't had any zucchini to make it with.  I made Green Tomato Pickle Relish, and that's my Go-To use for green tomatoes.  I tried a recipe for Green Tomato Pie, and that was just nasty.  I cored and froze the rest, and found if used for half the amount of red tomato called for in chili, I can't tell the difference.  But that just might be me, you might feel differently about it.  You can make Green Tomato Preserves, and they are good, if you like the kind that's made with red tomatoes.  I used to just love tomato preserves but my tastes seem to have changed.  Last time I made tomato preserves I ended up using them in breakfast muffins instead of the sugar, just to say they weren't wasted, and I liked that ok.  Even Hubs ate some, so I guess that's proof it wasn't too bad.

We've had a decent summer this year.  We didn't have drought.  The temperature didn't get above 100º.  But we still had squash bugs, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles, rabbits, squirrels, and rats.  We might even have possums or armadillos.  Most recently, in spite of all the work that we have done to cause it to be otherwise, we just can't seem to keep the rabbits out of the yard now.  They seem to be digging under the fence, and that's a surprise to me because I didn't think rabbits could do that, especially in our clay-soil-and-rock.  But every morning there's a new hole, and every night when I go upstairs to take my shower, I look down from the windows that look out over the back yard and there stands a rabbit.  Maybe the digger is a possum or an armadillo and the rabbits are just taking advantage of the situation, I don't know.....  Hubs found a possum in the rat trap that week I was in the hospital, is the only reason why we know they're around.  Oh, and last year, when we were throwing the rats we drowned in the trap out onto the field just outside our gate, one time something came along and took the rats and left a dead possum.  Don't that beat all.

Yesterday Hubs and I planted the Red Haven Peach tree I bought.

We also planted a Pink Delight Butterfly Bush in the herb garden near the patio.  The Red Bergamot that I had there had taken over and so we moved a big clump of that into a spot in the corner of the garden.  I have a Black Adder Agastashe to plant, too, but haven't decided yet where to put it.

And today we dug sweet potatoes.

They are a mix of Carolina Ruby and Beauregard.  I have grown Beauregard for at least the last ten summers, and my first plants were produced from grocery store sweet potatoes, bought around Thanksgiving time, that laid in the potato bowl in my kitchen and had sprouts all over them by spring.  And my Carolina Rubies were bought from a grower in Arkansas who advertised on eBay.  I was really disappointed in the puny little starts they sent and how them crammed them in a $5 overnight US Postal Service box.  I paid for 25 starts and I felt lucky to have 10 or 12 that actually survived.  I won't be doing THAT again.

Normally I wait till a killing frost is eminent, but that kicked me in the shins last year when the rats discovered them and ate happily away at them for a good month before I got around to digging them.  It seems sweet potatoes only need 100 days, and having been planted in early May, they certainly had plenty of time by October 1.  And digging earlier paid off.  There was no damage except for a very few that split, and what we did getting them out of the ground.  Digging sweet potatoes is kind of similar to an archaeological dig.

First, I pull off all the vines.

They say the leaves are edible but I've never eaten any of them.

I always save the little tiny ones and pieces of fat orange roots.  There were some dried-up looking tubers in the bed which might've been a tuber that was already formed at planting time.

I put them in a bucket with some dirt and they stay in the garage all winter.  Every now and then, when I think of it, I go out there and pour some water into the bucket.  In early spring I dump out the bucket, sort through the roots, and start my plants inside from those.  They are, as I mentioned in an earlier paragraph, transplanted to the bed outside in early May.  Our last average freeze date is mid- to late April.

The sweet potatoes that are damaged are kept in a separate pile and I clean those up and use them first, without trying to cure them. 
The ones that are undamaged are "cured" and then stored in a single layer in brown paper grocery bags in the pantry.

Prior to this I've been challenged to find a way to cure sweet potatoes because I've waited too long and the days are not warm.  Glenda tells me they need warmth to sweeten up.  So this time I decided to lay them in bread trays in the garden wagon and leave it under the carport in front of the garage.  This is so that the cart can be wheeled in at night and thus we are not leaving a catered all-you-can-eat midnight snack for the rats and what-have-you that roam around in the country.
I thought also about wheeling the cart into one of the metal garden sheds or in Hubs' workshop, as the sun shining on their metal roofs make it warm in there.  But the field rats also gravitate to the warmth at this time of year, which could be a problem.
All these came from a deep raised bed that is probably about 8' square.  The soil is not the best, but we keep amending it and it gets a little better every year.

There is not a lot here but it's plenty for Hubs and me.

Hubs did the watering in the garden today and I went around and collected seed heads from the zinnias.
 
If the flowers have been polinated, and mine always are,

they will produce seed.  If you pull out the petals carefully, the ones along the bottom row will come out attached to dark arrowhead-like seeds.  Sometimes higher up, too, but not always.  If the seeds are light green, or dry and very thin, they are probably not mature enough.  They need to be greenish brown-to-black.  I wait till the flower has faded to pick it for seed.  I like it if the petals have dulled in color but have remained on the flower head.
This, for example, is good seed from the bottom row.  If you dry these out of the sunlight with the petal still attached, you can even sort them by color, later on, if you want to.
This one, on the other hand, is already dry, and if I didn't know what color the other flowers on the plant were, I wouldn't know what color this seed is.  And that might be ok.  The seed looks a little different when it's totally dry.  There are six of them in the bottom part of the picture.  Plus a whole lot of flotsam and jetsam.

Zinnias will cross with one-another and each year you will get some different looking ones.  The multi-tiered flowers tend to breed out and so every now and then I buy a new package and throw those seed out on the ground amongst my saved seeds.  I will never forget how many years I pampered those dang seeds and got such dismal results.  Now I just go out in May, right before a rain if I can, and broadcast the seed.  The plants that come up can be transplanted if they're not where you want them.  If you use extra care, you can even transplant them after they've started blooming. 

Well, that's about all I have for this time.  Maybe I'll be a little better organized next time.  I hope y'all are all doing well.  Hugs to all...   xoxoxo

2 comments:

  1. Yes, I have missed seeing your posts. First, send over some of your rain! lol We are terribly dry; dust from the road settles on everything. In spite of the dry weather, I was able to have a picking of fresh green beans, okra, sweet peppers, and tomatoes from the garden this morning. I also have greens, but they must be having too much heat because they tend to be bitter.

    I totally understand the way a man watches TV; the farmer has the remote in his hand whether he's awake or asleep. If (when) he goes to sleep I slip it out of his hand and watch what I can find, which isn't much these days. I've been watching programs about tiny houses. :)

    We eat a lot of sweet potatoes every winter ~ very good-for-you produce.

    Glad you keep making progress with your knee!

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  2. That is a good sweet potato harvest. I haven't dug mine yet but need to get started. I hope they do half as well as your. I just have Beauregards.

    Men and TV! Mine has now become addicted to the Cardinals and Royals baseball games. At least it isn't Cage Boxing (all the time). I haven't watched a tv show in ages but am addicted to instant streaming on the computer!

    Good luck with the car hunt. I am not a fan of car salemen......You just have to stay firm with what you want. My choice would be a small SUV.

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