Sunday, March 29, 2015

Learning From Others

It wouldn't be spring here in the Midwest if we didn't have masses of Henbit in our yards and garden beds.  Having Henbit is not necessarily a bad thing.  When I had my chickens, they just loved Henbit and it was something that generally was growing most of the winter and early spring when hardly anything else was green.  It made the yolks of their eggs really more bright gold than yellow.  HERE is a great blogpost about Henbit.

But I don't agree about Henbit being edible.  I mean, if I was starving it's nice to know it wouldn't kill me, but that is the ONLY condition under which I would willingly eat Henbit.  Maybe it makes a difference where it grows, I don't know.  

Journey To Forever - online library HERE

Another great source of information is "Wild Flowers And Weeds" HERE .     

I found some of this information either directly or indirectly after reading Laurie's great post on Common Sense Home: Five Reasons I Want Weeds In My Garden  HERE .  She didn't make any mention of Henbit and that made me curious, since everyone in my region seems to have so much of it.  I've often just left it where it was, since it seems like the Bermuda grass doesn't grow if it's there, and Henbit is a lot more decorative, and a lot less noxious, than Bermuda is.

Laurie's post has a link to a blog called Pure Cajun Sunshine that hasn't been posted on since 2009, but go there anyway, there's lots of good information on it.  In fact, I recommend a visit to every link Laurie shares on this post, including the links for online herbal classes offered by The Herbal Academy of New England (not cheap, $195 for the Introductory, then they give you $55 off the cost of the Intermediate class which is $360 to begin with.  But looks like really intensive, well-prepared information, with tests and a certificate of completion at the end.  Quality education IS expensive....  You know I'm kind of a tightwad but now and then I don't mind paying the big bucks for something that's got the quality to make it worth it, and if it will end up paying for itself, that's an additional selling point.  In fact, I'm thinking about it, been trying to educate myself about herbs but it's a disjointed, inefficient thing....).  I've been reading the Thoughts From Frank And Fern blog since I found it and added it to my sidebar.  And I do agree with them on a lot of things.  Some of Fern's posts sound very much like some of mine.  One thing that they believe is that investments made in education are the ones that pay off big and I believe that too.  You can get tangled up in this if you choose the wrong kind of education.  I mean, my brother-in-law MADE every one of his kids go to college.  He was a domineering man and so he watched their grades and found ways to make their lives miserable if they didn't apply themselves.  His oldest daughter had a boyfriend, and all she wanted to do was be a wife and a mother.  But she went to college and got a degree in Marine Biology.  Where they lived, it just wasn't likely she'd ever be able to find a job and use that education, and we all thought at the time that this was the closest she could get to rebelling against her father.  She did end up getting married and became a mother.   But you get my point, right?  So when you invest in education, make sure it's something that you will be able to get some good out of later.  I also believe equipment is a good investment.  Equipment such as the following:
  • A sewing machine, and learn to sew.  Even if you never make a garment, and I don't, very often, anymore, because patterns and fabric are so expensive that I can buy ready-made clothes for less, most of the time.  But often I will buy patterns at garage sales, and sometimes fabric, too.  And also sometimes I make a pattern if I have some article of clothing that I really like.  But sewing machines are good for repairing broken seams, replacing zippers, taking things in, patching, and changing hemlines.  Also for making specialty items.  Fern makes her own washable mini-pads, for instance.  And there is great economy in repurposing things.  You can make all sorts of kid clothes from the fabric of adult clothing that maybe you're too big for now or they've gone out of style, Or you can even make new things from yourself out of out-of-style things you have.  The Internet literally teems with ideas.  Start with Pinterest.  Search "Pinterest repurposed clothing", if you want to get some ideas.
  • Canning equipment and jars.  Even if you don't have a garden, you can make your own jams and pickles when the ingredients go on sale in the stores.  I watch Aldi, they have some kind of fruit on special every week.  Strawberries get made into jam.  Sometimes pineapple and banana.  I have a steam juicer, which I don't think was worth it.  And a crank-style fruit press, which has been worth every penny I paid and more, since I get green apples from a friend, and although they aren't worth much else, they make wonderful juice.  The post about that is HERE.  I think I will use it if I ever get enough grapes, too.  I thought I was going to have a bumper crop of grapes last summer and then the rains came at just the wrong time and my grapevines got Black Spot.
  • A blender.  Make your own smoothies.  Or blend fruits together and pour them into push-up popsicle molds.  A lot of people don't know that you can use a regular canning jar on an Oster blender and you can make your smoothie right in the jar and then drink it out of the same jar.
  • A freezer and a dehydrator.  When Aldi's pineapple is on sale, I buy several, slice and peel and put in freezer containers for later use.  The easiest way to peel a pineapple is to slice it first, and then cut the "rind" off each slice.  Blueberries get frozen or dehydrated for later use.  Blueberries will dehydrate faster if you cut them in half first.  Grapes are frozen for snacking on later.  When strawberries are on sale I make a batch of jam and freeze the remaining strawberries for later batches.  I make my own dried onion and garlic.  Since we've moved to a house that has a walk-in attic, I use my attic to dehydrate things.  The post about that is HERE.
  • Plant lights, heat mats, and styro coffee cups for starting plants from seed.  I post a lot about this, one of them is HERE.  This would be only if you garden.  You can save a lot of money growing your own plants from seed.  But it's kind of time-intensive, because you have to remember to water, and sometimes the seed doesn't germinate.  You have to have the space to devote to it and lots of people don't have that.  I use my own compost-rich garden soil, baked, and then mixed with equal parts peat and Vermiculite.  I would use coir instead of the peat but I haven't found it reasonably priced anywhere yet.  There is a concern about using up the peat bogs.  I've been tempted by those soil block presses, but I kinda made my own this winter with a push-up popsickle mold, HERE, and, while they worked well enough to germinate seed, it felt to me like it packed the soil down so hard that it made it hard for the plant to develop roots.  I'm still trying to use up some expandable peat pellets I bought in quantity, but when those are gone, I'm considering starting my seed in egg carton cups, not the plastic ones, but the ones that are made of what looks like paper mache.  I buy my eggs at Aldi's now that I don't have chickens anymore, and they are in the "paper mache" cartons.
  • Cooking equipment.  Why pay $10 per serving at a restaurant for waffles when you can make your own for pennies a serving?  Hub's parents were dirt-poor with eleven children to feed, but they never went hungry.  They survived on wild game, blackberries, biscuits, waffles and pancakes, and anything their mother could grow in the garden.  Do you love those frozen yogurts in waffle cones?  You can make your own waffle cones with a cone maker, HERE, and fill 'em with Aldi vanilla ice cream or any other frozen product.  Or your own home-made ice cream, a few recipes HERE.
  • If you love fancy coffee, learn how to make it and invest in your own coffee machine.  Make sure you get one that doesn't lock you into buying individually-packed pods of coffee, though.  Buy your fancy coffee in bulk and keep it fresh in the freezer or vacuum seal it.
  • Vacuum sealing machine.  I have a FoodSaver.  I wanted it specifically for the jar sealer attachments.  FoodSaver's website is HERE.  If you sign up, they will send you an e-mail when they have specials and you can get better prices then.  I did that and the price came down on the machine I wanted around Christmas time one year.  I stocked up on bags when they were sale priced but I have not used them as much as I have used the jar sealer. 
  • Hunting and fishing equipment, if it'll actually be used to bring in some wild game, and if the person who cleans it will learn how to properly do so, and the one who cooks it will learn how to cook it.  Also if the family will not be squeamish about eating it.  If the hunter starts to feel like it's more recreation and bonding with his hunting buddies, hunting can get to be kind of expensive and not yield anything so there are lots of gray areas in whether this skill pays.  Of course you cannot hunt certain animals except in season but there are still rabbits and fish.  Traps fall into this category, too, our Have-A-Heart trap has paid for itself many times over, especially since it was bought at a garage sale, because if we don't do something about the rats that come when ranchers around us burn off their fields, they eat my garden.  And no, I don't know any human being that wants to eat a rat.  I'm not sure it's even safe.  Another thing I'd have to be starving to death in order to even consider. 
I know if you think about it you'll be able to think about expenditures you might make that will pay for themselves.  These days, investments are really iffy.  If you invest in the stock market, it can plummet in a day without warning.  If you buy land or rental property, it can be devalued or it can grow in value, depending on what happens around it.  Whole communities have been made into ghost towns by roads or railroads being relocated or factories closing down.  Renters can tear your house down from the inside out.  Almost everything you can buy can be taken away from you or made worthless in one way or another.  But the things you learn can only be taken from you if you are hit in the head or if you get Alzheimer's.  I guess all of life, really, is a crapshoot.

As far as I'm concerned, my computer and internet connection have been a good investment for me.  I've learned so much through my computer, from so many different sources, that it just boggles my mind.  Not to mention that I've met a lot of really wonderful people this way.   Yes, sometimes it keeps me from physically doing stuff, but if you know me at all, you know I'm mentally doing stuff all the time.  The Beat Goes On.  Meanwhile, Hubs is sitting up there in the living room watching TV and OMG, that is soooooooooooooooo boring.  I like to catch the news, but even that is annoying because they waste so much time.  They tell you the headlines so many times before they'll tell you the rest of the story, and sometimes they spend less time on the story than they did on the headlines.  Or they'll run the same news item that I saw yesterday.  And one of the female newscasters and how her ultra-tight clothes and cleavage seems to be the focal point is really getting on my nerves.  I mean, I can see that sort of thing on my computer, too, not that I'd care to, but generally I don't run into that much of it on the websites I visit.  I saw a quote once that said something like, "dressing suggestively is like throwing slop.  You might get a lot of attention but it'll just be from pigs."  I am always grateful that we have the space in our home where I can get completely away from the noise of the television whenever I want to.

I received an e-mail from Carole, my friend in Joplin, today, in which she was telling me about some cotton-burr compost that she had gotten for $8 a bag, and she mentioned how she had put some in one of her flower beds that always tended to be so dry.  She was really happy about how much it improved the moisture-retention of the bed.  I've got a flower bed that needs that.  So much of the time, I'm not able to find things here in Bartlesville that she finds there in Joplin.  After all is said and done, our merchants don't catch on to "new" stuff very fast.  So if I want to buy some cotton-burr compost I'll have to go to Independence, KS to get it at their WMT, according to the Internet.  Probably could find it somewhere in Tulsa, but I just hate to shop in Tulsa.  So hard to navigate.  So much crime.  I'd much rather go 50 miles the OTHER way.  Or maybe I'll just wait till we go to visit Carole, and get some while I'm there.

Carole also finds really low-priced seeds at her local Dollar store.  I looked in mine and never found any seed.  But yesterday, I stopped at Dollar GENERAL, and they had a small seed rack of packages, four for $1.  Such a deal.  Wish they'd had a bigger selection.

I was in there looking for "Barkeeper's Friend".  This is a powdered cleanser along the lines of Ajax and Comet, but it's made of stuff that doesn't scratch, so you can use it on things that you wouldn't want to use Ajax or Comet on.  My neighbor told me it has been recommended to her for using on her fiberglass shower and tub.  I thought I'd seen it at one of the other Dollar Stores.  But they didn't have it.  I can order it on Amazon HERE, and I will if I can't locate it locally.  Wow, look at all those reviews!  83% of 109 comments are 5-star.  I hate these dang fiberglass tubs and showers.  They are so hard to keep clean.  So I hope this stuff works on them.

I also bought a package of Ricola cough drops.  I've always been curious as to what's in them, and I've never tried them.  The ingredients are listed, in this order: caramel color, extract of a Ricola herb mixture (elder, horehound, hyssop, lemon balm, linden flowers, mallow, peppermint, sage, thyme, wild thyme), natural flavor, starch syrup, sugar.  The only "active ingredient" they listed was menthol.  Wow, I can really taste the menthol.  But I also detect the taste of horehound.  I don't know why they'd need to add "caramel color" to it at all.  I doubt the color makes any difference to anyone whatsoever.  I already grow a lot of the things on the list.  I could probably make my own easily.  I looked on Wikipedia and they listed additional ingredients of cowslip, burnet, yarrow, lady's mantle, speedwell and plantain.  That makes me wonder if they've left off ingredients on the bag, or if they've changed the formula.

Hubs and I got out and hit the garage / estate sales yesterday.  I found a few things, two quart jars and a half-gallon jar for 25 cents each, some denim fabric, two yards for $2, a couple of big clay flowerpots with saucers for 25 cents each, a bag of paint roller pads for $2, nothing really noteworthy, except, I think, for this old cookbook, which I am looking forward to looking through as soon as I can.

Many of my old tried and true recipes were clipped out of Family Circle Magazine, back in the 1970's and 80's.  This one's copyrighted in 1974 so should be right in the right "era".  I did a search on Amazon and found THIS, there are lots of them priced quite reasonably.  A penny, in fact, but there's shipping, which for me is $3.99.  And I got my copy yesterday for 75 cents.  By the way I'm not affiliated with Amazon in any way, though I ought to look into how to do that, because I recommend them so often.  People who wrote reviews raved about the Banana Bread and said the Parker House Rolls was their mother's "old standard recipe".   Those Family Circle Magazines were great little magazines, and so were Women's Day.  Grocery stores always had them on a rack right at the check-out line and they were always so much cheaper than the other magazines were.  You can buy today's versions, I haven't bought any in years so I can't vouch for whether they're still as good though.  Or go to or

Well, I think that's about all I have for this time.  It's supposed to get to 70º today so I'm hoping to spend some time in the garden.  It was only 40º this morning and a cold wind blowing this morning, though.

Till next time, rock on....   xoxoxoxo

Friday, March 27, 2015

Relationships and What Women Really Want

I had a very vivid dream last night, and it put a message on my heart.  I like to use my blog to do good and so that's why I so often don't talk about what is wrong in our government and in our world.  There's so little that an Old Redneck Woman can change by spouting off about it.  But I'm thinking maybe I have something to say that someone needs to read.  I seem to be getting quite a few hits on the blog these days, though I don't get many comments.  I have a few posts that get found by searches so often that it kind of amazes me, in fact.  Not bragging, I know a lot of people have a great many followers and get tons more activity in a day than I do in a month, but hey, brighten the little corner where you are, is what I think.

So I had this dream.  I was ......somewhere.  Just standing there, as my dream began.  And then I heard this young woman's voice.  "Stop.  You're hurting me," she said.   It was coming from a space under a large piece of furniture and I thought what a strange place that was for a young couple to choose in which to "get it on".  But her pleas continued and there was a note of panic growing in her voice, and some struggling sounds.  I am tough and fearless in my dreams.  I mean, I walk around naked sometimes and no one notices.  In my dreams, mind you.  Wouldn't Freud have a good time analyzing that?

So I started knocking on this big piece of furniture they were under, and I said, "Hey!  YOU!  GET OUT FROM UNDER THERE!"  I mean, I was getting hacked off, big time.  I kept it up till feet started sliding out towards me and it was this pretty little delicate flower of a girl that I just reached out and threw my arms around as soon as she was totally emerged.  And then the culprit feet started coming out, too.  I was too mad to think that he might beat up on me or shoot me with a gun, but he wouldn't have done that in my dreams, anyway.  At least if he'd started out in that direction, it would've awakened me out of my sleep and that would be the end of my dream.

With the girl still in my grasp, I told this guy what a knuckle-dragging cretin he was being and how if he needed release so bad he had to hurt someone to get it, he might as well just go take a shower and get some satisfaction while he was in there.  I mean, it's not like guys during their peak years don't do that sort of thing all the time.  

It turned out that he was mostly a decent guy.  Young, like she was, and they'd been dating.  But he didn't have a clue about how to treat a woman, except from what he'd heard from other guys.  And you know what THAT's like.  So he and I sat down together and I talked to him frankly.  That's the beauty of being old.  You can be frank.

When we were finished, we were joined by some other people, might've been her family or his, or both, that was not clear.  And we all drew chairs up around a big table.  I think we must've been at some kind of resort or something.  Everyone was friendly, unaware of how I got acquainted with the young couple, Hubs showed up, and I was over my mad spell.  It turned out to be a nice dream.

And so I want today to address young men who are walking around out there without a clue, too worried about being seen "Lame", or "UnCool", or whatever it's called now, to ask questions of anyone they know, and to the young women who have relationships with them.

This is old great-grandma information.  And no, it's not that out-of-date.  People don't change.  There are certain things that are hard-wired into human beings.

I've seen and heard many times, guys asking, "WHAT do women WANT???"

And I'm going to tell you.

All in the world a woman really wants, is to be loved by a man that she respects and admires.  No, I'm not talking about the act itself, which men talk about amongst themselves in nasty terms that imply that a woman is just a receptacle in which to drop their load.  I'm always puzzled by this attitude.  If it's that mechanical, that impersonal, then why do they even need to bother a woman with it at all??

But we all know the male and female of our species think about sex in different ways.  There's an old saying that goes, "Men give love to get sex and women give sex to get love".  Oh, I know.  Some women are different.  It has always been that way, it's just that we are more accepting of it now than we have ever been, and so it has become more prevalent now than it has ever been.  This type of woman makes a big deal about how aggressive she can be and sometimes she's managed to impersonalize it so that, initially, it means as little to her as it does to the guy.  But in her mind, the act itself is more like a kind of an "interview".  If it goes well and she finds other things about her new-found partner that are attractive, she may hope to see him again.  She may hope to eventually build some sort of relationship with him.  And that's one of the differences.  What she may not understand is that, for a man, there are two kinds of sex.  The woman a man hooks up with in a bar is just an object to him.  He closes off his mind and his heart because of that.  He may even be one of those guys who learned how to "pick up" a woman.  Anytime some guy walks up to a group of women and zeroes in on one of them, compliments her, and then says something that would ordinarily be an insult to her is playing "The Game".  For instance, he may say to her, "I've been admiring you for awhile, you are so beautiful".  And then after he's gotten a positive response, he says something like, "It's just a shame you are so fat (or your teeth are so yellow, or you bite your nails, or your nose is so big", or something).  There's something psychological in that technique that makes it work, otherwise the woman would realize she's just been insulted and she'd say, "Flake off, you JERK!"  But instead she leaves the bar with him, not knowing that she's just that night's trophy that he will brag about to the guys tomorrow.  I guess it's OK if she knows what's going on and she's been acting like "bait", and he's HER trophy too, that she will brag about to the girls the next day.  If it's understood on both sides, no one gets hurt.   I guess.

I don't have a lot of advice for people who pick each other up in a bar, other than, "Don't do that", because frankly, I don't think that's a good place to go if you're looking for someone you might be able to fall in love with.  I don't think dressing suggestively is a good idea because you send the wrong messages and attract the very men who will objectify you.  If you've got a great rack you don't have to bare 'em for guys to notice 'em.  They have x-ray vision, and it's always touched up like those pictures in the girlie magazines are.  So you're actually better off leaving your wares to the imagination.

And though I know it's often done, I think people who have casual sex have a lot harder time finding happiness and self-respect than those who don't.  When I was a girl, the guys were only too happy to mess around with a girl who would do it with anyone.  But rarely did they spend any money on her or take her anywhere but a back road somewhere.  They had respect and admiration for the girl who hadn't experienced that part of life yet, and when they started thinking about "settling down", a girl like that was The Holy Grail.  I mean, all the guys knew which girls those were, because they'd all "struck out" with them, and guys talk about things like this amongst themselves.  The problem with girls "saving themselves for marriage" was that none of the guys did that.   There were a lot of girls who were somewhere in between: they'd "gone steady" with someone, and been intimate, and then something didn't work out and they'd split up.  You didn't find that girl out on a back road or in a motel with just anyone, though. 

Lots of people meet on those dating services and I think there's good and bad about that.  At least maybe most of those people are looking for relationships.  I've seen where some guys put a comment on that says, "No fat chicks", and that just kind of tells you everything you need to know about them.  I don't think there would be a point to women putting "No knuckle-dragging cretins" as her comment, because the thing about guys like that is that they don't see themselves the way women see them. 

But let's say you are a couple that met at work, or at school, or any number of other places -- the grocery store, the gym, church, a 10-K race, a wedding -- places where people go for other reasons than "hooking up".  Maybe you go for coffee and you start getting to know each other.  This is a scenario in which the risks of being objectified are lower, but it can happen, depending on the situation.  Maybe after you get to know each other better, one of you decides there's something about the other person that is a deal-breaker.  Then you may decide that, well, at least you ought to get a little "bonus" for the time already invested before you break it off and go on your way, and that's when somebody gets objectified.

One of the big differences between men and women is that men simplify everything.  For women there are lots of gray areas, and they see it all.  They have their radar on allllll the time, and if the least little thing is off, they know it right away.  Then they decide what it's worth.  Do they ignore it because of other redeeming qualities?  Do they confront it?  Or is it a deal-breaker?  I've often said that men don't know their relationship is in trouble till it's too late.  For single men, that's when she says, "It's not you, it's ME."  For married men, that's when they come home from work and their clothes and stuff is all out in the yard and the locks are changed.  What both these things mean is that the issue is not even worth talking about now.  You may not have known it, but you had your chance and blew it.  She's done.  Don't go away mad, just go away.

Men typically marry because they don't want somebody else to come along and take "their woman" away from them.  Or because they want to start a family.  Women typically marry because they're in love and they want to spend the rest of their lives WITH "their man".  So you have your imbalance right there.  Women are always complaining that they can't get their live-in boyfriend to commit, and why should he?  He's getting everything he wants out of the relationship already.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?  I realize it's too much to expect women today to "save themselves for marriage".  But if I were a young woman today, I would certainly not continue an exclusive relationship with a man who was so concerned about losing his "freedom" that he would risk my exercising mine.  And I certainly would not get pregnant.  No, ladies, having a baby does not "cement a relationship".  If it's shaky before the pregnancy, it'll break before the birth.  And then you'll have a child to raise by yourself.  Your man wasn't even ready to be a Husband, what makes you think he won't be scared spitless to be a Daddy?  

So now, if you're a man and you're in a serious relationship with a woman, or maybe you're married, why does she keep having these "fits"?  You never know what she's going to be like.  Some casual thing you say may just set her off.  Or she's not talking to you and you can't figure out what you've done.  Or she IS talking to you, in fact she's slamming things around, and you think that's even worse.  Trust me, your relationship is more at risk when she's NOT talking to you, because that's the point where she sees no point in it.  She's been there, done that, and nothing's changed, because you've just weathered the storm and then turned on the charm and the issue is still there, bubbling.  Trust me, it will come up again.  And again.  And again.  Because women save things up, and then something comes up that is the "straw that broke the camel's back", and you're standing there, not knowing what the hell has happened.  Hold her close, if she'll let you, and say, "Baby, please tell me what I've done...."  Then deal with it.  Talk about it.  Negotiate and come to an agreement, so that you don't have to keep getting in trouble for the same things, over and over again.  You'll thank me later.

It has often been said, "Happy Wife, Happy Life".  And that is true.  It has also been said, by many old-timer married men, "Do you want to be right?  Or do you want to be happy?"  Of course we cannot omit, "If Mama ain't happy, Ain't NOBODY happy!"

The way you make a woman happy is to make her feel loved.  The way to make a woman value the fact that you love her is to gain her respect.  If she doesn't respect you, admire you, then it really doesn't matter how much you love and admire her.  You might as well be some creep lurking around her house, peering in her windows.

The way you gain a woman's respect is not through fear.  There is an old fable about the sun and the wind getting into an argument about who was more powerful.  So it was proposed that they have a contest on a man they saw walking on the earth, to see which one of them could get his coat off him first.  The wind went first, and it blew and blew.  The harder the gusts, the tighter the man drew his coat around him.  Then it was the sun's turn.  The sun smiled upon the man, and sent it's warm rays in his direction.  The man took off his coat.

Show me a man who beats his wife and I will show you a man who has been abused or has watched his father abuse his mother during his childhood.  The chain continues on but it can and must be broken.  I had a dear friend, years ago, whose husband drank.  And when he was drunk, he would beat her.  Later, he would beg her forgiveness and buy her gifts and say it'd never happen again, but it always did.  And finally, she decided she'd had enough.  The next incident was a big surprise for John.  He had her by the throat and she reached around for something with which to protect herself.  It was the telephone.  This was back in the day when telephones were kinda substantial.  She beat him with that telephone, broke it, in fact, and had to take him to the Emergency Room.  The next time, what she grabbed was a hand-tooled leather belt with a big round buckle.  He went to the Emergency Room again.  And John never hurt Sarah again.  Willy Nelson, the country singer, told of a time when his first wife, whom he had repeatedly beaten while drunk, waited patiently  till he went to sleep.  She carefully folded the sheet he was laying on over him and sewed the edges together.  She had the car running and the children in it.  And then she beat him with a broom handle and walked out.  When Hubs and I were young marrieds, there were a couple of times when he would raise his hand to me like he was going to hit me, during an argument.  And I would look him right in the eye and say to him, "If you hit me, you'd better kill me with the first blow because I'm coming back up fighting!"  Hubs and I have not had a smooth marriage, but we have never, ever, struck each other.  I realize there are a lot of unstable people out there and in each one of these situations there could have been risk involved in which somebody could've wound up shot or knifed.  So you have to know your assailant, is what I'm saying.  Or not care anymore.

The way a man gains his woman's respect is to be a man worthy of respect, at home and in his community.  Be kind, and considerate of your woman's feelings.  Never lie to her.  If you lie to your woman and get caught in it, she will never believe you 100% again.  This might be real important later.  Don't have affairs.  It is NOT true that if you love your spouse enough you will never be attracted to anyone else.  It IS true that if you love your spouse enough you will not act on those impulses.  Recognize what an insult and breach of trust infidelity is.  If you are so enamored with someone else, do the honorable thing and get your freedom first.  If you have a past history, don't tell her about it unless she wants to know.  (And ladies, truly, you won't want to know this stuff that happened before you came along.  It's nice to know who his old girlfriends are, though, if they live in your area.)  If you have a friend who is a woman, and your wife tells you she's uncomfortable with that, then cool the friendship.  Who's more important here, your wife or your friend?  Get some guy friends, for heaven's sake!  Women friends have this mysterious way of becoming a lot closer to a married man than is appropriate, before the man even knows what's happening.  It usually starts when they comfort him as he relates the latest argument he's had with the wife, and goes downhill from there.   "We never meant to hurt you,"  is what is said after the damage is done.

A man can send out signals that he is not interested in dalliances with women by working in mention of his wife when he has conversations with other women.  We had a carpenter who worked on our house on Osage who, the instant a woman engaged him in a conversation, found a way to mention his wife.  I remember thinking how lucky his wife was, to have such a devoted husband.  He obviously was a wise man who knew how much better it was to side-step trouble before it happens than to get himself into an awkward situation.  Of course, him being a carpenter made him easy prey for lonely housewives. 

You, whether husband or wife, also shouldn't share your intimate relationship details with a friend that is a member of the opposite sex.  It is a breach of trust.  Not to mention some pretty high-powered ammo if that friend has a secret agenda. 

Men, if you have been guilty of infidelity, don't lie.  Don't try to shift the blame.  You made the decision, the burden is yours, so man up.  If your wife forgives you and the two of you decide to try to work things out, LET HER VENT.  Go with her to a counselor if need be.  Don't let it bubble inside her until it has cooked away all the love and respect she ever had for you.  And ladies, please understand that a single one-night stand is not a threat to your marriage.  Think of it as an accidental bodily function.   A string of them is dangerous, even if it's with different women each time, so the first infraction needs to be dealt with with such harshness that it's what he'll think about the next time he's tempted.  But if that doesn't work, it might be a sign of a much deeper problem and you'll need to make a decision as to whether you can live with that or not.  And then there is the long-time affair with one woman.  He might actually love both of you and in that event, it's pretty complicated.

It also needs to be understood by the married couple that there is such a thing as a predatory woman.  This woman may have many reasons other than the obvious.  She may have no real desire for the married man at all.  She may know the wife and have a desire to "knock her off her pedestal", or bring her pain and sadness out of jealousy.  She may be compensating for some hurt she has experienced in her past.  She may be making a practice of having sex with married men because she thinks they are "safe".  Or she may be desperately trying to trap an unsuspecting man into an exclusive relationship by ruining his marriage, especially if there is wealth or notoriety involved.  In which case, she will not be dispatched easily.  And if she's a potential "trophy wife", you might as well just throw in the towel now.  When you deal with a predatory woman, it can be easy, or pretty messy, you never know.  Because women are complicated, and sometimes even THEY don't know why they do the things they do.

I realize a lot of the things I've said here applies to conventional relationships.  I know very little about alternative lifestyles and therefore I am not qualified to give advice in that regard.  And I do realize that sometimes the person having affairs is the wife.  Wives have affairs for pretty much the same reasons as husbands do, and there are predatory males, as well.  It's a shame the predatory male and female can't pair up and then they'd be too busy to bother with married couples....   But mostly, if the wife feels well loved and she loves, respects and admires her husband, she has better sense than to destroy a good thing.  And most men have some kind of "code of honor" amongst themselves where they don't mess with some other guy's woman.  I think mostly it's because it's liable to get them punched in the face.

And how do you make your spouse feel loved, you ask?  Well, think about what would make you feel loved.  It doesn't hurt to say it, you know.  Women need to hear the words, and men get tired of saying them, I think.  I worked with a woman who made a habit of putting little love notes in her husband's lunch bag.  I've found most men to be a little embarrassed about that.  One valentine's day I slipped down where Hubs worked and put a basket of his favorite treats on the seat, then decorated his truck with hearts.  I guess I was doing ok with the basket, just not all the rest.  He wiped it all off before he headed for home and never spoke of it.  But what makes Hubs feel good is when I tell him how much I appreciate all the things he so willingly does for me and how I admire the abilities that he has, and how much I depend on and need him.  Men love to be needed.  When I walk past him I reach out and touch or hug him and you know, touch is an important thing.  So are hugs.  Like I mentioned before, our marriage is an old one, it'll be 50 years in 2017, if we're both still around by then, and it's bent up and rusted in certain places like an old 1967 pick-up would be.  We've had a couple of wrecks and limped along on our spare more times than I want to remember.   I wish someone had told us all this when we were young, some of the things that happened to us have changed forever how we felt about each other.  But as I look around me, I see couples our age who just do not seem to like each other at all anymore, or maybe there's just one of them left, and I think that's sad.  Yes, mistakes have been made, but for the most part they've been atoned for and forgiven.  Hurts and resentments have been given to God to sort out. 
Sometimes people ask, "Would you do it all over again?" and I can't answer it without an addition:  If we could go back and do it all over again, knowing what we know now, yes, I would.  Otherwise, not so sure. 

Recommended reading?  Two books, reasonably priced, on Amazon.  Love Life For Every Married Couple, by Ed Wheat.  Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (good info if you can put up with the cutesey stuff) by John Gray.

Be happy.  Hugs xoxoxo

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

This morning I saw movement out on The North Fourth, just outside the north garden fence.  I used my zoom lens to take these pictures so it looks like they're a lot closer to the road and one of our neighbors than they really were.

This is duckling season, but they didn't have any with them.  It's not uncommon, this time of year, to see a male and female with a string of little ones waddling along behind them.  So I don't know what they're doing there, unless they've found something to munch on.  They saw me walking slowly towards the fence, and so they began easin' on out, casual as all get-out, as if to say, "I'M not afraid of YOU".  I was up close enough to the fence to take the pictures that you see below, through the holes in the fence.

That male is strutting a little.  I wouldn't come up on them without the fence being between them and me.  If there are little ones around, the male is VERY aggressive.

That's a bird, back there to the left.  A robin, in fact.  We have lots of robins.

And then as I came through the garden to get back to the house, look what was quietly waiting for me near the compost bin.

Hubs spotted a couple wandering around the compost bin on Monday.  So he baited and set the trap.  We caught the male on Tuesday.  This is the female that was in the trap today.  Some people actually take their Have-A-Heart cages to another location and let the critter out.  I won't do that to some poor unsuspecting person who's probably trying to have a garden just as hard as I am.  Nope.  We drop the cage into a washtub full of water, drown the rat, and then dump it out in the field for other critters to eat. Hubs set the trap again, there's no telling what the population is.

It's obvious there was nothing wrong with our trap.  It was just like Glenda guessed, the mouse we were having trouble with and finally killed with D-Con, was just not heavy enough to trip it.  It was so little in fact, that it probably could've squeezed out of the trap through the wire, even it it HAD managed to trip it.

I also killed a small rat in the garden on Tuesday.  I had a long 2x12 laying flat on the ground where I planned to set up a raised bed.  When I picked up the 2x12, there was a round circle of fur under it about as big as the bottom of a soft-drink cup.   I poked at it with a stick and found there was a small rat under the cover of the fur in a hole.  Awwww...  That's actually kind of sweet how the mother must've dug that hole and lined it with her own fur for her babies.  But back to cruel reality.  These rats are systematically robbing me of my garden!  I flipped the 2x12 back over it with a good whack after it started running out of the hole, and that stunned it enough that I could go ahead and kill it.  I have to admit, I had mixed feelings.  Surely God must've meant rats to serve SOME good purpose, I just don't know what that is.  Surely that hole was not made for just one baby.  The others will be growing bigger each day and will probably end up in the trap.

*Update as I've had this post in the process of being written, another rat in the trap at around noon, larger than the baby I killed, smaller than the male and female mentioned previously.  So, four rats in two days now.   Probably still more, lurking around.

Here's a picture of a jack-rabbit, but it's just getting ready to take off and run, so it's hard to see in the picture.  They haven't been able to get into the yard now since Hubs and I fixed the gates.  So this one hangs out between the house and the cellar, or out in the bed where the Forsythia is, or against the fence under the grape arbor.  Old habits die hard.  They've nibbled two pecan trees down to the ground, and damaged the bark on several trees and bushes.  Ate my Possum Haw bush that I've nursed along for two years now, down to the ground.  I'm hoping they'll come back up from the root, but this can't continue or this place will go back to being as barren as it was when we first moved here!

Last night before we went to bed we saw three deer in Charlie's field just east of our back yard fence.  Last winter, they stripped my Golden Rain Tree down to just a little plume on top.  Now, I keep a wire tomato cage around it.  They've been closer to the house in back, and I hope they're not thinking about jumping the yard fence.  It's not as tall as the garden fence and might be a bit of a problem when there's fruit hanging on the trees.  Not that I know that Mother Nature will even let me HAVE fruit this year, mind you.  All the trees are in bloom except the apple trees and some of the cherry trees, and it's not even April 15 yet, which is the average date of our last frost here.  Gardening here is A Leap Of Faith.

Some interesting sites you might like to visit:

Permaculture Rocket Stove Mass Heater HERE.

Permaculture websites and

Watch a talk given by Paul Kaiser, owner of Singing Frogs Farm, where he uses no pesticides or fertilizers whatsoever, except for copious amounts of compost, HERE.  Paul talks about a great many things and it's worth putting up with the difficulty in processing his hurried rate of speech, multiple echoing and other background noise.  He advocates the inter-planting of vegetables and other types of plants, including bee- and other beneficial insect-attracting plants.  If you watch his talk, stay on for the question and answer session.

Out of that presentation sprang a search for more information on what to plant to attract beneficial insects.  There are many and you can do your own searches and turn up good ones I've missed, but a few that I found are HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.   Of course we mustn't omit the Missouri Botanical Gardens, HERE, what a great source of information that is!

It's been a gray and cloudy day, there are storms coming this afternoon and tonight, possibly severe.  Our bag for the cellar is packed and I know where Sam's cat-carrier is, the storm radio is on.  If satellite TV goes off, and it usually does, we have the TV upstairs on the antenna, there's a radio in the cellar and our storm alert thing in the house.  If the power goes out there's still the radio.  Many of my readers may also be in the path, that's Paula in Norman, Glenda near Springfield, Carole in Joplin, Charlotte there in AR.  Others too, I'm sure.  So everyone please prepare yourselves and say your prayers....

Well, it's about time for me to publish this and get on with a few things. You might like a little mini-tour of the place before you go:

Rock on.  xoxoxoxo

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cream of Anything Soup

The latest edition of Mother Earth News was a big disappointment for me.  Almost everything in it was "old news" as far as I was concerned.  In particular, the article about not wasting food held no insight, as I do all those suggested things and more, and have for years.  Some are things I used to see my mother do.  Maybe it is that they are reaching out to younger readers for whom "everything old is new again", but I couldn't help thinking what a wash-out it would be for all their veteran readers. 

I guess it's just good business sense to appeal to younger, less experienced readers.  We old-timers are dying out and if they just geared their magazine to us, eventually they'd have no readers at all. 

The bad thing about all these little thrifty habits is that sometimes our children don't pay much attention to it when they're growing up in the household.  At least my kids and grandkids didn't.  They grow up and get in a little financial trouble and then they wonder why they didn't get taught how to be frugal.  You know, the lessons were there.  All they had to do was pay attention.  All they'd have to do, now that they're grown, would be to ask questions.  But they don't.  So if buying a magazine or looking on the Internet for tips will work for them, then I guess that's better than not getting any help at all. 

Those who have been reading my blog for awhile know I'm a big advocate of "refrigerator and freezer management".  In that I mean, know what's in there and use it before it starts growing funny-looking fuzz.  Leftovers stay in my refrigerator no longer than two days.  Within that time, they are either used, or frozen for later.  Nor do I throw out food that is past its expiration date.   The label says, "SELL by...", it does not mean "USE by...", and it's a rule of thumb for the grocery store, not for the consumer. 

Even when things go bad, oftentimes they are still useful.  Sour milk can go into 1-cup portions in the freezer and be used instead of buttermilk in things like pancakes, biscuits, or cake.  I have read that rancid cooking oil can still be used in soap-making.  I tried this, and it siezed, but the reason may have been because I don't think the temperature of my fats was close enough to the temperature of my lye mixture.  I got in a hurry.

I kind of developed a recipe by accident and I want to share that with my readers.  Not long ago, I made some turkey and dumplings, using some of the turkey and broth that I had in the freezer from the "rotisserie turkey" that I made around Christmas of last year.  The post showing the making of the turkey is HERE.  It was just typical of the chicken and dumplings I often make in the winter, except this time I didn't make very many dumplings, as they are better when freshly made.  The post about Chicken and Dumplings is on the same post as the recipe for homemade biscuit mix, the link is a little further down on this post.  Hubs' appetite is not very big at all anymore and I'm trying to curb mine in an effort to lose some weight.  So what we were left with, in the way of leftovers, was just the soup.  Full of carrots, onion, celery and peas, it was not as thick as gravy but about the consistency of those cream soups that Campbell's makes and now charges an exorbitant $1 apiece for a small can, unless you can catch it on sale.  I packed that away in the freezer, since it was enough for another meal, thinking I'd just make another small batch of dumplings when I used it again.  But then we got a cold snap and we had a day when I just felt like I couldn't stop feeling cold.  I dug one of those two cottage-cheese containers out of the freezer and warmed up the contents and we ate it for lunch.  Hubs even went back for seconds.  While I was eating mine I thought about how smooth and creamy-tasting it was and how good it would also be if it was mushroom.

Campbell's knew what they were doing with marketing their cream soups.  They developed hundreds of recipes calling for cream soups as their base.  So if you don't have any in your pantry, you're either making a white sauce, which just doesn't have as much flavor, or you're casting around for a clone recipe. 

I've tried a lot of those, from the packets of dry ingredients that you can assemble, to the soups that you can make ahead, pour into several containers, and stick in the freezer.  I think some people actually pressure can it, but that seems like a waste of canning lids to me, if you're just going to be opening them up within a month or so.  And no, I haven't tried the gourmet mushroom soup recipes that call for lots of butter and some expensive type of fresh mushroom.  That is a whole different thing, something I'd want to savor all on it's own and not mask the flavor by stirring it into Green Bean Casserole or pouring it over pan-fried steak, or serving it on top of pieces of turkey or chicken and a nearby pile of rice. 

So this is a budget-friendly recipe.  Not meant to be fancy.

Your base is chicken or turkey stock, which you make by saving bones from meals when you've fried, roasted, rotisseried or boiled chicken or turkey.  I've already written about that process HERE.  If you don't want to use a pressure cooker, you can boil the bones in lots of other ways, but that will take several hours instead of just one and that increases your energy costs.  The broth that you make yourself is so much better than broth that they sell in cans.  It will contain some natural gelatin from the bones so that after you have drained and chilled it in the refrigerator it will become the consistency of a batch of Jell-O made with only half the water.  This is what gives the broth its smooth taste without being greasy.  And yes, you should skim off all the fat that rises to the top, after it's cooled.  You can use this fat to fry chicken in.  Some people use chicken fat in place of butter.  They call it "Schmaltz".  I think this is an acquired taste.  I've made soap with chicken fat being about half the fats in the recipe (using Soapcalc) and gotten good results.

Heat the poultry stock until it has melted.  I use cottage cheese and yogurt containers as freezer containers and they only hold about 3 cups, so here I have six cups.

Drain one small can of mushroom ends and pieces and add them to the broth.  Trust me, that's a lot more mushrooms than what's in Campbell's Mushroom Soup.  If you want, you can chop the mushrooms a little finer in your food processor so they'll incorporate into the soup better.  I decided to add about half an onion, chopped, because I put onion in practically everything.  I didn't add salt and pepper, but here's where I'd add it if I was going to.

Add 1 cup of whole milk to the reserved mushroom broth, and then stir into that 2 cups of biscuit mix, till smooth.  This picture is kind of misleading because I ended up adding milk and biscuit mix until I got the desired thickness, as what I had figured for the recipe just wasn't enough.  The recipe for home-made biscuit mix is HERE. Pour into the hot broth, while stirring.  A wire whisk is best to use.  Don't walk off and do something else at this point.  Stay right there and stir it slowly while it's thickening.  It will want to stick on the bottom as it thickens.

Now it's ready to use and/or cool and pour into freezer containers to pack away for later use in any recipe that calls for canned cream soup.  Those are not lumps in the soup, they are little boiling bubbles.

I'm well satisfied with the taste.  Maybe you will be, too.

The possibilities are endless when you make your own.  You can, for instance, leave out the salt.  Or the fat.  You can make lots of different flavors by substituting other things for the mushrooms.  Campbell's makes Cream of Asparagus, Cream of Broccoli, and Cream of Celery.  You can, too.  Or you can make "Pot-Pie Soup" with chopped celery, onion, peas, and some shredded carrot.  You can make Cream of Spinach or Kale.  Or you can leave out the vegetables entirely and just make Cream of Chicken/Turkey.   That's kind of versatile because you can add your choice of vegetables to it at a later time.  Or if you want to you can add grated cheese after the heat's turned off but before the mixture has cooled.  Oh, if you must be fancy, you could use some fancy mushrooms and add some wine, I guess. 

If you don't want to use biscuit mix you could sub just flour and add maybe 1/3 cup dry powdered milk and about 1/3 cup of some kind of fat.  If you have chicken fat, that would be perfect, but shortening or lard would do.  If you're fancying things up by adding wine, you could go ahead and go whole hog and use real butter for the fat.  I used the biscuit mix because that's what thickened the broth in my chicken and dumplings, and I had some in the freezer I wanted to use up, anyway.  Biscuit mix keeps practically forever in the freezer.  But after a year, I think the leavening agents in them start losing their power. 

I think Campbell's adds gelatin and artificial flavors to their cream soups but you won't need either.  It is the gelatin that makes this soup so smooth.  There's natural gelatin in the chicken stock, remember?  And lots of flavor.  Win, win.  Such great value from a bag of bones most people toss in the garbage.  I guess if you hadn't thought ahead and already made your chicken broth, you could fake it with chicken bouillon cubes, water, and an envelope of Knox gelatin.  Bouillon cubes are mostly fat and salt, just so ya know, so if you do this you probably won't want to add salt at all.  Or you could use canned chicken broth, but you'd still have to add the gelatin.  Canned chicken broth is so watered down, it's a waste of money in my opinion.  If you're going to start with that, you might as well just buy the cream soup in the first place, because the cost of the canned chicken broth will factor into the cost of your finished product.   Which reminds me, please don't waste your money on "Vegetable Broth".  Just keep an open container in the freezer, and every time you have broth left in the pan from vegetables you've cooked, pour it into the container.  After awhile you've got the mingled tastes of green bean, carrot, cabbage, peas, corn, broccoli, cauliflower and various greens, depending on your choice of vegetables over time.  Or if you have a need for a lot of it you could just stew a bunch of vegetables of your choice, eat the vegetables and freeze the liquid. 

Well, that's about all I have for this time.  Rock on.....   xoxoxo

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring Rain and Miscellanous Doin's

Many springs ago, it seemed like it rained every time I set something out.  And it feels like that this spring, though I don't want to get too comfortable in that feeling.  I have been planting things out for days, cold weather things: lettuces, chard, kale, and a couple of perennial flowers / herbs, depending on how you want to look at them (Elecampane and Valerian officinalis).  Potatoes were planted and beet seed sown.  We extend beds a little each year.  It's one of those things you just can't do all at once, since there's so much rock in the ground.

They're a lot of work to get out of the ground, in some spots they're all chunky pieces from gravel-sized to softball-sized.  Other times, there will be flat rock that are almost smooth on one side.  There is no rhyme or reason as to what's where.  I prefer not to use the jackhammer unless we just can't find the edges of the rock.  So we use the heavy iron pry-bar, a rock behind it to act as a fulcrum, and the shovel to wedge in under the rock while we push the soil underneath.  Lots of times, we have to stand the flat rocks on edge and roll them out of the way.  I'm always happy when we can get a big flat rock out of the ground in one piece, not only for the obvious reason, but also because the rock is an addition for the walkways.  The bigger the rock, the less grass there is to come up in the cracks.

Yes, I know if I wanted to keep the grass from growing up through the cracks between the rocks, I could apply weed-killer, either ready-made or home-made, but I worry about it leaching into the soil of the garden beds nearby and thus killing out those things I have raised from seed, been given by treasured friends, propagated under a jar, or otherwise made some kind of effort in order to have it.  Yes, there are even things that I have bought as plants --  Rugosa roses, currants,  lilacs, gooseberries, Russian sage, grapevines, etc., that I would be devastated if they were killed by the leaching of poisons I'd applied to a nearby area.  Not to mention how hacked off I'd be if poisons migrated to any of my fruit trees.  My son knows how to weed-wack between bricks and such but Hubs either has no such skill or doesn't want me to know he has it, not sure which. 

A new raspberry bush is planted in a pot and setting on the patio.  So far I've managed to pick off two new shoots and they rooted right away.

So now I have three raspberry bushes where there was only one.

The Spicebush has been set out and promptly pruned by rabbits or rats.  Or mice.  I stepped out the patio door about a week ago and almost stepped on a dead mouse.  I am not much of an expert on vermin, and so I have trouble knowing what's a mouse and what's a rat.  Hubs says, aside from the size difference, mice have white bellies and tails.  And I kinda thought its tail was longer than I remember seeing on the rats.  It was very small and so I understand how it could take the bait out of the trap without tripping it.  Since then, my spinach has not been nibbled on.  I have kept them under chicken wire barricades because I have been greeted each morning by a rabbit in the yard.  They are a pain to chase out, because they run a little way ahead and then stop and wait for you to catch up, so you have to practically follow them to their exit point.  On Monday, Hubs filled in the spaces between the gates and posts with extra pipe, and I put some concrete pavers on the ground where there were gaps between the bottom of the gate and the ground.  It means we can only open the gate in one direction but that is a small price to pay.  Haven't seen rabbits in the yard since then but there may be some.  I would never have believed rabbits can go through the spaces in chain link if I hadn't seen it myself.  But I think they have to be in panic mode to do it.  Yesterday I smelled a grassfire in the air.  *Sigh*.  That means more rabbits, fieldmice and rats will be on the run from the fires and coming to the residential areas for shelter.  I'd feel sorry for them if they didn't do so much damage.  I find it hard to understand why ranchers are allowed to burn their pastures, but I guess there are some politics involved.  Most of the big ranchers around here are also attorneys or doctors.  They swear they can't raise cattle without "burning off", otherwise known as a "controlled burn", yet people in other states manage to do it quite well.   There is, as I write, a fire in Woodward county that has burned 23 thousand acres, including several homes, and nobody on the news has mentioned its origin.  If they don't ever say it's cause, you KNOW what I'M gonna think.  Hmmmmpppppphh.  That could just as easily be us.  Spring is a scarey time for me and it's not just because it's tornado season.

I've about depleted my supply of D-Con what with all this mouse / rat activity, so while we were shopping last weekend we looked for D-Con in those little paper bags.  I don't like those plastic trays.  It allows the rat to overeat when the outcome would be the same if he just ate a little, and D-Con is not cheap.  Plus the trays are easy for dogs and birds to get into, and they WILL eat it.  They say it won't hurt the dog because the dog can throw it up.  But I've known cases where it DID hurt a dog.  If a cat eats a rat that has consumed D-Con, it can cause retinal bleeding in the cat.  We've occasionally found a dead bird on the property.  I know birds only have a certain life span and maybe it's not unusual to see a bird just drop dead out of the sky.  But still.  Whatever you do, people, please, PUH-LEEEEEZE, don't ever mix D-Con with peanut butter.  Yeah, the rats love it.  But so do dogs and birds.

The only place we could find what I wanted was at Atwood's, and it was $35 for a small tote bag holding 65 little bags.

At Tractor Supply, they had a different brand in little paper bags, but their price broke down to $1 per little bag.  We will continue to try to trap as often as we can and just use the bags in the garage, where the rats slip in so easily when the garage door is open.  I leave a bag in a coffee can lid on the floor and that way the rat is dead before I even know we had one in there. Some people say they don't think D-Con works anymore but I see the evidence that it does.  I think maybe they might not realize it takes a couple days for the rat to die, or maybe they just have more rats than they thought they did.  We are a prime example.  We caught rats in the Have-a-heart trap all summer last year and were shocked that there were so many.

I also bought a package of two mousetraps.  Here again, it's a cruel way to die so I'm not sure I'll try to use them, now that I've thought some about it.  It's death for an unsuspecting bird and a trip to the vet for the cat, and that's if I'd even be able to catch her.  We have skinks (brown lizard-looking critters) that hang out near the cistern and I sure wouldn't want to get one of those in the trap, either.  They are great bug-eaters and they can get into all the same places that a rat could. 

While I was writing this, I saw I had an e-mail and it was from Carole, who sent me THIS link.  How appropriately timely.  Heh.

Atwoods had their seeds discounted, but Holy Cow!  I'm not at all sure that's much of a bargain since the beginning price is $1.75 and up to $4.  Carole has gotten packets of American Seed at her Dollar Store there in Joplin and the price per pack is less than a dollar.  I looked in my local Dollar Store, and no such luck. 

I was on Pinterest the other day, and I found a post about Phytophoto Dermatitis.  Yipe, that's scarey.  Go HERE to see that post about sensitivity to parsnips and other related plants.  That led to THIS website which gives some great identification tips for one of the offending weeds that you can accidentally come in contact with: Giant Hogweed.  I'm glad I saw this.  I probably would think it is yarrow, or wild carrot.

On the other hand, Carole sent me a link to a website that tells us there are microbes in the soil that we absorb through our skin and/or breathe in, that alleviates depression and other maladies.  There are several reports online HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.   Probably more.  I just did a search on "digging in soil good for depression".  Well I just guess if I get Winter Depression again, I'll go outside and dig a hole.  Heh.

Oh, and I have to show you this.  If you're in the mood for a wonderful You-Tube rendition of "Hallelujah", sort of, watch Father Ray Kelly HERE, done at a wedding over which he presided, this one will make you laugh and cry at the same time.  Gosh, I sure hope he doesn't get sued for doing that. 

We are supposed to have rain, off and on, now through Thursday night.  I'm grateful for the timing as seeds have been planted and new plantings are beginning to dry out a little since the light rain we had 3 or 4 days ago.  The peas are up now.  Most of the fruit trees are beginning to bloom.  The jonquils are opening up.

It's turned off kind of chilly, so I will probably stay out of the garden today.  I need to bake bread, anyway.  I have a cast-iron skillet that's starting to stick and I can re-season it while the oven is on.  And the kitchen needs a good cleaning.  Hubs spilled something and didn't wipe it up completely, so I had to mop on Monday.  He never wipes off counters, and he spills his coffee down the front of the cabinet.  My dishwasher pump quit working so I do dishes by hand now, not that I so much mind it, as most of my pots and pans don't fit in the dishwasher anyway, it's just that I get a little tired of being the one working in the kitchen.  I don't know why men are so poor about cleaning up after themselves.  Maybe that's a generalization I shouldn't be using, but I do know this is a complaint I hear often from other women, especially since *some* men don't ever clean bathrooms, either.  If there are any men reading this, rest assured, Buddy, you're not fooling anybody but yourself when you say, "But you do such a better job than I can." 

The basil seeds that I planted in trays are ready to be separated and transplanted into their own little pots.

The wintersown seeds of Curly parsley and Ammi Majus have come up in their milk jugs.  This is a tricky time for wintersown stuff.  When there are tender little seedlings inside, you can't let the soil dry out.  You can't let the sun shine directly on the jugs.  You can't let a big burst of water hit them.  And  you can't let them stay outside during freezing weather.  Lots of babysitting involved, depending on the weather conditions, and this is why I keep telling people that wintersowing is not completely trouble free.  

All our tools are scattered around in the kitchen and dining room, and lots of them can be put away now.  We are as far as we can go with the living room floor till we find out where we can get a kit for our sliding glass patio doors.  We are getting lots of drafts through that door.  We looked into buying a nice pair of french doors but apparently they don't make them as wide as sliding doors are and I do not want to make that doorway smaller.  We can get custom-made ones but probably for not less than $3,000.  Yes, that's right.  Three zeroes.  After doing some research on the Internet, I have learned that weatherstripping and gaskets need to be replaced in sliding patio doors about every other year.  Sheesh.  I bet that's never happened for this door, and it's at least ten years old.  Our problem is we don't know it's manufacturer.  And of course we are still waiting on the furniture.  I'm still trying to feel good about that stain color on those new cabinets and starting to consider painting them the same cream color that was used on all the woodwork.  Seems like, when you redecorate, there are always these little challenges that come up.

So I guess I have pretty much outlined my day for today, I'd best get up and at it.  Y'all have a good day, I hope you are having good weather wherever you are.  Rock on!  xoxoxoxo