Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Daily Doin's, Early December, 2016

I promised you pictures of the new countertop.  Well, here they are, in no particular order:















This year is almost over and it has just raced past my eyes so fast.  I remember how it seemed to drag when I was young.  I was always looking forward to something....  Now that I'm old, the list of things to look forward to is much shorter, odd that time goes so fast, considering that.  There's probably a scientific rule for it, somewhere...

You all know how much I need to keep busy during the winter.  It is, in my case, the "secret" to fighting off the black hole of depression that lies in wait.  I've heard it said that allowing oneself to wallow in depression is an insult to God, and I believe that's true.  God makes everything turn out right.  It's just that He doesn't seem to have the concept of pain and suffering, or of the time spent in it, and that's more what gets me a little down -- the waiting for God's time. 

It seems like Christmas is always a hard time for me.  All these Norman Rockwell images of smiling families gathering together, with love for each other, is such an out-and-out lie for so many of us.  We can't help but want it.  Who DOESN'T want to be loved?  But we come from dysfunctional families where no one loves anyone, not even themselves, and so all we can do is to try really hard not to be a link in the chain and pass that on.  A dear friend of mine, now gone happily to his reward for the precious life he lived, used to tell me that dysfunction is a curse that will carry on in families for generations, and so he, as an Elder in his church, made it his mission to pray for breakage of all family curses whenever anyone would join their church and give their hearts and souls to God.  Tracy and I prayed often in his office.  I will always be grateful to him for his influence in my life.  I'm sure Tracy's prayers for my situation were heard, because shortly thereafter several "tools" would usually come to me in my thoughts, that would help me to deal with whatever bad things were happening.  And so it was, also, with the technique I learned to use to enable me to side-step The Black Hole. 

You won't find me lined up with a bunch of other people outside stores to get the latest "deals", this time of year.  I detest waiting in a line.  And I detest being manipulated by product marketers that have real skill in working their voodoo on consumers.  Garage sales are testaments to the insanity that happens this time of year.  All those things people bought because they just HAD to HAVE THEM are there, priced at a fraction of their original cost.  Because no one that goes to garage sales is going to pay anywhere near full price.  Also there will be unopened lotions, perfumes and other gee-gawgery that were given by people who didn't really take the time to know their target's likes and dislikes before getting them a gift.  Gift-giving has become an activity that has lost all meaning to some.  Now it's reduced to something that you do because you are required to do it.  To try to "opt-out" of a gift exchange never seems to be very well received.  I know this because I've tried to do it a few times.  Christmas as we know it, for all its sugar-coating, is a marketing scam.  There is nothing wrong with spending Christmas quietly, reflecting on the reason why we are celebrating it in the first place, before the marketers grabbed the ball and ran with it.  I know this goes against the grain with most people.  But think about it.  Instead of running madly from store to store trying to buy something for everybody, why not just get something for yourself that you really want or need and consider it a gift?  If everybody did this, nobody would buy an unappreciated gift.  But, a lot of people really get into the shopping and decorating and wrapping and they are horrified when I say, "Find something that you want and buy it for yourself and call it from me.  I, in turn, will buy something I want for myself and call it from you.  Merry Christmas!" 

I mean, seriously.  If you want to give something to someone, you don't have to wait for Christmas to do it.  And a gift should be just that, with, really, nothing expected in return.  When that expectation is there, it's not a gift.  It's an exchange.  A trade, except that nobody gets to negotiate.  I saw a show on TV where these guys started out with an ordinary set of bongo drums and after they had done a series of trades, they ended up with a speed-boat on a trailer that they put up for sale priced at $10,000.  Yeah.  Probably a bit of a hoax, that show.  But in most cases, they found people who wanted what they had, and who were trying to get rid of something they never used.  Sometimes something left behind by previous occupants, and so on.  So, maybe something like that could happen in real life.  Imagine how shocked your kids would be, though, if you handed them back that tin of Dollar Store popcorn at Christmas and said, "Nope.  Can't use this.  What else ya got?"  Heh. 

I like to give gifts.  But I don't give them at Christmas because then the recipient thinks I'm expecting something back.  Usually my gifts come from garage sales.  If you give someone something, during the other months of the year, that you bought at a garage sale, or that you had but decided you'd never use, they're SOOO happy!  Give the same thing to them in December and they're hacked off at you, you Cheapskate, because you gave them something you bought at a garage sale, for Pete's sake!!!  They never think about how it is that you still spent the same money.  And it meant they got a 'way better gift, one that you might not be able to afford to buy if you paid full price, even if you could even FIND it.  It's funny how that works....  They also don't appreciate handmade things.  HOW does THAT happen?  I guess they're not aware how much things like fabric and yarn cost.  They think you have it just laying around your house and it doesn't cost you anything but your time.  But what if that was the case?  Even if it was just based on the amount of time you spent, what you're giving them is a piece of your life. 

While I'm on the subject of "handmade", you know how I've been making dishcloths.  Well, I'm about over that.  All dishcloth'd out, you might say.

So I've been dinking around on the Internet and I am interested in patterns for Snoods and Shrugs.  A "snood" can be anything from a fancy hairnet to a cowl that is worn around your neck and can be pulled up over your head like a hood.  I've been hunting for a pattern for just this sort of thing and never really found anything I liked, till I discovered that it was called a "snood".  I remembered this word from my childhood.  A "shrug" is a kind of a short, bolero-style sweater.  I found some cool patterns, not sure I have the skills to make them, but some of them are real beauties.  And then I came upon THIS You-Tube on how to turn an ordinary shawl into a shrug.  Too Cool.

My mother had a lot of patterns from the 30's and 40's and many times I'd wear something to school that she had made and all the girls would ask if my mother ever made things to sell.  That was actually one time when I, a common oil-driller's daughter, had the envy of my female classmates.  That and when I and my sisters showed up at school with pop-beads.  Boy, did THAT ever start something!

HERE and HERE are a couple of patterns I downloaded.  That second one is a YouTube, but the submitter has included a URL to the printed pattern on her blog.  While you're there, you might look at the other offerings on the YouTube sidebar.  If you get the same selections I do (and I'm not sure how that works), there are some people making some really pretty things there.  Usually the pattern is provided, but in some cases, you are invited to go to Amazon to buy the pattern. 

Hubs and I are quite busy with things around home.  We've got great neighbors and our little tucked-away community is a happy and friendly place to be.  Sometimes we start feeling a little lonesome, but all we have to do to fix that is to pop in on a neighbor.  They are always happy to see us and so welcoming.  I think maybe they, too, get lonesome.  It's harder for a few of them to get out and about than it is for us.  Some of the others live such busy lives, but they stop by if they see us outside.  Joe called us yesterday to tell us their little grandson was born.

Our friend June told us that she had had a local heat-and-air guy come out to her house and clean out all her HVAC ducts.  She said she'd never had it done, and she didn't say but I imagine her air ducts have been in her house since about the 1960's.  Never been cleaned out because there just wasn't a way to do that until recently.  Our house was built in the 1960's and then it burned in the late 1990's or between then and about 2000, not sure when...  Sat empty for quite awhile, open to the elements, according to neighbors.  And then bought by one of those neighbors, who did one of those "flip" things where he fixed it up and then sold it at a profit.  But seriously.  Corners were cut.  When they put down the carpet tiles on the bottom floor, they spread that glue over flotsam and jetsam from the fire and rust spots off the bottoms of paint cans, that sort of thing.  I was pretty disgusted to discover that when we pulled all that up to lay the new Italian tile.  If they didn't clean THAT up, I figured there'd be stuff like that in the ducts, too. 

So Hubs and I talked about how it seemed like there is always a layer of dust on the surface of things throughout the house, and then when we started heating season, I guess I was primed to be aware of how dusty the air smelled whenever the blower on the heating unit was on.  They were here all morning.  Not nearly as much in the bag as I expected, to be 55 years' worth of dust, and no flotsam and jetsam.  Plus there's no rat or lizard carcass in the bag, and not a pile of silt, that's actually kind of comforting, since it can be signs of bad news.  We do change the filter regularly and we buy the proper filters for our unit.  The process is kind of expensive.  I guess they have to pay for that high-powered vacuum and all those hoses and brushes that they snake down deeply through the ductwork.  Would I do it again?  Mmmmmmmm, not sure.  Maybe if I moved into a different house.  But this house?  I'd say it's good to go for another 50 years.  So, yep, I'm done....


And that's about all I know for now.  If I don't post again for awhile, I'd like to wish you all Happy Holidays.  May you and yours be well, safe, and happy.  Hugs xoxoxo

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

How The Job Went (Temporary Post)

I wanted to post this now, because it's going to be a couple of days, at least, before we can get everything back together and pictures taken and I know some of you will be wondering....

The way things went down on installation was really, kind of Weird and maybe a little Wonderful, at least from the standpoint of a job well done, though I really don't want to call it that, because I wish no harm to anyone just for the sake of a countertop, know what I mean?
 
The man who appeared at our door to do the installation on Tuesday was a different man. There was no crew. Just him. He was not a young man, either, but he turned out to be almost 15 years younger than the first man, though he was sporting gray hair, too. It's hard to gauge age in some older folks. But the man that I had reservations about was actually in his late 70's and the man who arrived at our door on Tuesday was in his mid-60's.
 
I was a little concerned at first because I was expecting a crew. He went about his work without much conversation, we asked if he needed help carrying things in and out, and he said, “Only if I yell...”. He went in and out, in and out, having set up his saw under the carport in the driveway. I had made cinnamon rolls and offered some to him a couple of times, which he politely declined but thanked me. He was with us from 9am to about 5pm and he did not ask where the bathroom was, never wandered off the path between the kitchen and the front door. He must've eaten his lunch where we didn't see or skipped it entirely. I offered to fix him a sandwich and he said, “I have food” and left it at that. If he pee'd in the bushes, we never saw that, so all I can think is maybe he had some kind of “facilities” in his van. Some of these construction-type guys do that. But most of them trek back and forth to the customer's bathroom, where they track their construction mess through the house, and once inside the bathroom, splatter on the floor and the wall, and, I have to admit, it does feel a bit uncomfortable to me, having someone I do not know going into a space that has a door that can be closed and locked. Some people snoop when they are in a strange bathroom. A few people look for things they can put in their pockets. You just never know what people will do these days.

Hubs wanted to sit at the coffee bar and stare at him while he worked, but I discouraged him from that because, well, would YOU want YOUR every move to be watched while you work? I wouldn't. So both of us went about our day as best people can, with their kitchen off-limits to them and with a stranger in the house, and left him alone to do his work. You never really think about how much time you spend in your kitchen till you can't.

The countertop had the miter-cuts already made. And that was what I was given to expect, and part of what concerned me, because no house, and this house in particular, is exactly square. I thought, “What if, when the countertop pieces are joined at the miter-cuts, the extended ends don't fit close enough to the wall? I did not want there to be a big gap there that might have to be filled. I knew something like that would talk to me every time I was in the kitchen, and not very politely, either. This kitchen is a galley-style kitchen, 3-sided, with all three sides against a wall. And the ends butt up against built-in's.

We tried to watch the job without being intrusive. Well, I had to help Hubs do that several times, as he isn't very good at it. So sometimes while the installer was outside sawing, we'd slip into the kitchen and Look At Stuff. It got kind of funny a few times, when we were almost caught. All that sawing he did made it very obvious that the countertops were made to be several inches deeper from back wall to the front edges, than they would need to be, thus allowing the back edge to be trimmed for differences in the “square” or lack of it, in the walls against which it needs to fit. This is hard for me to explain so that it makes sense. There were a lot of “thumping” noises so he may have had to push the countertop into the wall in some areas, not sure. If measurements aren't precise, one bad cut means the entire installation is bad, and there were multiple opportunities for a bad cut. Not only did he have to fit it precisely in the space allowed. He also had to cut a hole into which the new sink would fit, and one for the cooktop, too.

He never announced to us that he was finished, we just noticed him carrying out his tools, so I went into the kitchen then, with Hubs at my heels, and I asked, “Are you finished?” with my best smile. He replied, “Don't rush me, you'll make me forget something...” This is one of those things that could be misunderstood as something kind of off-putting, but I saw a small glimmer of a smile and I realized that here is a man of few words. When words are measured out, they can come out kind of short. I know this because I have lived with Hubs for 50 years, and I have, in the past, accused him of measuring words out as if the saying of them is painful or something, to the point where now he seems to talk “in code”. Almost every time I ask him a question, he answers a question I have not asked, often just telling me something that's so obvious that I already know it. So then we have to “play Twenty Questions”, just so I can get an answer to the question I originally asked. *Sigh*.

But anyway, I looked the job over and told the man that he had done A Wonderful Thing, and that I, a woman who is sometimes not easily made happy, was. And then he warmed up a little, and we had somewhat of a conversation, where he said more words than he had said during the whole day.

It turned out that he and the man who had come to measure were maybe partners – or maybe one of them worked for the other – he didn't make that clear and I didn't feel comfortable, under the circumstances, about asking too many questions. He did say that the other man had been having some little mini-strokes and there had been some problems with some past jobs, and that this man had called him and asked him if he'd do this job, last-minute, saying that he thought he'd just had another mini-stroke. And that is what I mean. I'm not grateful that the reason why we got a good installation was because the man had an event. I'm grateful, though, for the timing of it. And I've added this man to the people that I pray for. Our installer also said that he, himself, had some concerns about whether he personally would be able to do a good job for us when he saw how tightly things would have to fit. He said that the fact that the ends were enclosed against the built-in's was not mentioned in the notes that the first man had made when he came to measure before the material was ordered.

So, thank you's go out to those who prayed for me and my kitchen. And praise be to God. I will do a post, with pictures, after we've been able to get it back together. Maybe I will move this information into that post and then delete this one, at that time, just so everything will be together in one post. Hubs has the sink to put in, and I might take this opportunity to put another coat of paint on the drawer fronts and cabinet doors, as we took many of my old glass handles off so that there wouldn't be any danger of getting one broken.

Hugs xoxoxo

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Catch Up Time, Installment 2


Well, it's getting close to garden planning time and so I have started accumulating seed catalogs and seeds.


From Baker Creek, I've added
  • Angel Wings (China Rose) - An open-pollinated rose.  HERE is more information.
  • Beet (Crosby's Egyptian) - I've grown this good beet before, it's an old heirloom, doesn't have that "dirt" taste many beets do.  Nice red color, round shape.
  • Calendula (Resina) - This is supposed to make flowers that are more potent than your regular Calendula, which is good for the skin, used topically.
  • Loofa (Bonanza 141) - I've grown loofah before, and, yeah, I made some loofah sponges but wasn't real impressed.  HOWEVER, I found out the immature fruits are what my mother used to grow, and we ate them, sliced, in stir-fries and soups.  They taste like squash, when young, and make cute little star shapes when sliced.  Kids are kind of intrigued with that.  Here, kid, eat a tree (broccoli); OR a star!  Kids love pretending to be a Giant.
  • Moldavian Balm (Dragonhead) - medicinal for tea.  "Lightens a discouraged heart".  Don't we all need that.
  • Mugwort - Artemesia - medicinal antibacterial, antifungal.  Tall, interesting plant, nice for dried wreaths and arrangements..
  • Okra (Fife Creek Cowhorn) - To replace my cowhorn okra that just didn't do well this year.  The pods got fibrous much sooner than they usually do.  Not sure what happened. 
  • Petunia (Coral Salmon)
  • Petunia (Rose of Heaven) - I'm told if petunias are planted with squash, they will deter squash bug.  Might be too good to be true, but going to give it a shot. 
  • Siberian Wallflower - Highly scented bee magnet.
  • Sorghum (India Red Popping) - Also called broomcorn.  I've grown Rox Orange the last two or three years.  The seed is really too small to pop, they just burn.  Birds love the seed, though, and so it self-seeds and you never have to plant it again after the first year.  After the seeds are combed off, or picked off by the birds, you can bundle the brushy ends of the stalks together and trim them off even to make a broom, if you want.  There are several You-Tubes that will show you how it's done.  Just one makes a cute little whisk broom. 
  • Sorghum (Tarahumara Popping)
  • Squash (Jumbo Pink Banana) - been trying to grow this one for years.  They say it can be eaten like yellow summer squash when the fruits are young and will turn pink and store well like a winter squash if left to mature.  Unfortunately, squash bugs love it so I've never been able to grow this.  Trying, one more time.
  • Toothache Plant - Interesting little border plant.  Makes your mouth numb for a little while if you chew a leaf.  Also called eyeball plant because the "flowers" look like eyes.
  • Wormwood - Another Artemesia.  This is an ingredient in my homemade Absorbine, Jr.  It was growing under the Hackberry trees, near the North Fourth when we moved in here but I didn't see it this year.  Antifungal, antibacterial.  I also have another Artemesia, Sweet Annie, that grows in my garden.  Weird about this one.  I grew it at The Ponca House in 2008, but I didn't save seed.  We left there in 2010, and then, about in 2014, I kind of wished I had some growing here, as I just love the scent.  Not long after, I was digging around in the garden and there was that familiar smell.  Yup.  They it was!  Since then, some have come up every year, but this year, I moved them to the fenceline simply because they take up a lot of space in the garden and some plants just don't like them very well.  We brought the contents of our raised beds out here from The Ponca House.  We worked so hard "making" that soil, I was definitely not leaving THAT behind.  Plus, you never know what a buyer's going to want.  Some would welcome beds full of garden dirt in their back yard and some would put the removal of them down as a condition of the sale.  Even if we hadn't needed good garden soil out here, we didn't want to have a last-minute scramble.  So, some would say it came up in 2014, four years later, because the seed was in the soil.  But I prefer to think it a God thing.  And thank you, God....

From Terroir Seeds (Underwood Gardens), I've just received
  • Amaranth (Joseph's Coat) - I've tried to grow this before and didn't have much luck.
  • Amaranth (Love Lies Bleeding) - I had only a little bit of seed last spring, which I wintersowed.  It came up and made one red "flower", but never got very tall and didn't make any seed.
  • Basil (Magical Michael) - I had this before and liked it because it was a nice compact plant and made small leaves that air-dried very quickly and seemed to keep their flavor for use during the winter. 
  • Bean (Lazy Wife / Housewife) - I think I lamented earlier that I've been unable to find these where I normally buy seed.  It turns out there's been some kind of mix up in that there are Lazy Housewife beans and there are Lazy Wife beans and they have been thought the same thing but are not.  Apparently the Lazy Housewife have more roundish beans and Lazy Wife beans are kidney-shaped.  These were advertised as Lazy Housewife but the picture provided showed the beans to be kidney-shaped.  And that's what the beans in the packets were.  That was one of the first things I did when I got the package last week.  I'm happy, because the variety that I had and preferred was the one with kidney-shaped beans.  What I had saved came up spotty or not at all last spring, and must've gotten crossed with something else as the bean pods were short and twisted.  I was not a happy camper.  At all.  I have not had a good bean crop in about three years now.
  • Bean, Scarlet Emperor - I've grown Red Emperor and Painted Lady runner beans before, but they have both had wide, short, fuzzy, kind of meaty, strong-tasting beanpods that I really don't like very well.  This variety is supposed to be very prolific at making long, more slender beans.  There is another variety of runner bean that's called White Emergo, and the beans, instead of being black and pink, are white and look like cannellini beans.  The beans are said to be very tasty.  Maybe one of these days I'll try that one.  But I won't try both in the same year because of cross-pollinating concerns.  I'll grow these on the trellis over the cellar, I hope they won't cross with the Lazy Wife beans out in the garden.  
  • Fireweed - Bee magnet.  Early shoots can be eaten fresh or lightly cooked.  Early leaves can be eaten like spinach.  Older leaves can be used for tea, and have a citrus-like scent.  Flowers are pretty.  Some parts of the plant are medicinal.  More info HERE
  • Hollyhock (Indian Spring Mix) - I've really admired this variety for awhile now.  I have the old fashioned kind.  These are also singles, like what I have, but the colors are a little different and they have yellow centers. 
  • Hyssop (Rootbeer) - I think this is often referred to as Hummingbird Hyssop, if so, I've had it before and is was a butterfly magnet.
  • Mint (Virginia Mountain) - A medicinal, camphor-like mint.  I might use it in my homemade Absorbine Jr. instead of Orange Mint.  The American mountain folk used it medicinally, much like Vicks Vapo-Rub, and as a tea for sore throat and coughs.
  • Onion, Nodding - This was growing in the flowerbed at the library and I thought it was interesting-looking.  I collected seed from one but nothing came of it.
  • Onion, Sweet Candy bulbs, 1/2# - supposed to be an improvement over the hybrid Candy onion, a little longer storage, and open pollinated, so hopefully they'll make seed that I can keep going in future years.  The hybrid Candy will make flower heads if they're left in the ground for another spring, but there are no seeds.  Since there is one bulb in the package that's a lot larger than the others (and I would've rather had the 4 or so little bulbs this big one took the place of, but, oh, well.  It will most likely bolt to seed right away next spring, being the size it is, and that might serve my purposes just fine. 
  • Roselle - Yeah, Fiona, you got me in the mood to grow this again.  Needs a long growing season.  Sometimes our first fall frost comes too soon for it to make bracts, though. 
  • Sunflower (Van Gogh Mix) - I love me some sunflowers.  Our goldfinches do, too.  I love to hear the goldfinches talking to each other: "sweeeeeet?  sweeeeeet?"  We have a lot of birds here that we didn't have when we moved in.  We saw Orioles for the first time this summer.  We put up Bluebird houses and they came and had two families in one.  One of the House Wrens had two families in one of the others.  Barn Swallows, Scissortails, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Mockingbirds, Robins, Grackles, Crows, Hawks, occasionally an Eagle, Buzzards, have always been around.  Even though Hubs is not very good at managing the Martin house, we still have a few that come.  Of course several different kinds of sparrows have sometimes been the bane of my existence.  They made themselves quite at home with the chickens and ate their feed, when I had chickens.  We have to close off every nook and cranny, up close to the house, or they're building a nest in it.  I can't have a wreath on the outside of the door or I get baby House Sparrows, who, while really cute, will poop all over everything before they're able to leave the nest.  There was one spending the night perched under the patio cover for awhile, which would never fail to startle me, flying almost right in front of my face, when I'd first step out on the patio in the mornings.  But, moving on, now.
  • Thyme (Orange Scented) - I've grown "Orange Mint", and it does not smell or taste like orange.  Kind of hoping this will.
You can't be a gardener without discovering how many varieties there are of just about everything that grows.  When I was younger and just buying food at the grocery store, with only certain things bought at the You-Pick farm, I had so little knowledge of this.  Tomatoes and peppers were just.....  tomatoes and peppers.  Now I find myself wanting to grow so many varieties that I have to be careful about cross-pollination, or buy new seed every year.  There's danger in not gathering seed from the things you love to grow in your garden.  Sometimes things happen, and seed for certain varieties of vegetables can no longer be bought.  It has been said that tomatoes, being self-pollinating, will not cross with each other and that is just not true.  It has been my experience that, while insects that pollinate prefer certain other flowers, there are insects that are drawn to the color yellow.  If they've been dislodged from a flower due to wind, etc., they may crawl into another, carrying with them a certain amount of pollen from the flower they were in first.  So, if you have a favorite tomato, and you want to save seed, your chances of getting seed that will be true to the cultivar are better if you have some distance between your tomato varieties.  Some even fasten a little bag over some of the flowers on plants from which they want to save seed, which means, with other plants, you must hand-pollinate them first.  And you can do this with tomato flowers too, but it's not absolutely necessary.  The wind will do it for you.  If there is no wind, just jiggle the plant every now and then, or the cage that it's in.

I don't think I posted the sweet potato harvest in October.  It wasn't a whole lot, but enough for the winter, since Hubs doesn't like sweet potatoes. 

The dang grub worms took as much as they could before they were dug up.  We don't have chickens to feed them to, and now the birds aren't taking them because their digestive systems have changed, with the season, to seeds rather than to bugs and worms.  I thought about taking some out to the field where the geese land, but by the time they fly in, the grub worms will have dug themselves in.  Come to think of it, I haven't seen them there in the last few days.  Maybe they have gone south.

Fortunately, we have some neighbors on the county road east of us, that still have chickens.  So, last time I had a bunch of grub worms collected, Hubs took them over there and asked if they'd like to have them for their chickens.  Hubs said they have some little pullets now, and when they put some of the smaller grubs in front of them they just didn't know what to think.  They looooooked at the grub worms, and then they looked up as if to say, "What you talkin' 'bout?"  Heh.  But the bigger hens, well, the chase was on, with much excited squawking and wing flapping, as it always was with our chickens when we had them.  They were so fun to watch.  We don't think of chickens having actual personalities, but they do.  Some of them are butt-heads, and are mean to the others, but some are really delightful. 

From mid-May through part of June, you can't be on the patio with the patio light on, early in the morning, without being dive-bombed by Junebugs.  They, and Japanese beetles, are what these grub worms turn into.  Usually I'm out there picking up the Junebugs and dropping them into an empty milk jug.  Chickens love these, too.  Or you and just make a fire in the burn barrel and drop them into the fire.  They kind of "go to waste" that way, but it's still better than letting them dig themselves back into the soil and deposit about a thousand larvae.  Some people eat June bugs after they've cooked them in hot coals, but I'm going to have to get a lot hungrier than I ever am to do that.  They say they turn kind of "molasses-ey".  Ewwww.  Last year, we took them to Jo-Alyn Lowe park, which has a big pond and there are always lots of geese there.  People take bread out there to the park to feed to the geese, and they will come right up to you.  We created pandemonium, shaking out our grub worms onto the ground in front of those geese. 

I still had some sweet potatoes in the pantry from last year, but they were really too old and fibrous to be good to eat.

So they were cut up, and went into the compost bucket. 

The ends with sprouts became "starts" for next spring.

No, I don't usually start these this early, but I think they'll be ok.  When I was a kid growing up, my mother would always buy an extra sweet potato at Thanksgiving time, and she'd put it in water in an old crockery bean pot, and then would put that on top of the refrigerator.  By spring the potato itself would be pretty much rotted but there would be miles and miles of potato vine.  I don't think she ever thought to put the vines out in the garden, she just liked to have something green and growing in the house through the dismal winter.  For as many years as my mother gardened, there was so much about which she was unaware.  She didn't usually gather seed.  She thought hybrids were The Best, and was always so proud of her Better Boy and Early Girl tomatoes.  So when the seed catalogs would come in late winter, she'd study each one, and make out lonnnnng orders, mostly for the same things that she grew the year before, with maybe a few things "to try", and almost always, a new Iris variety or two. 

I thought Mom had more different kinds of iris than anyone around, until I walked around the house of my friends, Hazel and Dorothy, who lived on a county road north of Copan.  Hazel and Dorothy would take excursions in the summer, and one of the places they went to every spring was an iris farm, somewhere in Kansas, I think, and with each visit they'd each buy a variety they didn't have already.  I didn't get any of Mom's iris, but Hazel and Dorothy shared with me, so I have those to remind me of them.  And I have some real beauties from Glenda, and some I bought at garage sales and local plant sales.  Every spring when the iris bloom, it's like a visit from friends. 

I grew "fall potatoes" this year, and it was an interesting experiment.  All that I did was just to tuck the small potatoes back into the soil where they have grown.  I've had potatoes actually grow from the compost that I bury in the garden.  And I've had some potatoes show up in the spring that wintered over.  But this is kind of rare for this area. 


There were several potatoes that were about the size of a tennis ball, but most of them had been riddled by the grub worms.  So I scrubbed those till they were clean, cut out the bad spots and blanched them in boiling water.  Then I peeled and diced them.  They have been in the freezer waiting for some morning when we want to have eggs, sausage and hash browns with onion and sweet peppers, and that turned out to be Sunday morning. 



 We like our sausage well-done but they look burned in this picture.  My camera is getting old and has not been "state of the art" for 20 years.  I was sure excited when it was first introduced.  No more sending off film to be developed.  What a pain that was.  No more buying flashbulbs, either.  Although printing them can get expensive because of the ink and paper required, it is really nice to take a lot more pictures of something and delete the ones that don't turn out.  Professional photographers have always done that, but they did their own developing and could tell, in the darkroom, which ones were worthy of keeping.  The rest of us didn't find out we had crappy pictures till we paid for them to be processed.  It sure was a disappointment to open the package and find that out.  There are many people who have never known anything but digital pictures.  I often say that "The World As I Knew It" has already ended.  Technology has exploded.  When I was born, there was no such thing as television.  People were just starting to get telephones and inside bathrooms.

But I digress. 

So this is what I mean about not wasting things.  Some people would have looked at those holey potatoes and just thrown them away.  There are probably four healthy servings of potatoes there.  Dr. Oz says the foods that are good for inflammation in the body are good fats and potatoes, preferably potatoes that have some color to them, like Yukon Golds and the blue potatoes.  I like the Golds and they make pretty mashed potatoes.  But I've never had the blue.  Might get some blue seed potatoes next spring to add to my repertoire.  Oh, and guess what?  Lard is considered a good fat now.

I think I'll bring in that bucket of sand I have in the shed and spread some in the bottom of a big pan, then put these potatoes in a single layer, and add the rest of the sand to cover.  Maybe if they're out in the garage, where it's dark and cool (but not freezing), they will make it to spring and be "seed potatoes". 

We're almost in Kansas here, so we're Zone 6.  Most of the state of Oklahoma is Zone 7.  That means we have an earlier first-frost in fall and thus a shorter growing season than the rest of our state.  Colder winters.  We used to get so much more rain than the rest of the state that our area was dubbed "Green Country", and we are considered to be the southwestern corner of "The Ozarks".  But it's not so much that way anymore.  We've had drought and intense, triple-digit temperatures in the summer pretty regularly in the past couple of decades.  When we first moved out here in 2010, where rock can be found with just the bite of a shovel, we had a terrible time growing anything

Some of you might remember I tried growing peanuts this year.  It was too late in the spring to get seed when I decided to try, so I bought a package of raw peanuts, the kind that are sold for making peanut brittle with, and planted some of those.  I didn't think they were doing much, though I did notice that they bloomed, so I almost didn't bother to dig them up.

But lookit here....  Don't this beat all?? 

I had read somewhere that the tips of the peanut plant find their way back into the ground and the peanuts grow from the tips.  I didn't find that to be exactly true.  These peanuts pretty much grew a lot like potatoes do: up the stalk.  Probably would help to hill up the soil around them as they grow, like a lot of people do their potatoes. 



My ginger didn't do so well.  I started with a nice big hand I bought at Whole Foods.  I broke it into several pieces before planting.  They sprouted and grew fronds about a foot tall.  Every time I'd water, the soil would wash off the tops of the pieces of the hand and I could see they were there and still fat.  Then one day, it looked like they had just dissolved right out of the skins!  The fronds were still green so I replanted the ones I'd dug up, just to be sure I was SEEING that right, and waited awhile longer.  I read somewhere that you're supposed to wait till the fronds die, but they just never did.  The first frost was coming.  So, what the hell.  I dug 'em all up.


I guess I can replant these and maybe they'll get bigger instead of smaller this time.  *Sigh*.  I wouldn't ever have attempted this if it hadn't been for you, Fiona, and it was an interesting experiment.  I'll keep on trying.

I had to process the Futsu pumpkins that I grew this summer.  One of them developed a bad spot and the others seemed like they were not as heavy as they were before.  Drying out, obviously.




Don'tcha just LOOOOVE that color?  OMG, I could just eat that with a spoon.  And I had three smallish spaghetti squash that matured before the squash bugs found the plants.  I have two nice big Long Island Cheese pumpkins that still look very good, so I didn't process them.  Glenda said hers are into their second year of storage and still look fine.  I don't remember, Glenda, if I have ever thanked you for all your "big-sister" advice and so on over the years.  But I have appreciated it and have learned so much from you.  So, thanks, Hon.

Up to this point, we haven't had any fire out here this year and so we haven't been over-run with field rats.  We did see one run across the walkway to the patio, where the Lime Basil grows and had been dropping seed.  The birds just love that seed and I guess the rats and mice do, too.  So I set the trap and started catching about one a day.  The count is up to seven, but that's for the whole month so far.  Remember, last year, when we had fire that actually got onto our land, within a week or two the count was up to 178.  This month's count includes one that actually died in the trap, I forgot to look for 3 or 4 days in a row and the poor little bugger must've starved to death.  I feel kinda bad about that.  Hubs says that's silly.  Maybe he had a dose of D-Con in him from somewhere, and died because of that.  In that case, I did good by keeping something from eating him and suffering consequences.  As disgusting as they are, rats are one of God's creatures and have their place, though Not In My Back Yard.  Nor is it in my car engine or in my freezer motor in the garage, thank you very much. 

Mostly I think their purpose is food for the hawks.  This guy was hunting.  I figure if he has his back to us, maybe that means there aren't any rats running around in our yard.  In the top picture, he's looking into the garden.  Yikes.  And there have been owls, whom (get it?) I've heard hoo-ing in the early mornings before light, but have not seen.  They are nocturnal creatures, afterall.

In the evenings, when I'm too tired to do anything else (or too lazy), or when the weather is not such that I want to be outside, I've been knitting dishcloths!

I'm not a very good knitter.  But these are so simple.  Just cast on 4.  Knit two rows.  Then, at the start of each row, knit two and increase one.  Then knit the rest of the way across.  Just do this for every row till you have 50 stitches, and then start knitting stitch number 3 and 4 together on each row till you're down to 4 stitches again, and then finish off.  There's a really nice tutorial HERE.  Note that she does her increase by just throwing the yarn to the front, and when she does the next knit stitch, it makes a "place holder" for the one before it because the yarn came from the front instead of the back, and that's what gives her the increased stitch.  Does that make sense?  I noticed in the comments of the tutorial that someone was really confused by her saying "yarn over" at this point, because that normally means that then you're going to change from knit to purl.  But if you do not purl, but KNIT the next stitch, well, if you're not familiar with how that works, try it and you'll see.  I also like how smoothly she knits, by just moving her finger to loop the yarn over the needle.  I learned to knit, when I was about 12 or so, from a magazine-sized booklet that Mom bought during the 1940's or 50's.  Mom didn't have the patience to teach her kids how to do things.  Mostly she'd find some kind of learning aid, and then give advice after we had the basics down.


When my mother knitted, she would throw her yarn over the needle with her whole arm.  I always knew when she was knitting, early in the morning or late at night, because I could hear her chair creak with every stitch.  But all that jerky movement hurts my shoulder that I damaged when I fell in the garden, ten or fifteen years ago.  So I'm grateful I was able to watch this other woman on YouTube to see how the thread can be handled with only a flick of the finger.  I just looooove YouTube.  I'm using a size 7 pair of knitting needles and 4-ply cotton yarn,Peaches and Cream or Sugar and Cream brand that you can get at WMT.  A 2 oz. skein is only enough for a dishcloth and a half.  But Amazon sells it in 14 oz. cones and you get quite a price break per ounce that way.  I had my yarn already, bought at a garage sale.  I love it when people decide they're going to learn to knit or crochet and then find out they don't enjoy it.  Then they load up all their yarn in a bag and price it at a dollar at their next garage sale.  Considering the price of yarn, that's a real bonanza.  I wanted to use up that left-over yarn but I didn't want to make half-and-half dishcloths so I decided to try starting with two yarns, one variegated, and the other a solid color.  I began by just picking up, say, the solid color, and knitting a row and then back, then dropping the solid color yarn and picking up the variegated, knitting across and then back, and drop it and pick up the solid color again, and so on.  No cutting.  Work it like you're doing a narrow stripe sweater, in other words.  This worked out pretty well.  The top two dishcloths in the picture were done this way.  Can you tell the difference? 

That dark green yarn that's on the needles is actually my old, holey, faded green garden sweater, raveled out.  Heh!  I bought a new GAP sweater at a garage sale this summer for $3 and I'll be wearing it instead.  Wow, there's a lot of cotton yarn in that old garden sweater.

This was us in 2013.  OMG, look how fat I was.  I don't even WEAR those jeans anymore because I can't keep them UP.  Thank you, God. 

I had an email from Marsha asking for my Absorbine, Jr. recipe the other day.  I took that post and several other old ones down from the blog because I didn't think there was a need for all those old ones to be there.  However, I realize that post has been linked to by a few people on Pinterest and maybe some other places.  I still have it in my Drafts.  I think I'll update it a little and then put it back up when I get time.  I'll back-date it so maybe anybody that's looking for it to be in February of 2014 will be able to find it.  Taking it down probably broke the link that people have to it, not sure if back-dating it to the date it was originally published will fix that or not. 

The men come to install my new countertops today.  Everybody that prays, please pray for them today.  I did, and Carole has.  I have some concerns because I really didn't feel that the man who came to take measurements seemed very capable to do the job.  I don't know, it was just the feeling that I got from things he did and said while he was here.  I expressed my concern to the young woman I dealt with at Lowe's to get this ball rolling and she said if I'm not pleased their Satisfaction Guarantee will kick in.  But even so, I don't want to be without the use of my kitchen any longer than I just have to.  They'll do the job from the tear-out to completion today. 

So, we'll treat the workers well so that they'll be motivated to do the best job they can do.

Till next time...  Hugs  xoxoxo 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Weird Or Wondrous Things

One day in October, we heard the unmistakable sound of a helicopter going overhead.  I always feel uneasy when there are low-flying helicopters.  Maybe because they're so loud.  Maybe because it feels like they're going to land right on my land.  Maybe, because I can see them so well, I know they can see me.  Not sure.  The human race is so weird and freaky now. 

This time, the noise did not go away.  Hubs looked out the patio door and called for me to come and look.  We couldn't imagine what was going on.  The helicopter was just hovering there.


Many times, it was pointed right at us.  And no, I'm not in the habit of going out in the back yard without clothes on.  Not that anyone would enjoy seeing that.  And certainly it's not a sight that anyone would get in a helicopter and come over to see.


And then, yikes, what's that hanging from the helicopter?  These pictures were taken with my zoom lens and I couldn't get a closer shot.


I suppose we could've hopped in our truck and driven over there but we didn't want to be a pair of those fools that rush in....



I went to the internet and did a search on "helicopter hovering dangling a rope" and couldn't find anything but a couple of forums where the responses to the query were, "BURN YOUR CROP!!"  Heh.

The next day, Hubs bumped into Kylie, our friend who brings us wood chips.  Kylie has a degree in arboriculture, and he has lived around here all his life.  Hubs described what we had seen and, as I understood it, Kylie said the helicopter was sent by the power company, and they were dangling a chain saw, cutting high branches.

Well, this still seems a little weird to me.....

Moving on, though....

Wild geese fly in to the fields around us all the time.  That's nothing new.  But one day in September they had a white goose with them.



It kind of looks like the family is not too pleased.  Is it one of those "Guess who came to dinner" things?


But it's strange and something we'd never seen before.  I wasn't aware that domesticated geese could fly for very long periods of time.  Not sure how this story turned out, because we've looked for the white goose since then and though wild geese often convene in the field behind our house, it has not been with them recently.  Not sure what they're finding to eat out there.



This was the view from the kitchen window one recent morning.  A praying mantis.


I went outside to get a closer shot with my zoom.  I couldn't tell if it was moving or not.  Hubs said he thought it was dead.  I didn't want to bother it, in case it was laying eggs or something. 


I checked on it several times that day.  It seemed to be going downwards on the screen.  That night it rained, and the praying mantis was not visible from the inside of the window the next morning.  I went outside to see if it had fallen on the ground, and it was laying on the window ledge.

I guess it lit there and died? 


The spiders have been very active this fall.  Some people hate spider webs, seems like they are always hanging all over the place in those Dracula movies.  But I think they're beautiful. 




 


 


 



I love to walk around outside right after a rain.  I started doing that because I wanted to see where the water runs.  I'm doing my best to keep what rain falls ON our land from running off to my neighbors.  But the added benefits are several.  The air is so clean and fresh right after a rain.  And somehow, it just makes me feel closer to God and gives me peace and hope.  It also gives me a chance to get some pictures that are just almost ethereal. 







If you remain open minded, you will see many Wondrous Things.  Even Wondrous Things will happen to you.  I'm sure Wondrous Things have been happening to me all my life.  It's just that I never noticed the significance before.  I'll never forget when I first became aware of this.

It happened during a very low period in my life.  Hubs and I were separated, and things were going on in my birth family that let me know they had all chosen sides, and it was not my side they had chosen.  What should I have expected from people who continuously told me how lucky I was to have Hubs, when they had absolutely no knowledge of how things were between us when no one was around?  I think really, what they actually meant was that they thought I was lucky, in fact, to have anyone at all.  What a rude and hateful thing to say to someone you're supposed to love.  But anyway, there were a lot of tales being told in our community and in our family, some things out of context, but mostly totally made-up and untrue, that got back to me, by people who had the need to draw attention away from the things THEY were doing.  Mind you, I'm not saying that I didn't bear some of the fault for the split-up between Hubs and me.  When a marriage goes to hell in a handbasket, there's almost always some responsibility on both sides.  What I am saying is that, what was happening between Hubs and me was not any of their business.  I didn't ask anyone to side with me.  The least they all could've done would have been to distance themselves from both of us till all the dust settled.  I was in shock that it happened the way it did.  I was saddened by the betrayal.  The very family members that I had felt closest to were the ones who shoved the knife in, and twisted it.  I was doing a lot of crying, and it was a really dark time.  So this one day, I turned on the TV to try to find something to take my mind off all my troubles, and I paused on the station where Joyce Meyer was speaking.  I had never heard of her before.  She looked right at me from her place in the middle of my TV screen.  And she said,

"You know, when people do things that hurt you, the fact that what they are doing will hurt you may not even be in their thoughts at all.  They might be just......  .....doing what they do.....  And you just happened to be there, in the way.  A side-effect." 

It was like a light came on.  Thank you, Joyce.  Thank you, God.

Well, this heightened my awareness, and I looked at things differently from that day on.  You might say it was a turning point.  God worked a miracle in my life.  He brought a revelation, not just to me, but to Hubs.  And it wasn't very long after that, that we worked things out.  That was over 20 years ago.  I was even able to understand the hatred that my birth family continued to express towards me, in the community, to my own children, even!  To my cousins, my nieces and nephews, in short, anyone who would listen.  Many people came to me, and told me they loved me, after that.  I needed that.  I am grateful to them and will always be.  And to God.

I forgave them all.  It doesn't mean I have to be friends with any of them.  It doesn't mean I have to have anything to do with them at all.  It doesn't mean the way they slandered me was OK, because it wasn't, and it never will be.  It doesn't mean I ever have to tell them I've forgiven them, and I won't, because they don't understand what forgiveness really is, so they'll go chatter to each other about how I'm "trying to weasel my way back into the family", and I really have no desire for that.  Forgiving means I understand that hatred comes out of empty places.  Insecurity.  Low self-esteem that demands the tearing down of someone else in order to feel better about oneself.  They showed me who they are.  I'm sorry I was in their way.  I'm sorry if they hate me.  But I gave all that to God so that I could move on.  I did not ask God to punish them.  I asked God to forgive me, for whatever part I played in all this.  I do not have to care whether he punishes them or blesses them.  He knows their hearts just like He knows mine.  The thing about God is, He gives you what you need. 

Moving on, now.

You'll enjoy this next one. 

Even years before we adopted them, our grandsons always spent a great deal of time with Hubs and me, and we had them full time almost every summer.  This was fine if I wasn't working, but if I was, I'd have to find daycare arrangements for them.  One summer, when they were pre-schoolers, they were participating in the daycare that was run by the local YMCA, and on this particular Friday, they had gone on a field trip to a place in Tulsa where they played laser tag.  I had paid for their tickets, packed their lunches and dressed them according to written instructions.  But when I went to pick the boys up at the end of the day, JR, the perennial tattle-tale, whispered to me that JC had stolen a whoopee cushion from some other little boy, and had it in his backpack.  I pulled JC away from the others and asked him if this was so, and he admitted that it was.  What I hadn't known earlier was that some of the other parents had given their children extra money because there was a gift shop there, and a lot of the boys had bought whoopee cushions.  I told JC that I was sorry I hadn't given him and JR anything for the gift shop, but added that stealing was never the answer and it wasn't fair to the other little boy.  I asked JC to take the whoopee cushion out of his backpack and go find the rightful owner and give it back, and he did.  He was in tears, and I felt so bad, but I knew this was a lesson I had to try to teach him.  I told him that we were going to go to some garage sales the next day and that he could look for one there, or something else he'd rather have, and if he didn't find one I'd look the next week for one and get it for him.  (We always gave the boys money to spend at garage sales when they went with us, but they had to get my approval of the deal.)  He brightened, I wiped away his tears and we left for home. 

The next morning, at THE VERY FIRST garage sale, I kid you not, JC came running to me excitedly with a red whoopee cushion in his hand.  It was a quarter.  I OK'd the purchase with a hug and a secret smile between me and JC.  And I said, "Thank you, God." 

Since that time, I've felt like God has "gone garagin'" with me on many occasions.  I don't know how many times, in the car, I've told Hubs, "Keep an eye out for (this or that)" and, lo and behold, as the song goes, "WHUP!  They it is!"  Heh.  The weekend before I was to have surgery was the weekend we found medical equipment at more than just one garage sale, which was priced quite reasonably and what I bought was very helpful to me while I was recuperating.  I mean, we hadn't seen stuff like that for sale that whole summer.  Right before the great-grand-daughter's fifth birthday, I wished I could find something appropriate for her, and there appeared before me a pink tricycle with a bicycle horn and handlebar streamers. 

She is a girlie girl and wears pink all the time. 

Most recently, my friend Carole told me she needed a decorative storm-door screen-protector for her sunroom, but found out they don't make them anymore.  So I told her I'd watch for one.  It might not've been the very next Saturday, but it was soon after, when I found not one, but three.  The one that was the right size to fit Carole's door was purchased, and I e-mailed a picture to her.


She said it was exactly what she'd had in mind.

I don't care if you laugh to think that this ol' lady actually thinks God goes garagin' with her.  I'm happy to bring a little joy into your life.  But I do know that God delights in delighting us. 

I remember when I found out that my next-door neighbor, and co-worker, was actually in the habit of praying for a good parking spot.  I thought that was wasting God's time and I admit I felt pretty horrified about it.  Such a little thing.  So easy for God to arrange.  Joyce Meyer says you can ask God for anything, and He wants you to.  It's not that you're ordering Him to do it, mind you, like you think He's your genie or something and is supposed to do your bidding.  You're just askin', like a child asks a parent ......  And, like a parent, if He doesn't want you to have it, He'll just not do it.  If He does do it, He's showing you He loves you.  And He's laughing at your reaction when He puts something down right in front of you, because He has such a great sense of humor.  And of course, the first few times, it's so weird.  Sometimes He'll let you find something around your house that you didn't know was there, that will mean a great deal to you on a day when your heart is heavy and you need a lift.  FL you know what I'm talking about.  More than once I've lamented that I want to find seed for this plant or that, and then I'll forget about it until I find it coming up in the yard the next summer, a gift brought by the birds.  Joyce Meyer said that God had put a blessing on her pantyhose and she could wear the same pair over and over without having a runner.  LOL!  Except that as soon as she told someone about it, the blessing stopped.  So sometimes I think God wants that to just be a little joyful thing you and He alone can share. 

Maybe now that I've told you about the garage sale thing, I won't find anything else I want to find.  Heh.  But if that's God's will, then so be it.  That's how badly I want you all to know how wondrous and wonderful God is.

Many years ago, I was taking part in a dieting forum where I was fast becoming known as a Pollyanna because of my penchant for prayer.  One day I was roasted, quite thoroughly, and publicly, by a woman who said she didn't believe in God and it was annoying to her for me to be "pushing God down her throat".  Many people emailed me privately giving me their support but in the interest of not creating disharmony in the forum, I asked them not to comment on the matter in the forum and I chose, from that point, not to post.  But for awhile I still went there to read the posts of others.  About a week later, this same woman posted that she had been driving down the highway, hit a patch of black ice on an overpass, went sailing into the air inside her car and landed, right-side up, and on all four wheels, in a nearby field underneath the overpass, without so much as a scratch or a bruise received.  She was going on and on about how "lucky" she considered herself to be.  Luck?  Oh, how badly I wanted to post a reply to her post, saying, "I rest my case".  But I figured, if she wasn't smart enough to figure that one out, then there wasn't anything I could say that would make a difference.  I think lots of people on the forum got a blessing out of that, though.

We went to a gospel singing at the church of our friend, June, a few weeks ago.  One of the band members shared her story with us.  She said that, as a teenager, she didn't believe in God, and she was kind of smug about it.  She and her boyfriend, a pastor's son, went to a Revival and in the parking lot, she saw a bumper sticker on a car there that said, "Honk If You Love Jesus".  Just being rebellious, she laughed and pressed down on her horn.  And it stuck.  It blared and blared and even her boyfriend tearing out the wires didn't stop it.  I sat there and laughed with the others in the audience, and I thought how that is just like God to do something like that.

There are many wonders in this world.  What looks like a good thing can be a bad thing, after everything's said and done.  And vice-versa.  Never hesitate to have an open mind.  Always look for the silver lining.  Try to see if there's a lesson there that you're supposed to learn.  Because I guarantee, if you don't learn something by it, God'll ding on you till you do.  And have appreciation for Every.   Little.  Thing.

Ask God for something little today.  It doesn't hurt to ask.  If He doesn't bless you, then He doesn't.  What have you lost?  If, on the other hand, what you have asked for comes to you, if you don't already BELIEVE, then maybe you'll have to wonder.... ?

May God bless you all.  Hugs xoxoxo   PS: this is the second post I've published today.  Go to "Older Posts" (below right) if you missed the first one.