Saturday, April 30, 2016

Daily Doin's, Last Few Days Of April, 2016

I was up early this morning, as usual.  Decided to sit out on the patio, as it was no longer raining, and the temperature was comfortable.  I hadn't been out there very long when I was under siege by June Bugs. 

Who doesn't have childhood memories involving June Bugs?  I remember, in particular, going to Aunt Viv's for supper.  Aunt Viv was my dad's only sister.  Dad was the oldest, then Uncle "Fike", then Viv, then Uncle Chuck.  Aunt Viv and Uncle John had a bunch of boys.  And they were onery and wild as all get-out.  On the other hand, my dad had mostly girls, and I, for one, was kind of scared of those boys.  But after supper, we'd all be shoo'd out into the front yard to play while the adults sat on the porch and visited.  If it was June Bug Season, the June Bugs would start coming out when the porch light went on, and it was chaos.   The bugs would dive-bomb us, all on their own.  But that wasn't enough for those boys.  They'd pick them up, wherever they landed, throw them at us girls, put them in our hair, down our backs, you get the picture.  And we'd scream.  Aunt Viv would stand up and yell, "All right, now, Gawdammit, you boys cut that out!", and there'd be a short calm.  But when the visiting would resume, so would the bug play.  My mom wasn't in approval of the way Aunt Viv parented, but she almost never would say anything.  The one time that I remember that she did, it was at our house and because of something one of the boys did to me.  There was a big argument, punctuated by Aunt Viv getting up and flouncing off, with Uncle John and all the boys in tow.  They didn't speak for a long time, and then Uncle John got sick and dad, who thought a lot of Uncle John, wanted to go see him.  So my mom put her pride aside, which was a rare thing, and apologized to Aunt Viv, which was another rare thing.

But anyway.

Two or three years ago (has it been that long?) when I had chickens, I started picking up June Bugs while I was on the patio early in the morning.  I'd drop them in an empty 2-liter plastic pop bottle, they seem not to be able to find their way out of that, and then I'd give them to the chickens later on in the day.  Oh, my!  Talk about pandemonium!  Chickens are so hilarious, anyway.  One of them will catch something, it doesn't matter what it is, and if they were smart they'd just quietly gobble it down.  But a chicken with a bug is like a gossip with a secret.  So the chase would be on, the one that had the bug would be dashing around in front with every other chicken in hot pursuit, trying to get the bug.  If one did, then she would start running in the other direction, with all the chickens in confusion at first, and then turning around and chasing HER.  And this could go on until one of the chickens would finally swallow the bug.  I've heard this referred to as "chicken football".  One of the things I miss about having chickens is all the laughs we got from watching the things they did.   It's interesting to see how other species deal with food.  Wild birds share what they catch with their family.  Not just flying into the nest with it to feed to babies.  Hubs and I have witnessed the male flying up to wherever the female is perched, perching there beside her, and turning his beak with his catch to her.  Whereupon she takes it and eats it.  Always makes me go, "Awwwww".  Birds do other things in that category.  We had a Cardinal's nest at a window once, where we could look out the window and watch the progress.  One night there was a terrible driving storm.  I worried about the babies that were in that nest, so I went to the window to look.  There was Mama Cardinal, completely covering that nest with her wings draped over the sides.  She saw me and gave me a look that said, "I could kill you".  There are many situations when, if you get too close to a nest that has babies in it, the male bird will come from nowhere, will make a lot of noise and throw itself to the ground, acting like it has a broken wing.  Then there are those Mockingbirds, who will actually attack you. 

When it's nest-building time, the female is the one that makes the nest.  The male sits nearby.  On high-alert guard.  Singing loudly so as to draw attention away from the female, who is occupied getting the latest piece of grass or whatever all patted down, just so. 

This time of year we watch the Wild Geese leading their little goslings across the road, going from Jay's Lake to Charlie's Pond.  Mama is in front, then goslings in single file, then Daddy holding up the rear, ever watchful, ready to strike.  It's not a good idea to get too close to this little family excursion, and you'll know that because the male Goose will give you that same look Mama Cardinal does, except that he's bigger, and he'll start honking at you and flapping his wings if you ignore his silent warning.  You just really don't want to go that far.  But if you have, that's the second-best time to back away. 

I had my cup of green tea with me (I haven't had a cup of coffee in a week and so far haven't missed it) and I had just planned to sit out there in the Adirondack chair and enjoy the morning.  But I decided, enough was enough, and I started picking those June Bugs up.  Now I have the bottom of a cleaned-out milk jug covered with these little buggers.  What to do now?  I don't have anything to feed them to.  I think they're too big for the birds.  I can't get close enough to the wild geese to deliver them without spooking them and/or risking an attack.  I won't turn them loose.  They mate while they're out flying around (well I don't know if it's WHILE they fly, I just mean.....  well..... YOU know what I mean).  And then the female digs herself back into the ground where she came from and lays a gazillion eggs.  Yikes!  The eggs become larvae (aka grubworms), which eat the roots of grass and other plants, and which are the reason why moles dig up your yard (not mine though, too much rock). 

They'll make holes in sweet potatoes, too, just so you know.  I put down some Milky Spore powder, but it hasn't seemed to have been as effective here as it was on my lawn in town.  The birds love grubworms (and so did my chickens), so when I dig in the garden and find some, I always pick them up and put them in something they can't climb out of, then leave it out under one of the birdbaths.  Before long, they're all gone, and seems like it increases the numbers of birds that come to our place with every year.  This year, for the first time, we have Bluebirds.  And lately we've been seeing Orioles.  It's been several years now that we've been seeing Scissortails and Goldfinches.  When we moved here, mostly we just had Sparrows.  Then we started seeing an occasional Cardinal and some House Finches and Mourning Doves.  There are Killdeer that run around on The North Fourth.  A couple of years ago, we had our first House Wrens making nests in the gourdhouses.  And Robins.  Oh, so many big, beautiful Robins.  Mustn't leave out the Hummingbirds that come to the feeders and that feed on whatever flowers are in bloom.  Every fall, we have so many Hummingbirds that they get into fights with each other.  It's kind of hazardous to be sitting out on the patio during their fights.  They move so fast.  Once, one zoomed past Hubs' face and almost hit his ear.  Joe and Cathy have Barnswallows that try to make nests under their patio cover.  Cathy was all warm and fuzzy about that until she experienced how messy fledglings in the nest can be.  Now Joe tries to tear out the nests before they get eggs in them.  Early in the mornings, I hear an owl hooting.  And of course we see hawks, buzzards and cranes, and very occasionally, an eagle, in the sky over Charlie's field.  Some are hunting.  Some are on the way to visit Charlie's Pond.  These days, it's a varied Sunrise Seranade.  At night, we hear bullfrogs, treetoads and other amphibian noises.  Sometimes coyote yips and howls, which makes every dog in our neighborhood bark and howl too.   It's a regular menagerie out here.

Nevertheless, bird poop is some high-quality fertilizer, and sometimes they bring you some interesting "encapsulated seed".  I have Sweet Annie (Artemesia) growing in the garden that I never planted.  Last year I had a beautiful red Cockscomb that I never planted.  Of course, they bring you some weed seed, too, but around here, there are already so many weeds, a few more don't make much difference. 

This is now a little later in the day.  Hubs and I went to the Master Gardener's Plant Sale, and there was another smaller sale being held elsewhere so we went to that as well.  Stopped at the grocery store and got a few sale items.  Hit a few garage sales but didn't find anything.  There is a place near the grocery store called Jo Allyn Lowe Park, where people have gone for years to feed the ducks and geese.  They have a website HERE.  The ducks and geese are not afraid of people, in fact sometimes they're kinda aggressive because they are used to getting handouts from people.  So I had brought my jug of Junebugs and they came running when they saw me coming.  One time I took my sister there and we ran out of bread to feed them.  They tried to bite us and ended up accompanying us to the car.  So if you go to feed the ducks and geese, either throw the bread a distance away and get ready to run, or get close to your car BEFORE you run out.  Heh.  They acted like they didn't know what Junebugs were.  Some of them looked at me as if to say, "Hey, WAAAIIIIIIT a minute!  What's THIS stuff s'posed to be???!!!"  But a few of them started to nibble and before I knew it, somebody must've given a signal because they started coming from everywhere and one was honking really loud.  I dumped out all the contents of my jug and they were busy enough I didn't have to try to run.  Yikes!  But, at least it was a good use for the bugs.  I hate to waste them.  Some people actually roast them in the hot coals of a campfire and say they taste like molasses.  I don't care, I'm not hungry enough to try them.  Hope I never am. 

At the plant sales, I bought:
Crocosmia Lucifer, $2
Rosemary, $2.50
Liatris (2), $2.00
Shreiner's Silverado Iris, $7.50
White Daylily, $5
Verbena Sun Purple, $2.00

I have a mental list of things I would really love to have but I didn't find any of those things there.  Sometimes I get lucky and find some really unusual things.  Other times not.  This time they were concentrating on butterfly hosts and attractors, and I already have most of those.  I was glad to find the Rosemary, because my plant that I usually kept at the kitchen window died last year, and the Liatris, because I've been trying to get that started from seed and just haven't had any success for several years now.   

I have most of the plants that I raised from seed beginning in December, in the ground now.  At least as many as I want.  We had a sweet friend over the other day and she took several of the Cherokee Purple tomato plants and two each of the red and the yellow Cheese Pepper plants.  She's just bought a house out in the country and wants to have a garden but needs to start small because there's all that moving and settling in to do this year.  She wants to learn how to do canning.  I might end up with an "apprentice", and I kind of hope so, as I think we'd have fun.  I always dreamed of doing things like this with my own daughter but sadly, it just didn't work out.  I couldn't be what she wanted, and she couldn't be what I wanted, and we just couldn't get along with each other.  The thing about life is, sometimes you just have to go on.  Make friends where family is lacking, and make them your family.  Several of you, you know who you are, feel like family to me. 

I usually give hot pepper plants to our woodchip guy but he hasn't shown up lately so I don't know if I can keep things alive till he does, and am wondering if it is that he doesn't really want them but doesn't want to say.  So I'm thinking I might tuck some more of them into the garden.  It's easier to give away food, at least in my immediate area.  I could have a garage sale and probably sell them right away, that usually happens at my garage sales, but I just haven't had the stamina to put in garden and have a garage sale, too. 

The herb garden is in full swing now.

Yesterday I cut oregano and spearmint for drying.

I have a plant that's doing quite well in the garden, it was wintersown last year and has really come to it's own this spring.  But I'm not really sure exactly what it is.  I started both Angelica AND Lovage.  Does anyone know which this is?

The flowers smell just heavenly, similar to lilacs.  Each little flower is white and tubular, with three little yellow sepals sticking out of the center hole. 

The plant is about 4' tall and the stems are hollow.  The leaves are elongated and narrow, wide-spaced teeth on the edges, and dark green.  I've eaten one, I don't detect a celery-like flavor, but it is delicate - maybe just a tiny bit sweet - not an unpleasant taste, either. 

I've looked at pictures, trying to decide which it is, and I just can't.  I'm really hoping it's Lovage, as I have tried to grow it for several years without success.  But if it's Angelica, I won't be devastated, I like it, too.  Both have hollow stems and are edible.  I even went to HERE and HERE

We had spaghetti for supper last night and I slipped in a little kale that I had in the freezer. 

There is still some kale in the garden that could be picked but I was pressed for time.  Hubs wasn't all that crazy about it and I think what I should've done was whir the kale around in the blender before adding it.  I enjoyedd some again today for lunch.  Supper tonight will be a beef potroast.  No, I don't know if the beef is grass-fed, probably isn't since it doesn't say.  All it says is "Angus", which doesn't cut any ice with me.  And most likely not locally grown.  I have never been a very big meat-eater, and Hubs eats less meat than he used to.  I guess maybe that's the take-home, at least for now.  I used to worry because he would eat so much meat and think nothing of it.  The ground beef in the spaghetti was locally grown.  I had been buying Hunt's Traditional spaghetti sauce because I liked their blend of spices and last time I looked, it didn't contain sugar or corn syrup.  Well, lookit here....

As it happened, I have two quart jars of home-canned whole tomatoes from 2014 that I need to use up.  So I took the lid off the jar, put the Oster blender base and blade onto the jar, set it on the motor and punched a button.  Voila, smooth enough to pour through a mesh strainer to get the seeds out and actually thick enough for tomato sauce.  Added a small handful of dried oregano and a small handful of dried basil, rubbed fine between both hands, about three good-sized garlic cloves that I've been using on all winter, after running through the garlic press, about a teaspoon of powdered fennel.  It was, if I say so myself, yummy.  No sugar, no excitotoxins, no pesticides.  And eat my shorts, ConAgra.  All the additives came out of my garden except for the fennel, and that came from Penzey's.  Don't let people tell you that you can't dry your garden basil and have it keep its flavor.  You most certainly can.  Just don't dry it with heat, and once it's dry, pour it into a jar and keep the jar in the freezer.  I don't use heat to dry any of my herbs.  Culinary herbs are best picked before they bloom, as a general rule.  Medicinal herbs, I understand, are best picked while in bloom because they are stronger then. 

Well, I guess that's all I have for this time, will get this posted to finish off the month. 

Rock on, Y'all....  Hugs xoxoxo

Friday, April 29, 2016

More On The Dangers Of Eating

I mentioned in a previous post about how it might be dangerous to consume too much kale, and I recently found THIS informative post by The Food Babe.  Her name is actually Vani Hari and she was one of the interviewees on last year's Food Summit that was hosted by Ocean and James Robbins.  Her website is well worth poking around in.  Some of her posts: 

•Do You Know What’s Really In Your Tea?
•What Is Trader Joe's Hiding?
•Before You Ever Buy Bread Again…Read This! (And Find The Healthiest Bread On The Market)
•You’ll Never Guess What’s In A Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (Hint: You Won’t Be Happy)
•If You’ve Ever Eaten Pizza Before, This Will Blow Your Mind (Maybe Literally)
•Why Microwave Popcorn Is An Absolute Health Nightmare
•Throw This Out Of Your Bathroom Cabinet Immediately
•Is Butter Secretly Ruining Your Health?
•Are You Making These Common Juicing Mistakes?
•Is Subway Real Food?

HERE is an hour plus YouTube interview done by Dr. Mercola with her as the interviewee.  I was surprised to learn that the Subway sandwich that most of us are confident is so good for us is just as bad for us as any other fast food.  It's the 9-grain bread, which has over 50 ingredients, and one of them is banned in Singapore.  The fine is $450,000 if you are caught using it!  Whew!  And their jalapeno peppers (probably the bell pepper slices, as well) have been dipped in petroleum-based dyes.  There are lots of other surprising things that you might want to know, so watch it and see if it doesn't bring other questions to your mind.  America is really missing a revenue opportunity here.  Make THESE things illegal, and rake in the fines. 

I also heard something during this interview that really HACKS.  ME.  OFF. 

You know, we have no Federal protection from unknowingly eating GMO food, because Monsanto has huge lobbying powers and they have our Federal government in their pocket.  We have to assume that anything made from corn or soy is automatically GMO.  It seems to be silently present in many processed food items and many fast food restaurants here.  The interesting thing is that GMO food is banned in many other countries, or at least they have laws that require disclosure.  So, because of that disclosure, and the fact that this will cause people from other countries to avoid the product, McDonald's uses sunflower oil in other countries rather than the GMO products they use here in the USA.  If they can do it there, what's so hard about doing it here, where they grew their business?  ~~~~FUME~~~~  If that isn't being a traitor to our country, I don't know what is.  Kraft also has a different "recipe" for products marketed in other countries.  I wouldn't be surprised to know that this is standard practice for all American food producers.  It's like I said much earlier.  No country needs to wage war on us.  We're killing ourselves.  Those who hate us, for whatever reasons, can save their military money and just sit back and watch the show. 

It's no wonder that our voters are so mad at their country's politicians that they are actually so dangerously close to giving the presidency to Donald Trump.  And who knows?  Maybe he'll be just what we need.  But I'm scared, I don't mind telling you.

The Food Revolution starts on April 30, if you're interested, the link to view their interviews is on the previous post, or you can go directly to if you prefer. 

If you go to that website you'll see where they are featuring Five Foods Your Kids Should Not Eat (Pop-tarts, highly colored fruit snacks -like gummy bears-, M&M's, Cheetos, Teddy Grahams are the things they list, but seriously, nearly everything they market to kids is full of artificial flavorings and colorings and other chemicals that you shouldn't let anywhere NEAR your kid). 

Also, if you watched the YouTube interview that I linked above, you will see that Dr. Mercola has posted interviews with many who are fighting for food safety.  I haven't viewed them all, but you can see his official YouTube channel HERE

God bless these people for all the work they are doing to increase our awareness about what has been going on behind our backs for all our lives.  I've said before, I was exposed to DDT as an infant, as my parents used it liberally.  It was marketed to them as the best thing since sliced bread.  They were even mad when it got so they couldn't get it anymore.  WHO made DDT?  Apparently, Monsanto.   

Hugs xoxoxo

Monday, April 25, 2016

What You Are Is What You Eat

I am happy to report that I have finally received the boost that I needed to get on with the slow weight loss / better health plan that I started last year.  I lost 25 pounds last year, with very little effort.  No starvation, no craving, no counting calories, or carbs, or fat grams.  No weighing food portions.  No paying big corporations money for packages of fake food full of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce or that are vague, like "Modified Food Starch".  In short, no food obsessions.  No massive exercise program.  Just went on with my life.  It was liberating!!

Then I had my knee replaced and was told not to try to lose weight while I was trying to recover.  Knee replacement for me hasn't been smooth sailing like it was for Hubs.  But so far, I'm still progressing just a little bit each day, eight months out and counting.  It's major surgery, just in case anybody thinks it's not.  They cut things off that you were born with and remove them and put back in things that are made of metal and other materials.  When it's put that way, it even scares ME.  But it's done and I've learned some things that I can share. 

Frankly, I'm sick and tired of doctors who blame the patient for every damned thing that goes wrong.  If you weigh too much, they'll tell you you're having problems because you're obese.  If you're old, they tell you you're full of arthritis, or that you've just worn out your joints.  You know, my grandmother was obese, AND old, and she never had to have her joints replaced.  She never had back problems.  None of my grandparents ever walked with a cane, though my mother's father complained of "rheumatism", but it went back to when he was tossed into a cold river as a child so he could learn to swim.  I'm not exaggerating about this.  His mother died about the same time he was born, possibly giving birth to him, but I don't know that for sure.  But her death left his father with a bunch of children to raise, and he delegated the responsibility of the infant to an older daughter and then, as he grew older, to an older son, about whom my grandfather had some memories of events that would be considered child abuse today.  Gramps' father was never very involved in his life because he remarried soon after the death of Gramps' mother.  The new wife was a widow with children that he took more of an interest in than he did in his own children, from that point forward.  So I don't suppose that older sibling cared whether Gramps drowned or not, when he threw him into that river.  But afterwards, he came down with rheumatic fever and nearly died from that.  Gramps always said that his rheumatism was caused by the rheumatic fever. 

Back when my mother was a girl, the automotive industry was in its infancy.  It was not uncommon for people to have teams of horses and wagons instead of cars.  And when people went somewhere, if it was possible to walk, they did.  It was a lot of work hitching up the horses.  My mom called walking "Riding Shank's Mare".  Adults didn't run, unless there was a reason to.  Like if they were in a hurry to get where they wanted to go.  Or if they were chasing someone or being chased.  I think there will come a time when all this running people are doing will be seen for what it is: the premature wearing out of your joints.  Just as God didn't make us to be sitting in front of a TV all day, He didn't make us to be on the run all the time, either.  It's somewhere in the middle.  A woman's body is made so that if she's on the run, she has trouble getting pregnant. 

My joint replacement came about because I tore the meniscus in my knee.  Lesson #1.  Never get down on both knees, put your arms around something that will give resistance, pull and twist.

I had arthroscopic knee surgery done by an orthopedic surgeon here in town that was recommended to Hubs by someone.  Lesson #2.  Don't just take one person's recommendation of the doctor that is going to cut you open or make a hole in you that wasn't there before.  Ask lots of people.  That doctor told Hubs, after surgery, that my cartilage was "raggedy", and he had to do some scraping.  He told Hubs I should lose weight.  And that I'd be needing knee replacement at some point "down the road".  He did not mention the need for any exercises after surgery and I had to find those online.  When I complained to him of difficulty with pain the first time, he reiterated that I needed to lose weight and sent me to Physical Rehab, where they straight-out told me I'd get better if I did my exercises, but if I didn't, I wouldn't.  Towards the end of Rehab, I went back to the doctor, and said, "I'm still having a LOT of pain right HERE", and showed him the spot.  He said, rather blithely, "Of COURSE you are!  THAT's where I had to scrape off your cartilage!"  ASSHOLE.  It was then I realized that no amount of physical rehab was going to eliminate the pain.  Of course, he knew no exercises in the world were going to help me be pain free and he expected me right back in his office needing knee replacement.  In a perfect world, I would sue this guy.  But, I'd have to find an attorney out of town.  And I'd have no way to prove I was fine before the injury.  Even if I did, the raggedy-ness could be blamed on the injury, I suppose.  And then, more than likely, nobody in the local medical profession would want to treat me for anything again.  I'd have to go out of town for everything.  So, I had knee replacement done by the surgeon in Tulsa who did both Hubs' knees and all the rest is history. 

But I don't know if I will ever get away from doctors telling me I'm obese.  Some years ago, I lost 50 pounds.  I did it by white-knuckling it and working out in a gym three, sometimes four times a week.  For pleasure, I was line-dancing, and Hubs and I would go to lessons once a week, we'd practice at home, and then once a week we'd go where there was live music and dance all evening.  I weighed 173 pounds at 5'4.5".  I wore a size 8.  My waistline was 23".  I looked every bit as good as Marie Osmond does now.  Then I started having some significant "gut" pain and other problems, I'm pretty sure it was from all the artificial sweeteners I was using, and went for a sonogram.  The specialist who did the sonogram wrote in his report that I was "obese".  WHAAAAAAT????  This is not Lesson #3, but it's an observation, and it's that doctors have a nasty little habit at looking at some chart that generalizes about your bone structure and your muscle mass and says you are obese if you weigh more than 135 at 5'4.5".  If I weighed 135, I'd be skin and bone.

But anyway.  I wandered off a little.

What I wanted to share with you this time is the link to The Food Revolution Summit that Fiona sent me.  It starts on April 30, but they have things you can look at now that will be interesting and informative.  Go HERE for some videos you can watch from last year.  Go HERE for some short introductory videos, the first of which explains how Ocean Robbins, whose grandfather was the Robbins of Baskin-Robbins, was born into better health through better eating.  From that web page, you can download a PDF schedule of what you'll be seeing after April 30.

I'm not getting anything for telling you about this.  I'm going to watch it, and now I'm sharing how you can, too, if you want to.  Whether you do or don't does not affect my bottom line in any way except that I know some of you are experiencing some health issues and it's my desire to help.  Maybe it'll give you some helpful information, maybe it won't.  That's all I'm sayin'. 

I found it interesting that Ocean Robbins' dad was a hippie, and his beliefs about food were why he didn't go into business with his dad.  When I was newly married, I was a Navy wife, and so I lived in California, only a busride from the base.  I knew people from many walks of life, some of whom lived the Hippie lifestyle, right down to sitar music and funny smoke smells, and I have since wondered what happened to them all.  Had they become the Establishment they so distrusted?  Or had they, as members of The Establishment contended they would, died in poverty and squalor of drug overdoses and sexually-transmitted diseases?  I remember how "regular" people felt about Hippies back in those days.  But considering what The Establishment has done to us over the years in the name of The Almighty Dollar, we have plenty of reasons to think that what they are guilty of doing to us in secret and conspiracy is a much bigger crime than any Hippie ever did to us, all out in the open. 

Oh, and if you live in a country other than the USA, and you're reading this, DON'T start eating American fast food!  Dr. Dean Ornish says people in Third World Countries are better nourished than Americans are, even though one in three of us is obese.  Just so you know.

I was kind of afraid to see what my scales had to say to me, after not weighing for awhile.  You know the cartoon where the scales say, "One at a time, please...", that sort of thing.  But I was pleased to see I'd only put back 3 pounds and some of that might've been because, you know, some days you just weigh more than you do on other days.  In the past, if I'd been off my program for seven months, I would've packed all the pounds I'd lost back on, plus more.  So I think I have something to celebrate.  I never did go back to eating like I used to, because I understood, this time it's a lifestyle change.  When somebody tried to hand me a sugary doughnut, I said, "Oh, I don't eat those things".  I went to dinners where people all around me were eating pie, cake, and those mixtures of Cool Whip And Other Stuff, and I wasn't tempted.  But I admit to eating my share of salty things like potato chips.  Seems like, salty things must be the next big draw for me.  *Sigh*.  So, I said, "Buh-bye" to the potato chip bag and I went back to the agreement I'd made with myself last year to not go overboard on portion size, to not go back for seconds, and to not eat after supper.  Because it takes that in order to lose weight.  I've been doing OK and I when I've felt truly hungry I've eaten.  Yesterday morning I was back to my lowest weight of last year, which was after surgery when I could not sleep to save my soul.  Boy, was I ever cranky!  Every pound I lose from this point is new territory.  The goal for the rest of this year is 25 more pounds lost.  And that will be my Christmas present to myself. 

I already knew about "fake food", and I've been making changes as I go along.  For instance, I enjoy peanut butter.  I like it on many things.  Bread or crackers.  Celery or carrots.  Spoons.  But I'm having to get better about reading the labels.  Most peanut butter has a certain amount of corn syrup in it.  They say that's so it'll be spreadable.  And so I've put up with that.  But then Hubs picked up a jar of "Honey Roasted" peanut butter at Aldi.  OMG, it was soooooo sweet.  Corn syrup and HFCS were the first on the ingredients list after peanuts.  Honey was last.  Meaning there might be a teaspoon of honey in every gallon.  I do not have to eat that peanut butter as it's smooth, and Hubs will eat that.  But I determined that, the next time I buy crunchy peanut butter for myself, the label is only going to say, "Peanuts, Peanut oil, salt".  Yeah, it'll separate.  Yeah, it'll be hard to spread.  So be it.  That or I'm going to buy peanuts and have a little handful of them instead of my spoon of peanut butter.  Or maybe I'd sidestep peanuts entirely and go more for the almonds and walnuts.  Sunflower seeds.  So this is something I won't buy any more of once it's gone.  I'm hoping I'll be able to convince Hubs to join me in the anti-HFCS peanut butter crusade.  But he insists on keeping a lot of things around that I wouldn't.  *Sigh*.   All I can do is share things I learn with him as I go along.  He has this need to make his own decisions and can be really stubborn about it.  You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.  I sure know how to make Hubs roll his eyes, though.

There are a lot of things in my pantry that I'm just trying to use up and then not buy again.  I think a lot of people, when they decide to eat a different way, go into their food storage and throw everything away that doesn't fit into the plan.  I might give it away, but I won't throw it away.  And sometimes I think, Hell, I've been eating it all this time.  I'm already contaminated.  So use it up in the normal way, and then don't buy it again.  It's baby steps.  Every now and then I do have to throw something away, but it's usually because it got 'way past the "use by" date, like a couple of unopened bottles of salad dressing I found when looking for something else.  I have not used bottled salad dressing for years.  Usually my salad gets sprinkled with parmesan or some kind of grated hard cheese, some sunflower seed, pepper, and a splash of lemon juice.  Hubs won't eat salad if he doesn't have bottled Thousand Island dressing, and he won't eat any other kind.  I've tried to make those clone recipes and he just rolls his eyes and sighs. 

When it comes to cucumbers fresh in from the garden, I still love to dip them in ranch dressing, and I guess you might say I'm as bad about Ranch as Hubs is about Thousand Island.  So I buy the powdered dressing mix, and mix it with milk and mayonnaise according to directions.  Yes, it has some bad ingredients, too. 

Serving Size: half a teaspoon??  Seriously??  Does that count licking your fingers?  *Sigh*.  Huffington Post has a recipe that sounds good, HERE.  But, just so you know, salad dressing with no additives to increase the shelf life means it goes bad quickly.  And that means it's a pain to just make a little bit whenever I have a cucumber from my garden and a craving for a quick snack.  I saw a recipe for a cucumber salad on AllRecipes HERE and I wonder if equal parts sugar (or honey), sour cream and vinegar with maybe some dried parsley and onion could be mixed in a small jar and kept in the refrigerator would be stable for longer because of all the vinegar?  Gosh, that seems like a lot of sugar, though.  I have something in my files that's equal parts sour cream and mayonnaise with only a token amount of sugar and some dillweed and powdered garlic.  I'd have to keep sour cream on hand and I don't, usually.  Then there's always that recipe that was an old standby of my mother's: equal parts vinegar, water, and sugar, poured over cucumber slices and onion rings.  As I remember, it was very sweet and I could probably cut back on that.  Whatever the dressing is, it's got to be something quick and easy or I probably won't go to the trouble if I'm just in out of the garden.  Just plain cucumbers are kind of boring. 

When you find out you haven't been eating as "healthy" as you thought you were, it's disappointing, and the remedy is sometimes daunting.  I  grind the flour for my bread, grow and put up fruit and vegetables as much as I can, and cook most of what we eat from scratch.  But I can see I still have far to go.  There's that pizza Hubs and I have on Wednesday.  A day I like to take off from cooking.  I know it's not as good for us as something I made from scratch, and I wonder if that's real sausage or some soy product on it.  It seems I'm forever picking up something, turning it around to the back of the label and saying, "OMG, I shouldn't be buying this stuff!"  It's just that there's so much that's messed up, you know?  Thanks to advice from Fiona, I've talked to Hubs about how he can get Pepsi that's made with sugar instead of HFCS, which still isn't healthy, but is at least better than what he buys now.

I usually grow beets and cabbage in my garden.  This year I didn't plant either.  Now I'm wondering if I still have time to stick some seeds into the ground because Carole just sent me this cabbage recipe.  It sounds interesting, different, and easy:

Wash and remove outer leaves. Cut 1 to 1-1/2 inch steaks crosswise, brush both sides with olive oil, garlic pepper, salt.  Bake 30-40 minutes. 40 minutes was recommended to have crispy carmelized edges. I might sprinkle a bit of sugar over. (Carole's note, not mine)

I bet this would turn out OK if made in an iron skillet with a lid, on the stovetop.

I still have "Freezer Cole Slaw" in my freezer, we've eaten some and it's not as good as fresh, but still crunchy, as long as you drain the liquid off it completely and then stir in mayonnaise.  I think THIS is the recipe.  The biggest problem is, I keep forgetting to set it out early enough to thaw. 

Well, this is another one of those disjointed blog posts, I hope you will be able to make heads or tails out of it and find something in it that makes it worth your reading time.  Thanks to all those who comment or who e-mail me directly.  I do so enjoy your friendship.   Hugs xoxoxo

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ding, Dong, The Frosts Are Gone. Oh, Poo, So Much Work To Do....

I start this on Saturday, April 16.  We had our last frosty night on the 8th.  Every day, I've been going out and doing a little bit.  I set out about 15 Cowhorn okra plants.  Nine Oxheart tomato plants.  Then nine Kellogg's tomato plants.  Both in places that hadn't had rock dug out of them before so THAT slowed me down, but resulted in a couple of flat rocks that I will use to replace some small rocks someplace in The Rock Walk.  As Grammy used to say, "It's an ill wind that blows no good".  Heh.  I gathered up all the spinach I had left and set it out.  Luffa squash was planted along the south yard fence where they can climb.  I set out all six of the Nasturtiums that I had pre-sprouted and planted inside in newspaper cups, under fruit trees, and the few Comfrey plants from seed that I wintersowed were planted under fruit trees or in the bed where the Elderberry bushes grow.  The cucumber seedlings were transplanted at both ends of one of the stockwire arches that I use for climbing things, like beans, cukes, vining squash and gourds. 

I've lost track of what I did when.  All the carts full of plants have been out against the east-facing brick wall through several nights now, and peppers and cucurbits have been in the cold frame during that time as well, though a couple of nights I did put the shower doors over the cold frame and once I threw big bags of leaves on top of the glass for added insulation.  Everything looks pretty good, except for needing to be set out. 

I bought a bluebird house at a garage sale and told Hubs I'd really love it if he would make some more.  There's all that scrap lumber he has piled up because he knows as soon as he throws it away I'll think of something that could've been made from it.  He used the one I bought as a guide for the ones he made.  For those of you who don't have one to go by, there are plans and directions online HERE .  I had the guys that put up our fence leave the posts in the ground where the old fence separated our garden from the back yard, because I had plans to put some kind of birdhouses on the posts.  It seriously was a pain to have to walk 'way out of my way to go through a gate.  So much more convenient now that I can go to the garden from the house "As The Crow Flies". 

Bluebirds come regularly to the backyard now, and there are the beginnings of nests in two of them.  I don't know where they are during the day, but they tend to fly in, sometime between 6 and 7pm.  The female makes a bee-line for the house of her choice with long pieces of grass in her beak. 

They do not need a perch.  If there is one, sparrows will take the house over.  The male perches on the clothesline and is on guard while the female pats everything down.  We see this same behavior with the House Finches that make nests as close to the house as they can get. 

This picture was taken from an upstairs window, using the zoom, so stuff in the background is kind of out of perspective.

The robins have been very interested in all the digging that's been going on and they've been on bug patrol, big-time.  Every grubworm (beetle larvae) that I find when I dig gets put in a clay pot drip-tray or in the bird bath if it's dry.  With the weather warming, we have been finding mosquito larvae in the water so we haven't been keeping the birdbaths filled.  Jay's Lake is very nearby, if they need a drink or a bath they can go there.  I never see the birds actually take the grubworms, but I've seen the robins messing around very nearby, and Hubs saw a sparrow perched on one of the clothesline poles with a grubworm in his beak the other day.  We've seen the robins chasing the bluebirds and that's distressing because we like both of them. 

The mockingbirds sing us every song they know while we're out there, till it gets kind of nerve-wracking because they are so loud.  If there is a line in the book, "To Kill A Mockingbird" that it's a sin to kill a mockingbird because they don't have bad habits like some birds do, that is just wrong.  Mockingbirds eat grapes, strawberries, blackberries, elderberries, currants and cherries.  I've seen them tear a Robin's nest apart and dump the babies or eggs out on the ground.  And if you get too close to their nest when they have young in it, they'll dive-bomb you and try to peck you on top of the head.  And your pets, too.  Though they usually attack pets on the back, near their tail.  And they will hit the same dang spot with each swoop until your pet is bloody there.  Just so ya know.  We have a lot of birds here that I think are a lot more useful and a lot less damaging than the Mockingbird.  There are Cardinals, Scissortails, Doves, Killdeer, Barn Swallows, Goldfinches, red-headed Woodpeckers, Grackles and Blackbirds.  Larger birds like Hawks and Owls are often seen or heard.  They hunt for rats and small rabbits in the prairie land around us.  Sparrows and House Finches do their best to build nests right up on the house if they can.  This is not so bad till after the eggs have hatched and the babies start poopin'.  Then it's a mess all under where the nest is.  One really snowy winter, I put a lot of birdseed out to keep the birds going until the thaw.  And I actually attracted a Pidgeon.  I don't mind looking out the kitchen window and seeing a Dove perched on the outside windowsill, looking in at me, but a Pidgeon is just too much.  I've been told that a Pidgeon is called "Squab" in fancy restaurants.  I hope I'm never so hungry that I will eat a Pidgeon.

Speaking of "prairie land", that's going to shrink a little this year.  Our neighbors, Bob and Gwen, have let their son start building a house on part of their land.  Bob and Gwen were in an auto accident some years ago and they were badly hurt, both in wheelchairs for awhile.  They get around well enough to take care of themselves, each other and their place, but Bob wears braces on his legs all the time.  So I think it's wonderful that their son wants to be out here, near them.  The house is going up quickly.  In fact, you can see it in the background of that overhead picture of the garden that is in the first part of this post.  Rain is in the forecast for Sunday and Monday, so the Mexican workers have been trying very hard to get walls up and buttoned down, and the roof on.  Mexican men are sure noisy.  They are talking to each other over the construction noises constantly.  They sing along with the music they play on the radio while they work.  I don't know that I'm complaining, they sound happy and are friendly with each other.  It's better than listening to angry cussing all the time, or the test wails of the Civil Defense horn, or the crying of children out in the park because they're being bullied by the older kids, like things were at The Ponca House.  But it's different than just the sounds of nature and the distant sounds of vehicles out on the highway.  There will be another house going up, due north of our "North Fourth", as I call the land to the north of the garden.  We own about an acre to the north of our house, there's maybe a strip of about 100' to the south of the house, and our front and back yards are deep.  So as long as we live here, we will not have neighbors near enough to us that we can actually hear them flush.  Been there, done that.

I hope none of our new neighbors will be raising exotic animals or using heavy-duty pesticides.  I would not want to live where we had to be dictated to by a Home-Owners Association, but without that, if you live outside the City Limits, there's not much your neighbors can't do if they decide they want to.  I guess if you've ever had that happen, an HOA might be attractive to you, but I've heard some pretty awful stories from people whose HOA has gone berserk.  When we lived in town the City Code Enforcement was really good about coming around if you built a porch and didn't get a building permit, but they made themselves pretty scarce when our Neighbor From Hell didn't cut the grass, had nine dogs and a lot of trash in the back yard, a boat parked between their house and their neighbor's house on the other side, and a big travel trailer in their front yard.  Among other things.

The worst we have around here is wandering dogs, and that's not always a bad thing.  They hunt the rabbits.  We also have one neighbor who burns something every now and then that makes black smoke and smells like tires.  Nothing's perfect, ever.

Today Hubs and I went to the annual plant sale held by The Garden Club.  There is a plant sale on the 30th that is held by The Master Gardener's Association, and it's always a better sale.  More plants, better prices.  I was actually a little more disappointed than usual about today's sale.  They didn't have anything labeled.  So you had to ask questions.  With several customers standing there, it got hectic.  I'm not buying something if I don't know what it is, and since their prices usually run pretty high, even if I know what the plant is, I may not want it when I find out how much they're asking.  So we left without my buying anything.  Hubs wanted to go to the Home and Business Expo that they were having at the Dewey fairgrounds, and I don't really like to go to those but I went because he went to the plant sale with me.  We stopped at an Estate Antique Sale and the prices were 'way out of MY league.  I saw some of the same things I have in my house.  Who knew my old garage sale junk was worth that much!  Probably isn't, nobody was buying anything.  I left there kind of in shock, myself.

After we got home and had lunch, I planted nine Cherokee Purple tomato plants, the Patchouli and the Pineapple Sage I'd bought at Green Thumb Nursery a week or so ago.  My bunches of onions are ready to separate and set out, so I did the smallest bunch, which was from Candy onion seed I'd wintersown.  Somebody told me onion seed doesn't wintersow very well, but I had good results.  Really the secret is that they have to be close together when they're little to hold each other up.  And I haven't ever had good results with giving them a "haircut" like some people suggest be done. 

Candy onion is a hybrid, it will bloom but if seeds form (and they never do, at least for me), they may not germinate or will not be the same thing.  So when I ordered seed I found I could get a better price if I ordered three packages, which I did, and I keep the extra seed in the freezer.  I can only get Candy onion plants locally when it's too early in the spring and I've had disappointing results with them.  I can order the plant bundles but the shipping costs are more than the cost of the plants.

I just dug up the whole clump, and soaked the dirt out of the roots with water.  Then I was able to tease the onions apart.  I had 50 decent-sized onions for planting, and 40 more that were a little undersize but I planted them anyway. 

The smallest ones were just put back in the soil in a loose clump and watered in.  Maybe they'll get to some size later on and will be fall onions.  That's them in the top center of the picture below.  That's Feverfew in the big clump right below it, and then Yarrow below that and off to the left margin.  Both wintersown.  These herbs are good additions to the herb garden, and are things I've tried to get established before with less than stellar results.  Maybe this will be the year for them. 

I still have two big clumps left to separate.  I actually just wintersowed them as "insurance" in case I got poor results.  Both these clumps were grown from seed I gathered from onions that went to seed in the garden.  One is Texas Sweet and the other is either Ailsa Craig, Borretania Cippolini, or Clear Dawn, from heirloom onion seed I grew a year or two ago.  All these onions were good, but had very poor keeping qualities and had to be chopped and frozen in order to have any at all for winter use.  Candy onion doesn't keep very well at all, either.  But they make huge onions and taste really good.  I think maybe none of the sweet onions keep very well.  Unless something catastrophic happens, I'm going to have more onions this year than I need.  My neighbors will enjoy the extra. 

I was going to plant my Long Island cheese pumpkin and cushaw seedlings but I ran out of steam.  It's looked like rain all day and so I sorted through tomatoes and set the ones I will plant next in buckets so they will be easy to carry to the garden.  I was able to reduce the carts I was using from three to two.  Hubs helped me put the other two on the patio so they'd be protected from the rain and some of the wind if we get any tonight. 

I am just "plum tuckered out", as Dad used to say.

This is now Tuesday.  Where has the time gone?

Sunday we went to church and frankly, I don't remember what I did with the other half of the day.  All I know is that at the end of Monday, I had Yellow Cheese sweet pepper, Orange cheese sweet pepper, and Long Island Cheese pumpkin plants set into the ground.  I moved all the plants that were in the cold frame onto the patio where they will not get rained directly on and drowned, or scalded by the sun if I didn't get the glass off soon enough.  Spring days can be both rainy and hot and sunny, sometimes it's a job in itself just going back and forth between "covered" and "uncovered".  I sorted through the tomato plants.  I always try to keep the varieties separate, but stuff happens.  And then I have to hunt around for "matchers" when I plant, because I save the seeds and I have found they indeed will cross-pollinate if they grow mixed up with different varieties right next to them. 

Today I had an early eye appointment with the retina specialist.  I have Age-Related Macular Degeneration.  Other things too, such as Dry Eye and Cogan's Map-Dot Dystrophy, but the retina specialist sees me for the macular degeneration.  He eventually wants to do the same surgery on my left eye that he did on the right.  I, after having had three surgeries last year, desperately need a rest from all that, and have been hoping I can side-step any further surgery this year and just concentrate on being well.  It was good news.  I'm stable.  At least where my eyes are concerned.  Heh.

We booked it on home once out of the clinic as it had started to rain and we weren't sure just how much rain Tulsa was supposed to get.  Once home, I went out and got Red cheese sweet peppers and Cushaw pumpkins into the garden before it started to rain.  Oh, the garden is muddy, but not "suck-your-shoes-off muddy" yet.  They've had a lot more rain in other parts of the state and we saw flood rescues on TV happening in Texas and other states.  Mother Nature still wants to kill us all, and considering how blatantly we are polluting her, I don't guess I really blame her.  Unfortunately, she isn't selective enough to just affect those most responsible.  I am still finding rats in the traps every few days.  Bob tells us he is seeing them all over his place.  *Sigh*.  That's the price of living in a "country setting" that people don't think about before they move there.

This is now Thursday, April 21. 

I've been watching those videos on "The Truth About Cancer" and learning quite a bit, not only about cancer but also about the immunity system and some general health stuff I didn't know.  Each episode is about an hour and twenty minutes long and it's felt like "information overload" to me -- you know how it is when you're learning a new job and they throw so much at you all at once that you get so you just can't absorb any more?  That's kind of the same feeling.  I've been taking notes because I might want to research a little deeper into some of the things they talk about and I know that without buying the DVD's they're selling I won't be able to remember it all.  Nor do I want to sit through a whole hour of any particular episode for one particular piece of information after I've already viewed the whole thing before.  I watched the last episode this morning, which was mostly testimonials, and therefore not many notes that needed to be taken. 

These people stress that they don't get any incentives from anyone for putting this program on.  Sometimes it has felt, though, like one long "infomercial", because the people they are interviewing often mention that they've written a book, or that they've used a particular product, and they mention enough information about it that you could Google it and find it for yourself if you were so inclined.  I don't know if that's a bad or a good thing.  There was a lot, though, that just seemed like good advice.  We live in a contaminated world.  It's in our air, our water, our soil.  It's purposely put into our food chain for economic reasons.  And it's been going on for a long, long time.  And we are an addicted population.  Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, sugar.  Some of us have our addiction because we were introduced into it as children.

I know a lot of people viewed those videos, and with the word getting out about food additives and how bad processed food is for the body, I think I can go out on a limb and say that, in my lifetime, I will probably see and end to hunger in America.  Because all these processed foods will become so cheap when people start demonstrating with their dollars that we don't want additives and/or chemicals in our food.  Those of us who can afford to will spend more and more of our food dollar on organic and otherwise chemical-free food.  Processed foods, full of unnecessary sugar, fats and salt, will start selling slower.  And only then will the makers and sellers of those processed foods take notice.  What will they do?  Why, they'll jump on the band-wagon, that's what.  They'll start offering more organic foods at grocery stores, in an effort to outsell the healthfood stores.  More healthfood stores will spring up, and for awhile it'll be war.  You'll be able to get good food for reasonable prices.  But if the big grocery chains ever win out, they'll start charging exorbitant prices for real food and they'll bring the price of all their fake food down to ridiculously low levels.  They're already making fake food cheap, with coupons.  Did you ever wonder WHY food manufacturer's provide coupons?  If you have a stash of coupons, I challenge you to look at them closely.  How many food items for which you have coupons do NOT fall into the "fake food" category?  Read the label on the product.  Added sugar?  MSG?  Chemicals?  Then you are being enticed, with that coupon, to poison yourself and your family.  It's as simple as that.  And I'm sure sorry to have to tell you that. 

They devoted part of their video time in explaining about what a miracle the human body is, and how, if the immune system is kept healthy, it can protect us from illness and disease.  But people take in things that damage their immune system daily.  One of the things they talked about was inoculations, and it was scary to hear about what's in the serum.  Somebody that can do something about this must be listening, because I just saw on TV yesterday a report about how scientists are "beginning to believe" that instead of the conventional method of developing a serum, they should be jump-starting the immune system.  This might be even scarier still.  An immune system working too well.... what might that mean? 

It's all about the money, good or bad.  Healthy or unhealthy.  It's like we're walking through a carnival.

This is now Saturday and I will try to post today. 

The hummingbirds are here so I've set up the feeders.  We also had an all-day concert given by a little house wren yesterday.  We went several years without either of them turning up over here at all, it's such a blessing to see them coming back every year now.

I just about have everything settled into its permanent place in the garden now.  I might need to replant Lazy Housewife beans, because they haven't come up yet.  I tried a hint I read about, about pre-germinating seeds in the oven with just the oven light on.  They hadn't germinated when I planted them, because I didn't wait till I saw roots emerging, and it might've been a little too warm, not sure.  I have plenty of seed saved from the last crop so it's not a big deal.  Just one clump of onions left to separate out and plant some of the bigger ones.  And I have a few little puny Pineapple Tomatillo plants that I haven't planted.  I always start more plants than I will need, because stuff happens, you know....  And so this year I have a lot of plants left over.  I'll give some to other people that have gardens and the rest I will donate to the church for it's rummage sale. 

I usually grow southern peas of some kind or another, but not sure I will this year.  I pick the pods when they are filled out and spread them out to dry.  When the pods are brittle the peas are not hard to shell by hand.  Then I spread the shelled peas out on newspaper to dry completely so they can be vacuum stored in jars in the pantry without the need for canning or freezing.  I got a nice big harvest of Purple Hull peas last year and probably have enough left for another year of good eating.  If I have room maybe I'll grow some, anyway, as they're kinda fun to grow.  I can always share the extra with somebody. 

Lately Hubs and I have been trying to get woodchips moved and spread in the walkways of the garden.  I saw an episode of Growing A Greener World where Joe Lamp'l was walking around in a garden somewhere, and they had woodchips in their walkways, too.  I've also seen where Ray Browning ("Praxxus" on YouTube) has clover in his walkways.  I have a nice growth of Dutch White clover that's growing just off the patio and it seems to tolerate our walking on it well enough, so I might start planting some little "plugs" into some of the garden walkways and let it spread.  Sure beats Bermuda grass, Bindweed, and Puncture vine.  Next spring, hopefully I will be totally back to normal, physically, and where we have spread wood chips I can till with my small tiller and then shovel into the raised beds before we put on more.  Or maybe by then I'll just let the clover spread into them, too.  I also have several volunteer Sweet Annie (Artemesia) that are 3rd generation now from some the birds planted for me, that I'm moving to the outer borders of the garden.  Once you get some to grow and make seed, you never have to plant them again, it's easy enough to weed out the ones that come up in places where you don't want them, but usually they will come up in the same places they grew the year before.  I love the smell of Sweet Annie.  Next time I make "homemade liniment", I'll use it in the recipe. 

Another thing I wanted to mention about those "Truth About Cancer" videos is that they did a segment about how you can poison your body with unresolved emotional pain.  You can screw up your immune system and digestive system.  And those are two of the most important operatives in your body.  This was really interesting and I do believe it's true.  You know, some people carry around anger and hatred, which have hurt or jealousy at their roots, until it just absolutely will consume them.  It does the object of your anger and hatred no harm for you to feel the way you do towards them.  It just hurts YOU.  Getting even with someone for something they did to you is not your job.  It may bring you some moments of pleasure to see them having to deal with difficulties that you may have brought about in an effort to "make them pay", but that matters not in the end.  For in the end, we will all stand before our God and be accountable for those things we have done.  The people who have hurt you will.  And so, unfortunately, will you.  And the things that we have done to "make someone pay" are included in that.  It's just the way it works.  Almost everybody has done or said something they're not proud of, something they wouldn't do again if they got the chance to live that part of their life over.  In this world we can justify everything we have done or said, and almost everyone does, so they can live with themselves, look at themselves in the mirror, so to speak.  But before God, it's all out there.  Nobody really "makes" us do anything.  We make a conscious choice, and then we own what we've done.  I urge you to forgive everyone that has hurt you and then to forgive yourself for everything you have done that you wish you hadn't.  If there's something you can do to make up for those things you have done, then do it.  Then go on with your life.  You will be healthier for it.  You will be happier.  Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better".  This is kind of a cryptic thing to say and a lot of people don't "get it" and think she's just a crazy old black woman.  But she makes a good point if you think of it in terms of how you might understand how unresolved hate and anger will affect YOU more than anyone else.  It will eat you alive from the inside out.  When you forgive someone, you're not saying to them, "It's OK, what you did."  You're saying, "It happened, but it's on YOU, not ME."  It doesn't mean you ever have to say anything to them.  Or that you ever even have to see them again.  It means you cease to carry them around in your mind, everywhere you go.  You know what I mean.  It's OK to acknowledge what they did if you want to, but as a historical observer, not the object.  Even so, it's probably better for you if you don't devote any more of your time to it than you already have.  Remember, God saw it all.  They showed you who they really are, and you were disappointed to learn who they really are.  But it's ON THEM.  Quit spending your time and your thoughts on it and get on with living your BEST life, as Oprah says.  You'll thank me later. 

Hugs xoxoxoxo

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Daily Doin's: Catching Up Since April 1

I start this on Monday, April 11.

My grandmother, Susie (Peabody) Britt, grew up in Arkansas, and she had a repertoire of tidbits of helpful folklore-type information.  She must've been typical of her time, because many people in my age group have memories of little things their mothers and grandmothers used to say.  Somewhere along the way, people began calling these little comments  "Homilies", but I looked up the definition and was surprised to learn that it's actually a synonym for "sermon".   I don't think anything my Grammy said to her children, and I know certainly not her beloved grandchildren, was ever delivered like it was a sermon, so I didn't really feel like the term was all that discriptive.  Someone else must've felt the same as I do, and so the word "Momilies" was created.  There's even an "Official Momilies Website", but they're just trying to sell a book and there's not much real information given away.  But we all know some of these, right?  I was thinking about some of the ones I grew up hearing my mother repeat because she'd heard them all her years growing up with Grammy, as relates to what we think about when the months change.  March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  April showers bring May flowers.  You're as welcome as the flowers in May.  The closest I could come to something on The Internet that provided sayings like this was The Garden Digest HERE.  April begins with April Fool's Day and what better way to express it than the presidential candidate selection campaign.  And that's ALL I'm going to say about THAT.  But YOU KNOW WHAT I'M THINKING....

We have been having roller-coaster weather, typical for this part of Oklahoma at this time of year.  We've had tornadoes and fires in nearby communities but so far we have been blessed with safety.  Yesterday the wind was blowing with gusts at 40mph.  It's a struggle just walking in it.  And just forget trying to harden off any of your delicate little seedlings.  I watered a few things because it was 73ºF., also, and warmth plus wind equals dehydration.  The Bartlett pear tree will not be bearing any fruit this year due to late frosts, but the last morning frosts expected are coming up in the next couple of days and the jury's still out as to the full extent of damage of the other trees.  Of course, they still have to make it through the barrage of insects that will be coming up next. 

So I got to thinking about the kale that's out there in the garden.  The only variety that wintered over was the Russian Red kale.   I had a blue kale that I had a hard enough time getting the seed to germinate and then keeping it alive.  As it grew strong and stalky, I couldn't keep the rabbits and rats away from it, and then worms took it over.  I cut it back to the ground but it didn't come back this spring.  The Russian Red, however, grew HUGE, got top-heavy and fell over, and just kept on keepin' on.  Before winter, I cut several of them all the way down to the ground.  They are coming back up but are small, and not hardly enough to pick. 

The others, I just left laying where they fell over.  Opened up a bag of leaves and dumped them on top.  Several of them died.  One has lived, and it's beginning to make seed heads.

I picked from this huge plant so that I could pack some in the freezer.  After it has made seed, the plant will probably die.  I thought maybe the plants that I cut all the way to the ground might grow all summer and be good for eating after the first frost in fall.  But now they are making seed, too.  Kale needs nippy weather in order to taste it's best, so it's now or hope it's still alive by fall.  I hope there will be spinach and lettuce to eat out of the garden before too long, but I can't count on anything for sure, considering all.  Might as well take advantage of what I have, while I still have it.  So I put a board on top of the cinder blocks that form my raised beds and sat within reach of the biggest plant, since I can't get down on my new knee because of the tenderness of my scar.  I picked off leaves and tore out their center stems while I enjoyed communing with nature, dropping the torn-up leaves into a bucket. 

Then I ran cold water into the bucket to wash off any garden dirt or dust that has been "blowin' in the wind". 

I had about 3/4 of a five-gallon bucket by the time I was done.  This compressed tightly into my spaghetti cooker, which holds about a gallon, and filled it to overflowing.  I filled my Maslin pan about half full of water and brought it to a boil.  All the kale fit into the pot, with an occasional stir.  The recommended blanching time is 3 minutes.  I have frozen kale without blanching before and didn't notice much difference in texture or taste after it was thawed.  But I've read if you keep it for several months it isn't as good.  And it does take up more space in the freezer.

This "pot likker" was frozen and will be used as soup base, combined with other liquids from vegetable cooking / canning processes.  If I didn't do that, I'd probably just use it to water plants with.

I packed the blanched kale in zip-lock sandwich bags.

I might mention here that I do not bother with the ice-water bath for stuff like this.  I might shorten the blanching time to allow for the heat it will retain before it gets cool enough to handle, though. 

Yield was three 8-oz bags of drained, blanched greens.  Less than I expected, so I'll try to pick more before we stop getting cold nights.

I had never grown kale before last year so this was an interesting experiment.  Kale is a real powerhouse, as far as vitamins and minerals, and is easier on the digestion if it's cooked.  Also cooking destroys goitrogens and oxylates, which are a couple of undesirable qualities of kale in its raw form.  The thing is, you want to eat a varied diet, not the same thing all the time.  Many foods can have bad effects if you eat a lot of it.  As a matter of fact, I once knew someone whose skin turned orange from eating too many carrots.  I probably wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.  She happened to be a person who was very careful with her appearance and this would've been funny if she hadn't been so very upset.  I've heard that some people that drink juices regularly use a lot of raw kale in their juice combinations.  According to LiveStrong, it's not advisable to juice kale daily because it's high in Vitamin K, Potassium and Iron.  Many things that are so good for you in small amounts can be really disruptive to your body, and sometimes even downright dangerous, if you're taking in too much.  Think about how much of any one thing it takes to make just a little bit of juice, and consider that there might be a very good reason why, that's all I'm sayin'.  We were meant to be hunter-gatherers and to chew things.  We weren't born with the instinct to juice.

I have held off planting things except for peas and spinach, a couple of perennial herbs I bought at Green Thumb Nursery, and nine tomato plants that were looking so bad in their containers that it made no difference whether they died in the ground because many more days in the container and they'd be dead, anyway.  This year I'm going to try Ray Browning's YouTube trick about how he plants his tomatoes.  I wrote about him about three posts back. 

I'll start pruning them after they get acclimated.  A couple more cold nights coming, I don't want to put any more stress on these than they've had already, or on me, because I'm the one that has to run out there and cover everything up.  I'll probably set out the rest after the next few days are over.

During the last week, I've caught a rat in the trap that I left at the end of the front driveway where the garage doors are.  It chewed the plastic off my sprinkler gun.  I guess this was the main course and the peanut butter in the trap was to be dessert.

Better that than under the hood of a vehicle though.  Then I caught a baby cotton-tail when I set the trap on the back patio.  I didn't have the heart to kill it, but I guess I should have.  I took it outside the fence and let it go.  And where, you ask, did it go?  It made a U-turn and headed back for the yard, throwing itself against the chain-link fence, which would've allowed it to make it through except for our chicken-wire panels that we put all along the bottom of the fence.  He stunned himself and I picked him up while he was sitting there blinking, and by this time I was hacked off, so I gave him a fling out into an open space, where he again made a U-turn and came back in my direction, but veered off south of Hubs' workshop. 

I moved some extra iris plants into one of the back beds of the garden last year.  When I find someone that wants them I can easily dig them up.  I didn't realize this before, but apparently rats like the leaves, so I take chewed-on leaves as a clue that there is a presence.  Early last week, I baited and set one of the Have-A-Heart traps out there.  Went out later, and there was a rat in the trap.  One ran away from the trap as I walked up to it and threw himself into a hole in the corner of the bed.  *Sigh*.  So I drowned the rat that was in the trap, reset it, and put it back in place.  As I carried the trap back to its location, another rat ran from under the pile of leaf bags and then darted into a crack between some cinderblock that's stacked near the sweet potato bed where I just planted spinach the day before.  So I set the other trap there.  A couple of hours later I heard the bait platform swinging and I had a rat in each trap.  It's lucky rats are not very smart.  I mean, there'll be a rat running loose around the trap that has a brother rat IN IT.  And still, after the trap's been rebaited and reset, that rat that saw his brother in the trap will run right in. 

Sometimes I think about how much stress my garden causes me -- hard winds interspersed with early morning frosts in spring, furnace-style blasts in July and August, and sometimes not much rain in between, and I wonder if it's even worth all the hard work that's involved.  It seems like I'm fighting the rabbits and the rats, off and on, all year long now, and I'm thinking the garden being here probably draws them.  My neighbors don't stay on top of their rat population, as they don't have gardens, and most of them don't pay much attention to what lurks out on their land.  They might perk up and pay attention when the rats eat all the insulation off the wiring under the hoods of their cars, but seems like cars have to sit idle for awhile for that to happen, and almost everybody makes at least one trip into town every day.  We are not TRUE country people out here.  We are probably better classed as SUBURBANITES. 

We got rain last night.  There was a lot of lightning and the weather radio went off several times, but it was a "Thunderstorm Warning" each time.  I don't see what point it is to get warnings for those.  I mean, it's not like we run to the cellar if it's just a thunderstorm.  I frankly wouldn't want to be in between the cellar and the house during a lightning strike, if you know what I mean.  And nobody is dumb enough to go outside when it's hailing.  A good lightning storm seems to charge the air and gives anything growing outside a boost.  Hubs and I have different attitudes about lightning.  He moans because it means he's probably going to have to cut the grass as soon as it dries out enough so he can.  I'm rejoicing, because I know my garden will love it.  Unless, of course, the lightning strikes the house.  This house was hit by lightning and everything burned but the bricks and concrete about twelve years ago.  It was rebuilt, rented for awhile, and then sold to the people who sold it to us.  It is not necessarily true that lightning doesn't strike the same place twice, even though that was something my Grammy used to say, too.  We are on a bit of a hill, and our house has an upstairs, so therefore we are the tallest structure on the hill.  Not good.

Rain makes other things happen that are not particularly good.  The first thing that happens is that we lose satellite reception, so we have to go upstairs and watch the TV that is connected to the antenna.  I think I've said before that I like antenna TV just fine, there are lots more channels than there were when I was a kid and that's ALL anyone HAD, and it's digital so reception is clear.  If it was up to ME, we'd say "Buh-bye" to Dish Network.  I usually lose Internet connectivity and for a couple of days after the rain is over, there is so much static on our land-line telephone that we cannot make ourselves understood by anyone that we call, which includes the automated electric-outage reporting system.  Yes, I've reported this problem to AT&T, and they are trying to get out of the land-line business, so although I have it on good authority that they know there's something wrong in the main control box, they won't fix it, and the repairman has to lie to you and tell you that it's probably something wrong on your end and that they will charge you $100 an hour if they work on that.  The price is so high because they don't want to do it.  I'm tempted just to pay their dang charges so they'll be forced to have to fix what's wrong in the control box.  I've already had Joe, our electrician neighbor, look at everything, and he tells me we're ok on our end.  I trust Joe, and he has a reputation for knowing his stuff. 

I generally go to Mesonet for my weather information, but last week I really needed something that would show me what the month looked like.  Of course, being as how we can't depend on Mesonet to be entirely correct, and it's only a 5-day forecast, I am well aware that a month's worth of weather prediction, no matter WHO does it, is probably even more iffy.  For all their fancy equipment, you'd think we could get more reliable weather forecasts, but I'm just An Old Redneck Woman, what do I know.  I dinked around a little bit and found AccuWeather.  You put your zipcode in the "location" box and it shows the whole month's forecasted highs and lows for each day.  Of course, the closer they get to the actual day, the more it's been revised.  For awhile it looked like the 8th would be our last freezing morning and now that that date has passed, there are some pretty low temps forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday morning, the 12th and 13th.  Our last average frost is April 15, but all it takes is one time that you lose your whole garden to make you more cautious about setting things out in April.  One year, while we still lived in The Ponca House, we had an entire week of freezing daytime temperatures and high winds, during the week that included April 15 and several days after.  That was MY year.  We had had many days of beautiful weather up to that point.  Ah, Mother Nature.....

And now the wind is blowing hard again, and out of the north.  Yesterday, I swear we must've been having 45mph wind gusts.  Today it's like Mother Nature's trying to blow out some gigantic imaginary birthday candle, even though Mesonet says "wind gusts to 25mph". 

I'm starting my warm-weather seedlings now.  Spaghetti Squash, Cushaw Pumpkin, Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, Burpless Cucumber, Vining Okra (aka Luffa).  I'm not going to direct-seed this time.  Some of this seed just takes too long to sprout and many things can happen to a seed before that happens.  Especially in MY garden.

This is celery, grown from the bottoms of celery bought at the grocery store.  It's wintered over, and is coming back up.  There are two big plants and one small one.  I just buried another celery bottom.  Sometimes they make it, sometimes they don't.  I don't know how long they'll live.  If I don't keep these two big ones cut back, they'll probably be trying to make seed.

Celery likes cooler weather and so it's not a good crop for Oklahoma.  I think people that grow them let them get a certain size and then they "bank them up" with soil or whatever, to make them not be so dark green or so strong in flavor.  But they need cooler temperatures than we can give them here.  So about all they are good for is a "cutting herb".  I chop mine and put them in a bag, keep them in the freezer till I'm making soup or chicken and noodles, then use them sparingly in cooking, because, like I said, the flavor is strong.  A little dab'll do ya. 

This is Angelica.  It grew well in the herb garden last year after being Wintersown, and has come back up after going dormant through the winter.  These have flower whorls in the center.

Angelica is a relative of parsley and celery.  It has some medicinal properties.

I also wintersowed Elecampane last year and this one is the sole survivor coming out of winter dormancy.  It is related to the sunflower, and the flowers are very interesting.  A perennial, and I've read it's hard to kill once established.  Well, allrightie, then!!!  I think the birds, bees and butterflies will enjoy the flowers.  It has medicinal properties.

I have had an infestation of white flies in my seedlings, so I have moved all the seedlings out to the cold frame where ladybugs and other natural predators can clean 'em up.  I bake my composted soil, and the only other two ingredients, peat and Vermiculite, are not normally things that harbor white flies.  Or ARE they?  It's worse this year than it's ever been.  I was beginning to wonder if the eggs are in the earthworm castings that I've been using, but every place I looked, there was advice to PUT earthworm castings on top of the soil to REPEL white flies.  My buddy Carole has a greenhouse, and she uses pieces of yellow sticky bug-trap stuff for this.  I got some, and it works, but not 100%.  Gary Pilarchik recommends pouring boiling water into your seedling soil before you plant, which probably would be about the same as baking the soil.  But, if the eggs are in the Vermiculite or the peat, that might do a better job, since I have only been baking the composted soil BEFORE mixing it with the peat and Vermiculite.  I am now trying pouring boiling water into each little pot of prepared potting soil and then, after allowing it to cool a little, adding the earthworm castings, as I'm not sure whether boiling water would destroy some of the beneficial stuff that's in them.  After they've had a few minutes to cool, I plant the seeds.

Some of the early iris have started to bloom.  Eleanor Roosevelt is always first.  I went out to take a picture and the rain has beaten them all down for now.  This is an old picture, It might be Eleanor or it might be Blue Rhythm.  I think Eleanor has darker "falls". 

The peas have come up sporadically and something's been eating on the spinach seedlings.  I've set the trap and nothing's been in it for the last several days other than occasionally a terrified bird.  This particular planting of spinach is in the sweet-potato bed, which is three cinder-blocks high.  That doesn't stop the rats, but I'd be getting them in the trap.  Could the birds be doing this damage? 
The air is almost always filled with smoke these days, but all my neighbors are out doing stuff around their yards without concern.  That's how accustomed we've all grown to it.  I don't think it'll make a bit of difference if they get that bill passed that will allow ranchers to burn off while there are burn bans in force.  I can't see that they pay attention to it, anyway.  If anybody lost their house to fire and tried to sue the person who started the fire, an attorney who would take the case might be hard to find, since many of our bigger ranch-owners are doctors and attorneys. 

I wintersowed some Nanking cherry seeds and there are a lot of seedlings up good and strong.  I planted some last week along the southeast fence.   When they start going good I might cut down the ones that are on the south edge of the patio.

Just plain wore myself out.  It's so hard to get down on the ground now.  And bending over at the waist is hard on my back.  I don't know how this gardening year is going to go.  Hubs is not much help with things like this.  He's not gentle enough with seedlings.  If there's weed-pulling to do, he pulls things that are not weeds.  Now I even have to load the wood chips from the pile into the buckets since he had some kind of allergy attack that he decided was brought on by breathing the mold in the woodchip pile.  At least he's still able to push the cart full of wood-chip buckets from the pile to wherever I'm wanting to use them. 

While I was planting the cherry trees, I happened to be under the plum tree that had worms in it so bad last year, and saw worms crawling up the trunk, several in a row.  I sprayed them all down with Pam but went out later and there were more out there.  So I threw in the towel.  Mixed up some Fruit Tree Insecticide, poured it on the soil around the tree and sloshed it all over the tree trunk and into the web that I had opened with a stick.  I did the aforementioned peach tree and the other plum tree, as well.  No worm activity at all since.  Sometimes you've just gotta bite the bullet.  Yesterday I found them in one of the Sand Plum trees that grow along the front driveway, though.  This time of year, you have to look your fruit trees over good every time you go out.  Those worms can strip all the leaves off your tree and they'll eat off the baby fruit, too. 

The grape arbor is finally leafing out.  I need to remember that it starts showing life about the same time as some of the Crape Myrtles do. 
It looks healthy so far, after nearly dying from Black Spot last year.  I hope that Liqui-Cop did it's job and the fungus will not come back this year.  That's the peach tree inside the fenced yard on the right, at the edge of this picture.  The fungus spread to it, and ruined what would've been a bumper crop of peaches.  So far the peach tree looks good, too, and has baby peaches on it. 

Hubs and I hit the garage sales last weekend.  I bought these things
This was $15.  It will become part of my canning kitchen in the garage.  Maybe one day I'll have a plumber install a cold water connection.  I think the water lines that serve the upstairs bathroom are in that back wall.  It doesn't freeze in the garage so that'd be ok.

This is for JR's little girl.  It was $10.  When they come to visit she can run it up and down our long driveway.  She'll be 4 this summer.  A dozen regular-mouth quart jars for $1.50.  A few other ordinary day-to-day stuff that I didn't take pictures of.  Hubs bought a drill-bit sharpener.

I've been watching those videos on The Truth About Cancer that are on YouTube and have signed up to get access to all nine episodes.  Apparently they email a link that's good for 24 hours or so.  I was relieved to know that because at first it sounded like I had to be online at what is 8pm Central time, and that's just not convenient for me.  I am a morning person and that's when my brain is more likely to be fully engaged.  So I can shut down Tuesday the same time I always do and the link for the first episode will be in my mailbox, available for viewing Wednesday until that evening.  It may be that the first episode is the same one I've viewed on YouTube, in which case I won't have anything new to watch till Thursday morning.  A couple of things I have found really interesting from watching the videos on YouTube, in addition to those mentioned on the post before this one, is the information about how simple sugars feed cancer cells like throwing gasoline on a fire.  And I'm kind of mad about how chemo and radiation are the go-to treatments when they are known carcinogens.  My mother had bladder cancer for about the last 20 years of her life.  Her chemo treatment involved filling her bladder with chemicals and closing it off so she couldn't pee.  She would cry all during the treatment.  My mother didn't often cry.  In the end, she didn't die of cancer.  She had a stroke.

This is now Tuesday, and I will post today.

Yesterday AccuWeather predicted temperatures in the mid-thirties this morning and tomorrow morning, but it's 46ºF. out there now and it looks like the forecast has been revised so that tomorrow morning will be in the 40's as well.  Nothing in the forecast in the 30's from here on.  So I will be busy getting tomatoes planted first, and then peppers, and so on. 

And yes, my friends, there will be fruit (barring other perils from now through ripening stage....  You know, drought and pestilence....)

But let's hope for the best, and Rock On.  Hugs xoxoxo