Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Daily Doin's, First Ten Days of May, 2016

I have been busy with the garden and with the Food Revolution summit, so I haven't had time to blog lately.  I will try to catch up on what's been going on, on RockWhisperer Hill, if I can remember all of it.  The old brain was never very good at instant recall and now that it's nearly 70 years old, it's not even what it used to be.  I know that I have lots of information stored away.  I just can't remember what drawer it's in.  Once I do, it takes me awhile find the key.  Welcome to my world.  I guess the silver lining in all that is that, eventually, I'm able to find it.  Not chewing on my tongue just YET, thanks be to God.

We are seeing Orioles for the first time this year.  They like the sugar-water that I put out for the Hummingbirds.
I took a tip from something I saw on Glenda's blog about how she puts grape jelly out for the Orioles.  They haven't found it yet but the ants have.

Our new neighbors' house is all up and buttoned-down to the elements, including windows in.  No doors yet, and looks like brick will be going up on the front, and halfway up the walls on the other three sides.  The siding is up but not the brick. 

And our other new neighbors have now started preparing the land for work to start on their house.  They were here measuring and putting markers into the ground after this fill was brought in and smoothed out, so apparently where that filled area is on the ground is where the house will be built. 

That rock wall is ours, and about a foot on the other side of it.  We have not totally edged our property with that rock wall yet, this is as far as we have gotten with it on this side, with rocks we have dug by hand, shovel and pry-bar while preparing garden beds and holes for trees.  It looks like the new house will not restrict our view of Jay's lake at all, which we enjoy seeing every day.  It turns out that our son and family know this family and sounds like they will be a nice addition to our little bunch. 

I never knew there were houses back in here till we found this house for sale, but when we are asked to explain where we live, the person asking usually knows exactly where we are and after they tell us that, they tell us what a pretty area we are in.  Hubs and I think so too.  We truly enjoy living where we do, and we love all of our neighbors, at least the ones we have been able to get to know well.  Some are a little standoffish, but that's OK.  One of the reasons people move out to the country is so they won't have to live on top of their neighbors, and some of them have some baggage from previous experiences that makes them not want to know their neighbors.  I can understand that.  You know, everybody has some kind of baggage.  Sometimes it's a pretty big bag, because it came from years and years of bad experiences.  The really sad thing about baggage is that most people cannot deal with it in such a way that they can set it down and walk away from it.  They lug it around with them all their lives.  Don't do that, OK?  It just hurts YOU, you know.

Well, the Food Revolution summit is now over, and I have learned a lot.  On Day 8 they had an interview with Susan Pierce Thomas, Ph.D on weight loss.  I was grateful to learn that this woman was not hawking the same old wares that others in the weight loss industry are.  In fact, John Robbins said that Weight Watcher's executives even admitted to him that most their money came from people who'd lost weight with them before and were having to come back and do it again.  SERIOUSLY????  Who wants to go through life being constantly on a diet?  Been there, done that, most of MY life.  And, over the last 50 years, I've tried almost every diet there is.  Finally, 'way late to the party, I figured out what works for me.  And guess what.  It's pretty much the same thing Susan Pierce Thomas figured out, too.  Day 8 on YouTube is HERE.  Day 7 is HERE.  I think I gave the link to Day 6 and Day 5 of my previous post.  I don't know how long they'll be up, so there may come a time when the links will not be any good anymore.  My rant about weight loss, done last year, is HERE

To make the changes in diet, away from animal products, sugar and white flour is a daunting effort, even for me, a person who has already recognized that sugar and products that taste sweet like sugar such as corn syrup and any food ingredient that ends in -ose are the gateway to my obesity.  (Usually when I and many others SAY "sugar", we MEAN "sugar(s)", which includes corn syrup and all those -ose things, except for cellulose, which is finely powdered wood and that's a whole 'nother topic and problem.  It's found in grated cheese and other things that are inclined to stick together in the package.)  Hubs and I are like most Americans in that we eat an animal product at all three meals of the day.  I usually have an egg and some cheese on homemade whole-wheat bread for breakfast.  He has oatmeal with milk and sugar.  At lunch, he has a sandwich made with cold cuts, to which he adds mayo and lettuce, and potato chips on the side.  He buys "wheat bread", even though I have shown him that what he buys doesn't have the Whole Wheat Council seal on the package and even those breads that I have seen for sale that do, also have a long list of ingredients that includes soy products and not very good oils.  Chemicals for "freshness".  I usually have leftovers for lunch and if there are none, I'll have homemade whole wheat bread and peanut butter.  Usually with a glass of milk.  Or I'll have cheese and crackers.  Or yogurt and whole wheat toast.  I can see now that changing our diets is going to be have to be done gradually.  I've got a freezer full of animal products!  And a husband that is going to be hard to wean away from them. 

All I can do with Hubs is to share with him the things I have been learning.  He does not like to have decisions like this made for him and so whatever HE chooses to do is what he will do.  We always go to the grocery store together and I read the ingredients lists to him sometimes in the store.  I'm not shy about it, there are people milling around, I will gladly educate them, too.  And if the employees in the store see me put a product back on the shelf and hear me say it's got something in it that turns it into something that's not healthy, maybe one day they'll share that with their boss, and maybe somehow that will travel up the organization chart of the store.  We all have to do what we have to do.  I will gradually be cooking a little differently and Hubs will eat what I cook because he doesn't want to have to cook his own meals.  He is a meat-and-potatoes man.

The thought has occurred to me that, if this is the year that we all become totally aware of what's in our food, and we get so mad about it that we start talking with our dollars, which is the only language that's understood by the corporations that process our food, then maybe radical change will happen.  And that very well might be The End Of The World As We Know It, but in a good way.  You know, something pivotal happens every 7 years.  It's a biblical thing.  We've known this for a long time in how it seems like lots of people have some kind of big change in their marriages every 7 years.  Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad.  A radical change in what's offered in our grocery stores might not be a totally good thing.  The question to be answered is, now that the big corporations have poisoned their soils with herbicides and pesticides, how are they going to get out of the cycle?  Are they going to dig out all the contaminated soil and truck in pristine soil?  If so, where's THAT going to come from?  And WHERE will they dump the poisoned soil?  Do they have neutralizers that they could treat their soils with?  If so, what's in THAT and will that end up being hidden in our food and turn out to cause health issues as well?  Obviously, history will repeat itself over and over and we, the public, will be used as guinea pigs to find out if neutralizers do the job they're supposed to do and are not health risks in themselves.  If that's the way they go. 

One of the many things I learned from Food Revolution is that plants make antioxidants in order to protect themselves from the onslaught of insects and disease that attack every normal garden.  A plant that's not healthy doesn't have the amount of antioxidants in it that a healthy plant does and therefore is not able to protect itself.  When we mess with Mother Nature by using chemical fertilizers and insect control, the plant doesn't even TRY to protect itself.  Therefore, a big drop in antioxidants and therefore not as full of nutrients as something that's grown organically. 

This whole thing can translate out to a food shortage, and might already BE, if we consider that most of what we see in our grocery stores isn't really something that ought to be called "food". 

We were in Trader Joe's in Tulsa last Wednesday and I bought some fresh ginger root, some shelled raw peanuts and a bag of unsalted shelled sunflower seed.  I read labels.  The sunflower seed was processed with sunflower oil.  Raw peanuts, which no one ever used to buy unless they were making peanut brittle, can be planted in the garden.  I know these peanuts will sprout, because I pre-sprouted some.  They have to still be whole, and not split in two, as peanuts are prone to do.  I've never grown peanuts before, but I'm going to try it.  Raw peanuts can be tossed in a little coconut oil, spread out on a cookie sheet, and roasted in the oven.  Then they can be ground into peanut butter, if you want, or eaten, a small handful at a time, as a nutritional snack.  I don't even mind the taste of raw peanuts, actually, although I don't know if they would be hard for some people to digest.  When they are grown in the garden, the resulting harvest can be boiled in the shell.  Usually they are boiled in heavily salted water but I don't know why less salt couldn't be used.  Or maybe even left out entirely. 

Saturday we went to a new business that has just opened up.  It is run by the owners of a family farm that was once operated by her dad, and they opened up a little roadside "store", out of which they plan to sell produce.  All they will have is in-season stuff, so now they have onions, lettuces, and kale.  I have all those in my garden.  But they also had eggs from free-range chickens.  So I bought some of those.

Oh, aren't these PRETTY?  We saw the chickens.  We saw well-groomed garden plots with things growing in them.  I saw a wheat grinder that's the same brand as mine on the table behind the counter, and I asked the woman where she bought her wheat, thus finding a new source for organic wheat berries, at about a dollar a pound.  This wheat comes from Montana.  I can get organic wheat from northwestern Oklahoma through the Oklahoma Food Co-Op, and it costs less than a dollar a pound, or did when I last bought it.  But it doesn't rise very well and needs added gluten to make a good loaf of bread.  I find that to be a bit of a nuisance. 

As we drove down the road, on the way there and back to our home, I took comfort in seeing cattle grazing peacefully in pastures.  Mothers with their calves, even.  No, all beef is not produced in the horrendous feedlot.  The proof is here in Oklahoma.  I'm not saying there are not feedlots anywhere in Oklahoma.  I'm sure there are somewhere.  I'm just saying cattle grazing in fields of grass is what I'm seeing here, for real.  And that gives me hope.  We drove to Marienthal, KS, a few years ago, along KS HWY 96, and we passed a feedlot, right on the highway.  That was the closest I ever came to one, I think.  The odor was incredible.  I know what they mean about feedlots being the source of huge amounts of greenhouse gases.  And how terrible must that be for the cattle, to be forced to stand there, crowded in the pens, in their own excrement and mud made of soil and urine, and that of all the other cattle around them?  They were all bawling, which I didn't realize at the time was because they were probably all so miserable, but now that I think back at that, it makes me feel sad.  Cattle do not normally stink that bad.  A cowpie, once it dries, does not smell all that bad.  People even do weird things with cowpies.  Like coating them with something to keep them from flaking apart and selling them as paperweights.  Country communities have events that are centered around cowpie-toss contests and the like.  It isn't unheard of for farm families to go out and pick up dried cowpies out of the pasture with their bare hands when they need fertilizer for the garden.  Though if they are milk cows and they come up to be milked, there's the normal clean-up of what they drop during milking time, and then that can be used in the garden after it's aged enough so that it won't be too strong.  I used to get horse manure from a local cowboy and it was wonderful for the garden.  It was all mixed with straw and was already well on its way to being composted by the time I got it.  But, these days, you can't even trust straw.  I saw a blogpost warning about the need to know if the straw is chemical-free, posted by a man who had his garden soil ruined when he brought home chemically-laden straw he'd swept up around a local feedstore.  *Sigh*.  Hubs and I have even decided to quit going out in the fall and picking up people's bagged leaves.  It's just not worth the risks.  Our own trees are now big enough that they'll be providing us with some leaves to use in the garden.  It won't be in the amounts that we have brought home in bags in the past, but we'll know they're safe.  And they won't include huge amounts of acorns, which draw the squirrels and result in thousands of little trees coming up everywhere.  (Did you know Bluejays eat acorns?  I didn't.)  I've found all kinds of things in those bags of leaves.  Sticks.  Three shoes.  Softdrink cups and cans.  Old potted plants.  A disposable foil turkey pan.  A small disposable water bottle filled with what looked like urine.  A pair of boy's underwear briefs.  Yikes. Last year was a bad year for Oak Beetles and I received several bites in dumping out some of the bags of leaves.  This spring, Hubs has had to remove a deer tick from me twice, both times after I have dumped leaves out of bags. 

By the way, if you don't already have a tick spoon, you need to get one.  They make it very, very easy to remove a tick.  Amazon has them for only a couple dollars, no shipping costs if you add to an existing order.  We are careful to keep our tick spoon in a certain place all the time so it can be found quickly. 

But I have gotten off-topic.  Again.

Only about a mile north of this produce store, there was a big SALE sign on one of the corners and lots of stuff on tables in the grassy area near a building.  Turned out they're only open on Saturdays.  And these people actually live near us.  We had a nice visit with the man, who was a retired attorney who goes to local auctions and "just buys what he likes".  He is of like background and attitudes as us, so we had plenty to talk about.  That and the conversation I had with the woman at the family farm store was very pleasant and interesting.  Plus I bought some cool things. 
This birdhouse needs a little work.  That's a doorknob and a hinge on the front.  When I looked at it closer after I got it home, I realized it's all some kind of polymer resin, poured-in-a-mold material.  Oh, well. 

 These sound like cowbells, each has a different "note".  I REALLY like them.

This has the "plow" attached to it.  There are two other "implements" hanging from the frame by a piece of wire.

Today is Sunday, Mother's Day.  It rained a little bit today.  We went to church.  I drove in separately so I could go to Sunday School.  I have several groups to choose from and I will visit each one and see which one I fit into best.  We had company in the afternoon and a nice visit.  I was given a pretty little Kalanchoe plant and was told I am loved.  I have had Kalanchoe before but not one with flowers this color.

The Nanking cherry bushes are loaded this year. 
The first to ripen have been picked and about half of that picking has been pitted and spread onto cookie sheets for drying, placed in our walk-in attic.  I do a lot of dehydrating in the attic, it does every bit as good a job as my dehydrator, and bigger batches at a time as well.  I will not be making much jam this year.  I decided dehydrating would be the way to go, as I will end up with little pieces of dried fruit that can be put into oatmeal, or salads, or just eaten as snacks.  They will store nicely in vacuum-sealed jars on pantry shelves.  As things shrink when they are dehydrated, I can easily use pint jars for storage.  I have a lot of pint jars that go unused each year and sometimes I run out of quart jars when I'm canning fruit.  You have to make sure your dehydrated stuff is totally finished before you vacuum seal it in jars.  Anything still too moist will mold and ruin the contents of the whole jar.  I have tried dehydrating pears before and they dry so grainy that I don't like the mouth feel.  Peaches are very leathery and are hard to chew.  They would be good rehydrated, though.  Pineapple dehydrated is like candy.  Strawberry slices have a papery mouth feel.  Halved blueberries are raisin-like but a little harder to chew.  I like them. 

This is now Monday.  I felt hungry all day yesterday.  I had no need to feel that way as I ate adequately.  And then I started suspecting that this is my brain's way of telling me that I'll have a loss on the scales the next morning, as long as I don't give in to the craving and mess everything up.  It's a mystery as to why I was craving, otherwise, as I hadn't had anything recently that might be a trigger.  I craved potato chips.  I mentioned earlier that I had gained back two of the 25 pounds I lost last year, while recovering from knee replacement surgery.  Those came off easily, right away, as soon as I got back on track last month, and then I lost another additional, "New Territory" pound.  As you know, I don't intend to lose weight fast.  This morning the scales reported an additional loss of 1.6 pounds.  And I am a happy camper.  I have not weighed as little (if you can call it that) as I do now in over 20 years.  Now I am less than ten pounds away from breaking 200, a significant goal-marker along my obstacle course.  (Getting out of those size 20's was my first goal).  I will not set my next goal till I reach this one.  Setting too many goals, too far ahead, dilutes the power of the first goal, at least for me.  And just setting one big goal makes it too far away to even be worth setting.

People always act surprised when they find out how much I weigh.  My mother used to say I take after my dad's mother in that I am "big-boned".  I am not, nor will I ever be, one of those woman who looks "delicate".  You know, little tiny feet and ankles, slim legs, no butt, narrow shoulders.  I am sturdy peasant stock.  And when I'm fat, it's distributed all over me, from head to toe, not just concentrated in one area as it is in some people.  I had a friend whose legs and arms were always slim, no matter what she weighed.   She could wear a loose dress that hung from the shoulders and look very nice.  I envied that.  But I have since read that people who carry all their extra weight in their "core" have more obesity-related health issues.  It really is true that we should be careful what we wish for. 

This is now Tuesday. 
We had a helluva storm last night, no tornadoes, praise be to God.  But hail.  I've been out in the garden and maybe everything has made it through.  It might take a couple of days to know for sure.  The fruit is still on the trees.  Hubs is going to check our roof today.  We didn't see how big the hail was, but hitting the house, it didn't sound like it was much bigger than dime- or quarter-sized.  It's the golf-ball sized stuff (and up) that does the major damage.  So we are feeling blessed today that we were spared.  I had an email from Paula, who lives near Norman, and she said they watched the tornado go to their south and east, but they were safe.  I remember, when I was about five or six, before we left the farm, standing with my family and my grandparents, against the exposed wall of our cellar, watching a tornado writhe it's way past us -- far enough away to not do us any damage.  I only have bits and pieces of memories from when I was that age, and that's one of the most vivid.  I was not scared because my family didn't act scared.  But I sensed the gravity of the situation and I remember that I watched Mom's face intently. 

There's a lot on the news today about how the media has finally learned they have been "played".  Well, duhhhh.  This is what you get when you don't investigate stuff before you report it.  Anybody can tell you anything.  And they do.  There is now a lot of presidential-election stuff and it's pretty clear to me that Donald Trump is probably going to be our next president.  My concern now is who he's going to ask to be Vice President.  I'm hoping he'll pick somebody that would be a great president, because frankly, with how much a lot of people already hate Mr. Trump, I'm not sure he'll live to complete a term.  And his own party will be trying to impeach him at every turn, deservedly or not.  We are just truly in a mess here and it's because too many people that we have been dependent upon to run our country have been dishonest or at least asleep at the wheel for the past thirty years.  Our Powers That Be have let us down.  They have embarrassed our whole country in the eyes of all the other countries of the world, and brought shame to us.  American people are angry now, totally fed-up with being treated like mushrooms (Kept in the dark and fed BS), and it's about time.  Don't misunderstand.  I love and respect my countrymen.  I respect our military that goes wherever they're sent and does whatever they're ordered to do.  I have seen how great things can be in America when they are done right.  The problem is, we haven't had decent leadership in so long, some of our citizens aren't old enough to even know what that's like.  I was at church services a couple of months ago where the pastor said, "Don't worry.  God has His hand upon us."  I know that what seems like a bad thing can turn into a good thing and vice-versa.  I've seen it happen, many times.  It does no good to worry.  What will unfold is not known by us.  All we can do is ride it out.  But the message that voters are giving is clear.  We are sick and tired of poor leadership and WE WANT CHANGE!!!!  Every politician in our country needs to sit up and take notice.  Their "good times" came with a price because it was had at the detriment of their fellow citizens who depended upon them to do the right thing.  So much has gone wrong in this country that I can scarcely count it up.  Every politician holds his office because he was chosen "to serve".  Every church member, every military member, knows what it means "to serve".  You do for OTHERS, setting aside YOUR OWN needs and wants and even putting yourself in harm's way for the sake of your countrymen.  We expect that in our military, and we should be able to expect that in our country's leaders.  But in politics, it's not "serving" now.  It's "self-serving". If this doesn't change, we are doomed.  And to other countries, I would ask you to understand that what is about to unfold is the result of greedy and dishonest politicians.  The American people have nothing left at their hands to do.  A vote for someone the Republican party LIKES is just leaving the door open for business as usual.  I would add that we are all YOUR countrymen, too.  All Americans descend from the people of other countries.  Even the American Indians and the Eskimos are said to have migrated here, long, long ago, ON FOOT, when plate tectonics had not yet done their job of splitting our continents apart.  Look at any globe, representative of The Earth.  Look at the edges of our countries and you will see evidence that at one time, they all fit together.  I was never taught this in public school Geography.  But I learned it in a college Geology class, and I was awe-struck.  Look up Gondwanaland for more information.  Our genes are your genes.  We are your distant cousins. 

Rant over.

This is now Wednesday, May 11.

Yesterday I had a busy day, though it might not sound like it.  I was out of whole-wheat bread so I baked.  I went out to the garden to do the last harvest of kale and did a little weeding while I was out there.  The Sweet Annie and Dill have broadcast so many seeds into the garden that it is now full of little seedlings.  They are not hard to pull up and sure beat SOME of the weeds and grass I have to dig out.  But  Sweet Annie has been moved out along the back fence now, where it can grow as tall as it wants to and not bother anything.  It has a strong but more pleasant smell than other plants in the Artemesia family and I suspect it might retard the growth of other things.  I don't want to stop growing it.  I just want it a little more away from the vegetables that I cultivate.  Once you have Sweet Annie, you always will, thanks to the way it self-seeds.  Dill is the same way, I didn't plant it last year at all and I had plants all over the garden so thick they shaded out other things.  I cut off the seed heads but again this year the seedlings are coming up densely.  Might take me a few years to get on top of this.  I used to plant dill so that I would have plenty for Hubs' dill pickles.  Now that I realize my homemade pickles are no better than Aunt Bea's "kerosene pickles" (a "Mayberry" episode), in Hubs' opinion, I don't waste my time making them anymore.  It is frustrating to cook for Hubs because he's so picky.  If I complain about how he doesn't like this or that, he just gives me "that look", and says, "I'm sorry, I just don't care for it".  So I have tried to accept his food foibles and go on.  Hubs and I are compatible in many ways, but incompatible in many others.  I suppose everyone that's in an old marriage like we are has the same issues.  Kids get married for all the wrong reasons.  They don't notice what their differences are.  Then if the marriage survives, and many don't, you end just having to accept some things, try to have appreciation for the ways in which you are compatible, and just give up trying to change what is.  Life's more peaceful.  He's happier without me "at him", about things that really, in the long run, are never going to change. 

I want some plants in the garden that make umbels, for the beneficial insects, but I realized I would actually rather grow Cilantro and Fennel (although Fennel is said to retard the growth of anything grown around it).  This year's garden includes both.  They may self-seed and overwhelm me as much as the dill has, but I have many uses for both of them and only limited use for the dill as I'm not particularly fond of dill's flavor. 

But anyway.

My kale harvest, which filled a large brown paper grocery bag, reduced down to three 7-oz bags of blanched kale after the removal of the central stem-rib and some light steaming.  All the kale plants are in bloom and I will have seed to collect before long.  Kale seed pods are edible but you have to catch them early or you will find there is part of the little pod that you won't be able to chew up.  I found out also that okra leaves are edible.  I haven't tried any yet as my okra plants are small and they need all the leaves they have for photosynthesis.  Sweet potato leaves are said to be edible too, but white potato leaves are not.

Later on, I again went out to the garden to look for stuff I could make my supper salad with.  I saved back some of the raw kale for the base of the salad.  I found cantaloupe seeds that had been buried with the contents of the compost bucket had germinated very thickly, and I know that seed sprouts of many things are very healthy, so I pulled one out of the soil and tasted it.  It tasted like cantaloupe, actually.  So I thinned out the tumble of seedlings and added them to my salad basket.  Some of the Bloomsdale spinach had more baby leaves, so I took those.  I found some dandelion and took some leaves.  A few lettuce leaves from what little has come up in the garden.  Some leaves from small volunteer Borage plants.  Some stalks of fennel.  And I pulled a small red onion.  Once everything was washed and spun around in the salad spinner (I do wish I had a bigger spinner), I added some stuff from the store: grape tomatoes, avocado and shredded some carrot, unsalted sunflower seeds, salt and pepper, a little shredded cheddar cheese, lemon juice.  Oh, and I added some of those garbanzo beans I soaked and baked last winter, as an experiment, and found them too bland to be snack food.  Plus the texture is kind of "powdery".  They still don't add anything interesting, taste-wise, to the salad but they probably add nutrition.  I won't be baking anymore garbanzo beans when these are gone, just so you know.  It's funny how just a little bit of a lot of different ingredients makes such a huge salad.  I had much more than I could eat, but it was delish. 

Now there's another salad supper in the refrigerator for me.  Unfortunately, I still have to think of something to make for Hubs' supper today. 

By afternoon, the grass had dried out enough that Hubs could get some mowing done.  Oh, the place looks so nice when it's newly mown.  Afterwards, he and I sat on the patio for awhile and enjoyed watching the birds.  The Mockingbird is getting to be a real pain in the patootie.  It chases all the other birds.  We hadn't seen the Orioles all day and were afraid they had been run off, until Hubs discovered that they and several other birds were all in the Mulberry trees.  We have a small tree in the back of the garden and another out along the rock wall, and the mulberries are starting to ripen.  Here's a tip:  don't hang laundry on the line during mulberry season. 

We have possibilities for more rain, off and on, throughout the week.  So today I may plant a few more seeds.  The Lazy Housewife beans are finally coming up.  Seems like it took forever, and I watered every day that it didn't rain.  I may plant some more of them.  I haven't had a good bean crop in a couple of years and last winter I had to buy canned green beans.  The peas came up spotty as well, though it might be too late to plant any more.  I also want to get my Purple Hull Pink Eye southern peas in the ground. 

I had a few fresh strawberries while I was out in the garden.  The Albions wintered over, their first winter, but nearly died out last winter.  I have expanded the strawberry bed and will be trying to get the population built back up this summer.  I really like those Albions.  They are an heirloom variety of everbearing strawberries that can be propagated by runners or by seed.  The strawberries are medium-to-large and are juicy and flavorful.  You know me and how I love those heirloom plant varieties.  Goofy Gardener has a good post about Albion HERE

This morning I had an "animal-products-free" breakfast.
This is oatmeal, pumpkin seed, chia seed, chopped cashews and dried blueberries.  I ate this without sugar or milk, and oh, yeah, it would've been better with, maybe some honey, and some milk, but I wanted to see if I could still enjoy it without.  And I can.  I think a little orange juice or apple juice stirred in would be complimentary, and I may try it next time with fresh chopped apple in it, and maybe some cinnamon and/or nutmeg.  I read somewhere that, when you aren't eating much sugar, you start to taste the natural sweetness in things, and I have found that to be the case.  In fact, we had Communion at church last Sunday and they use little pieces of bread torn off from a loaf that they've symbolically broken in half.  The bread and the "wine" were so darn sweet I was really glad all I had was bitty amounts.  Probably spiked my blood sugar.  LOL

My buddy, Carole, tried to start us both a ginger plant and didn't have any success.  I looked on The Internet to find out the best way to start a ginger plant from a purchased piece of root and found that most places that sell ginger actually gouge out the eyes of the plant, therefore killing any possible chance there'll be a good bud.  The person that posted this information said you have a better chance if you buy your ginger at a healthfood store, and to look the hands over before you buy to see if you see any potential buds.  Well, I bought these at Trader Joe's and set them on the counter.  Already, they have buds developing. 

These are from two little net packages priced at $1.98 each.  But where else can you get six ginger plants for $4, if you can even find them at all?  Oh, and now that I've used up my avocado, I have the pit.  HERE's a few interesting ways to use an avocado pit.  One website says to clean off the pit, let it dry for two to five days, cut it into pieces and put the pieces in a blender.  Then add this resulting material into your favorite facial cleanser for increasing collagen in your skin.  I've grown avocado trees from the pits before, but I have no need for avocado trees since I have no greenhouse and there are not many windows in my house, because the trees are not tolerant of freezing weather.  I had no clue there was anything else the pits could be used for.  They can even be eaten and are said to contain more antioxidants than the pulp of the avocado.  But make sure you've done your research first, if you want to try eating one.  You know how folks can say anything these days.   

Yesterday I didn't get a lot done out in the garden because by the time I got out there, it was hot.  Today I made it out during the morning hours.  I usually pull weeds by hand, but I can't get down on my knees very well to do it, so I found a long-handled implement, bought at a garage sale long ago, in the shed.  The Internet tells me it's called a "weeding hoe" and it did a darn good job, especially for a couple of bucks.  I worked till I had a good heart-rate going, and I was all sweaty.  The RockWhisperer Exercise Plan. 

Hubs did some weed-wacking.  We stopped for a cold drink and some rest on the patio, but I got side-tracked picking cherries and lopping off the branches that were picked out, to give the others more access to the sun.  After all the cherries are ripe and have been picked, I plan to cut those bushes back to about half height.  They are along the south edge of the patio, and they do a good job of shading that side of the patio and protecting our patio furniture from getting tipped over in the wind.  But they are getting too tall and are scraping on the top of the patio cover.  I have new bushes planted along the outside of the north garden fence, which will add privacy and provide enough cherries to share with the birds.  When those start bearing, I will begin keeping the bushes at the patio trimmed and not care if they don't make much fruit. 

I had a "Mystery Plant" that came up in the path of the herb garden.  I was pretty sure it wasn't a weed, so just let it keep on keepin' on, even though it WAS kinda in the way. 

It's Nigella, Love-In-A-Mist.  It's that ferny stuff behind the purple-blue of the Walker's Low Catmint. 

I apologize for my bad outside pictures.  My old digital camera doesn't have a "sight", just a screen, which is really hard to see in daylight outside.  That means I can't tell what I'm taking a picture of.

I don't remember planting these, but I did have a package of mixed seed that I wintersowed in winter and spring of 2015.  When things don't come up, I just tip the soil out of the WS jug and spread it around on soil where Hubs doesn't weed wack or rototill.  I've found, more than once, that seeds will come up the following year.  By that time, I've forgotten what it's supposed to be, and it's a surprise.  Don't that beat all.  Heh.  I have some volunteer Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate in the garden again.  They've come up year after year, and I think the last time I actually had a plant that made seed was when we lived in The Ponca House six years ago.  I keep transplanting these plants to better places and they don't make the transplant.  I'll try again this year, as I like the looks of the plant, and also the looks on people's faces when I tell them what the name of the plant is.  Heh.  Remember, you haven't lost the battle till you've quit trying. 

Our weather radio alarm went off this morning.  I swear, the dang thing is next to useless.  It sounds the same alarm for a simple thunderstorm as it does a tornado on the ground, the alarm is 'way louder than the announcement so if you turn it down so the alarm doesn't blow the doors off, you can barely hear the announcement.  And they test it so often that you get so you don't even pay attention to what they say, anyway.  Mesonet says a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms this afternoon, with only an expected accumulation of 1/10 of an inch, if it happens at all, and 60% chance of heavy rain before 1am with expected accumulation of a quarter to half an inch.  I guess that means the storm won't last very long. 

I'm thinking about starting seeds soon for the fall garden.  I haven't had much success with fall gardens.  I can't seem to find "the sweet spot" for when to start the plants.  Either they die during the heat of summer, or they end up not having time to make anything before the first frost. 

 Well, I haven't put any more bean seeds into the ground as I'd planned today, and I've got a package of giant sunflower seeds begging to be planted, so I will get this posted, go out and do that, and be done for the day.  A full day.  And one tired Old Chick.  Heh.  Y'all keep on keepin' on.  Hugs xoxoxo


  1. Wow have you done a lot! Ralph and I have a 'muck tub" with ginger in it and we grew the original ginger from store ginger bought at the IGA in Virginia. It is in its third cycle now and I have still some hands in the deep freeze. It is not a perfect way to keep it but it is still better than commercial ginger. We did a blog post on growing it.

    I think the food revolution was a huge help. I am going through all my notes as we have had a lot of rain and it is too wet to do much needed weeding.

    Do take care and be safe!

    1. Oh, Fiona, I just love your blog (Folks, it's Crazed Cattlewoman, on my sidebar). And I did just now find the one for Nov. 15, 2014 where you started growing ginger, and then the follow-up one from the next year. I guess I'm going to need a bigger pot than the one I had in mind!! I also saw your post on peanuts. I just grew these peanuts from Trader Joe's to see if I could, but I think my zone, 6a, is about the same as yours?? I am really looking forward to seeing what these do. Experiments are fun, don't you think?

    2. How can you know if it will or won't work if you don't try it?
      I love your stone wall by the way!

  2. Your mention of goldfinches brought back memories. While growing up on a farm in Kentucky, goldfinches were my favorite bird! I used to love their little chirps while they flew :)

    1. Not to mention how beautiful they are! Yes, I love their little chirps, too.


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