Sunday, January 31, 2016

Daily Doin's, Last Days of January, 2016

This is Monday, we just got home from our workout at The Fitness Center and I am, as I'm supposed to be, tired.  Usually I sit on the benches by the reception center and wait for Hubs, and so I get a little rest before we head home.  But Hubs was ready to go home earlier than usual today.  It isn't that he works out longer than I do.  It's that he goes to the break room, pours himself a cup of coffee, and sits down with about eight to fifteen other people who assemble there to visit.  I've tried it, but all that joshing around some of the men like to do encourages me to be someone I don't like very well.  I'm ashamed to say that at first I even joined in with the joshing a few times, trying to "fit in", I guess, and as I thought about it later, I was ashamed of my behavior.  It reminded me of how my birth family insulted and belittled each other while pretending that it was all in fun.  They were not above ganging up on someone, and they knew how to really pour it on, so by the time they were done, their target had hurt feelings and/or was totally embarrassed.  Most of the time I have no patience with wolf-pack behavior like that.  But this time I felt like I'd gotten sucked in and I had to apologize to Hubs for a couple of things I said.  I would've taken a good tongue-lashing like a Real Redneck Woman if he'd needed to do it, but he said he understood.  And so I avoid those guys because I just feel like they bring out the worst in me.  And yes, people say, "Hey, we wouldn't kid you if we didn't like you...."  Oh, yeah, right.  Don't think I don't know how it works.  It's just so easy to say, in jest, that which you haven't got the nerve to say with a straight face and accept the consequences of what you said.  Recognizing, of course, that you ain't perfect, yourself.  So I learned my lesson and that's all I'm going to say about that. 

We went to Church on Sunday and it was nice.  The message was, "Don't worry, God's Still Alive And He's Still In Charge".  I really like Pastor Dale and his wife, Donna.  They just seem so.... centered

It should be pointed out here that yes, I guess if you read this blog you pretty much know what our schedule is like.  But not to worry.  First off, we don't always stay "on schedule".  And then there's the fact that we all watch out for each other out here.  Someone's always around that knows if there's a car driving around that doesn't belong here.  We also have a Deputy Sheriff who lives in our neighborhood, and he makes the rounds every day, so he knows what looks "normal" and what doesn't.  Some of our neighbors are hunters.  'Nuff said about THAT.  We all know who drives what, and so do the neighborhood dogs.  And many of us can see a car coming in from about a mile away.  After you've lived here for awhile, you even get so you know what the different cars sound like. 

Gosh, it's already a week later now, and the last day of the month.  We went to late service today, as the church had a potluck dinner after the last service.  I made a big macaroni salad, with tomatoes, broccoli, onion, cucumber and peas -- a mayo dressing.  I love macaroni salad, there were three different kinds on the table this time, along with roast beef, potatoes and carrots, seasoned green beans, two different pots of chicken and noodles, a pan of Kentucky Fried Chicken, sliced pork roast, some devilled eggs, several Jell-O salads and a green salad.  Methodists love to eat, it's said.  I'd forgotten how heavy they hit the dessert table.  Hubs also.  Next time I'll bring dessert AND another dish, too.  We had a nice time and got to talk with several people we hadn't seen in awhile.  Pastor Dale did a good job with the sermon, as well.    

My order from Amazon arrived and yesterday I put the sprouted seeds into the rock wool and had enough for seven jars of spinach.  The seeds were sprouted in a coffee filter, because at the time I hadn't seen the hydroponic experiment.  By the time my supplies got here they were already were too far along to work with easily and I actually broke a couple of them.  I have more seed and can drop one in to replace the ones that don't make it.  It'll probably take a couple of days to know.  I've already replaced two that died overnight.  The young woman who did the YouTube on how to do this (it's linked on my last garden-related post) sprouted her seeds in the rock wool as they sat in a tray but I don't know why they wouldn't sprout ok right where they're supposed to grow, thus eliminating a step.  Another thing that I did different than she did was that I slipped old, dark-colored dress sox over the jars instead of wrapping the jars in paper to block out the light and thus avoid the growth of algae.  Like she said, the jars can be painted, but they're canning jars so if you paint them you probably shouldn't use them for canning after that.

That round thing in the bottom left corner of the picture is a pot in which some Rocky Top Mix lettuce seed has been sown.  I will keep it covered till the seedlings begin to emerge.  At last year's Garden Club plant sale, one of the members was selling "Salad Bowls", which were just roundish pots of mixed greens, and they said it was "Cut and come again".  I thought at the time how nice this would be to have going in the house in winter.  According to several sources, lettuce and spinach will grow reasonably well even where there isn't a lot of available light, and I'm counting on that.  There just aren't many windows in this house and I have found that to be a mixed blessing.

Hubs and I went to three sales on Saturday.  One was an estate sale, one was a moving sale, and one was just a garage sale.  At the estate sale, there was so much stuff that Hubs and I both got overwhelmed and didn't find anything we wanted to buy.  Hubs told me he picked up a couple of things, then asked himself if he really needed it, and ended up putting it down.  He asks ME this question so much that I've gotten a little sensitive to it, and so I kind of smiled to think of him actually asking HIMSELF.  I considered asking him, "How does it FEEL?" but decided not to.  Heh.  I thought their prices were high, and they had already run the sale on the previous Saturday, so I think the numbers of people there were repeat visitors because it's customary to go half-price on the second sale day.  That didn't happen and a lot of people were leaving without buying anything.  We didn't find anything we wanted at the other two sales, either, but it was not a wasted morning because Hubs discovered a man running a little welding shop at the last sale, and he told him about a weld that broke on our tiller.  The man said he probably wouldn't charge more than $5 to put on a new weld.  Since the welding shop where Hubs had been the welder for so many years has changed hands, they don't do the small stuff.  Up till now, there was only one other local welding shop that Hubs knew of, and they have a $50 minimum.  Apparently this man has been welding out of his little home-based shop for twenty-five years.  Don't that beat all. 

I'm still reading my Edgar Cayce books and am struggling.  They are very hard to read and I'm not getting as much out of them as I expected.  I guess I'm no different than the average American in that when I read something I don't think it's a good book unless I have had a hard time wanting to put it down.  I find myself HAVING to put these books down because I just need a break.  Maybe there are many of you out there who scoff at what is often referred to as "non-traditional beliefs", but I really think we are not as open to possibilities as we should be.  I think I have said before that I do not belittle anyone's choice of beliefs, as long as following those beliefs make them a kinder, gentler person than they might have been otherwise.  I remember, as a young adult, I and my peers often sat around trying to figure out what our purpose in "being" was.  Now that I'm much older now, I believe we're here to learn, to procreate the next generation, to leave the world we live in a better place than it was when we came into it, even if only a little, and to mentor, not only our own children, but anybody we come across that needs it.  Edgar Cayce said that the message of the bible is "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and your neighbor as yourself", and that all the rest of the bible is in support of that statement.

Last night we watched a fascinating program on PBS about some of the castles that exist in England and Scotland.  It was so very interesting to see the castles and hear about the people who lived in them.  Especially touching was the story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  Later on I found a website that told about how she micro-managed her grown children's lives and that reminded me so much of my own mother.  When your children grow up, you just have to accept that your job is done, and let them find their own way and make their own mistakes, as hard as that is to watch, or they will just learn to resent you. 

We saw a castle that had had the roof removed, I believe it was the Buchanan castle in Scotland, quite large and obviously once quite beautiful, with a stairway still in place, very similar to another castle not far away done by the same builder.  I thought how awesomely beautiful it was, even in ruins, and how sad it was that it was in that condition. 

This morning there was a piece about "Sing Me A Story" on The Today Show.  I can't find very much about it on the internet.  But this was about a young girl who wrote a story about a dog at the pound, and the people of "Sing Me A Story" saw it and put it to music, then they sang it to her.  I think the title was "Today Is My Day", because that was sung at least twice at the beginning of the chorus.  I would've liked to have heard the whole song.  I found their website HERE, looked, and didn't find anything that might be it.  I'll check back every now and then, and post the link here if I can find it later. 

Hubs has the TV on, every waking moment.  He even used to go outside, leaving it to drone on and on, till he was to come back in.  I've griped at him so much about that, that he's good about turning it off if he has something to do outside now.  Having the TV on all the time makes me really grumpy anyway.  When I'm working in the kitchen, I can't even have the radio on, because it interferes with him being able to hear his TV.  Sheesh.  I guess I need to look into a small radio that I can carry around in my pocket and wear earbuds to listen to it. 

If this house wasn't big enough to allow me a separate space to hang out in I think I might go right out of my mind, some days.  As it is, sometimes the laugh track, or the sounds of horses and six-guns firing, or the sounds of motors and screaming brakes carries to me wherever I am and I feel blessed to have a door I can close.  But now and then, as I walk through "his area" to fill my coffee cup, or some other reason, I'll catch a glimpse of something I think is interesting and will stay up there for awhile to see what it's about.  Sometimes if he has something showing that he thinks I'll be interested in, he'll tell me about it, and I'll come up to watch with him.  At least I haven't caught him watching those R-rated things in a long time now.  Try having one of those on the TV when the pastor comes to visit.  If that isn't embarrassing, I don't know what is. 

I keep campaigning to discontinue our relationship with Dish Network.  At least we are able to hook up our TVs to the antenna that's in the attic, and I really like the programming that's available.  That was all I could watch when I was down in the office recuperating from surgery, and I didn't miss Dish A-TALL.  If we didn't have that antenna, I'd try out those things they've been advertising on TV that fasten to the back of the television to give access to "free TV".  I think I might have an easier time getting Hubs to be agreeable about getting rid of Dish Network if they didn't open up some of the movie channels for free on certain weekends. 

Oh, I know, I should count myself lucky.  He doesn't have a drinking problem, which runs in his family.  He doesn't chase women, though sometimes he's a little too friendly and has, in the past, given certain predatory women the wrong idea.  He had eight sisters and he's comfortable around women, and I understand that.  He's not abusive, though sometimes he patronizes me in public, which means that my alter-ego, The Ugly Troll That Lives Under The Bridge, is awake all the way home in the truck.  OMG, one time, in Walmart, he was dragging me around by the hand and talking to me like I was a stroke victim, or otherwise impaired.  I couldn't go down an aisle to look for something without him physically turning me and making me go down a different one, which always resulted in getting me where I wanted to go, but so would the route I had started to take.  SHEESH!!!!  I guess it might've been funny if I'd put on a big act about being disabled, in front of all those people that were already LOOKING at us, which is something my daughter used to do to JR and JC, as teenagers, when they'd wander off from her in the store.  When she found where they were, she'd limp up to them and say, with her tongue sticking out, "I was LOST!  WHY did you RUN AWAY from me?"  People walking around them would give the boys SUCH dirty looks.  Heh.

Well, I just haven't had much to talk about this time, and pretty much just ended up gas-bagging it, unfortunately.  I'm grateful that you are all so very patient with me at times like this.  I will get this published and maybe the next post will be better.  No promises, though. 

I hope you all are staying safe and well, and will it be better, here in the US, when all this presidential campaign posturing will be over???  (Maybe NOT....)  Hang in there, take it one step at a time, and above all, Rock on.  Hugs xoxoxo

Saturday, January 30, 2016

More January Garden Stuff

The Peace Of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world,
and am free.
--Wendell Berry

This is Friday, and I haven't much to write about, but maybe I can share some garden stuff with you and it will be enough to entertain you for awhile. 

We are having some beautiful weather today.  It is possible it will be 70ºF before the day is done.  I have been waiting for a decent day in which to apply dormant spray on my fruit trees, but, as is so often the case, it's already windy, and even our weather people have put us under a "Fire Advisory", meaning some damned fool will probably go out and try to burn off their pasture, or at least a barrel full of trash, and then walk off from it, knowing that, well, yes, indeed, nothing bad is ever going to come from anything THEY do.  (Sarcasm.)

I'm not in a very good mood today (not that you haven't already figured THAT out).  I guess I need to follow Mr. Berry's example.  However, where the still waters and the places where the wild geese gather is not on my property and it'd probably scare the bejeezers out of Jay and Claire if they looked out the window and saw me laying on the ground beside their lake.  I'll spare them that experience.  Plus there's always the risk one of their dogs would come along and drag me off somewhere before I could get up.  But it's a peaceful feeling to read that poem, just the same. 

Our latest aggravation has to do with the rabbits.  I looked out on the patio on Wednesday morning and there were two of them sitting on the patio, just looking around.  I noticed one of our gates was not rabbit-proofed and asked Hubs to do it, which he did, and right after that I walked around the fenced-in area and rousted a good-sized Flopsy, Mopsy or Cottontail out from under the canopy of the Walker's Low Catmint.  I often find one there.  I don't know if they're attracted by the smell or if it's the density of the canopy.  But anyway, this time, after two trips around the yard and garden with me trundling along behind like Chester Goode in an old Gunsmoke episode, the rabbit found the open gate and after a short period of hesitation, finally went bounding out towards the open pasture behind Bob and Sharry's house.  I hoped darkly that Frank or Carl or Rosie or Rat or Chloe or the dog owned by Charles and Geraldine, whose name I do not know, would see it and bound out after, but none of them did.  Frank has taken to sitting, sphinx-like, in Joe and Cathy's driveway, looking towards us, while Chloe lounges around against the foundation of their house where the brick soaks up the warmth of the sun.  But I guess he was not at his post at this particular time.  Then, later on in the day, Hubs scared up another rabbit from the same hiding spot.  It ran toward me.  I told Hubs, "Go open the gate!" because he was closer to it than I was.  He did, and then I managed to get the rabbit going in that general direction.  It, OF COURSE, veered off behind the chicken house, but Hubs ran around the other way and it ran towards the open gate, and just stood there for the longest time, or so it seemed to me.  Neither of us was close enough to chase it out and I knew it was entirely possible that it would take off to the right, make a U-turn in that end of the yard and we'd go the rounds again.  So I started yapping like a dog.  It went on out the fence and was in Bob and Sharry's back yard in less than a minute.  It's amazing how fast they can run.  Bob and Sharry won't care how many rabbits they have.  They don't grow a garden.  Sharry hardly ever even goes outside, as they have an attached garage that they keep their car in, and their garage door can be opened from inside the car.  And nine chances out of ten, a rabbit wouldn't hang around there anyway, because there are not very many hiding places and nothing growing.  Beyond Bob and Sharry's house is an open field, where we saw a coyote headed from the highway.  Maybe one of the coyotes will get a good meal.  At any rate, there are some chances we won't see that particular rabbit again once it runs out in that direction, and that's the goal.  I noticed that Walker's Low Catmint canopy was dry and brittle.  So I cut the dry stuff off and put it in the burn barrel for the next quiet day.  I was afraid I might find a nest with baby rabbits in it but there was nothing there but a shallow hole that might have been meant to be the start of a nest.

When we had the new fence put up around the yard, and connected to the garden fence, I thought a strip of chicken wire along the fence and some rigging on the gates would take care of those rabbits.  But no.  It seems rabbits can dig.  And last year, we began being visited by a little red squirrel who made a nest in the Hackberry tree and spent the summer annoying the Mockingbirds.  I kinda enjoyed that part, because I don't like Mockingbirds.  They destroy the Robins' nests, and if there are fledglings in the nest, they just throw them out onto the ground.  Plus Mockingbirds' song is loud and kinda nerve-wracking, and if they have a nest someplace too close to where you have to walk while you do the things you do, they will actually swoop down upon you and try to peck you. 

Squirrels can pretty effectively strip all the fruit off a fruit tree, because they're not eating it now, they're storing it away somewhere for later.  They'll even pick tomatoes.  You can't keep them out of anywhere because they climb. 

I wish I were a better shot with a slingshot, that's what I wish.

Now the news that there is a new disease that mosquitoes can give you has almost been enough to make me actually feel true despair.  According to the map we saw on TV, there haven't been any cases in Oklahoma but there have been in Texas, and that's our next-door neighbor to the south.  There's nothing like insects to spread disease far and wide.  It's not the meek that are going to inherit the earth.  It's the insects. 

Hubs says he thinks he heard that you can have the Zika virus and not know it.  That being the case, I guess the only barometer we have for whether it's in our state is the birth of a baby that's been affected, and that's nine months after the fact.  So it could have been all OVER the US in August, for all we know now. 

Hubs and I talked about how it probably wouldn't be wise to collect rain water this summer, because the mosquitoes always breed in it while it's being held for use during a dry period.  I know there are things like "mosquito dunks" that we could throw into the tanks, but that's just another poison, and not something I really want to feed to my vegetables.  It's pointless to pump that into the cistern, because it's not holding water again, since Hubs took his hammer down there and banged around.  *Sigh*.  And even if we keep our collection tanks empty, we are surrounded by Jay's Lake, Charlie's Pond, and two ponds on land up closer to the highway.  Today I heard the World Health Organization was having an emergency meeting to talk about what they can do towards developing a Zika serum, and that scares me because I know anything that's developed while under an emergency situation has the potential to be even more dangerous than that which it's been developed to prevent, because the price of hurry is safety. 

Nonetheless, Hubs and I have just been trying to keep on keepin' on.  It was too windy to put the dormant spray on the fruit trees.  Spraying the trees assumes we'll get a fruit crop, which we don't, most years, due to a late frost, and that we can get the fruit picked before the squirrels do.  I've found my pressure sprayer, and the bottle of Volck oil, and I've made myself a measuring cup out of one of Hubs' empty pill bottles, which turns out to be almost exactly the right size.  It calls for ten and two-thirds tablespoons to a gallon of water.  NO WAY am I going to put that stuff in my measuring spoons.  Instead, I measured out that amount of water and then marked where the top line of the water was on the bottle. 

Assuming we'll get to have a garden that will survive the insects and the heat and drought of July and August, Hubs tilled another one of the beds.  It was pretty overgrown with Bermuda grass.  After he was done, the Robins moved in and began working over the newly-tilled soil, hopefully eating bug larvae.  With the roots loosened, I was able to rake up a lot of them and put them in the buggy so I can take them to the compost pile.  I'll try to be vigilant about pulling out the pieces that appear in the spring.  It's all I can do.  Pulling by hand without tilling first would be so labor-intensive I'd never get it all.  And solarizing?  Hah!  I can practically hear the grass laughing and jeering as it tunnels under the ground, where it waits to spring forth.

The soil looks healthy and loose, the product of buried kitchen and canning scraps, numerous bags of hauled-in leaves and all those wood chips Kylie has been bringing us over the past two or maybe three years.  There is that to take comfort in.

My tomato seeds and even  the jalapeno pepper seeds  have germinated and made cotyledons.  Those have been transplanted into Styrofoam cups that I have saved from previous years' usage.  I've written on the outside of the cups so many times that I just decided this time to put a mini-blind marker inside of the cup.  I'll need the marker when I plant them out, anyway, and I'll be pressed for time by then.  Even those are being reused from previous years, so this time, rather than try to scrub off the writing, I just applied a piece of masking tape over it and wrote on that.  I should've done that from the git-go, but I thought the grease pencil would be a lot easier to wipe off than it turned out to be.

My soil mix is compost that I made from weeds, sifted after it was finished, and then baked to kill bug larvae and seeds, mixed with about equal portions of peat moss and Vermiculite, although this year I'm short on the Vermiculite, so less of that than usual.  Into each cup I put about 1/4 teaspoon of worm castings that I bought in a two-quart container at Walmart.  They say you can put your seedlings in 100% worm castings but I decided to be conservative.  I was shocked at how much compost I actually ended up with, just from weeds and grass pulled out of the garden.  Finally, weeds can be made useful in the garden.

Amazon finally notified me that they have shipped my order that includes the supplies I'll need to start my hydroponics experiment, and my spinach seeds have already germinated and are poking their little heads out of the coffee filter.  I sure hope they'll hold till the order arrives. 

The Cheese pepper seeds are only now beginning to show signs of germination.  Joe Parker and Big Jim pepper seed that I saved several years ago have not.  They might be too old, and mostly my only point in the germination of the seed is to either plant them for new seed gathering or, if they don't germinate, to get the seeds out of my stash. 

I examined the red Cockscomb that I brought in last fall.  I don't know where the seed came from, because, to my knowledge, I didn't plant any.  But I thought the plant was pretty.  This is completely dry, now, and I was pleased to see that it retained it's shape and color, and the stalk is sturdy.  They'd be a nice addition to dried flower arrangements or wreaths. 

I thought at first that it didn't make any seed, but I poked around there where it looks dry and brown, and there were a few seeds there.  Round, jet-black, and shiny.

I went ahead and Wintersowed those. 

Caleb Warnock has developed a recipe for a homemade weed killer and HERE is his site.  Note that he's selling the recipe and wants you to sign a statement saying you won't share it with anyone.  He gives a clue in the statement that you could put it on a salad and eat it, if you wanted to.  And so that tells me it's probably vinegar and salt, which I've seen other places given out for free.  However, I did find a recipe that I intend to try, and it's just a gallon of distilled vinegar with two cups Epsom salt and 1/4 cup blue Dawn dishwashing liquid added.  Apparently it works best if you apply on a hot day.  There are other refinements, some people use table salt instead of the Epsom, and I wouldn't recommend that, because table salt will poison the ground and will leach out into surrounding areas.  Epsom salt is not really a salt, and it WILL burn plants if you apply too much, but I think it doesn't poison the soil like table salt will.  If anyone knows different, chime in here.  Some people add orange oil, or they put orange peels into their distilled vinegar several weeks before they plan to strain it and use it in the recipe.  Some people add a tablespoon of citric acid to each cup of vinegar.  Other people say the 5% vinegar we get at the grocery is too weak and they recommend twice that strength, which they say can be ordered on Amazon, but that's very strong and has to be used VERRRRRY carefully because it can burn your skin. 

Some people are sprouting seeds this time of year.  I've recently tried garbanzo beans, lentils, and those little red beans that are supposed to be sweet, but I've been disappointed in them as they taste too "raw" to me.  I've never tried birdseed black oil sunflower, pea, buckwheat, or amaranth.  Might do them as microgreens next.  According to some, they grow fine just at a sunny window.  HERE's a YouTube on that.

Well, that's about all I have for this time.  Have a nice weekend!  Hugs xoxoxo

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Making Healthy Choices: Not As Easy As It Sounds

I don't know if any of you have been taking part in the symposium (or whatever it's called) on Better Gut Health.  I have been trying to, even though some of the presentations sound like those "infomercials" to me.  This is the world we live in now.  I admit I have been able to glean some helpful free information from all this, even though some of that which is suggested involves the buying of expensive special foods or other products that the presenter just happens to sell.  All the speakers have websites and I've made it a point to go there and look around.  HERE is Dr. Eric Zielinski's webpage on essential oils.  There are lots of vendors selling essential oils and it's hard to know which ones are better than the others.  Mountain Rose Herbs was recommended to me, quite a few years ago, and that's where I buy my essential oils.  They offer special prices on certain things each month, and shipping is free if your order reaches a certain dollar amount.  Good essential oils are not cheap, so it's usually an easy number for me to reach.  I cringe at the prices, but the oils last a long time and it's certainly not nearly as bad as paying $150 for a tube of prescribed skin ointment at the pharmacy.  I'm still stinging over that one.  If you sign up for Mountain Rose's newsletter, they'll email you every month what their special deals are, but that's all their newsletter is.  If you want information such that you'd ordinarily expect in a newsletter,  HERE is their blog, and HERE is their YouTube channel.

I'm having some trouble viewing some of the symposium offerings, sometimes it just shuts down right in the middle.  I e-mailed them and they say it's MY bandwidth, or MY computer speed, or MY version of Explorer.  *Sigh*.  There's not a lot to look at on the video part, anyway, so I have been choosing to listen to the audio version, and even that version has it's problems.  It won't let me "pause".  That's only a problem if the phone rings or something else happens to interrupt me.  Today they offered registration for getting into a drawing for a bunch of free prizes and I had trouble with that process, too. 

This is Wednesday, and on Friday I will take my last Minocycline capsules.  Oh, Happy Day!  I've had some things happen that make me suspect my innards are getting tired of the onslaught.  Yesterday I took a tip from Dr. Eric Zeilinski's presentation that I had just watched, and rubbed a little coconut oil with peppermint oil in it on my belly.  I had gathered and dried some peppermint last summer and so I made myself a big cup of peppermint tea with honey.  I felt better pretty quickly.  But there's that warning that says to avoid peppermint if you have perioral dermatitis so there ya go.  I'm still coping with "green tongue" and green-tinged teeth as best I can.  The roof of my mouth seems to be burning all the time now, and I'm concerned that this isn't very good for my teeth.  I had some problems with gastric reflux after retinal surgery last spring, which made the roof of my mouth burn, as well as my throat, and I read somewhere that the extra acid that's in the mouth all the time from this condition will damage tooth enamel.  I don't think I'm having reflux now, I believe this is a side-effect of the Minocycline because I didn't have it before I started taking it.  I've been to the pharmacy and looked at mouthwashes and toothpastes and I'm really annoyed that all of them contain fluoride.  I'm also annoyed that many of them have alcohol bases that leave a burning sensation in the mouth.  You know, I think it's possible for a mouthwash to still do what it's meant to do without that old Listerine Burn.  There were a few that, according to their labels, were supposed to be more "gentle" and were for "dry mouth", but they were in small bottles and had big prices.  Back in the 60's, we used to have an expression that went, "If It Feels Good, Do It".  Conversely, there's that old slapstick comedy where the doctor says, "Does it hurt when you do this?", and the patient says "Yes!"  So the doctor says, "...Then don't DO that."  And hands the patient his bill. 

So I went to my friends and mentors on YouTube and found a young woman HERE who has a recipe for a non-burning, comforting mouthwash that has some healing AND whitening properties.  Her recipe calls for Xylitol, with which I'm not familiar, it could certainly be left out if desired, but HERE is information on WebMD that says it has some cavity-prevention properties.  So, after a foray out into my community and an empty-handed return, I ordered a pound of it on Amazon for about $12.  I like to give local merchants a chance to compete, but I am disappointed so often that there's a very real temptation not to even bother with giving them that opportunity.  I suppose it's possible that Xylitol, like Fluoride, after we've used it for a lifetime (it's used by many as a sugar replacement), will turn out to have some harmful properties.  *Sigh*  If you go to YouTube and do a search, you will find information on how to cure cavities, including one by Dr. Axe, one of the participants of the "Gut Symposium" HERE.  And HERE is Dr. Axe's recipe for Remineralizing Toothpaste.

Today I discovered  There is so much to look at on this site.  But I warn you.  It might depress you because the bottom line is that if you live in the US, you will soon discover that it's not doing you much good to eliminate certain things from your diet, such as Floridated water, because you have to bathe in it, and we all know that human skin absorbs.  It seems like, once our government has decided to do something "for the common good", it's next to impossible to get them to stop, even after it's found out it does absolutely NO good, and in fact, does harm.  I happened upon iHealthTube when I watched THIS video about "Bad Bugs" -- germs in your mouth that contribute to tooth decay and get into your bloodstream.  THAT was something I didn't know.  Boy, if this won't convince us not to drink out of the same cup as someone else, I don't know what will.  I think we've all seen how some people, when it's made necessary to drink out of the same cup as someone else, will turn the cup to where the handle is, and drink from that side.  Which actually is the absolute WORST place to drink from a cup because people's HANDS have been there.  And if this Dr. David Kennedy, a dentist, knows what he's talking about, then these germs are "swimmers" and they'll be IN the liquid you drink and not on the drinking edge of the cup, anyway.  He has a YouTube channel HERE.  You might want to also watch "FluorideGate", which is the featured video on this channel.  If that doesn't get you thinking, probably nothing will.

I noticed Dr. Axe, one of the participants in the "Gut Summit" has A LOT of YouTube videos.  HERE is his YouTube channel page. 

One thing that I'm taking away from all this information that swirls around in my brain is this:  We've been raised in a polluted world.  Our soil, water and air are all far from pure.  All our lives we've taken in poisons from everywhere.  Just EVERYWHERE.  The foods we have consumed, since the cradle, if they haven't been polluted, have been "tinkered with".  We've been virtually nothing more than laboratory rats to Big Pharma.  So once you're old, like me, and your body has been contaminated so long, like mine, I just wonder if there's really any point in trying to find ways to live an uncontaminated life.  Or whether that's even possible.  It's a true miracle we live as long as we do, and we credit Big Pharma for their discoveries of medicinal cures, when in fact, it's probably their fault we got cancer or whatever, in the first place.  It's just all one big gerbil wheel.

Back before we had the Internet, we depended on our local doctors to diagnose the illnesses and conditions that we had.  But more and more, now, we just plug in our symptoms into our browser and we might get back several possible answers.  I don't think this is a bad thing, because the way things are right now, we can't get an immediate appointment with our doctor, anyway.  Doctors say self-diagnosis is a bad thing, because we don't have the education and experience they have.  I'm just an Old Redneck Woman, and I admit to not understanding a lot that goes around me, but seems like if we're reasonably intelligent, it shouldn't hurt sometimes, to self-diagnose.  If nothing else, we can do that while we pass the days we have to wait to get seen by the doctor.  We might manage to cure ourselves in that span of time and if we do, we can cancel our appointment and save some money.  Seems to me, when we do get into our doctor's exam room, all he/she does is guess, based on the information that we give them.  Sometimes they get it right, and we get better.  Other times, we go from doctor to doctor, trying to find somebody that will make that lucky guess.  And sometimes, though we are cured of the illness or condition that we had, we are sickened by the cure.  Meanwhile, we've paid a high price for those appointments and the prescribed drugs.  You know, lots of other places, you don't have to PAY for things that don't work.  So I don't see anything wrong with trying to self-diagnose.  At least it doesn't cost us anything.  We have the advantage over a doctor because we live in our bodies and we know what we feel like.  They think they have the advantage over us because they've had the education, but their education has had to be broad and so we have to wonder how much actual time they've spent learning specifically how to recognize and treat whatever malady it is we're suffering from.  I've had doctors actually be rude to me and ask me pointedly where I got my medical degree from and my retort to them would always be, "How long have you lived in my body?"  or, "How well do you know my child?"  Hmmmmpppphhhhh. 

Doctors used to prescribe antibiotics as the go-to for everything.  My sister's little boy had ear infections so often that she had a refillable prescription for his antibiotic and always kept the bottle of bubblegum-flavored drops in her refrigerator door.  So now certain types of bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, at the very least, and actually have learned to feed off it, at the very worst.  Plus what we women used to complain about getting, after a round of antibiotics, has become something that is finally being paid attention to and now it's an accepted fact that antibiotics mess up your PH, which can encourage the growth of candida.  More recently it's been learned that they destroy the natural flora in your "gut", and they say this is serious stuff because if your "gut" is not healthy, neither are you.

I saw one presentation wherein the speaker said that babies are now born with antibiotic-immune candida, and that this is now a condition found in every child that is autistic.  This might dispel the belief we've been hearing about for years now that there is evidence that the inoculations given to babies within the first year of their life, while protecting the child from measles, diphtheria and whooping cough, may cause autism.  Many parents have decided to avoid the shots and take their chances.  And now school systems and daycare facilities are all up in their faces because their un-inoculated children are spreading these diseases amongst themselves.  Idly, I wonder who is wrong.  The un-inoculated children are only infecting each other, because those children who HAVE had their inoculations will be protected, right?  And so, this is just the result of parents having considered that NOT being autistic all your life is worth the risks, so every child that hasn't been inoculated has parents that have already made that decision.  Then some officials step in that say they have the best interests of the child and MAKES the parents have their children inoculated.  If then the child develops autism, I suppose those parents could sue those who made them have the inoculations given to their child.  But it wouldn't help the child, or them, much, really.  If it turns out that it's not the shots, but the antibiotics or having candida in the womb that causes autism, then that would take care of THAT conflict.  However, this habit of people getting excited and prematurely announcing that such-and-such MAY cause such-and-such, seems to be rampant in today's society.  I hate how they state so flatly that obesity causes this and that when it's probably that it's the chemicals in our food and the fact that obese people eat more of it.  I don't know how many times I've known them to have to back-track and say, well, eggs are not bad for you, they're good.  Coffee isn't bad for you, it's good. 

Everybody makes decisions like this for us, but are they really that much more qualified than we are?  I mean, we all laugh about the long list of prescription drug side-effects that have to be disclosed, and our doctor just brushes all that aside when we protest and says that, in all probability we won't experience any of them.  And in many cases, we won't.  But even if we do, of what consequence is that to the doctor?  Maybe the side-effects we experience will not be known until many years down the road.  Maybe our body will figure out some way to heal itself.  Or not.  But in any case, this doctor has made the decision that this is worth the risk.  For example, when I became menopausal, my family doctor strongly recommended Hormone Replacement Therapy.  I didn't want to do it, so I got a second opinion, and they concurred, and said I'd have all kinds of problems without HRT.  I'd be incontinent, and so on.  Well, I thought about it, and against their advice, I decided against it.  I am now 69 years old, and you know what?  I put up with the hot flashes and night sweats (aka "Power Surges") for quite awhile.  No, it didn't run me crazy (That ship's probably already sailed).  Then, some years later, a link was discovered between HRT and breast cancer. 

We've all known or heard of instances when people have eaten something that later is recalled, or taken a drug for a period of time and then it's been taken off the market, or they've been exposed to something in the air, soil or water and seen instances in their community of birth defects, cancers, and so on that end up being caused by that exposure.  If you think this doesn't happen, then I don't guess you watch the news or see those commercials that are made by attorneys.  Some people think that suing and getting a big settlement makes up for having to live the rest of your life a different person than that person you were made by God to be.  But my point is, aren't most people smart enough to make these decisions for themselves, instead of some doctor, who doesn't even know us very well, doesn't go home with us at the end of the day, and possibly doesn't even think about us at all after they've seen us because for sure they don't follow up with us to see how we're doing, except in some cases after they've performed surgery.  Or maybe it's that some branch of our government makes a decision "for the public good", such as the addition of fluoride and chloride into our water system, or exposing us to chemical weed-killers, hormones and fertilizers with every bite of food, and so on, and we don't know how many special interest groups have swayed their opinions or whether somebody's been "paid off".  Seems like everything comes down to The Almighty Dollar.  In most cases, the subject matter hasn't even been adequately studied.  So, then, obviously WE are the lab rats.

I'd be a lot less hacked off if our government would just publish the report, rather than arbitrarily putting a chemical in our water, maybe just make that available to us so that we could put it in our water if we wanted to, or sell us fluoridated bottled water.  Things are backwards the way they are, even if we buy un-fluoridated bottled water, or filtered water, we're still BATHEING in fluoride.  I guess maybe, under the right lighting conditions, that might make us all "glow".  Oh.  I guess that wouldn't be a good thing, either......  Maybe if we all holler loud enough, they'll come up with a neutralizer for fluoride.  At the current time, it seems the only way to remove fluoride from your water is to distill it, and that's not practical for bathwater.  But what am I saying, they'd just add ANOTHER chemical.  Wurra, wurra.

I saw on TV where there is a website now called "Doctor On Demand".  You can get an ap for it on your smartphone.  You get sick, fire this thing up, get a doctor on the screen, tell them your symptoms, pay by bank or credit card transaction and they transmit a prescription to your pharmacy or whatever.  Maybe eventually they'll send pills to your door by drone.  Botta Bing.  I don't know what it costs.  Probably they've inflated the cost enough so that it rivals what you'd pay your local doctor.  But the advantage here is convenience.  No more taking off work to sit in a waiting room with other sick people, for an hour past your appointment time.  If you're already at home, in bed, in your jammies, no getting dressed and braving whatever weather and traffic is outside, or infecting other people with your 104º strep-throat temperature or bad cough or whatever it is you've got.  I can see how it would be useful.  Somebody's making a bundle and they're expecting you to be putting such a high value on the convenience that you won't mind.  But here we have a total stranger making a decision about our care, based on what we tell them.  So what you're doing, then, is just going through all the motions for the prescription. 

Well, I've been on that soapbox long enough and I'm about as tired of the topic as I bet you are now.

Some guy that calls himself "Shaun T." has a new TV show called "My Diet Is Better Than Yours".  *Groan*.  I haven't watched the show, but I've seen the promos.  And here again, we've got people training like they're going into the Marine Corps.  That's ok if they're prepared to keep all this up once they've lost their weight, but really, I can't see that they will.  I suppose there's an entertainment factor somewhere in there but I just can't be entertained by all that. 

This is now Sunday.

I've been off the Minocycline for one full day and already I'm starting to feel better.  Last night I sprayed my toothbrush with peroxide and then dipped it in baking soda and brushed my teeth and tongue.  Things are looking and feeling much better in there already.  I will weigh myself Monday and I sure hope I will see that I've lost the three pounds I gained overnight four days ago.  Suffice it to say that the goal I set for myself by this date went un-met.  Oh, well.  Keep on keepin' on.  These things happen.

I don't know if this falls into the present topic, but on the Down To Earth Simple Living forum, someone posted a bathtub / shower scrub recipe that is the first one I've tried that really works.  It is simply one cup of distilled vinegar, heated with one tablespoon of cornstarch until the mixture thickens and turns clear, to which one tablespoon of liquid dish-detergent is added (I used Dawn, but I bet pure Castile liquid soap would work, too).  I have a Fiberglas tub AND shower and they are both really difficult to clean.  I made my first batch last night and cleaned my tub.  OMG, so clean, fast, and easy.  I think it is that the cornstarch makes the mixture kind of slippery and this works better to dislodge stubborn soap deposits.  It also keeps the vinegar ON the surface being cleaned, rather than dripping off, so you can actually leave it on for a little while, if you want.  Vinegar is a natural germ-killer and I use it full-strength in a spray bottle for cleaning my counters in the kitchen.  None of the ingredients will do any damage to your skin whatsoever, at least according to current information.  Sheesh.  So you could actually bathe in the water while you are rinsing the cleaner off.  The link to the forum is HERE.  I usually keep mine on "Recently Updated Posts" so it will show me what's new.  You do have to register to be able to post, but it doesn't open you up to unsolicited mail, and the nice thing is that you get to have conversations with people all over the world.  I enjoy getting to know people from other countries.  Afterall, my great-grandfather, William Serl(s) came from England.  My great-great-grandmother, Virginia Almira Sallee, had parents who came to America from France.  My Hufford family came from Germany.  I think I have some Scot or Irish blood in there somewhere.  Somebody said they thought the Hufford family might have actually originated in Russia.  I don't know where ALL my ancestors came from, but really, anything is possible, by the time you're a 9th generation American.  I'm A Little Melting-Pot.  Heh.  But anyway, everybody on the forum is friendly, we are all representing our countries to each other in a responsible, understanding and respectful way, and we almost always find we have a lot in common.  Believe me, I've been on some forums where fellow Americans will tear each other apart just for giggles.  Something about how much easier it is to bully someone who isn't standing right in front of you and can't smash you in the nose, I think.  It's painful to observe, so I don't hang around when I see that happening.

Rhonda Jean, who writes the Down To Earth blog, linked this Ralph Moyer interview with Wendell Berry.  It's quite good, and appropriate to this post.  HERE is that interview, in case you haven't seen it before.  And with that, I will leave you for this time.  I sure hope everyone's well and safe, and living your best life.  Hugs xoxoxo

Thursday, January 21, 2016

January Garden Stuff, 2016

Well, it's late January and time to start the early processes that are the building blocks of a successful spring and summer garden.  Notice I say "the building blocks".  There is no guarantee I'll get a dang thing out of my garden, but if I don't, I will have had something to do during these bleak winter months and will have gotten some exercise.  Maybe learned a few things in the process.

One of these processes is Wintersowing.  I know I repeat myself sometimes (often) on the blog and I noticed I hadn't set up a label for Wintersowing so I did that today, and went back and flagged some of the past years posts, so that if anyone wanted to, they could just scroll down to the Labels section and pull them up.  The problem with my posts is that they tend to contain a little bit of everything since that's how I live my life.  And when I talk face-to-face with people, that's how the conversation goes.  I'm usually not organized enough to have a post on one topic.  Sorry, if that's what you're looking for, you're in the wrong place.  Really, if you want to know everything there is to know about Wintersowing, just go to 

It's funny how searches work.  I did a search on my own blog for Wintersowing and only got 4 hits.  But then I did a search on "milk jugs" and got 17.  Heh.

I use my woodburning toolkit to prepare the plastic milk jugs that I've been saving since early fall.

I usually burn two little round holes for drainage in the bottom of the jug, within the inset part so there's space for holding water.  Seems like it all runs right through the jug and doesn't get absorbed, otherwise.

With the knife blade, I cut the flap.  I usually draw a cutting line on each jug, though I don't always follow it exactly.  Could just freehand it but it seems easier, this way.

I went to the garage and mixed a batch of seedling soil.  I mix equal parts compost, peat moss, and vermiculite.  This year I will have to go half on the vermiculite because I didn't buy any up ahead of time, and all I have is a bag and a half left from last year that will have to last till Lowe's will let shoppers into the garden center part of the store again.  The compost was made from weeds in the garden that took a year to decompose, then I sifted it through a screen Hubs made me.  It's a wooden frame of left-over pieces of 2x4 lumber, with hardware cloth stapled around one side.  The post where I showed all that is HERE.  I always bake my compost for an hour at 350ºF to kill weed seeds and insect eggs.  When I mix the three components together, I add a good amount of water.  And then I go back every day for a couple of days and stir it around, add more water if it looks like it needs it.  It's better to have it damp beforehand because it packs better into seedling cups or wintersowing containers.  I've found when it's kept dry and not watered till it has seeds planted in it, either the water drains immediately out without being absorbed, or the peat and all the seeds float to the top and I don't get good germination because that top layer stays dry.  Before I scoop out anything, I give it a good stir, and this more evenly blends the peat moss into the other two components.  Peat moss will hold moisture once it absorbs it, but it wants to float on top at first.  And it will do it later on if it ever dries out completely.  Been there, done that.
Then I cut some squares of newspaper to put in the bottom of the jugs so the fine pieces of dirt and peat moss will not drool out with the water that drains.  Peat moss is not as good a choice as coconut coir, I'm told, but I'd have to order that, and pay a lot more for it.  Don't get me started on how my local merchants don't keep up with the trends, you've been there with me before.  Maaaaaany times.

I have 18 jugs to start with. 

Last year my son and his wife tilled up part of their yard and made a garden.  Her youngest child, a first-grader, wanted to have one, and I didn't ask any questions or give them any advice.  I'm feeling my way along, being a Mother-In-Law.  My first DIL took an instant disliking for me, not sure why, except that she was very close to her own parents.  I have to admit I watched her chase my son and I thought that was unattractive.  I thought I didn't show it but I'm told I'm not very good at not showing my true feelings.  But she ended up betraying my son's trust and hurting him to the core.  So there ya go.  I like this new wife he has, I think she's the answer to my prayers, in fact.  But she holds herself off from me and I find myself not knowing how to behave around her.  Especially since I'm not very good about behaving, anyway.  I'm a hugger and my son tells me that invades her space.  But, anyway, I know how most kids are about losing interest.  So I figured the garden would either fail, or my son would do most of the work.  They came over one day and announced they had so many squash they were giving them away to neighbors, and I admit to being a little jealous of their neighbors, and that's not only because of the squash harvest.  They didn't offer ME any, I s'pose they weren't aware I'd lost all mine.  I haven't been able to keep a squash plant alive long enough to make anything edible since I've been gardening out here.  Last year, I had luck with Cucuzzi, but even it had some minor cosmetic damage due to some kind of little flying bug that just seemed to like to sit on them and bask in the sun.  I think they were Cucumber Beetles.  So I decided, this year is going to be THE ONE.  Turns out, probably the reason why they had such good luck is that the moth that lays the eggs just didn't find them yet, and mine are probably wintering over every winter, especially since we didn't till at all.  HERE is a Mother Earth News article about how to keep borers from killing squash plants.  HERE is an Organic Gardening News article that shows what the moth looks like that lays the eggs that start all this in motion. 

On Saturday I scattered poppy seed.  That's all that's required for poppies.  I think it's wise to sow enough seed to allow for the birds eating some of it, usually there's enough seed from the previous year to do that.  I didn't know that there were several different colors of breadseed poppies for many years, I thought the purple flower was all there was.  This is what delights me so about the Internet and the connections it gives me to other people.  I am so grateful for the exchange of experiences and knowledge that I have enjoyed over the past ten or so years.  I have learned so much out of the generosity of others, and I hope I will always be able to pass that on.  Many of the things I grow, year after year, came to me as seed or plants exchanged through the mail with people I have come to know through blogs and e-mails.  I feel very close to some of these people (you know who you are).  Now and then I actually get to meet some of them face-to-face and that's always a treat.  In the spring, when I walk around the grounds of my home and see the plants as they begin to poke their heads up through the ground, and/or as they come into bloom, it makes me smile.  Not only because of the joy of new growth and the eye-candy that it promises, but because it reminds me of these dear people who have given so freely of themselves. 

Last year I tried to keep the poppy colors separated when I gathered the seed, and this time I planted the different colors in different places.  I really prefer to have them all in the same place, but when it rains the seeds tend to float into all the low places and the seedlings come up so thickly that they have to be thinned out, and that's before you know what colors they're going to be.  I tried, last year, waiting till they bloomed and then thinning, but the plants just didn't do as well as they do if you thin them early. 

Four more jugs to the Wintersowing project.  Zita Fino Fennel, Cleome Queen Mix, Sunrise Lupine, Liatris. 
I also started seeds to germinate in folded paper coffee filters: Brown Berry Cherry, Oxheart, Cherokee Purple, and some Red-Orange tomatoes that Hubs just loves.  Some of them are Beefsteak, some are round.  I don't know what variety they really are, as the original seed came to me in a seed trade with a woman named "Bea", in an envelope she had marked "Lime Basil".  Heh.  But seriously, they are wonderful tomatoes.  I wish I'd kept her address so I could ask her what they might be.  The only problem is, they struggle when it gets really hot and dry.  But they put on like gangbusters till then.  The Oxheart, after they've put on that first early flush of huge, heart-shaped, meaty tomatoes, don't do much of anything for the rest of the summer.  I'll just pull them out when there's nothing growing on them.  Every year I've grown them, they've been one of our earliest ripeners.  The Brown Berry bears all summer long, and I find them to have a lot more flavor than most cherry tomatoes, so I don't mind that they're a little laborious to pick.  There's usually a new batch ripe every morning, or nearly so.  I pick them a little on the green side so as to beat the birds and insects to them, and for the most part, they are unblemished.  They do tend to fall off easily when they start ripening, and the color that they are makes it hard to find them when they're on the ground.  Hubs is color blind and he says he can't tell if they're red or green.  That's his story and he's stickin' to it.  So far the Cherokee Purple isn't a very big producer but it tends to bridge a gap between the Oxheart and the Red-Oranges. 

I like using "The Coffee Filter Method" for germinating seed, and I'll always be grateful to Paula for showing how to do this.  The tedium of picking them out and planting them once they've sprouted is overshadowed by so many good things.  It's so much easier to keep the seeds warm.  You don't have to worry about the seeds drying out and there's no such thing as "Helmet Head" from that condition.  You don't have to waste soil planting a seed that doesn't germinate.  It eliminates the seed sprouting up "willowy" because you can plant the sprouted seed right up to the cotyledons.  I've never had a seedling "damp off" that has been started this way.  Germination happens faster, sometimes within three days.  Therefore if the seed is not going to germinate you'll know sooner than if you planted it.  And lastly, while the seed is germinating, you don't have to have your plant lights on.  Just dampen the filters, fold them into triangles, and keep them all together in an open sandwich bag. 

After a couple of days, I start checking them every day for signs of germination, and I generally wait till they've made cotyledons before I transplant them.  They are very delicate in the coffee filter, but they will tolerate some handling.  Just use common sense.  When you handle them, the leaves of the cotyledons seem to be the strongest part.  Otherwise, just use a wooden toothpick and be careful not to pinch stems.  Poke a deep hole in your plant's first pot, drop the seedling in, press the soil gently back around it.  Water around the surface of the soil rather than from the top of the plant.  A little spoon of worm castings certainly doesn't hurt, dropped into the soil before planting.

I always keep notes about what I sow and when, usually this is just in a document I create within my Word Processing program.  But this year, I found an 8" x 11" Planner at Walmart for only a dollar.

I think I'm going to like it better.  I just noticed, it even shows phases of the moon.  Today is the beginning of the First Quarter.

This is now Sunday, and I have Jalapeno pepper seed soaking in water that has a little Liquid Dawn dish detergent in it.  For a long time, I didn't know that pepper seeds have a protective coating that slows germination.  I can't imagine that any bird would eat pepper seeds, but maybe they do, or maybe, 'way back in history when the pepper plants were first evolving, they, or some other animal, did.  Critters that come to my garden generally leave the peppers alone.  It's just nearly everything else that they wreak havoc with.  This is one of those things that we just have to accept that it is how it is, and then we can develop ways of working around it.  Or not.  For pepper seed, a nice soak in anything that will break the protective coating without damaging the seed's ability to produce a healthy plant will speed germination and reduce the risk that it will rot in the ground before anything within the seed coat is allowed to awaken.  Later on, I will rinse the seed off and put them in coffee filters, as I did with the tomato seed.  This year, I will start Cheese peppers, in colors of red, yellow and orange, as I do every year.  I decided last year to start growing Jalapeno peppers again, but the plants didn't grow very well nor did they yield very well.  I know that pepper plants are very sensitive to cold weather and, after they have been planted, if they get too cold, it will stunt their growth.  This is one of the reasons why I absolutely will not buy pepper plants at the Big Box Stores.  If, for some reason, I can't start what I want from seed, I go to a reputable nursery where they grow their pepper seedlings in a greenhouse.  And even then, if they have their plants sitting on trays outside, I might pass them up because of not knowing how long they've been out there.  Anyway, I am always careful not to put my pepper plants into the ground until all danger of frost is past.  But I had been keeping the pepper seed in the freezer and I'm wondering if that damaged the seed.  Or maybe it was just that the seed had gotten too old.  This year I have seed I gathered last year.  I'm usually in the habit of using the oldest seed first, and that is just silly, because as long as I don't use ALL the seed I gathered from the year previous to this, so that I have some in reserve in case of crop failure, the only reason I need to keep old seed is if, for some reason, the newer stuff has cross-pollinated.  Then I have the old seed to fall back on.  I have had that happen with tomato plants, and have lost my Striped German tomato that always produced so well for me.  I also planted Kellogg's Breakfast last year, which is a very large, sometimes golden-yellow, sometimes lemon-yellow, tomato, and ended up with red tomatoes.  Hubs was delighted.  Did you ever hear of a color-blind man who refuses to eat yellow tomatoes?  Does anybody besides me find that strange?  The Kellogg's Breakfast tomato is actually my favorite.  A big, thick slice on a piece of homemade bread that's been spread with a little real mayo or butter, and a little salt sprinkled on the tomato slice.....  Mmmmmmmmmm. 

Maybe I'll dig around in my seed stash, take a few seeds out of each year's collection of seed from Kellogg's Breakfast, and see if I can end up with the proper DNA.  I know I could order more, and I might.  It's just, if the tomatoes on the vines are not yellow, they're red and flavorful, and enjoyed by Hubs.  Also, good canners.  So, a win, either way.  I've learned my lesson, though.  Even though tomatoes are self-pollinating, you really don't want to plant different varieties very close together.  Maybe if you don't have the wind we have out here, you could get away with it. 

Of course we need to remember to rotate crops when it comes to tomatoes and peppers.  I usually will grow peas or beans where I had tomatoes the previous year.  Which reminds me, I need to dig out the seed for peas and get those started germinating in a damp paper towel.  Peas will germinate in cold ground, but I have found that they germinate a lot faster in the house in a paper towel.  Then, on a warmish, early spring day, I can plant the sprouted seeds.  This prevents the seed floating up to the top of the soil during a rain, and then drying out and dying before I've noticed it laying there.  That's so dang frustrating. 

I'm not sure I can grow spinach at all out here.  The rabbits and the rats love it so.  Something always comes along and nips it off.  I do love fresh spinach and so I keep trying.  What is it they say?  "You haven't lost the battle until you've stopped fighting"?  I've been thinking I might plant it in the cold frame that is against the outside wall of the office.  I could keep the shower doors laid over it and that ought to keep the rabbits out at night.  We can't seem to keep them out of the yard now, even with all we've done to the fence to make it otherwise.  I'm very disappointed and frustrated about this.  And yes, I know if we just got ourselves a little Rat-Terrier, we'd have help with rabbits AND rats.  But, I don't know, it's so heart-wrenching to have to have an animal "put to sleep" and I just don't know if I'm up for that anymore.  By the time it would be necessary to have to do that for a new animal, I would be at least ten years older than I am now and not any less soft-hearted, I'm sure. 

Today I found THIS You-Tube presentation by accident when looking for something else, about how to grow lettuce hydroponically without a very big investment, and I thought that might be a fun thing to try, maybe with some spinach, as well.  She includes a supply list with links to Amazon, which was very helpful.  The investment in supplies comes to $38.97, but almost all of it is either reusable or is something that only a small amount is necessary, meaning, if it works well, I'll have enough left over to use in subsequent years.  If it doesn't, well, maybe I can use it in other ways or pass it on to someone who can. 

Well, here it is Thursday, and I'll try to get this posted.  We got "Wintry Mix" overnight and it promises to be cold with a little warm-up on Sunday.  That's January for you, I'll be glad to see this month gone.  February's still winter, but a short month, and then windy March. 

Do you remember The Christmas Potato Experiment?  Well, they didn't get dug at Christmas, and I'm not even sure there's anything to dig.  But here that is.

It's out in the garage, where it's cold, but not freezing.  It's only getting the light out of the western sky that comes in through the garage-door windows. 

This is what my spring-grown Yukon Gold and Russet Norkota potatoes are doing in the pantry.  It wasn't intentional and now I'm wondering what I should do about it.  I could strip off all those shoots and move the potatoes to the garage where it's cold, maybe they'd store better that way.  Or I could peel the potatoes and make them into mashed potatoes and freeze them in blobs for eating as we need them.  I'm kind of wondering whether they'll survive till planting time and then maybe I can just plant a bunch of them and get another spring crop.  Decisions, decisions......

Well, that's about all I have for this time.  I hope y'all who are stuck inside, like me, are finding interesting things to do and think about, and successfully staying out of that Black Hole.  Hugs xoxoxo

Monday, January 18, 2016

Daily Doin's, Third Week Of January, 2016

I just saw a new slogan on a forum I frequent:
"He who buys that which he does not need, steals from himself."
The person who posted it said she'd seen it on Facebook.  It's good advice.

This is Friday, January 15.
I've gotten off schedule, I know some of you have gotten used to there being a new post by Friday or Saturday and so I'll try to get back into it, but it might take me awhile.  Not making any promises other than that I will try, however....

Yesterday it warmed up to 62ºF.  I went outside for a little while, to pull the Bermuda grass out of the asparagus bed, and while I was out there, Kylie, our tree-trimmer friend, came with a load of wood chips.  How many times have I told you that I just love Kylie?  I would adopt him if I could.  We had a nice visit with him, as his business is slow during the coldest months and we hadn't seen him since before Christmas.  While he was here I asked him if he'd like to have our small freezer that the rats damaged by chewing on the cord, and he said he would use it to keep feed in, in his barn.  It worked out perfectly because he had room in his chipper for it once he'd dumped the wood chips out on our land, and he was on his way home for the day.  This freezer is probably 20 years old, but was still working and could be put back into service for however much longer it has left by putting on a new electric cord.  So Hubs told him that, just in case he wanted to go to the trouble.  And yes, we could've bought a new cord and Hubs could've put it on.  But it's a small freezer that stays empty much of the time.  It has to stay in the garage because there isn't a good place to put it inside the house.  And once a freezer gets to be a certain age, you never know when it's just going to quit on you.  And then if you can't find a way to absorb the contents into other freezers, or process it in some way, you've got to rush out and buy a replacement and try to get it home and into service before your frozen stuff thaws.  Once a year there is a recycle program that will accept old appliances but anything that has Freon in it has to be certified that it's been emptied.  I don't know if the local landfill would accept it without that certification, but even if they would, it's kind of expensive to take something there.  So this way, Kylie got something he can use and we didn't have to pay anything to get rid of it. 

Kylie told us that the rats had done thousands of dollars worth of damage to his new tractor.  They got up in the electronics and chewed away.  I told him about what our new neighbor, Bob, who used to be an automotive mechanic, said about sprinkling cayenne pepper under the hoods of cars and trucks to discourage rats.  And he said that the tractor dealerships sell something in little packets that you toss into closed-in places in your tractors and vehicles.  Apparently it's not a poison, it's just something rats don't like the smell of.  He didn't know what was in the bags.  Hey, maybe it's cayenne pepper.  Heh.  We hadn't known about this and it's certainly worth checking into.  Because we know this is not our last rodeo with rats.  Whenever there is fire, and there will always be, because even if an accidentally-set grassfire never happens again, our rancher neighbors will continue to burn off their pastures, we will have migrations of rats into the residential areas.

I made two batches of cherry jam yesterday, too.  I don't mind making jam in the winter, since the heat warms the kitchen and at least is not wasted like it is in the summer.
I just noticed that this picture has an optical illusion.  That is the handle of a wooden spoon at about three o'clock, and the shadow of it at about four.  But certain ways I look at it, the wooden spoon looks like the inside of a cut "slice", and the cherries between the spoon and the shadow look like the other edge of slice that's sunken in a little.  Do you see it?  I was reviewing the post and saw it that way, and I thought, "What the heck am I seeing??"  Heh.

These are 1.5 pint jars.  8 cups of cherries and 8 cups of sugar made three jars.  Our Nanking cherry bushes produced last year and I sat out on the patio and pitted them for hours.  Some people won't process things like this at home, because they say, "It isn't worth my time".  And then they let the birds have the whole harvest.  I don't know how it is that people have been able to put a dollar amount on their time.  If you take time from an income-making activity, like, for instance, if you have a job and you take time off for which you could've gotten paid if you hadn't, then yes, the activity costs you whatever you lost in income.  But if you are using time for which you aren't being paid, like weekends and evenings, or if you are retired, then, I hate to tell you this, but the dollar value of your time is zero.  Therefore, NOT processing things that grow around your home actually IS worth your time, because it actually COSTS you that which you would pay to buy the same products already processed by machines or God knows how many other persons. 

I had two three-quart containers of fruit, enough for three batches of jam, as the result of my labor and they were packed into the freezer.  I'm grateful to have it, because we didn't get a very good yield of fruit last year, considering the possibilities.  My peach tree and grape vines got some kind of fungus during the cold, wet spring, so their fruit turned black and withered.  The nectarine tree died.  The apple, plum and apricot trees were in bloom when we got a late freeze, so no fruit from them.  We did, however, get black cherries off the Hansen's cherry bushes and red cherries off the Nankings.  Quite a few blackberries and elderberries.  Wild sweet yellow plums off the Chickasaw Plum trees and sour red plums off the Sand Plum trees.  A few gooseberries, but not enough to make anything out of, since the bushes are still young.  A few round pears from the Asian pear tree.  And a big enough harvest off the Bartlett pear tree for several quart-jar canner loads. 

I've put in a new peach tree, this time it's my favorite variety, Red Haven.  I made a mistake in buying a Hale Haven when the Red Haven wasn't available, and it's not a good choice for places that have hot summers and Japanese Beetles, because the fruit hangs on the tree all summer long and ripens in the fall.  There are just too many things that can happen to peaches during those extra two or three months.  Red Haven ripens in early July, which is perfect, because I'm only busy harvesting berries and cherries then.  By the time the Japanese beetles are in full swing, Red Haven peaches will be already in jars in the pantry.  Red Havens peel easily, are freestone, and keep their color well if they are peeled into a gallon of water that has a tablespoon each of salt and vinegar in the water.  When the water will not hold any more peach slices, I add just one cup of sugar, then ladle into jars without draining.  This becomes the "syrup" they are canned in.  There should be more than enough to fill seven jars, which is a canner-load.  I think there are bigger canners that hold nine quart jars, and there might even be enough for that.  We think that the addition of this small amount of salt, vinegar, and sugar enhances the taste, but it could be left out if you prefer some other way to prevent the peaches from darkening in the jar.  You could use ascorbic acid, or even dissolve a 1000-mg vitamin-C tablet into the water you drop your peach slices into after they are peeled.  Whatever you do, your peaches will be prettier and store longer if you keep the jars in a dark place. 

I have never had a decent harvest off that Hale Haven peach tree, but I've had enough to know the skin and the pit are hard to remove.  When the Red Haven starts producing good, I will cut the Hale Haven down.  Maybe I'll do it this summer, if it gets that dang fungus again.  I bought some Liqui-Cop and sprayed it and the grape arbor, but I won't know if it has helped till spring comes and things start leafing out. 

I am looking forward with hope to a first crop off the new BraeStar apple tree that I bought from Stark Brothers' Nursery two years ago.  First crops are always small, only enough to enjoy fresh, but they are the promise of things to come.  This should be a good "keeping apple".  It needs a pollinator, and I do have the two apple trees that came from  One was supposed to be a Golden Delicious and the other was supposed to be a Red, which would've been perfect for the BraeStar.  But I've had a few apples from these trees and they're definitely some other variety.  They are big round dark red apples that have a bit of pink tinge in the flesh.  I thought maybe a Rome?  More mealy than crisp, though.  They had a lot of flowers last spring but I only ended up with three apples on one and one on the other, and so they probably need a pollinator, too.  Here's the word "hope" again, I hope it'll turn out that the BraeStar will pollinate them and vice-versa.  If not, I guess I'll have to buy a tree that will.  *Sigh*.  So far, a good-sized investment made and not a lot to show for it. 

When I ordered trees from ArborDay, several people told me that I was making a mistake, that the trees would be very small and I would wait forever for them to start bearing.  I found that the trees that they gave away as "bonus", were, indeed, very small.  And many did not survive.  But they were the free trees.  The trees I paid for were probably three years old.  But in almost every case so far, the fruit has not been of the variety that they are supposed to be.  I would've been better off, since economy was a consideration, buying fruit trees at The Big Box Stores.  I don't find that fruit trees bought at local nurseries are any better quality, and I suspect they both come from the same source, anyway.  Many times I will order from Stark's Nursery in Missouri because I'm pretty sure they grow their own trees.  Not sure, because when a 3-In-One plum tree reverted to it's rootstock, I called to find out what the rootstock was that they had used, and they didn't know.  It turns out, the rootstock was a tree that made dark mahogany leaves, and when covered in pink flowers, it was quite beautiful.  In the absence of a late frost, the tree made small peaches, which were freestone and easy to peel.  I turned those into some really good peach marmalade one year.  Unfortunately, the tree contracted borers and had to be torn out.  But there is a nice-sized volunteer from the germination of one of the peach pits, out in the garden.  All is not lost.   

This is now Monday.
It's 16ºF. this morning and only expected to get to 28 for the high.  Hubs and I decided to light another fire in the fireplace insert and just "hole in" for today.  It's not a necessity, the roads are not bad.  We're lazy and looking for an excuse today.  Although I must admit, there are times when I go outside in the weather and I can just FEEL the muscles in my knee contracting and this is one of them.  I'll play the radio later on and maybe I will try dancing a little.  I love to dance.  Hubs and I used to be part of a Country Line Dance group that would go different places together.  Now and then we'd dance for certain organizations, but it was mostly just for fun.  If you look at people's faces when they are dancing, they are always smiling.  Then Hubs' knees went south and by the time his new knees were working good, I was having trouble.  Now, I'm not even sure if they still get together anymore.  Most of them, including our teacher, were our age or older.  But I kept the instruction sheets that were handed out and those I can't remember, I can relearn from the instructions. 

I love it when the local newsfolk do pieces that will make us smile.  Smiling is important, did you know that?  I read somewhere that if you will smile, even when you feel like you haven't got anything to smile about, it will make you feel better.  But anyway, today's little newsclip was at a ballgame somewhere, the person they'd paid to sing the National Anthem got caught in traffic, so a security guard stepped up and did a fine job.  In fact, better than some paid singers have done in the past.  Our National Anthem is very hard to sing without screeching.

We had a "free trial" of the Showtime channel for the weekend and Hubs binge-watched.  Not that he isn't in front of that TV nearly every waking moment, anyway.  Let's just say he stayed awake more.  This is kind of a sore spot between him and me, but I gave up on it long ago.  He has always been a TV-watcher.  When we were newly married and didn't have a TV, he was so bored he'd sit in a chair in front of the window and peer out at the people coming and going through the slats of the blinds.  "Red Flag, Red Flag!", as they say. Ah, well, I could've done worse.  Some of the girls I went to school with ended up with husbands that drank until they were alcoholics, or they couldn't seem to hold down a job, or they were abusive.  Some of these girls got the Bingo card with a guy that did all three.  When Hubs was a working man, he was a welder.  It was a hot job for 30 Oklahoma summers in an un-air-conditioned environment, standing on concrete in steel-toe boots and welder's leathers, every day, very rarely taking a sick day because he didn't get paid for it.  I guess he's done his time. 

But anyway, I've watched a few of these movies with him and have enjoyed them.  One was "The Giver", and it was about a futuristic community that was developed after the survival of remnants from some calamity.  They had a lot of strange rules.  The area surrounding the community was all in fog and they said there was nothing out there.  It had to do with a young man who had graduated from school and when he got his assigned position in the community, he was to be given memories of the distant past no one had except "The Giver", who would be training him to be the next "Giver" in line.  About midway into the movie I realized I'd read the book, long ago, and apparently somehow I'd missed a key piece of information in the reading, because the way it ended left me hanging and I didn't understand it at all.  But this movie cleared that all up.  And another time we watched "The Imitation Game" and I found that very interesting.  It was a true story about Alan Turing.  I looked him up later on the Internet and found a picture of him.  Benedict Cumberbatch played the part of him in the movie, and looked very much like him.  I had seen him the day before on the movie: August: Osage County, which was filmed in Osage County, Oklahoma, not so very long ago.  Osage County is also where Ree Drummond lives and writes her cooking blog, The Pioneer Woman.  And by the way, the last time we were in Pawhuska, her big combined office building, commercial kitchen, and retail shop was still not finished.  I'm sure there'll be a big announcement when it is.  But anyway, I found myself pretty stressed and worn out after watching this movie, because it felt a lot like "going back in time" with my own family, to me.  I felt like I had LIVED Julia Roberts' part.  Maybe my sisters would not agree, though I must admit, a couple of times I thought I saw glimmers of them in the parts played by the other actresses.  Consequently I failed to see why the movie earned so much acclaim, but maybe stressed reactions were what they were going for, I don't know.  Here's my opinion about movies:  If they are entertaining, or they make you think, they are worth your time if you have the time to spend.  If they depress, repulse or fill you with dread, they are not.  Because you can get that for free, just by living life.  And THAT is what fills the waiting rooms of every psychologist from here to Kingdom Come. 

A free Heal Your Gut Summit is being offered on the Grow, Prepare, and Preserve Your Own Medicine blog on my sidebar.  It starts this Monday, January 18.  I've registered.  I hate referring to it as the "gut", that's such a crude term for something so crucial to good health.  They ought to call it something better.  I'd vote for "Your Processing System", or EVEN "Your Elimination System".  We have all been raised to think of the "by-products" our bodies produce as horrible and nasty, and of course if you've ever had to clean up accidents or change diapers, especially of adults, your nose will signal your brain and the brain will produce this reaction all on it's own.  But we need to recognize that this is an important, life-or-death process.  You know how they say, "If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't NOBODY Happy"?  Well, your large intestine IS your body's MAMA.  Maybe we should just call it Yomama or something.  Heh.  Keep in mind, this Summit is kind of "The Foot In The Door" for sales of certain products, and you'll get some emails urging you to buy stuff, but if you want to, you can unsubscribe once the week of free presentations is over.  (PS: I've been listening to the first day's presentations and so far most of what I'm getting out of it is that it's a campaign against over-prescription of antibiotics and overuse of Nsaids.  I've been having trouble getting videos to load so I've just had to listen to the audio versions.  I don't know....  somehow I feel I'm being pitched to....  So that's the caveat as far as I'm concerned, maybe I'll feel better about it later on....  Just so ya know.)

Well, that's about all I have for this time, so I will get this published.  I'll have a Garden post before too long, as I'm starting seeds and such now.  I just heard a screech-owl outside!   More to smile about. 

"Nothing new can come into your life if you cannot be grateful for what you have."  Amen.

Have a good week.  Hugs xoxoxo