Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Daily Doin's, Last Half of May, 2016

I start this on Sunday, May 29.

It started raining about May 16 and has been off and on since then.  One day we got 2.5" in just about an hour.  We got off lucky as they had forecast as much as 4" for us.  They never seem to take into consideration that here in what they started calling "Green Country" a decade or two ago, because it always seemed to be so lush and green, is somehow in it's own little micro-climate.  It is not very much like the rest of Oklahoma.  Yet it's not like Kansas, either, though we're only about 20 minutes from the state line.  We almost never get the same weather Tulsa gets, though we're only an hour's drive from there.  I don't know how many times they've thrown up a shot of cars driving the Tulsa roads in driving rain and that's what I want to do too -- throw up -- because we're sitting here dry as a bone and the rain stops right at our "back door", as they say.  For the past several years, instead of calling the area "Green Country", it would be more fitting to call it "Brown Country".  After several rains we have received, what was in the rain gauge was zip, zilch, nada.  Ain't that a fine howdy-do.  It's like getting up on Christmas morning and there's presents under the tree but none for you.  Kinda.  Sometimes that's a good thing, though.  One year, Tulsa got a horrible ice storm.  The numbers of damaged trees and downed electric lines were incredible.  We were really grateful that this storm did not reach us.

Most of our rain has come at a slow, steady pace, and that's a good thing, because this is the kind of rain that soaks into the soil instead of running off.  This is the kind of rain that doesn't bring hail, wind, or tornadoes.  I've taken advantage of this rain by soaking seeds of things that didn't come up very well, and slipping out during a slack period, poking little holes in the row with a tent peg, dropping the already-wet seed into the muddy hole and covering it up.  Dry seed, especially peas, will float to the surface during a rain.  Being nice and soaked ahead of time gives them some traction and helps them to stay underground till they sprout. 

On rainy days, I am occupied inside.  One day I stirred up a recipe X4 of chocolate chip cookies.  This is not the Toll House recipe that you find on the back of the chocolate chip package.  This is a recipe that I have used several times within the last few years, and I find it not as greasy-tasting.  I always hated how the cookies just seemed to "deflate" while they were cooling and they leave a greasy spot wherever they are placed, even after they cool.  This is kind of a waste of good butter, if you know what I mean.  I show this recipe being from Cooks.com but when I went to find it to link it, I'm finding 80-gazillion other recipes that are like it but not quite.  So I hope they won't be upset with me for posting it here.  (Note: It is not already recalculated X4 here, this is just the "single recipe" version.)
Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 C plus 2 T flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 sticks butter melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 C semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
Sometimes I include a cup of broken pecan or walnut pieces and/or a cup of dried cranberries

Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together; set aside. Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in chips. Cover and refrigerate until dough firms. Form about 1/4 C dough into a ball. Break ball in half and place dough on cookie sheet with broken edge facing up. (Or use a standard sized cookie scoop). Bake at 325º until cookies are set around outer edges, starting to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, 10-13 minutes. 

As you can see, there are some little greasy spots on the newspaper.  But consider that I've cooled seven or eight dozen cookies on that same newspaper by the time this picture was taken.  And no, I'll probably not eat any of these.  There is nothing about them that is healthy and I don't need to taste to see if they're good, I know they are.  This doesn't make me feel deprived.  If it did, I'd have one.  But when I look at them, I see them for what they are rather than what they represent.  Hubs doesn't have the same mindset and nothing I can really do about that.  But as many as I can will be stowed away in the freezer because I wanted to have a treat on hand for the workers that we thought would come to our house to put in a stronger beam across the ceiling of the garage so that dang center post can come out. 

Center posts were put in double-car garages back in the 1960's when this house was built and they're inconvenient.  The contractor who came out is a good friend of ours.  It will be his crew that are here to do the work.  Many times, the owners of the property on which construction guys and tradesmen are working don't even speak to them unless something has gone wrong.  These guys are just we were, working hard for every dollar.  It's just rude not to treat them like you would treat your neighbors.  Men who sense they are just a set of working hands to you, don't recognize you as an individual, either.  So they trample your plants, throw their cigarette butts all over the ground and don't do any more than they just have to.  Like begets like.  I know what it's like to be patronized and disrespected.  If more of us respected each other and treated each other as equals a lot of what is wrong in today's society could be set right.  In this world you get out of it what you put in.

I'd like to have the double doors taken out and replaced with one long garage door, but that will cost more, because it requires the purchase of the new door.  But I'm going to talk to the contractor about that when he's here.

We spent most of the day moving things around, a week ago last Monday.  Those shelves, some of you may remember, are what Hubs made out of the extra vertical supports left over from when we redid the pantry.  These shelf units are from Lowe's and they only come with three shelves between the base and the top.  That made them just too far apart for optimal pantry storage.  The guys at Lowe's said it'd be more expensive to buy extra shelves than it would be to just buy two more shelving units.  I hardly see how this could be and I just think somebody didn't want to go to the trouble to try, but sometimes this turns into a roadblock, regardless of it's cause, and you just have to work around it.  So we bought two extra shelf sets and used the shelves from them.  Then Hubs used the vertical parts for these "homemade shelves", which are big enough and sturdy enough to hold boxes of canning jars.  If the workers need these shelving units out of their way, they can be easily carried out to the driveway.  The boxes of jars are all stacked in my office.

You'll notice in this picture that Hubs moved the paint can storage out of the corner, turned the canning stove a quarter turn and backed it into the corner.  One of these days I'll see if I can find matching paint and cover over this unpainted area on the walls where the shelves were.  But it's just cosmetic and we have so much else to do right now.  Maybe in late fall, after all the gardening and canning is done.

There is a concrete ledge, about six inches tall and about as wide, along this back wall where the floor meets the wall.  So in order to be able to push the stove all the way back to the wall, Hubs built this wooden base to set it on.  It's built out further than the stove so that I can stand on it while putting big pots of water and canning jars onto the stove.  The paint can shelves went on the other side of the workbench, you can see that in the two pictures before this one.  Lots of people have worried about how close those paint cans were to the stove before. 

After we got all this done, our contractor came back to look at the garage because the makers of the beam wanted to know what the load was going to be.  The garage is under a bedroom and then a roof is, of course, on top of that.  So he's not sure he actually recommends doing the job.  He and Hubs talked about just extending the garage out towards the front and he went away to work out a price.  I think it's going to turn into something that we will not be wise to put the money into.  If we were younger, it might be worth it.  But seems like there are so many other projects we need to do before something like that.  If we're going to build on, I'd rather have an extra bathroom on the main floor that will make it easier for us to navigate when we are older.  We are at the point where we have to consider our age and try to calculate how many more years we are going to be able to live independently.  It's not good to wait until something life-changing happens.  The question is not a matter of "if".  The question now is only, how long can we keep that from happening?  I'm trying not to worry about it.  I remember Mom started worrying about that when she and Dad were much younger than Hubs and I are now.  It kept her up at night and made her feel depressed.  Nope.  I don't wanna go there.   

I still have my boxes of jars stacked up in my office, waiting till we get the quote on the garage job.  This was not a lost effort because the garage really needed to be cleaned out and I've been wanting to move things around out there for a long time.

Being as I've been doing things inside that allow me to see more of what Hubs watches on TV than usual, I am once again off on several tangents because of what I hear and see.  You know how it is: garbage in, garbage out. 

The commercial about "the tissue test" to tell if you're teeth are white or not wins the asinine contest.  If you can't tell without doing that, you're probably ok.

I wanted to comment about this controversy that's going on about the movie that's replaced the female hero with a male one because they say female action figures just don't sell.  And we women are all supposed to be mad about that.  Much ado about nothing, if you ask me.  Boys and girls really are different, there's just no way around it.  While they are little, they gravitate to things that imprint on them how to be men and women.  Fathers and mothers.  And even when you make boy toys available to girls, most of them do tend to prefer girl toys.  It's just how it is.  I mean, if a little girl has lots of brothers, she might want to play with boy toys because she wants to be included in her brothers' play.  But when she's by herself, she might gravitate back to dolls and tea parties.  Don't we have more serious things we ought to be paying attention to?  If kids want a certain toy, they'll ask for it.  If they don't get it, they'll improvise.  I'm reminded of a story about how a mother resisted getting girl toys for her little boy even though he asked for them.  She caught him rocking his action figures and using his toy gun like a phone.  When I was a small child, my closest sibling was six years older than me, and she was busy following around the sister that was two years older than her.  So I was just a little brat and an annoyance in their eyes and they wanted nothing to do with me.  We lived in the country and I had very little exposure to other kids, so I made up an imaginary friend out of sheer loneliness.  My whole family thought this was the funniest thing, EVER, but they didn't try to discourage it.  I don't remember this at all and I wouldn't have even known about it if they hadn't teased me about it when I got older.  Obviously I put that away once I was old enough for school and able to have real friends and there was no damage done in allowing me my "idiosyncrasy".  But the thing is, I don't think we're doing our kids any favors when we try to mess up how they're programmed to imprint.  Don't get me wrong, I do recognize that there are girls that prefer boy toys and vice-versa.  What I'm saying is, they'll find ways to let you know.  You don't have to force it. 

This bathroom gender controversy just has me confused.  If you've got a penis, go to the men's.  They're equipped so you can pee standing up.  It's not so much of a gender issue as it is a physical one.  If you sit down to pee in a men's public bathroom, the only other guys that are in the stalls are going to be in there with The Wall Street Journal, if you get my drift.  It's pretty hard to pee standing up with "Lady Parts", though my mother said their neighbor, Edna, wore dresses and no underpants and would pee wherever she happened to be standing, if she was outside.  Mom said she knew that because sometimes it could be seen running down her leg and into her shoe.  Oh, small town living in the 1950's!  Seriously, though, if I was a trans-gender woman, I wouldn't WANT to go into the men's restroom.  And I think allowing someone who has a penis into a women's restroom is an invitation for some non-trans-gender pervert to enter a women's restroom and do stuff in there he's not supposed to.  Don't get me started on THAT.  And no, I don't know anyone who is trans-gender, at least I don't know it if I do, but I don't spend any of my time thinking about what people have under their clothes or what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms.  That's just none of my business.  If people are nice to me, I'm nice to them.  Sometimes I'm nice to them even if they're not nice to me, depending on what kind of mood I'm in, just so ya know.

Another thing I wanted to comment on was how I think if Donald Trump continues on his slant on how Hillary's husband had an affair because she, in essence, "didn't keep him happy at home", he is playing with fire.  That will do more to make me vote for Hillary than anything.  (And seriously, this is going to be yet another time when my vote will be for whomever I perceive is The Lesser Of Two Evils, and I'm getting really, really tired of it being that way.)  For how long have men used their wife as their excuse?  My mother used to laugh about it when men said they had affairs because their wife was "frigid", and say that French men have a saying that goes, "There are no frigid women.  Only clumsy men."  Heh. 

I have also heard Donald Trump say that Hillary chose to "look the other way" while her husband was having his "dalliance", and that she was therefore an enabler.  Oh, yeah.  Like THAT's not going to strike a chord with every woman whose husband has ever looked lustfully at another woman -- and trust me, that's probably 75% of all women in America, at least.  What the hell was she SUPPOSED to do?  Would Donald have been happier if she had granted tearful interviews to every reporter that came to the door?  Is it even possible to throw all your man's belongings out into the front yard and change the lock on the door when you live in The White House??  Then he followed up with how badly he thought Hillary treated "poor Monica".  OH, PUH-LEEEEEEZE.  Monica was not a child.  She knew exactly what she was doing.  She would've happily kicked Hillary out of the White House and taken her place, and felt proud of herself for doing it.  I felt like Hillary handled the situation like a real lady. 

When I have witnessed situations like this, and during my life, I've seen it much more often than I want to, I am always reminded of a story I heard at work many years ago.  The large corporation I worked for during the 1980's had a top executive whose name was Charlie.  He was a handsome and charming man.  Charlie had a fancy office on the top floor of the fanciest building the corporation had.  He was well paid and had more power and status than most men can only dream about.  Money and power are a real draw to certain women.  Well, it was common knowledge that Charlie had what was then called "hot and cold running women" in his life.  Heh.  And that his wife, home living a life that only money can buy, was busy with her very expensive home, her very select social life, and the children, and "looking the other way".  Charlie had a favorite young woman, one that he told he would marry in a heartbeat if only he wasn't already married and if only his wife would "give him a divorce".  The young woman, tiring of the situation, decided to take matters into her own hands, and so one day she called the wife on the phone and told her that Charlie didn't love her (the wife) anymore and that she (the girlfriend) and Charlie were "in love" and wanted to get married and that he should be "given" a divorce.  After a short silence on the line, the wife spoke.  "My dear," she said, "You are not the first and you will not be the last young woman in my husband's life.  If you think, for one moment, that I would willingly give up my marriage, security for my children, and my standing in the community, just so YOU can have my husband, you are sadly mistaken.  And further, if you think my husband really WANTS a divorce, you are stupid, as well." 

Donald Trump has a very short memory where it comes to past presidents that had wives that "enabled" them, as he wants to call it.  In the past, the president's personal life was off-limits to reporters.  This is why no one thought of trying to impeach Jack Kennedy for all those things he did around the pool and elsewhere at The White House, right under Jackie's nose.  I think, if anyone had publicly confronted him about Marilyn Monroe and all the other women he messed around with, he would've just turned his head to the side, smiled, and said, "My personal life is none of your damned business", and most men in this country would've backed him up at the time.

I have spoken before of a man by whom I was employed, many years ago, who truly showed to me what God intended Man to be.  He was so very wise, kind, and honorable.  We started out our day, every morning, with prayer.  It was a gift from God that I got to work for and know this man as I was pretty disappointed in what I had seen of men as a species at the time.  I will forever appreciate Tracy for the difference that he made in my life and many of my attitudes.  He was the one that said, "Don't Pick Up That Package".  Some of you will remember that story from a blogpost I wrote several years ago.  But anyway, Tracy and I were talking, one morning after prayer, about Clinton, and he said something that stuck in my mind during several other incidents that I would see happen later in life -- the Michael Jackson controversy, for one -- and it was this.  Tracy said that, whenever a person "dogs" another person about some personal disgraceful act that they have committed, it's usually because they, themselves, secretly have the same tendency or thoughts, or are already doing the same or worse, and they are terrified at being found out.  And so they become the worst nightmare of the person whose shame has been made public because they know if the focus is concentrated on someone else, nobody's going to think about looking into THEIR private life.  I have since thought that there must be a special place in hell for people who would do this.  Not only are they living a secret life and therefore a lie, but they are intentionally adding to the pain of another human being and all their family, out of their own selfish needs and wants.  It's one thing to expose someone for doing something they should not be doing.  It's another to become obsessed with it. 

All this to say, Donald may very well hand the presidency to Hillary with his personal attacks on her choice of reactions after finding out her husband violated their marriage contract and brought shame to himself and the presidency with his infidelity.  I saw this, at the time, as a personal thing better left between Hillary and Bill and I still see it as that today.  Statistics say that half of all American marriages end in divorce, many of them having to do with infidelity.  There are other statistics that say that half of all American marriages, where there is infidelity, can survive it.  This is kind of confusing and I'm not sure how to do the math, but it says to me that there's a lot of infidelity going on in marriages.  Many women (and men) have had to make the decision as to how to react when a spouse has "wandered".  Often the third person in the relationship will create a lot of additional pain in trying to assassinate the character of the person "wronged", as if they hadn't already done enough by having sex with a man who was not free.  I have never been the third person in a relationship so I don't know what they might be thinking.  Maybe it's an effort to make themselves feel like what they did is somehow not all that wrong, like they were doing a "public service" or something.  The spouse that wandered likes to try to make themselves seen as the victim because their spouse "drove them away", or the person they had the affair with "seduced them", and maybe there's some credence to that.  But isn't that sad and cowardly, really?  Living daily life with someone is not as exciting as just spending a few hours with someone who's all dressed up and smelling wonderful.  Whether it's you or me or Hillary Clinton, what happens between a husband and wife is their business, and whether there is a divorce or whether there is forgiveness and a period of picking up the pieces is also their business.

Plus, I'm not sure Donald Trump would be wise to open up this can of worms, if you know what I mean.

Moving on now.  And I beg your pardon if my opinions are different than yours.  We can still be friends, though, right?

I received an e-mail notification from Food Babe and HERE is her blog post about how Cottonseed Oil is a GMO waste product and yet it's on the ingredient list of almost everything we eat.  Most restaurants use it in their recipes and it is included in what they fry things in.  OMG.  Oh, and if the ingredients list on a packaged product says "may contain...", don't just complacently think that there's a chance it doesn't.  There are actually two chances:  slim and none.  By the way, Fluoride is also a waste product, and the biggest coup ever pulled off was when we, the general public, were coerced into believing we must have it included in our water for the health of our (and our children's) teeth.  I wonder whose pockets we have lined with money making THAT waste product a "cash cow".  Even dentists are saying now that fluoride doesn't really do much, after all those years during which they promoted it as a way to prevent cavities.  Well, I guess it's possible to hoodwink dentists, as well as everybody else.  Everywhere you turn, there's fluoride.  It's bad enough in the water supply.  But most toothpastes and mouthwashes contain it, too.  Lots of people are now brushing their teeth with baking soda.  But getting the fluoride out of our water supply is more important and it seems like people are horrified when it's suggested.  Like you're questioning God or something.  Not only do we drink this carcinogen-contaminated water.  We cook in it, clean with it, wash our hands in it, use it to water our gardens, bathe and wash our hair in it.  We probably glow in certain types of light.

Speaking of "glowing", Hubs finally drank the last Pepsi he had stockpiled and replenished his supply this week.  I told him what to look for.

Well, it's baby steps with Hubs.

Oh, and I forgot to mention I have a "new" juicer.

Don't be distracted by the reflection of the mess that was on my table in the chrome.  I don't bother it, and it doesn't bother me.  Heh.  The woman said she and her (now deceased) husband paid $300 for it, new.  He died of cancer, by the way.  She had priced it at $200 but had marked it down to $100, and you know me, I tried to get her to $50 but all she would do was $75.  Well, considering that right before we got to that particular garage sale, I had turned to Hubs and said, "Help me watch for a juicer.  I want one that spins the liquids out", I kind of felt like this was another one of those little "gifts from God".  Laugh at me if you want to, it won't bother me.  I had seen a Jack LaLanne juicer at the church garage sale, but I looked inside and it was all bent up.  You have to wonder how people use things sometimes....  After I got home I read the reviews on Amazon, and found that some people have had trouble with the plastic arms breaking that hold the lid down, but they can be replaced.  Some of them also have problems with the spin basket getting off-balance.  Yes, the price had been $300 when it first came out, but the product now sells for $200, new.  Replacement parts can still be purchased from the manufacturer and their Customer Service is said to be good.  There are people who hate it and people who love it.  People who love it say the people who hate it are not using it correctly, and that they're forcing the vegetables into the machine too hard and causing the blade to wobble.  I can see how that could happen.  The woman didn't have the instruction manual but I was able to download one.  I'm planning on juicing cucumbers this summer, depending on how many I have from the garden.  Maybe throw in some tomatoes, parsley, onion, carrots, celery.  I haven't tried it for myself yet.  Will I make juice, or a mess? 

On days it doesn't rain, I'm spending time pulling out a gazillion dill plants, along with Bermuda grass, Bindweed and several other kinds of weeds.  Rainy days are good for planting seeds, so I've been doing some of that.  We've also been putting cardboard and wood chips down in the walkways.  Where I don't have cardboard, I've been experimenting with used leaf bags, since we have so many, anyway.  They disintegrate in the sun, but will last a long time if they're covered up with something.  At least they should last as long as the cardboard does.  I sure wish I could think of something that was permanent, to go in the garden paths, and then I'd never have that job to do again.  I don't mind doing a little extra work if it means the last time I'm going to have to do it.  Unfortunately, there are not too many things that fall into that category. 

Every day it's the same thing in the garden.  Weeds, weeds and more weeds.  I don't much mind the weeds that grow densely and pull up easily.  They tend to shade out the bindweed and the Bermuda grass, both of which send their roots deep into the ground.  One weed that pulls up easily but that is a pain in the a$$, anyway, is this one:

I don't know what it's called.  It is a very coarse and rough plant.  It grows lots of branches off a central root and there are clusters of burrs on each branch.  They always manage to drop some burrs on the ground whenever you pull them up and so I will probably never be able to totally eradicate them.  I do not add this unknown weed to the compost bin.  The burn barrel is the only place for it.  Does anybody know what it's called?  I've been calling it "Stick-Tight" but that's not what it is.  "Stick-Tights" are Galium aparine, aka Catchweed Bedstraw, Sticky Willy, Goose Grass or Cleavers.  I remember that stuff from my childhood.  We never thought of it as anything other than an annoying weed.  The whole plant would cling to your pant leg and to an animal's fur.  And it really ticked-off the cat.  Now I find out that it's edible and medicinal.  HERE is that information from Eat The Weeds.  Oddly enough, it's one weed I haven't seen here. 

We were lucky to get all the Yellow Dock killed off that came to us in a load of dirt, several years ago.  And we dig up Puncture Vine every time we see it, so it's not as thick as it was when we first moved here.  But Puncture Vine grows in my neighbors' prairie land, and their dogs come onto our land with the stickers in their fur.  Puncture Vine is only second to Poison Ivy in noxiousness, as far and Hubs and I are concerned, because of it's ability to puncture tires. 

I think, with the next trip to Tulsa, I'll ask Hubs to swing by Collinsville and see if I can buy some Annual Rye at Holman Seeds.  I've been reading that it's an excellent cover crop.  I didn't like the Winter Peas or the Hairy Vetch or the Daikon Radish.  They are all too "rangey" -- they go to stems or vines without much leaf material in between, right away.  Bermuda and Bindweed coexist very well with them.  Sometimes we do need to run the tiller to loosen up the soil, and all these plants will wind round and round in the tiller.  We get around that, if we have nothing growing in the beds yet, by using the weed-wacker to "scalp" the area, and then raking it up before tilling.  We lose the benefits of tilling in the "groundcover" because there are a gazillion bitty pieces of Bermuda Grass and Bindweed in it.  We all know what happens after THAT. 

I have Dutch White Clover established in a few places.  It's a perennial. In the patches where it has become established, it has managed to hold it's own against everything else, including Bermuda Grass and Bindweed.  I think I'd really like to have it growing thickly in the walkways between garden beds.  And in fact, I wouldn't mind my entire yard being Dutch White Clover, though I know people who buy stuff to kill it out of their lawns.  Unfortunately, The Weed Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken (because I don't know what it is) seems to be able to hold it's own over the advancement of clover, so it has to be pulled out before the clover will grow into that area.  Once it has, though, we're good.  Clover is pretty, at least, I think so, and it will tolerate some foot- and garden-wagon traffic, and seems to be encouraged to spread by the lawn mower because it will bloom and ripen seeds between mowings.  Plus it's a nitrogen fixer and the beneficial insects love those flowers.  Dutch White Clover doesn't grow very tall so it wouldn't even really have to be mowed.  I noticed Ray Browning, "Praxxus" on You-Tube, has clover in his garden walkways.  But I don't know if I want it growing IN the garden beds.  This is where Annual Rye might work better.  I think I'm out of Dutch White Clover seed, so I might as well add that to my Holman Seed shopping list.  Oh, and I might add that, though I love Crimson Clover, the down side is that it's an annual plant.  It's quite a show-stopper when it's in bloom, but it gets pretty ugly right afterwards and then that's it.  I've tried putting up with the ugly long enough for it to develop seed, and then Hubs mows it down, but the land stays bare and therefore inviting to every weed in the area for most of the summer and into the fall.  So, not a good weed barrier at all.  I have what they call "Red Clover" growing in some places (the flowers are more purple than red, but they are still pretty and the flowers are nice to put in salad.  But it grows taller than I would like for the lawn and the garden walkways.  I do grow it under fruit trees, however, along with several other things.  This year that's Nasturtiums and Comfrey.

We didn't go garaging this weekend, but we went the Saturday before that.
This was $35.  We enjoy hearing the water, and the pump that circulates the water is silent.  This allows us to have a birdbath without having to worry about mosquitoes hatching in the water.  Mosquitoes need quiet water for that.  I wonder about all the ponds we have out here and Jay's Lake.  Maybe the wild geese will take care of that.  Not much any of us can do about it, otherwise.

This stand was $1, and I bought it specifically to put these cowbells on.  I would be happier if the cowbells would fit inside the circles, but they are just a tad too big.  It's those big circles that are attached to the tops of the hearts that are the problem.  I can pile some rocks on top of the base and that will keep it from blowing over in the wind.

I bought 3 pairs of knit pants for $2 each, comfortable on the knee for wearing around home.  A nice Oster blender with a glass pitcher was $2.  I bought it because I wanted an extra screw-on base so that, when I want to use my little blender jars for chopping nuts or herbs, I won't have to screw the base off the bottom of my glass blender pitcher and have it sitting there on the counter while it waits for the base to be cleaned and put back on.  I could've bought an extra from Amazon but it costs $10.  I'll just store the remaining parts of this blender.  If the motor burns out of the one I have, or if my glass pitcher breaks, I'll have replacement parts for them, too.  My little half-pint blender jars were found at an estate sale, a couple of months ago, for a quarter each.  They cost about $6 each on Amazon.  I wouldn't have paid that for a little plastic jar because canning jars that take regular-sized lids will also fit the blender base.  This is really nice for certain things because you can store what you chopped up in the same jar. 

I also got some interesting-looking books by John C. Maxwell for a quarter each.  I don't have time to read right now, but this winter, they'll be nice to have.  This Christian author gets really good reviews on Amazon.

Hubs got a gallon of chain-saw oil for fifty cents, and a cordless drill with two rechargeable batteries for $15.

I bought some Burpee's brand Triomphe de Farcy "heirloom" bush snap bean seed at Tractor Supply the other day.  After I got home I did a little research to find out if I'd made a good choice and evidently this is the old Tendergreen bean that people grew here in Oklahoma in the distant past.  I don't know why some people think they have to rename things.  It gets confusing.  Just give it a French name and we silly Americans will just glom right onto it.  Sheesh.  There were quite a few more beans in the package than I expected.  They're supposed to be long, tender and stringless.  I don't typically like bush beans, the beans are hard for me to pick and they take up more space than pole beans do.  We'll see what we think.  So a package of those have been planted and some of them are already up because I also bought a package of bean inoculant, and put some in the water I pre-soaked the beans in.  I should've done that to my Lazy Housewife beans.  They didn't come up well at all this year and I feel like it'll be stretching it to get enough to can.  More likely I'll just get fresh seed that I can plant for fall beans, or spring of next year.  I also planted some Turkey Craw and White Whippoorwill cowpeas, some beets, and some Red Noodle beans.  There are small fruits on some of the tomato plants, the pepper plants, and on some of the winter squash plants. 

I'm harvesting peas now.  Wando was first by a few days, and then Tall Telephone.

Yesterday I blanched and froze 1.5 pounds.  When the pods are rough to the touch, the beans inside are mature and will dry well for seed-saving.  Usually I shell these peas but I notice I tend to damage some of the peas in getting the pod open, and that might be why I had so much trouble getting good germination this spring.  This time I decided to leave my seed peas in the pod and string them up for drying, like I saw being done on someone's blog I was reading last winter.

There might be a problem with mold so it's an experiment at this point for me. 

I got about half a pound of Wando peas last week.  Those were shelled and made into Creamed Peas and New Potatoes, one of Hubs' favorite things.  While I was weeding I uncovered a couple of potatoes that were close to the surface, and then I "gribbled around" and found a few more.  This is how Glenda says her mother always got her new potatoes without having to dig up the plant.  You get your new potatoes and your plant will go on and produce.  How cool is that?  This year, I will leave those potatoes in the ground until the tops die back, as Hubs said his parents always did.  Maybe they will store longer before starting to sprout.  I'm pleased, though, that the potato plants seem to be doing so well. 

These are from just the sprouts that I cut off from last year's potato crop.  I did buy a 5# bag of seed potatoes but they are planted in another part of the garden. 

The potatoes in the bag were small and so I just didn't cut them up.

I'm having a few potato plants coming up where I grew them last year and apparently missed some, and in a spot where I buried some compost also.  If a potato wants to grow, it will.  Some people say they start potato plants from peelings, but I think they must peel their potatoes more thickly than I do.  I usually don't have potato plants coming up out of where I buried the contents of my kitchen scrap bucket. 

I have had several salads with baby spinach out of the garden as the base.  I just add whatever I happen to have.  Usually it's shredded carrot and grape tomatoes from the store on a day when I don't want to go "foraging".  But there have been times when that salad has included baby lettuce, green onion, baby kale, fennel and celery stalks, sprout thinnings from buried compost, red clover flowers, dandelion leaves and flowers, and nasturtiums, all from the yard and garden.  I looked for pods on the Redbud tree because I wanted to try them, after finding out they're edible, but there were none.  Added to that, some cauliflower, avocado, carrot and grape tomatoes from the store.  My salad dressing is a small handful of shredded or grated cheese, some sunflower seeds, salt and pepper, and a slosh of lemon juice.  Sometimes I cannot eat it all at one meal. 

I'm glad I decided to plant the spinach in several places.  It's done poorly in some places and better in others.  But none of it has grown as big as the package says.  It'll be bolting to seed before long.  The kale seed pods are ripening and I'll be harvesting the seed soon.  Been thinking about letting it self-seed somewhat.  I may never have to plant kale again.  I'm really glad to have it when there is nothing else growing in the garden. 

Only two of those peanuts I planted have come up.  Now I'm soaking some in water and bean inoculant with plans to replant, maybe on Monday morning.  You know what they say, "You're not gardening in Oklahoma if you haven't replanted at least once or twice".  Sheeeeeesh.  I don't know how well peanuts will grow here.  They say you need sandy soil.  I hesitate to introduce sand into the garden beds.  Sand and drought conditions equals zero.  We're having anything BUT drought conditions now, but after mold kills half the things in the garden, drought can come along within 30 days and kill the other half.  The wind has blown the first fruits off the plum and apricot trees, but there are still apples, pears, peaches.   Something keeps eating the leaves off the okra plants.  A couple have died.  We haven't seen any more rabbits inside the fence, but now there are squirrels.  It's always somethin'.

Where I have used bean and pea inoculant, I have seen what I think is a big improvement in speed of emergence and in the overall health of the plant.  I used to think it just made no difference, but I'm about to rethink that.  So I went out today and made a little trench near every Lazy Housewife bean that has come up, dropped in some inoculant, and then watered.  Will it help?  I don't know.  But I've got to use the inoculant or wind up with something that's inactive.  Use it or lose it.  Apparently it had been expired a month by the time I bought it.  The next purchase, you can bet I'll be looking at the expiration date. 

The sweet potato plants have had a slow start, but they are looking pretty healthy now. 

That's some spinach and volunteer lettuce on the left, but there are little sweet potato plants among them.  I started these by planting the sprouted ends of the sweet potatoes I grew last year.  I didn't have time to mess with "growing sprouts". 

This is now Tuesday, May 31.  Memorial Day.  To all our country's military, past and present, and their wives, parents and children, THANK YOU for the sacrifices you make every day, or have made in the past, in order to serve your country.  It matters not whether I am in agreement with where you are sent.  What matters is that you obediently go, and you give your all.  When you are a military family, your sacrifice goes unnoticed most of the time.  But your sacrifice is real, too.  We wives have our babies without our families and husband there.  We live our lives as best we can until we can go home and live "a normal life", knowing, all the while, that there are some places where people never know what that's like.  Hubs and my era was Viet Nam.  He served on the USS Enterprise. 

We knew how fortunate he was to not be in combat.  We knew, even at our young ages, how blessed we were.  Our sacrifices were nothing compared to that of the many that came home in a body bag.  Or didn't come home at all.  And their families.  All who serve come home changed forever, some in very profound ways.  Hubs' changes were not profound, but he matured in the Navy.  May God bless all of you and protect you.  Big hugs all around.

Mondays are my weigh-in days and I admit to having some weird ups and downs during this past month.  Yesterday I showed a loss that I was pleased with, but because I know I always seem to weigh a little more on Mondays (not sure why), and also because today is the last day of the month, I weighed again, and I showed the loss of yet another pound.  So, for the whole month, I have lost four "new territory" pounds. ("New territory" means I haven't been this weight in 20 years.)  It's more than my planned half a pound a week, and might've been more than that except I have been going a little overboard on some unsalted cashews I bought at Aldi.  I'm real tempted to go at it "hammer and tongs", as Mom used to say, so I can get UNDER that 200-pound mark by the end of next month.  I'm more than just sick and tired of my weight starting with a "2".  And of having every doctor blame everything that's wrong with me on my state of obesity.  But I know if I cut back too much, I'll mess up my metabolism and then I'll be on a plateau for awhile and I'm just not up to that.  It doesn't really, after all is said and done, get me there any faster.  And those quickly-lost pounds pack right back on at the first opportunity.  Nope.  Not going there.  If it happens by the end of June, I will be a happy camper, but I will not white-knuckle it to get there, is what I'm saying. 

Well, my dears, it's daylight, I've had my breakfast, Hubs has already gone outside and those garden weeds are calling to me.  A high of 81º is expected and the humidity will be high.  I want to be in the house by then, know what I mean?  So till next time, Rock On...  Hugs xoxoxo

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Nanking Cherry Harvest

This was started on Monday, May 16.

I am busy processing Nanking bush cherries.  This is only the second summer that I've had enough from these bushes to do anything with.  Last year, I pitted them and froze them in square, 1-gallon ice-cream containers that Leroy saves for us.  But it's so easy to miss a pit here and there and so I couldn't share what I made out of them with anyone because I wouldn't want to be responsible for a broken tooth.  Hubs and I know to chew carefully anything like this.  We've even found cherry pits in commercially canned cherries or pie filling. 

What do you make out of fruit that is so tart that in order to make it palatable, you have to add sugar to it?  Sour cherries are very healthy.  HERE is information from Dr. Oz.  HERE is information from Prevention Magazine.  And HERE is what Huffington Post has to say.

You know, God made everything we need, and it's growing, or can be planted and therefore made to grow, all around us.  It's just that the medical community has for so long ridiculed and maligned those little old folks that knew how everything was supposed to be used, that all that information came very close to being lost to us forever.  So now we add stuff to it that's not good for us, like sugar and lots of butter, and this cancels out whatever health benefits are in it and pretty much makes it just empty calories.  Delicious ones for our spoiled, sugar-addicted palates, but not what God intended.  Rule of thumb: If, in it's unadulterated form, it's tasty, it's supposed to be food.  If it's sour or bitter, it's supposed to be medicine.  Praise be to God.

I brought these down from the attic today. 

I learned some things during this exercise.  1) Don't use parchment paper.  It draws the juice, makes a mess, sticks to the pan, stays wet too long.  I had to throw out some of the cherries because they had grown moldy.  It would be better to drain the juice off the pitted cherries before starting the drying process.  2) The "Quick Release" foil worked the best.  The cherries still had to be "peeled" off the foil, which is why the foil is all wrinkly in the picture, but less mess and no mold.  3) Dried sour Nanking cherries taste like cranberries, no corn syrup or preservatives added.  4) There is no problem if you miss a pit here and there.  It is pretty obvious in the end product.

These were still not totally dry, but they reduced in volume by about two-thirds, which filled a pint jar and I can spare the freezer space for that.  I decided to use a wide-mouth pint, just in case they froze stuck together.  I don't think cherries are good candidates for drying in the attic.

The second big picking was processed by stemming them and then heating very slowly till they began making juice, then straining the juice.  Boy was this messy and the fruit that was left turned into a big sticky ball full of pits.  Lots of waste.  I got about 2 cups of thick juice, but still room for improvement. 

I like the idea of making "sour-cherry craisins", even though pitting the cherries is so much work.  I can pit them while I watch TV with Hubs.  The work goes faster and is time better spent than just watching TV without doing anything else, which, generally, makes me sleepy.  Working with about four cups of cherries at a time, I use the tip of my potato-peeler, sliding it into the depression where the stem was, to scoop out the pit. 

After pitting each batch I put them in a mesh strainer and press lightly.  There is about a cup of juice delivered from each four-cup batch.  Then the solids are ready to be dehydrated.  Waste Not, Want Not.  This is pretty much what dried cranberries "Craisins" are, afterall, is the leftover skins and pulp after they juice the berries.  I saw it on "How It's Made" on The Discovery Channel.  What they didn't show was that they add corn syrup and oil to them.  That's on the ingredients label on the back of the package.  The ones I make won't have that in them.  If I had to label what I make, it would just have one ingredient on the ingredients list.  Unless you count "Elbow Grease", that is.  LOL! 

The juice goes into the freezer and I can add it to apple juice if I make any this fall.  Apple juice is sooooo sweet, it would benefit from some cherry juice added for tartness.  It would add nutrients and be pretty, too.

I have dried blueberries before and I have to use the dehydrator for them instead of the attic, as well.  The attic cools off during the night and I think it just takes too long for juicy things to dry. 

I spent about an hour picking cherries late this afternoon.  I wasn't done by any stretch of the imagination, but I needed a break and it was about supper time.  I made pancakes, Hubs had two eggs and I had one.  Farm fresh brown eggs.  Instead of fake maple syrup made of maple flavoring and corn syrup, we sampled the Nanking cherry syrup made of 4 cups juice and 2 of sugar.  Yes, I even allowed myself a drizzle.  Mmmmm. 

Hubs even liked it.


I think it was on Fiona's blog that I read about how we should not consider the work involved in putting up things we have grown as "drudgery", but instead look at it as a blessing to actually HAVE something to put up and the tools and skills with which to do it.  I needed to be reminded of that.  Thanks, Fiona.

This is now Saturday, May 28.

Hubs saw our friend Leroy on Wednesday at the workout center and he asked Hubs if I wanted his apples this year.  I haven't taken them for the last two summers because I just haven't been physically able to take them on.  It's a big tree and it makes a lot of apples.  But this year I feel up to it so Hubs told him I'd be glad to have them.  Most of them come to me as windfalls or fruit Leroy picks when it's not quite ripe.  They are a little too green for applesauce and the like, but they are of good size and there is enough natural sugar in them that they make wonderful apple juice.  They also have plenty of pectin so if I want to make jam with something that doesn't jell well on it's own, like blueberries or banana-pineapple, all I have to do is add some of the apple juice and it does the trick without making any noticeable change in the flavor.  The bulk of the juice from the last batch was canned in half-gallon jars and Hubs drank it all that winter instead of orange juice with his breakfast.  With this batch, I will have something to add the cherry juice to that will end up being a 100% natural and healthy breakfast drink.  I think Hubs might have to share his juice with me this winter.  ;~}

All the cherries I picked are worked up and the last batch is out of the dehydrator.  My yield is 4 quarts of dried cherries, 4 quarts of frozen juice and about a quart of cherry pancake syrup.  The last wave of cherries were very small in size and I decided to leave those to the birds.  I thought I'd have trouble with the Mockingbird that's been hanging around out there, but the Robins and the Bluebirds are often seen in the bushes.  I've seen the Robins picking cherries off one of the other trees.  Generally I don't view this as a happy thing.  The birds need to be hunting in the garden for bugs.  The Bluebirds were still feeding babies, up until Friday.  Hubs and I had been wondering when they were ever going to teach those greedy little guys to fly.  They would nearly knock their mother off the birdhouse each time she came to feed them.  So Friday we walked up on a baby Bluebird perched on the east garden fence rail.  We saw it in time and backed off, as Hubs said he might fly out into the open field and that might be a bad thing.  But he got spooked anyway and flew off to the west, toward the birdhouse.  Then yesterday Hubs came in from mowing The North Fourth and said he'd seen a dead baby Bluebird on the ground near the compost pile.  Dang....  We hope the others have survived.  Mother Bluebird is again busy cleaning up a birdhouse, a different one this time.  Hubs also told me that a Killdeer put herself in front of his mower while he was out there and he discovered she had a nest on the ground.  He said there were eggs in it about the size of chicken eggs, and they were brown speckled.  He drove away from the area and left her sitting on her nest.  I was telling our neighbor, Cathy, about that and she said that when her girls were in school and would cut through what is now our North Fourth on their way home from the bus stop, the Killdeer would chase them home.  OMG.  Mothers become fearless when their babies' safety is threatened.  It is nature's way. 

That's all I have to report on the Nanking Cherry harvest.  I do have some Hansen's Black Cherry bushes that are full of unripe fruit.  It was so wet last spring where they are growing that the fruit just rotted off the bush.  And it looks like it's going to do that again this spring.  I have started new bushes along the west garden fence, on the inside.  (The Bridal Wreath Spirea are on the outside of the fence).  When those cherry bushes start producing, which might be as soon as next spring, I'll get a better crop.  And there is room there for more bushes than I have now, so I can easily share with the birds if that becomes necessary.  Hansen's Black Cherries have a bitter twang when they are eaten fresh.  But that goes away when jam is made from them.  Then they are very good.  When I am able to get another harvest I'll experiment with canning them in a light sugar syrup and see if they are good that way.  I tried freezing them before and -- nope -- still bitter.  Don't that just beat all??

I'll get another post up before the end of the month, but that's all for this post.  So till next time, Rock On, Y'all, Rock On.  Hugs xoxoxo

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