Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Riding a whirlwind

That's what it feels like so far, this new school-centric schedule. I'm sure it will get easier . . . after it gets considerably worse. First, we're planning to go horse-camping this weekend; though when we're going to get everything arranged for that is unclear. Second, one of my co-workers will be on vacation Sept. 2-13, so I need to go in every workday she's gone.  =:-O

But as one of my friends (young but wise beyond her years) reminded me in her blog post this morning, you have to just keep taking bites.
Benny says, "Bites of what?"
One of the things I haven't managed to juggle well yet is meal planning. It's too late by the time I pick up Brian and get home to make supper, so I'm going to have to start doing a better job of preparing ahead. To that end, this morning I used up the last five peaches I've been hoarding in a peach pie, pressure-cooked some pinto beans, and now have a crockpot full of Mexican stew simmering for supper. All of which will yield leftovers; yay.

I also got a start on my first fall garden. Earlier I decided on carrots (seeds at the ready), garlic (the neighbor said he'd have plenty), and beets – particularly my favorite Chioggia beets, but I couldn't find any seeds in town. I finally settled for those packets of mixed beets, tore out the snap peas, and watered a strip in preparation for planting. Today I planted the prepared row and a second row, which the soaker hose is watering now. I have enough seeds for a third row, so those will go in when I can prep it.

Yes, we got a little drizzle today. Not enough to soak the ground, but the dogs still got muddy - ha. I think the plants all sighed with relief to have their leaves moistened.

Time to get cleaned up so I can go get Brian – though I'd rather join Oreo for a snooze!

Chomp, chomp, chomp....

Monday, August 29, 2016

First day of school

Even though he is 14 years old, seeing my boy off to his first day at a school made me feel like the mother of a kindergartener – a little choked up. It feels like the right step, though, and I have no second thoughts about ending our homeschooling days.

He headed out in some of the fun clothes my sister sent, using the backpack my mom got him, with the lunch I packed for him. Being 14, I'm sure he's too self-absorbed to feel all the love those things represent, but it's there nonetheless. My prayers are following him throughout the day – that it will be a good day for him, that he will meet some upstanding kids to make friends with, that he will be an upstanding kid, that his instructors will be positive influences in his life, that he will engage with his subjects and apply himself. I know his grandparents are all praying for him, too. He's in good hands; I keep reminding myself of that.

A friend asked what I will do with myself now. Ha! What I have always done – try to keep up with all the responsibilities in my life. After Rick and Brian left, I picked prunes, then apples in the cool of the morning. When a five-gallon bucket bucked me off while I was reaching for higher fruit and I landed flat on my back, I decided to sit down in the grass to EAT that hard-won apple and enjoy the view.
Then I picked myself up, started water in the garden, picked tomatoes and eggplant, hung a load of wet laundry on the drying rack, started another load, worked on the church newsletter, emptied the dehydrator and filled it again with prunes, took my pony for a ride for the first time in a week, "et cetera, et cetera, et cetera" (name that movie– one of my favorites).

The apples are beautiful this year; plentiful and practically bug-free. Seems a shame turn them all into sauce and pie filling, but we will enjoy them that way through the winter and spring.

That's it for today from . . .

Sunday, August 28, 2016

28 jars of prunes on the wall, 28 jars of prunes

Take one down, pass it around (because it didn't seal, and subtract one more that broke in the canner), 26 jars of prunes on the wall! (And another dehydratorful a-drying.)

So blame me for another annoying earworm, but such was my day. Thankfully, I got a lot of help from Rick. This morning while Brian slept in (a last hurrah before school starts tomorrow), we went out and picked before the yellow jackets got bad, then spent the rest of the day, off and on, processing prunes. I plan to pick again tomorrow morning and fill the dehydrator once more; then I plan to move on to apples. Guess I'd better pick those bright and early, too; the yellow jackets are bad this time of year.

Looks like we'll be ushering in September with cooler weather. The days are getting noticeably shorter, and I've been dreaming about next year's lamb crop. Plans still need to be finalized, but I'm pretty sure Blake will be visiting Vienna and Sarai again since that breeding group has given me such nice results. Hopefully Sarai's breeding career didn't end with this spring's sad result.

That's it for today from . . .

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Earworm warning

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days.

Most of us are feeling this, I think, being the age we are. Being old parents, we are coming late to the game with our son. As for our parents, well; best to spend all the time with them that we can. (And yes, with our son, too!)

This week my dad had cryoablation on the femoral tumor near his hip in hopes of getting relief from the constant pain he was having in that area. It worked (hallelujah!), so yesterday he and his wife drove over to their vacation lot in western WA. This afternoon after church, Brian, Jackson, and I are going to drive up for a visit – and walk together for the first time in awhile! It will needs be short, but see above.

The wind has been blowing from the west through the early morning hours, and that refreshing coastal current has blown away the oppressive heat. A Sabbath blessing for sure.

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, August 26, 2016

The full-meal deal

So which do you like better, the "snack posts" I've been tossing on here from lack of time to do more, or the bigger buffet that this is going to be? Inquiring mind wants to know!

First, Happy National Dog Day!
Oh, this dog; he has my heart. And my feelings for him have swelled to painful proportions as Brian and I slowly worked our way through our most recent "car book" – A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. If you love dogs, I highly recommend it – if you like a heart-wrenchingly good read. When I found out there is a sequel, I knew my heart couldn't take another one; I don't need to be reminded about how much these creatures love us – and how hard it is to say good-bye to them.

The flock integration continues to go fantastically well, perhaps because chickens are not as sharp as sheep in recognizing faces. Here are the three new Australorps with one of the Olive-Eggers at the rear:
I've seen one of the Australorps posture at one of the older hens and get her to back down, so maybe size and personality play into it, too. Still, I'm thinking that choosing black hens from here on out so they can just blend in may be the way to go; good thing black is a favorite critter-color of mine!

Yesterday I spent a lot of time at this place, and driving to and from it twice:
Brian starts high school there on Monday; yesterday we paid for tuition, books, and sports fees, talked with teachers, got a locker, the "lay of the land," and the "order of the day(s)." Then we went back for varsity soccer "try-outs," which was really an introduction and orientation, since anyone who wants to be on the team can be – provided they accept the parameters and keep their grades up. The soccer coach is all about character-building and life skills; competition and winning are very much secondary. He is also the Health and P.E. teacher, so he expects the team members to eat well (NO soda or junk food!), stay hydrated, get enough rest, etc. Jumping into a commute, school, AND sports while maintaining violin may be biting off more than we can chew, but it seemed worth trying.

On the way out the door to soccer try-outs, I grabbed a spindle and my TdF singles. Fiber time is ONE good thing about all our new commitments, I guess!

Today I finally had a chance to tackle the bush beans I picked before our backpacking trip, and the prunes I picked the last two mornings. Seven quarts of spiced prunes, a full dehydrator, and a plum upside-down cake barely made a dent in the fruit on our two trees; then there are the apples. I have my work cut out for me on Sunday! Fortunately, it's supposed to be a little cooler by then. After a mild Monday, this week heated right back up to at and near triple digits. But of course; it's canning season!

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

New kids on the block

This evening I picked up the newest additions to our flock – these three lovely Australorp pullets. Since they are black like the Olive-Eggers and about as big, I hoped they would be able to slip into the flock without drawing much fire. So far, that seems to be the case; hurray!

That's it for today from . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Not everyone's an early bird at . . .


This was my travel fiber project – plying the post-TDF spindle yarn. I completed it last night as best I could; as you can see, there is a disappointingly large tangle of defeat that had to go in the trash instead of on the turtle.

I am happy to report that our little backpacking trip defeated NO one, though! My knees held up just fine (thanks to Aleve) and I was in better shape than I feared, leading the mostly uphill hike to Blue Lake. The weather was perfect, the location was stunning, and we had a good time. I have downloaded my photos, but still need to choose a few to save in lower resolution to share here. Until then, I leave you with the only photo that came close to capturing the amazing color that greeted us at our destination.

More later, from . . .

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The heat is on

My dad's cancer has been named – epitheliod hemangioendothelioma. The man who said he'd never submit to chemo or radiation is now prepared to do both. I will be doing everything I can to support him; that will probably mean more frequent trips to see him.

The weather is heating up, too, breaking records all over the western side of the state. So of course this would be the only weekend left to pony up on the promised backpacking trip for Brian's 8th grade graduation. It's supposed to be in the 90s up in the Cascades; I'm praying that none of us gets heat stroke.

I'll be watering my outside potted plants thoroughly tonight in hopes that will hold them until we get back; I may break down and put the oscillating sprinkler on the garden to keep it alive and producing. The seven remaining chickens are down to about an egg a day between the heat and molting. When we get back I'll be picking up the three Australorp pullets; hopefully that will boost production.

How about some hot fiddle as a pick-me-up?

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Every body's gotta eat

If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw this morning's harvest. Some of that ended up in tonight's supper:
Long, skinny noodles; long, skinny snake. Almost stepped on this little fellow near the hen house this morning. Wonder if he ate or got eaten today....
This butterfly was dining on nectar:
This butterfly was nectar-filled dinner (you might need to click to biggify):

Ketchup & Mustard, anyone? That's what this rose is called!

Eating good in the neighborhood of . . .

Monday, August 15, 2016

Stand by....

We just returned from a quick 800-mile round trip to see my dad and step-mom in Spokane; last Thursday he learned he has cancer. None of us knows much yet, but with Brian starting school two weeks from today, we wanted to visit while we could still easily get away. Just discovered that Brian left my laptop's power cord there, so this will be my last post until it arrives in the mail.

"Life is what happens while you are making other plans."

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Energizer budder

My anniversary orchid, displaying its third panicle of flowers since arriving here in June of 2015, is putting out another spike. It sure makes roses look a poor symbol of everlasting love!

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Show and tell

Most of our lettuce has bolted; this variety has such pretty flowers!

I started this bump of alpaca/silk at the end of the Tour de Fleece. That's half of it on the spindle; I'm working on the second half now.

Pretty detritus on the steps beside the house. The shell is the color of the olive-egger hens' eggs, but much smaller.

My mom brought me this beautiful jacket; I wore it to work yesterday. It has a button hole on each side, but no fastener, so on my way home I stopped at my local yarn store to pick up a neat doo-hickey I had seen and admired there. Now that I have one, I foresee making knitwear with bilateral buttonholes and using this much more! (I really hate sewing buttons on knitwear.)

Clouds, clouds; I love clouds. These shots were all taken from our deck, looking NW; the top two yesterday evening and the bottom one this morning. Now they have all burned off and we're headed into a hot few days....

This spider is hanging out at the corner of our front door. I was going to brush it away (I hate walking into/through spiderwebs), when I noticed its web. Squee! I think it's a writing spider (thanks for the education, Sara), the first one I've noticed here!

Today's harvest (not counting a couple cherry tomatoes already consumed). That is ALL the potatoes the sprouted Yukon Golds produced, but it's enough for one recipe of good soup at a later date. Tonight we'll have green beans and whole wheat pasta with pesto; MMMmmm. This is the second double-batch of pesto I've made this summer; I fill and freeze the ice cube tray, storing the frozen cubes in a container so we can enjoy that green gold occasionally throughout the winter. This time I had fresh parsley as well as fresh basil from my garden, making this batch especially good. It's vegan, too!

That's it for now from . . .