Tuesday, June 30, 2020

As near as makes no difference

Twice a year I have what we used to call Bad Food, for the holiday. Fourth of July and Labor Day.

 Meaning not really Bad,  only not made by me from scratch. Since it's as near the Fourth as makes no nevermind, I broke out for lunch.

Partly to celebrate a successful maintenance visit for the car -- that clanging alert and subsequent screen reminders constantly,  ended up being a zero cost visit.

 None of the $$ parts in the alert list needed replacement after all, tranny fluid good for a long time, etc. It came down from an estimated $250 to $zero after they checked it. 

So here's the early holiday lunch.

 Not actually Bad, not even Cheap. But really fun. Side glass of fresh strawberry banana honey milkshake.

Then downloaded a rattling good Joanne Fluke mystery for reading on the patio. Lovely cooler cloudy day. Sleeping may have happened, too.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Nature goes on anyway

Even when people are in crisis, nature steams ahead.

The Thai basil finally germinated and will soon need the netting removed from her pot.

Those tiny tomato seedlings are now ready for a new home

And this big jungly mass is the candy roaster squash you saw me plant as seeds in a pot with netting to protect against squirrels. I think she can defend herself just fine now. In fact the Thai basil needs to be protected from her at this rate.

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Lastuv

For lunch I had a helping of the lastuv.

The lastuv the spaghetti, farm peas and carrots. Making a simple spaghetti primavera. I might dress later helpings with the lastuv the tonnato sauce.

Seems appropriate on a Friday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

DIY and comic relief

I noticed yesterday, when I turned on the hose to water the patio, that the
hose had sprung a leak, and was ready for more. It's about 40 years old, so not surprising. So i thought briefly about investing in a new one. Then I thought no, this is a chance to experiment with it.

I figured I could turn it into a sprinkler by stabbing it here and there with a utility knife. But first I would lay it out so as to decide where to stab. So far so good. A strenuous few minutes ensued while I wrestled the hose off the deck and through the plants. I found it wasn't as long as I thought, wouldn't reach all the way.

Nothing daunted, I hauled it around, stabbed here and there, turned on the faucet and got a refreshing shower. So did the deck and the chairs. Several adjustments later most of the sprinkling went on the plants.

I think this will also be fun for birds, too.

I'm thinking of a different watering system for the ficus which is out of range, after all my attempts. That's a diy for another day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

What a difference a day makes

Indoors: sitting up and taking notice, patient much better, not quite up to stitching or knitting , but energy roaring back. And considering how rugged the shots are, I certainly don't want to experience the ailment they're shielding me from. Very happy with modern medicine today.

And outside the daisies are bustin' out all over, the daylilies showing up loyally.

My daisies, lavender and foliage are the colors of the suffrage movement. So if your state primary is today, please vote. It's being made very difficult, but please do your best not to let your vote be suppressed.

Thank you everyone who posted and emailed and texted yesterday. I feel quite spoiled. A neighbor looked in yesterday, nice chat about attic fans, offer of shopping if necessary. Handsome Son came by mid afternoon with groceries, cornbread and chat. 

It was only last night that I noticed, after staying in night clothes all day, unheard of for me, that my nightgown was inside out. Some people say it's lucky, some wonder about the wearer's marbles. 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Taking their place on stage

Daisies are starting, lavender's in full bloom, daylilies soon to open. Just a bunch of pictures taken without being able to see the screen, brilliant sun.

Just posting to say I might be MIA for a day or two. Finally got the second shingles shot, just inside the maximum interval, and, 
if the first one is anything to go by, I can expect a couple of days of sleeping with intervals of napping, and an arm I can't raise. So I'm all set.

I baked a loaf of walnut cornbread in readiness! 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Return to the thriftie

See all this space?

 Up to an hour ago, it was crammed with bags of donations to the thriftie. Which closed right after I loaded up, back in March. I'd had the old car loaded, but couldn't trust it to get me there and back after the Great Leaking started. So the stuff came back into the house, then into the new car, where it has been since early  March. It's a frequent flyer.

Anyway I noticed the thriftie pickup truck on the road which made me call and find, yes, they're open. When I got there,  there was even shopping going on. And the donation shed operating.

So I navigated traffic, major roads, and lived to tell the tale. Except when another alert, clang, flash, screen lit up, nearly sent me off the road again. Low tire pressure. Not a flat, just low. So I stopped at gas station on the way home, got air. But the alert remains. Never happy, this car. Bit of a drama queen if you ask me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

June in one picture

Home from the farm. Edible podded peas, more strawberries. Some to freeze, in upcycled bag, some to eat fresh, some peas  delivered to Handsome Son's door. He's working, can't get there before they sell out.

The prep remains, stems, tops and tails, tossed outside to feed the earth.

That's June. Wonderful time of year.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Ulysses, Bloomsday and baby woodpeckers

This being Bloomsday, I read  Ulysses far as I could, now north of 90%, before declaring it done for the year.

And a flutter past my head happened-- the baby woodpecker was back. Solo this time, and with new skillz. Once again he started to slide down the pole, but this time used his new tail feathers as a brake, climbed right back up again.

And see how he's figured out how to use his tail to grip, while he finds his own suet. He was within a few feet of me, possibly too young to be alert around a human, or maybe he'd seen older birds unworried and feeding near me. He's clearly feeding himself independently, no need for parent to help. 

Birds develop at warp speed. I've seen it often, but never get used to the marvel of it.

And my carpenter bees were busily pollinating the lavender. Telling me it's not all about drilling my fence.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Carpenter bees and other teachers

Those bees with shiny butts, buzzing around noisily a couple of weeks ago, drowning out the convo with Handsome Son on the patio, distanced, so more like a muted bellow than a chat, wonder what they're doing, we wondered.

Found out they're carpenter bees, that's an interesting name, I thought, wonder why they're called that. Yesterday I noticed piles of sawdust at the foot of the fence.

And checked to find a couple of perfectly drilled holes in the fence and my planter boxes.  The bees  have been much quieter recently.

I checked and found out why. These are nesting sites, now probably completed and only requiring the bee to finish laying low her eggs inside the brood chamber she and possibly one other bee made. Hence the shiny butts, maybe.

If you're working with sawdust the shiny dust repelling butt is suited to your job. Unlike the furry butts of bees needing the fur to carry pollen. At least that's my surmise.

I saw a couple of skirmishes with a third bee a couple of weeks ago, probably competition for the best parts of my fence.

The fence is scheduled to be replaced this year and some factory made material will be used, no wood,  so I'm not going to tell on them.  Let them coexist while they can.

My other constant companion is this chipmunk, who often sits by, see my toe, to watch me reading, probably taking notes on the daily habits of the common human.

Who will be out there this afternoon continuing with Ulysses, it being Bloomsday tomorrow and time for the annual go at Joyce.

 My brain gets tired after an hour or so, very dense and demanding and brilliant writing, so I'm pacing myself. Couple of hours a year, and I'm 85% through according to my Kindle. Easier to hold than the book. Also it opens right where I was last year, a big point.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Vote! Now more than ever

US readers, please push for vote by mail and then use it.

I voted today in the NJ primary

 We've had universal mail-in choice for years in NJ. Handsome Partner had been using it for years before as a permanently disabled person, so when it was opened to everyone I applied right away, and turned the dining table into a polling station every election. So our electorate of two voted together.

 He was happy to feel included, instead of seeing me drive off to vote while he had days earlier,  filled out his ballot at home.  He needed me to seal and mail it for him, but we scrupulously observed the secret ballot, neither looking at the other's choices. Since we were in tune politically, I suspect we sent in identical decisions!

The secret ballot, and the right to vote at all, are precious. People have bled and died for it. So please use it. Do it for John Lewis! 

And if you don't know about this towering hero, look him up. 

The Giving of the Lavender Time

The lavender is just at peak knock you down scent, so I picked and tied bundles and now I have several happy neighbors.

 Also nice chats, keeping up my social requirements, which are not very high, a short visit is fine. 

And I may get around to picking some for me, too. 

Early morning foraging

A little visit out front yielded this beautiful architecture in the groundcover.

 I think it's from last year's creeping Polly

 or whatever it is, that also puts out yellow flowers now.

 I love it, some people tear it out.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Farm days

The local farm is definitely in the season now. 

Distancing while waiting

Today's lovely haul

And lunch. First salad in a long time, since I really like very local food. Everything here except the cucumber given by a friend, was still growing,a mile away,  this morning.

Doesn't get much better than this. And the weather is clear, in the 70s, everyone cheerful.

Happy camper.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Thrills, spills, mad new skillz

It's just as well I like learning. Our present situation demands new learning every day.

Now the library is planning on curb side pickup, where your books are put in the trunk by library staff. This means I have to learn to open the trunk from inside the car. 

And the utility company says we must read our own meters, and send them the answers. Or take a picture. So I studied the meter, learned to upload a picture I took, hoping it was the of the right bit of the meter, to my utility account, even getting in without the usual titanic struggle. 

And whole-wheat flour, which I used for crackers, is not around at a price I can pay. So today's baking learning was to use steelcut oat flour I ground. The plan was crackers. Baking them, that is. Though yes, come to think of it, it was crackers in the other sense, too.

 It would have been better to add in ap flour, so the dough would hold together. I did add some after the fact, also extra water and olive oil, but it's not the same as doing it right at the outset.

I ended up with a dough that I could not roll out, nor form into logs to slice. So I pinched bits off to form by hand, laborious work.

And  I made oat pennies rather than crackers. I'll offer some to handsome son, who also bakes experimentally and has experienced the falling-apart phenomenon. The dough, that is, though today it included the dough maker.

This is about half the dough, ran out of mojo and froze the rest, pending the outcome of this batch.

I will say that the fresh thyme I picked and minced in was lovely, and I pressed caraway and celery seeds in. With cubes of sharp cheddar, it's edible. But it's not good enough to give to friends. 

As Dr Johnson said, not a dinner you'd invite a man to.  But it did provide a large load of learning. Sigh. 

My tired old tootsies requested that I take out the sneaker laces for their walking comfort. I definitely sympathized, that kind of day, and did so. What next, bathrobe downtown, pension going on brandy? 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Glenn and Friends and some sort of strawberry shortcake thing

I happened on a very funny and nice YouTube channel while I was looking for something else, and stayed with it for a while.

Glenn bakes/cooks on Sundays, and has a great collection of antique recipe books from which he works, just as it comes.

 He also waves his arms a lot, pointing up and out, exactly like a flight attendant showing you the emergency exits.  Then his partner comes in to taste and critique, usually with her mouth full, the morning's product. 

I really liked them, and their knowledge of food history, specially Canadian, since that's where they are.

Here's a couple of his cake recipes.

 The emergency cake may be one I'll try, though the Depression cake, involving boiling some ingredients ahead, I'm not sure about. I've seen that presented as Amish, too. Probably it's just frugal food, showing up all over.

And I needed some emergency food myself so I made yet a different cornbread, just cornmeal, no other flour, added in chopped walnuts, not bad.

 Any recipe that says shortening I use butter, because it's what I have. This was before I found Glenn, or I might have tried his emergency cake. Which sounds like a contradiction in terms.

Reminded me a few years ago of a presentation by a developer to local township zoning board, claiming there was a desperate need for luxury housing in the township. Right.

Back to let them eat cornbread: with tea, I thawed out a couple of farm strawberries and arranged them ever so poshly on a slice of the emergency cornbread, like some sort of strawberry shortcake or something. Juice all over.

 It ate better'n it looked.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

High 90s, good day for reading

Since the days of doing a photo spread of current library books, I've switched to online. Hoopla , though a limited number of books per month, already used all my June ones, is great.

So here's where I am and have been.

Still in the midst of the Penelope Lively, wonderful nonfiction based on the historic family home she spent time in, her family, and the tangents triggered by the history and passing guests who also stopped by.

 I love social history, and hers is engaging, takes in a wide swath of countries, social position, attitudes, with an accepting but sceptical eye. Highly recommended.

The others are fun with a purpose. The Rabbi books sneak in a lot of Jewish history and tradition, wrapped in the fun of a mystery. The Jeff Cohens deal with very real issues of life with a son on the spectrum, folded into mysteries of the reluctant detective type.

 He borrows heavily from the Andy Carpenter mystery form, incompetent narrator, brilliant wife, dog in picture,  but  is still very readable anyway. Similarly has a good cause in mind, his being  autism understanding, Carpenter's, very different, dog rescue.   

 I read and like both.

I also, while we're on the spectrum, I read but on my Kindle, Convenience Store Woman, where the narrator is herself autistic, struggling for acceptance against a world that wants to "fix" her. It's a very good insight, and really worth reading. I read the whole novel while I was waiting for my car yesterday.

It was for an online book group which I used to attend in person. And which I was all set to join in this afternoon. Because I thought it was Tuesday. Turns out Tuesday was yesterday. Oh. Anyway I'll email my opinions, late but oh well, today to the group.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Much effort, small results

Today I got my nerve together to keep my auto dealership appointment. I'm trying, still, to get the state inspection decal showing I'm legally driving this car. The agency has put a couple of postponements on the deadline, but nearing the end of the second I thought I'd go in. 

After three months of home, it's become intimidating to drive anywhere, need to get my chops back.

 Is this the lady who thought nothing of driving to Virginia in a glackity State car, eight hour one day round-trip for a business meeting?? Or a trip way up to Ithaca, own car, to meet friends?? Connecticut likewise?? Where are the chops of yesteryear, aye, where are they? Villon would never have written that if he'd known what the likes of me would do with it.

Anyway, booked the service, full explanation of what's up. They acknowledged it all by email.

 Got there, steaming hot day, customers outside only, and they tell me they don't have the state decals. They searched, just in case, but no. Would have been nice to know that ahead, that being the main event.

 So I also cancelled the maintenance order the screen tells me I need, too hot to wait outside indefinitely, their shuttle too chancy, high touch.

 And settled on just getting the key duplicated., a 20 minute job, they said. Three hours later, I got out, got down the road, found the temporary State doc was gone from the dashboard. U turn, back to ask where it went. This is a vital piece of paper, if I'm stopped for lack of a decal.

Manager, supervisor, mechanic all get involved. Two of them search the car, nada. So I looked, found it buried under the back offside seat. 

So I finally left, and at home met my neighbor, great audience for this story.

 There was  a nice customer sitting out near me under the one tree, primo seating, and we had a nice grumble while we waited all morning. The kind where you say, well, can't complain, really, then complain at length.

Finally home, haven't even tested the new key yet. I'll croak if there's a problem.

But, after talking plants with neighbors and handing over two clumps of tomato seedlings and some of those marvelous squash seeds, I felt better.

Then I looked out and saw on the patio a male Downy with a baby! The baby hadn't got the hang of the feeder, slid right down the pole to the ground. Then he jumped onto the Adirondack chair, and Dad flew down with a beakful of suet mix and stuffed it in. Baby then tried to climb tree, got stuck in a little fork, Dad brought more food, while the baby kept going. 

Reminded me of a toddler who wants to get back to playing after a couple of bites.

So nature returned me to a better frame of mind. Also being in the ac helped. I don't do well in heat. 

So that's where we are, hydrating busily, pleased to have got out bravely. Falling down laughing at my current idea of brave.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Variations on a theme of banana bread

I needed a quick bread type thing for breakfast tomorrow and for son's visit later with groceries.

This is an experiment using newly ground steelcut oat flour, no other flour. It came out pretty well. As you see, good crumb.

And it's really breakfast food, oats, bananas, raisins, few bits of chocolate to adapt to afternoon tea purposes. Anyway, that's my story.

Steelcut oats are the whole grain, better whole food than the processed oatmeal. 

I made a smoothie earlier: plain yogurt, one banana, handful of frozen strawberries. It was definitely worth repeating. 

And a bowl of rigatoni, with that lemon balm pesto, good, worth repeating.

Finding good things in a desperate time.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

New approach to hot biscuits

I thought I'd try using muffin pans this time. Usually I make one large one, which I break up when cooked, or spoon it out. Half ap flour, half fresh ground steelcut oats, chocolate chunks, golden raisins, chopped walnuts. Olive oil, butter milk as fats. Usual baking powder, soda, salt. No sugar. Not dessert. 

I always need some breadlike food around, and this is breadlike, if fancy. I was down to one slice of banana bread, horror!

And it did come out okay. Also came out of the muffin tins cooperatively.

Long power outage after storms yesterday, though we got only minor damage. No internet. The neighbors usually text me for information!

 Not sure why they trust me to know what's going on. One said, oh well, if you didn't know I was going to call the power company!  Who were apparently telling people to consult their online outage maps. How, we wondered, after power came back, along with internet, and we found the messages. I get text alerts, so that worked.

Unusually long outage, but when trees are brought down, more storms strong enough these days to bring down huge old trees, it slows everything.

Out early this morning to see how my seedlings managed, fine, as it happens, and to look at this miniature world of fungi and lichen on the gate. To me a magic world, to my contractor friend a sign of rot!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Gardening to keep my balance

I transplanted the Roma tomato seedlings which were outgrowing the egg carton, and I think about 100% germination.

New potting soil mixed with old, screening to guard against squirrels.

Watering through the screening breaks up the stream and works like a fine spray, so it doesn't dislodge the teeny plants. I'll separate them further in a while. If they succeed, my friends next door will get some.

Speaking of which, the squash are steaming along, and if I train them towards the neighbor's patio, they can harvest them and cut out the middlegardener.

I'm literally tending to my own patch, to do my bit, for a small area of peace on earth.