Monday, September 25, 2017

Days of Flies and Tomatoes

Our tomatoes are certainly loving this very unseasonable heat. A. harvested another box full of paste tomatoes for me this morning, so I spent part of the morning canning six more quarts of tomatoes in the hot water bath canner.

And then I had to put on the air conditioning.

I could feel bad about this, except that I am: 1) not at all heat tolerant, 2) 8.25 months pregnant, and 3) dealing with a cold.

Screw guilt. Give me the almost-October A/C.

Also in tomato news, A. had the brilliant idea of drying some of the tomatoes outside. Might as well make use of 89 degrees with punishing sun, right*? He has three trays full of the beefsteak variety of tomatoes drying on top of the Subaru. It's so nice to see the Subaru as food dehydrator put to use again.

I also find it funny that A. seems to have finally succumbed to the Tomato Crazy. It must be catching.

Unfortunately, this hot weather has also brought out the flies. In droves. The three big glass doors in the living room leading to the elevated porch look like a horror movie. Flies EVVVVVERYWHERE. The kids love swatting them, which is fine, but more always appear. We must have swatted four dozen flies yesterday.

I am befuddled by this. All the windows and doors are shut tight. How are they getting in?

At least they seem to confine themselves to the windows, though. They're not attracted to food or people. But still. There are smeared fly guts all over my doors, which I am waiting to scrub off until the end of the heat wave because I know there will be more until it cools down.

So gross.

So that's where we are. Preserving tomatoes, swatting and sweeping up flies, and running the air conditioner until further notice.

* Fun fact: It was hotter at my house on the Canadian border yesterday than it was at my parents' house in Tucson, Arizona. How's that for messed up?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy Fall! Oh Wait . . .

Yes, today is the official start of fall. So why is my forecast calling for 87 degrees on Sunday?

That is not sweater weather.

(I think that the weather is supposed to be some kind of online conversational suicide, right? But too bad. That's what I'm talking about today.)

Last weekend it was 84 degrees here, so we took the kids to a local lake beach for a dinner cookout and their last chance to swim. Except apparently it wasn't their last chance, because we have multiple days coming up that are going to be over 80 degrees.

In case you missed it, I do not live in southern Arizona. It is not supposed to be hot here at the end of September.

So much for the frozen north.

The tomatoes, of course, are loving this hot, sunny weather. Especially under their cozy woodchuck greenhouse. A. is the designated harvester this year, as the greenhouse requires a person to duck and literally crawl around to actually get to the tomatoes, and those are not things the 8-months-pregnant body can do without great difficulty. So every couple of days, A. goes out there and proudly bears into the house a big box full of ripe tomatoes.

I spent this morning making salsa and pressure canning it--plus a few random quart jars of plain, raw-pack, not-even-skinned chunks of tomatoes--to take care of the fifty pounds or so of tomatoes that were on the counter. I expect the same amount of tomatoes will be landing on my counter tomorrow.

Sure would have been nice if the tomatoes could have ripened when I wasn't due to have a baby, like, ANY TIME, but I'm not complaining. Much. And I'm trying not to complain too much about the unseasonable heat, because I know I'll be desperate for any hint of warmth in March.

But still. Eighty-seven degrees. That's crazy.

How's the weather where you are, my lovelies?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It Appears a Dairy Cow Is In Our Future

I went to the grocery store yesterday and I realized that over half of the items on my list were dairy foods: cream cheese, cottage cheese, butter, milk, Parmesan cheese, and buttermilk*.

No regular cheese, though. And why no regular cheese? Because A. went to the cheese factory in our local village a few days ago and came home with this:

You are looking at 17 pounds of cheese. That's right. Seventeen.

The larger brick is just over ten pounds of sharp cheddar, and the slightly smaller brick is just over six pounds of mozzarella. 

You may find this ludicrous. Perhaps you think that A. just got carried away and brought home more cheese than we could ever eat.

Nope. This is the third time we've bought this quantity of cheese. It lasts us a little over a month.

You could say we eat a lot of cheese. And butter, milk, yogurt, cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese . . .

Yeah. We're gonna have to get a dairy cow some day. And that day is probably going to be sooner rather than later.

* No cream, but only because I go to a different store for that to get the real, not-ultra-pasteurized cream.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Return of the Irritating Monkey

Thus far, Jack has shown no interest whatsoever in sitting down and staring at a television show. Not that I can get too upset about this. I mean, does an almost-three-year-old really need to veg out on the couch on a regular basis and watch animated animals cavort around?

No. Far better to pretend to mow the grass with Daddy's moving dolly or build elaborate structures with scrap wood.

Then again, it is awfully nice to sometimes have the option of putting on a cartoon for children so they're not all up in your face all the time.

Part of Jack's disinterest is probably because the only thing we ever put on is an episode of the original Transformers television show from the 80s. This is my bribe to get Cubby and Charlie to pick up their toys at night. After nighttime pick-up, they get one episode of Transformers. This is perfect for the older two, but Jack is mostly disinterested. It is a show for older kids, after all.

However, one of Jack's favorite books at the moment is Curious George Makes Pancakes. So it has crossed my mind that he would probably really like the Curious George cartoon on PBS. I hadn't ever tried it out on him, though, mostly because I didn't really want to start the whole expectation of a cartoon.

Until this morning.

Jack woke up at the unpleasant hour of 5 a.m. today, thanks to the back-to-school cold brought home by his brothers. I read him The Big Caribou Herd and we spent some time discussing the animals. A. got up and read him a tractor book. And then I wanted to lie down for a little while before starting to pack lunches and make breakfast (not so much with the sleeping last night). So I suggested to A. that he could find Curious George on PBS Kids online and see if Jack liked it.

He did. Jack was enthralled with the sight of his book buddy in actual motion, talking (kind of) and everything.

He got to watch two episodes before it was time to wake his brothers up for school. Twenty minutes of reprieve for Mom and Dad? Thanks, monkey. I still think you're annoying, but you sure are useful sometimes.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Take Note

Let us all just pause for a moment and let it sink in that today is exactly one month before my due date with Baby #4. (And Girl #1.)

 . . .

Now that the pause is over with, I can acknowledge that that doesn't actually mean all that much, considering babies come when they damn well please. Cubby was ten days early. Charlie and Jack were each a couple of days early. So maybe this one will be early too. Or maybe she'll be three weeks late, like I was.

That's unlikely, actually, because the medical community really doesn't allow women to go that far past their due dates anymore. So it's safe to say that I'll be having this baby next month one way or another.

I washed and sun bleached the diapers yesterday and there are 25 quarts of applesauce in the utility room. I'm totally ready, right?


Friday, September 15, 2017

Eat Your Clutter

Though I would never be considered a meticulous housekeeper--let's not talk about the last time I cleaned behind the television, for instance--I do have some serious issues with clutter. It adversely affects me in a very noticeable way. Emotionally, mostly.

This is very unfortunate, considering that I live in a two-bedroom house with four other people, three of whom are small children. And that there will shortly be another small child in this already-crowded house.

I spend a lot of time picking up, putting away, and throwing things out when I can get away with it.

My absolute least-favorite kind is the kitchen counter clutter. My children are forbidden from putting any of their toys, pencils, papers, or other junk on the kitchen counters. That's my work space. My cubicle desk, if you like. It drives me crazy to have to work around non-essential items.

But this time of year, I don't mind a certain kind of kitchen counter clutter.

Tomato clutter is A-OK. Also, carrots, pears, garlic, and shallots. Worth the counter real estate.

It makes me happy to see my counter filling up with tomatoes. It also makes A. happy, because it means that we all have to be appropriately congratulatory about his woodchuck greenhouse, without which I doubt there would be enough ripe tomatoes to clutter up anything.

Of course, this kind of clutter is much more satisfying to take care of than, say, picking up a thousand small pieces of cardboard from Cubby's latest complicated cardboard creation*. Because this kind of clutter gets turned into Finny's tomato sauce. Also, at the command of Prince Jack, some apple/pear sauce.

Don't cross the boy with the crown.

Then most of the clutter turns into food for the freezer.

Actually, the apple and pear sauce (in the jar) will probably all get eaten before I have to freeze any. But some of the tomato sauce will get to the freezer. Hooray.

The only downside? More clutter in the form of this:

Dishes are absolutely the worst part of food preservation. Jack agrees.

* That kid makes everything out of cardboard. Crowns (he made the one Jack is wearing in the photo), robots, castles, and, lately, a smartphone. Yes, out of cardboard. He made little letter pieces that can be arranged to type things out. He informed me quite earnestly that he's been puzzling over how to add Minecraft to it next. And this is why I will never buy him a real smartphone like his friend from school has, which constitutes his sole exposure to the addicting devices. Much better to make them out of cardboard. At least when you're seven years old.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

And Yet, I Keep Typing

I just noticed that this post right here is published post #2502 on this blog.

That's hard to believe. How could I possibly have 2,502 posts' worth of words to spew about essentially nothing?

It's a talent, I guess.

That was a joke.

Just for the sake of round numbers, I should have noted that this thrilling post about canning applesauce was #2500. But if I had known that one was such a momentous marker, I would have felt some pressure to make it, like, about something, rather than just a random stream of consciousness about The State of My Canning.

In hindsight, that was the perfect post for momentous #2500. Because it wasn't momentous, or introspective, or deep. It was a random, not-terribly-exciting bit of a random, not-terribly-exciting life.

And really, that's perfectly representative of the entire story I've been telling here for the past, uh, almost ten years. (That is also hard to believe.) Random and not terribly exciting, but fun anyway.

So here we go with the next 2500 posts about inconsequential triviality. Thanks for coming along for the ride.