Saturday, September 13, 2008

One Weird Thing

Well. I still haven't put new batteries in my camera, so no photos for you today. And it's Saturday, which means only about half of you will be reading. So I think it's the perfect time to share with you One Weird Thing about me. Not the ONLY weird thing, naturally, but I wouldn't want to overwhelm you.

My One Weird Thing for the day:

Every time I sit down to eat at home, my brain automatically takes note of what on the plate is local food and where it came from. And I give myself mental kudos for the really local stuff (from my garden), the third-person local stuff (like A.'s uncle's beef), and the sort-of local stuff (produced in New York State). I also give myself mental guilt trips for "imported" food, like coffee or rice.

So last night we had stir-fry. Carrots, green beans, chard, bell pepper, and garlic from my garden (well done, Kristin!). Then onions from the next county over and the beef from the aforementioned uncle (not so bad). Plus rice. From India. Oh well. Stir-fry might be kind of odd served over our potatoes.

And then this morning for breakfast: Tomatoes from my garden, homemade bread (though God knows where the flour comes from for that . . .), apricot jam made from apricots picked at the orchard down the road, eggs from a nearby farm, bacon from Pennsylvania (kind of local), and coffee. Too bad there's no way to get local coffee. I'll just have to learn to live with myself.

I do this EVERY SINGLE TIME I sit down at the table. Weird? Yeah, but harmless.

Feel free to share your One Weird Thing if you'd like. We'll make it a Confessional Saturday.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Fill-in

The lottery is huge in New York State. HUGE. There are commercials for it all over the place, it has its own massive booth centrally located at The Great New York State Fair, and I frequently get in line behind people at the grocery store who are buying 20 different tickets requiring the recitation of approximately three thousand numbers. Irritating.

I don't remember the lottery being such a big deal in Arizona, but its presence is inescapable here. Which brings up the really fun question: What would you do if you won the lottery?

Now, my odds of winning the lottery are a big, fat ZERO, because I've never bought a lottery ticket in my life. But say I did buy a lottery ticket, and I did win, what would I do? I'm talking a really big, life-changing jackpot, not some piddling million dollars (pfffft). Like the Powerball thing, which is currently up to $118 million. With a $60.3 million cash value, whatever that means. So we'll say I ONLY won the $60 million. What would I do?

I have a hard time answering this question, because a lot of the typical answers don't apply to me. Quit my job? Don't really have one of those. Travel? Don't really like to leave my house a lot. Donate to charities? Well, yes, but that one is a little bit obvious, right? Buy a car? Yeah, I'd probably do this one. I would even go crazy and buy a brand-new car with, like, 6 miles on the odometer, depreciation be damned! Wild, I know.

I guess what I would most like about having that much money is not having to worry about the everyday things. The mower breaks? We'll buy a new one! The roof needs to be replaced? No problem, I'll just write a check! That would be nice.

But I'm sure none of you are as dull as I am, and you all have much better ideas about how to spend $60 million. So fill in the blank:

If I won the lottery, I would _____________________.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fall Garden Update

(First: Two comments on yesterday's post? TWO? Now my parents really will have a complex that they're not exciting enough for this blog.)

I haven't done a garden update in awhile. And based on my recent posts involving garden produce (basically tomatotomatotomato, AIEEEEEE!!!), you might think there isn't a whole lot going on there anymore. That would be wrong. I will now school you on what a fall garden includes at Blackrock. And I was going to post photos, but the batteries in my crappy camera just died (AGAIN), so there will be no photos. Instead, you will have to use your imaginations, like children did before there was Wii (stupidest product name EVER, by the way), television, and Hannah Montana.

Onward with the garden . . .

The green beans are still producing, with the addition of some pretty purple bush beans that have started producing as well. We only have about eight bean plants, but that's enough to have green beans (and purple beans that turn green when you cook them, which is kind of a screw in my opinion) every couple of days. Also, we have lima beans that are coming along. A. absolutely HATES lima beans, so he isn't looking forward to that harvest.

(Insert mental photo of green beans mixed with purple bush beans here.)

The bell pepper plants have a ton of peppers on them, but they're all green and I seriously doubt any will turn red before the frost. I do not think bell peppers appreciate nights in the forties. Oh well. Green peppers are good, too. (But red is better . . .)

(Insert mental photo of laden green pepper plants here.)

The hot pepper plants have tiny peppers on them. They have been useless to me in salsa making. But that's our fault for killing the first seedlings and having to start all over again. I'll probably end up with 20 jalapeno peppers in about two weeks, with no idea what to do with them because all I ever do with jalapenos is make salsa and I have enough salsa to feed half of Mexico already. But that's a problem for another day.

The red cabbages are all splendidly large and purple, so why do they call them red cabbages? Stupid. Anyway, I actually used half of one while my parents were here. That half made enough to feed five as a side dish, and I have six more large purple cabbages in the garden, which means I have . . . a lot of purple cabbage. Bring on the kielbasa!

(Insert mental photo of cabbage row here.)

The carrots got to be a pretty good size, despite a couple of initial failed planting attempts. The collards are in a regenerating cycle, after my ruthless harvesting of them this weekend. The chard and turnips are coming along.

The MiL started some cauliflower seeds just a few weeks ago, but they're still pretty small and they appear to be infested with slugs (GROSS), so I don't think we'll be getting any cauliflowers. Since A. hates cauliflower even more than lima beans, he's not shedding any tears over that.

Oh yeah, and then there are the tomatoes. Still. Forever. I'm sure you will have no trouble inserting a mental photo of The Dish Pan overflowing with tomatoes. Still. Forever.

In addition to the garden, there's the orchard. Which makes it sound like we have nice rows of fruit trees all laid out somewhere, when in fact we have random fruit trees scattered all over the place. But from those trees we have begun harvesting apples and pears. The apples are being eaten raw at the moment, until I have enough to make applesauce, and I canned pears yesterday. I also canned peaches from the MiL's mother's trees.

(Insert mental photo of pretty canned peaches and pears here.)

And I would just like to state for the record that peeling pears totally blows and makes my hand cramp and I hate messing about with sugar syrup to can fruit. It always gets all over the place and makes the floor sticky, making it very difficult for me to continue my practice of not mopping the floor ever.


There you have it. Still a bounty of produce coming out of the garden. At least until the killing frost. And if I may share a secret with you, I think the killing frost may be a bit of a relief this year. Because then I can quit with the canning and just start eating. I much prefer eating.

(Insert mental photo of Kristin weighing 300 pounds here.)

The End.

Update: I forgot the potatoes! How could I have forgotten the HUGE, OUT OF CONTROL, WILL NOT DIE DOWN Potato Forest? Yeah, our potatoes usually die down around the end of July (when the foliage gets yellow and withers, the potatoes are done growing and can be harvested). This year, we have Everlasting Potatoes. Which means they're still growing. I've harvested some already (they can be eaten anytime after they flower, though they'll keep growing until the foliage dies), but I fear the potato harvest this year. It will be ridiculous.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ma and Pa Come Callin'

So. My parents have been here since Saturday, and yet I have not said one word about them here. What's up with that? The very question my father asked. What (he said), we're not exciting enough to warrant a mention on your site? Well, it's hard to compete with woodchuck fireworks, but I guess I can talk a little bit about them.

They came on Saturday and took A. and me out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate the anniversary that we almost forgot, and their anniversary the next day. They've been married a lot longer than we have. Like, 34 years. Because they're old. (Hi, Mom and Dad! Love you!)

Then we sat around here on Sunday, eating brunch, reading The New York Times, fending off the dogs (in my father's case) or petting the dogs (in my mother's case). And eating a big Sunday dinner. There was a lot of eating, because I was trying to stuff them as full of garden produce as I could so I wouldn't have to can it. Which is why there were no less than three vegetables at dinner on Sunday.

Then we toured about in their rental car, seeing gardens, eating some more, visiting farms, eating some more, admiring the stellar trailer add-on architecture of upstate New York. And eating some more. That brings us to yesterday.

My dad did this:

The last hurrah for the hammocks before winter.

My mom did this:

She wants to be like me when she grows up.

Then we ate some more. And soon, I will meet them for breakfast for one last opportunity to eat before they fly off into the wild blue yonder and return to their Arizona mountain home. Where they will no doubt begin a fasting regimen to cleanse their systems of all the food I forced on them while they were here.

Thanks for visiting, Mom and Dad. I hope you and your stomachs come again soon.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Woodchuck Fireworks

I'm here to educate you city folk today on the great entertainment provided by a burn pile. Because what's NOT entertaining about fire?

Where we live is designated an agricultural zone, which means we can burn stuff on our property. Some people burn all their trash. We don't, but only because I won't let A. try to burn everything. But we DO burn all our lawn junk--the branches, the weeds, the little bits of this and that I rake up, and the bamboo. We have a pretty big bamboo forest. It started out as a small planting about 10 years ago and is slowly creeping down into the hollow and heading for our neighbor's. Not so good. Bamboo is really pretty, and also useful, but it is highly invasive. Like, scary invasive. Like, you go out one day and there are 20 new bamboo shoots that have come out of nowhere. Creepy.

Plotting to take over the world.


We had to cut a large swath of the bamboo forest down to run the fence through it for the new pasture. So we (meaning ME) hauled all the cut-down bamboo to the burn pile and started that bad boy burnin'. And then I discovered something marvelous.

Bamboo is the most fun combustible material ever. Yes.

First, the leaves catch, with a big "whoosh!", sending a pillar of flame into the sky. Like so.

Feel free to provide your own whooshing sound effects here.

And THEN, it gets even BETTER. Because bamboo has air pockets in the stems. And those air pockets explode when the bamboo burns, making it sound like pistol shots. Or fireworks. Except without the sparkly part. But STILL. Fireworks! From bamboo! I'm such a woodchuck!

Isn't it nice I can provide my own entertainment?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Into the Vaults

Hey, remember CDs? Not the financial kind, the kind that you used to rock out to before you got your iPod? Yeah, I don't have an iPod. I'm sure that's shocking news. I still have all my CDs, in one of those big CD books. Two CD books, in fact. I was flipping through them the other day, in search of good music to can tomatoes by*, and I came across some real gems that I had totally forgotten I had.

Sam Cooke--Awesome. My brother made me this compilation. Oh, come on. You know who Sam Cooke is--"Stand By Me." That's who Sam Cooke is.

The Backstreet Boys--That's right. The Backstreet Boys. Go ahead, pass judgement if you must, but we all have our youthful follies, don't we?

Pink Floyd--Unfortunately, I don't really like Pink Floyd all that much. Possibly because I've never been stoned out of my mind. So why did I buy this? Who the hell knows, but I'm all set if I decide to start ingesting hard drugs.

Cherry Poppin' Daddies--Remember when swing music was really popular in the 90s? If you don't, that's probably because it was only popular for about ten minutes. But I have the CD to prove that it was.

George Clinton--Yes, you know who George Clinton is. Black dude with crazy dreds? Guy in his band wears a wedding dress? "PCU"? I love George Clinton. And his P-Funk All-Stars.

Depeche Mode--Classic 80s. Two men and a synthesizer.

Don Williams--Country singer from the 70s. Deep, soothing voice. Like a lullaby.

Top Gun Soundtrack--Kenny Loggins goes into the danger zone.

John Cougar Mellencamp--The man of many name changes. Is he John Cougar? John Cougar Mellencamp? John Mellencamp? Whatever--he sings "Small Town," and that's good enough for me.

DMX--I used to like to go to clubs to dance. Sometimes, when no one is home, I put this on and dance around the living room. The dogs find it a little alarming.

There are many, many more, of course. Some people are of the opinion that music is a window to a person's soul. I would like to know what these people would make of this selection.

What music do you love, in public or in secret?

* I went with Adrienne Young. Kinda bluegrass, kinda folksy. It seemed to fit the activity.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Silencing of the Lambs

We went to the feed store yesterday. We picked up 100 pounds of corn and 80 pounds of salt. In two weeks, the lambs will be sent away to fulfill their destiny. The corn is to fatten them up. The salt is to dry their hides, after the, um, dispatching.

Yes, the MiL wishes to make sheepskin rugs out of their fleeces and hides. I have my doubts about this operation, as I am envisioning some gruesome scenes in the barn, but maybe it won't be too bad. Or maybe it will be gross. Anything is possible! The excitement never ends at Blackrock. Stay tuned . . .