Saturday, September 12, 2009


What the doctor says: Pregnancy results in a suppressed immune system, leaving the mother vulnerable to illness.

What I say: Pregnancy means you will get sick. OH YES YOU WILL. You there! The one who's so smug about your superior health and ability to fend off all the nastiness that drops mere mortals on a yearly basis. It's time for your lesson in humility. You will now catch every stomach bug, every disgusting, drippy cold that is making the rounds. No more immunity for you--now you're just like everyone else.

Why, hello, Nasty Cold! I've been expecting you! Welcome to the homestead. Now go away.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gimme a P!

Gimme an R! Gimme a . . . whole lot more letters that I'm too lazy to write out! What does that spell? PROCRASTINATION! WOOOOOO!!!

Pardon the cheeriness this morning. I don't know what's gotten into me.


I finally did something yesterday that I've been putting off for months now: I blacked the woodstove. I don't know why I hate doing this so much, except that it's a pretty messy job and I always feel like I've got plenty of time, so maybe I'll just do it tomorrow instead, when I've got my dirtiest pants on. Then tomorrow comes and I'm too tired from gardening, so maybe I'll just do it on Monday when it's going to be rainy and I won't want to be outside anyway . . .

You see how this goes.

I should perhaps explain what blacking the woodstove is, for those of you who are lucky enough to have had no experience with such things. Our woodstove is old, and solid cast iron. Just like an unseasoned cast iron pan, it can get rusty and nasty if not seasoned regularly. In the case of the woodstove, the seasoning is the blacking, which is, I believe, actually some kind of wax. Maybe with some kind of oil in there?

I'm very technical, I know.

Anyway, I squirt some of the blacking goo on the (COLD, thankyouverymuch) stove, rub it on with a damp cloth, and then buff with a dry cloth. The buffing takes the longest, of course. I try to get off as much of the blacking as possible, because some fumes from the heated blacking will be inevitable when the woodstove is fired up for the first time, and the more blacking left on the stove, the more fumes there will be. I'm sure it's very healthy.

I do this once a year. I always mean to do it right after I clean the woodstove out and put away the log holders and all the fire paraphernalia in the spring, but I always end up waiting until the burning of the woodstove in the fall is imminent. And why do I do that? Say it with me now, kids: PROCRASTINATION!

So, because I don't like feeling alone in my failings, tell me, duckies: What's the chore you put off as long as possible?

Thursday, September 10, 2009


No, not me, you sillies. I shan't be pickling myself for several more months, as that would also have the unfortunate effect of pickling the burgeoning Life Within. I gather my doctor would not approve.

But in the meantime, I've been making up for it by pickling everything else I can manage. This seems to be the Summer of the Pickle. Now, I love pickles (and yes, I always have--first person to make a pregnant woman/pickle joke gets a virtual pickle up the nose), but have never felt particularly inspired to do much more than make some refrigerator dills with the few cucumbers we have. Then, this year we had a lot of beets. Beets can be pickled and canned. Pickle number one.

Then we had a rather ridiculous quantity of cucumbers this year. After making my beloved refrigerator pickles, and seeing very little dent in the frightening bins of cucumbers, I started brining the cucumbers and canning the resulting pickles. I think they will probably be less crisp and fresh-tasting than the refrigerator ones, but still good. I have seven quarts so far. Pickle number two.

Next, I applied my mania to cabbage. I made sauerkraut. Except I don't think sauerkraut technically counts as a pickle, because there is no vinegar in it. I KNOW. I would totally have bet money that vinegar is used to make sauerkraut. I would have lost that money, because sauerkraut is nothing more than salted cabbage. The cabbage releases enough water to create its own brining liquid. It ferments, and smells pickled, but I don't know if sauerkraut is really considered a pickle. But since I'm counting my pickles here, and it would be lame to only have two, I'm counting it. Therefore, pickle number three.

Pickle number four will be pickled jalapenos. Once I get out there and actually pick the jalapenos. And possibly replenish my stock of vinegar, which has been going alarmingly fast this summer.

I think that's more than enough about pickles, don't you? Right. Goodbye.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Life at Blackrock

We are currently preparing the infamous north bedroom for painting. This entailed moving all the furniture, including a very large armoire that has never been shifted since I've been here, since it's seven feet tall and a wee bit heavy. After A. shifted the thing a couple of feet out from the wall, I started sweeping back there (EW) and I made such an exciting discovery that I ran back to A.'s office to announce it.

There's an electrical outlet in that corner.

I know this doesn't seem very exciting to most of you. But you must understand, in an old house, electrical outlets are a rare and precious thing. In the north bedroom particularly, lighting has always been a problem. It's a big room, and always dark and gloomy. That corner where I found the outlet was the darkest, because there are no windows over there, and the two doors in the room prevented me from running an extension cord there. That's also where A.'s dresser was, so in the winter he couldn't tell if he was taking black or navy blue socks from the drawer until he brought them over to the window.

But now I could set up a searchlight in that corner! I have electricity! The north bedroom has been brought into the 21st century.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just a Little Fair Tidbit

Welcome back to work, little campers! I know that most of you are less than thrilled to be back in your offices or cubicles, staring at a computer and listening to the inane chatter of co-workers.

Or am I just projecting my own dissatisfying work history onto you?

Whatever. I am here to give you cheer! I am here to buck you up! I am here to make you glad you have a job and are not like the guy A. saw at the fair!

The Great New York State Fair is a splendid place for tattoo viewing. And I'm not talking small, tasteful tattoos that can be easily covered up should the tattooed one ever decide to try getting ahead in life by securing meaningful employment. No, these are the tattoos that cover significant expanses of exposed skin. The tattoos that indicate this person is giving a big middle finger to The Man and declaring his or her intention to never work in an office environment. A. saw just about the best one ever. Sadly, I did not see this gem, but A. described it in detail.

The tattoo was located high up on the side of this guy's neck, right under his jaw. A spot where it could never be covered up by a collar, should this dude ever decide to wear a collar, which is, I think, highly unlikely. It was a pretty rough tattoo--not exactly a prison tat done with a ball point pen, but not exactly highly professional, either. The image was an outline of a razor blade, and the words inked into the middle of the blade?

"Mama tried."*


* In case you are not a Merle Haggard fan, here are the lyrics to the referenced song.

Monday, September 7, 2009

In Recovery

Well. The fair. Yes. We went. We stayed for five hours. I hit the (metaphorical) wall and required 12 hours of sleep to recover.

Maybe you would like the full story? Right.

We got to the fair grounds at 10 a.m. and immediately went to the sheep barn. The sheep judging was supposed to start at 9 a.m. When we got there, they were still on the first category of sheep to be judged. So we wandered around the dairy cow barn and the swine and goat barn while we waited for the Merinos. When we got back, the Leicesters, the breed scheduled to be judged before the Merinos, were up. We decided we might as well wait, and sat down in the bleachers.

I'm going to assume most of you have never been to a sheep show. Let me explain how it works. The sheep are divided into breeds. The breeds are divided into innumerable classes--ram, ewe, lamb (both junior and senior!), pairs (ewe and ram), flock . . . you get the idea. These are all judged separately, with the owners wrestling their sheep in and out of the ring in a headlock. They don't use halters. But in the case of the less popular breeds of sheep, such as the Leicesters that we watched, and even the Merinos, it's not unusual for there to only be one farm showing sheep of that breed. Which means you will see the same people showing the same sheep over and over and over. It's incredibly repetitive. The Groundhog Day atmosphere is only worsened by the fact that sheep showing in our county and at the state fair is dominated by one family with four or five kids that look startlingly, comically alike.

Luckily, I find it funny as well as incredibly boring.

Thankfully, we only stayed for about half an hour. Then we started to walk. We walked to the poultry building. We walked to the arts building. We walked to the horticulture building. We walked to the science building. We walked to the horse building. We walked around all the buildings to see everything. We walked and walked and walked, continually battling the noisy hordes in the bright sunshine.

By 3 p.m., I was so done, I couldn't even manage to sit in the horse building and watch the horses trot around. I just wanted to go home. In the un-air conditioned car, with the bright sunshine still beating down on me and the wind screaming through the open window, I think I entered a catatonic state. I didn't even want to speak. All I wanted to do was get home, into my quiet, cool, dark house, and never see another person or venture into the sunlight again. Complete sensory overload.

Unsurprisingly, I managed to develop what I must assume was a migraine headache. I've never had one before, but I've also never had such a painful headache before. So I sealed myself in our bedroom and slept from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. Then I got up, put on my pajamas, and went back to bed from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m.

So! We actually had a very good time. And it only took me 12 hours of sleep to recover. Success.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fair Time Already?

Why, it seems like only yesterday that I was huddled miserably hungover in bed while A. jumped around hyperactively in an attempt to get me on my feet and to the sheep show at The Great New York State Fair. But no, it was indeed a whole year ago, and it is now time for another episode of Fair Madness.

A. is even now bouncing around, saying we should already be there. If we miss the Merino class in the sheep show this year, he may never forgive me. So, I'd better get my walking shoes on and get in the car. There are sheep to be viewed! Butter sculptures to be admired! Belgian fries to be eaten!

We're off.