Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Now Just Wait One Cotton-Pickin' Minute!

Did YOU know that was a derogatory expression?

If you, like me, didn't catch that..... Cotton-Pickin', a term I grew up with, is racial! It's derogatory and was said by Rick Sanchez of CNN about Barack Obama. Witness:

Now..... I grew up, not ONLY in the South but, with Bugs Bunny. This is where I got familiar with the expression (sec 22 forward):

I could've sworn it was used as a substitute for a swear word! We said it all the time and never, not once, ever in a million brazillion years, made the connection with slavery.

Sanchez apologizes because some people took OFFENSE at his use and offers as an explanation that he grew up in the SOUTH. Where, of course, all the racists live and he sure as shootin', doesn't want to be associated with us!

Everyone is a victim and everyone is offended in these Disunited States.

But nevermind. Let's have a moment of levity and loonacy!
Check out Daffy's lower lip

Oh NO...... Daffy was a black duck! I can't laugh at him!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Juxtapostions in Blogger Life

I just caught the fact that I posted two items concerning teachers and students.

I am happily one who lives far far from academia so I can smugly observe the frustrations.

Notice that the last one reveals what a teacher has to put up with and the one before has the roles reversed.

Totally unintended. Amusing (to me, at least) nonetheless.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mary Bale is an Idiot

And the woman who dumped a cat in a wheelie bin in England.

If you haven't seen the video or heard about this, color me surprised.

When I saw the surveillance video, I stopped breathing. I felt absolute panic. It was a visceral reaction totally.

She walks quickly away and the seconds tick by. I couldn't believe what I was watching and the knowledge that the cat was trapped in there, in the dark, for 15+ hours while she was living her life.

Can you believe she says this:
She said: 'I don't know what the fuss is about. It's just a cat.'

The unmarried bank worker said she was just walking home on Saturday when she saw the cat and decided to play with it. But she told the Sun that she 'suddenly thought it would be funny' to put it in the bin.

'I did it as a joke because I thought it would be funny. I never thought it would be trapped, I expected it to wriggle out,' she said.

Referring to the CCTV footage, she told how she could not believe it was being seen around the world and was afraid it would upset her family.

She said: 'I don't know what my relatives will think but to be honest I think everyone is overreacting a bit.'

So, really, she is an idiot on multiple levels. Good work, Mary. Way to go! Be either a good example or terribly warning.

Stick With Me Here

I was cleaning out the coop this morning and thinking about events of yesterday.

When the kids were (much) young(er), they had this game called Nintendo and Super Mario..... I didn't know much about it but they really seemed taken with it so one day I joined them on the floor and took a controller. It has you jump over obstacles and dodge flying objects which, if they should make repeated contact with your token, effectively ends the game for you and you start over. It took a while for me to "get" them and then what to do with them and I FINALLY make it to the end of the game.

Or so I thought, That was merely the first level. Now I learn how to swim and get past obstacles and dodge sting rays and other dangerous creatures. After a while I realize this isn't for me but I get how it can be fun because it is challenging.

It occurred to me this morning, as I mucked the coop, nothing better prepared B daughter for collegiate life than this game. Hear me out.

B Daughter is a rising English Lit Senior (she has "studied" Beowolf in so many classes she could write a dissertation, nevermind a thesis on this epic) at a large University and is entering the period most fraught with danger. This means, like Luigi she has maneuvered through at least 30 different classes since 2006 (4 levels) with perhaps 28 different Professors (dangerous creatures throwing things at you) and all those paper, essays, tests and finals (more dangerous obstacles.) Classes now are in the 4000 level and fewer to be found with more prerequisites applied.

She recently learned that the College added a 2000 level class to her audit. This would a remedial class and so she went to the Eng dept to sort this out and they agreed that no she didn't need it. They would remove it. (Super powers!) It didn't go away. (boo!) so she pursued the issue further and with every desk she approached, they concurred and passed her to the next desk/ department/ college until she was finally dealt with yesterday. This person "tweaked" her audit and said "There! You're ALL set!"

So B went out and opened her laptop to confirm this and found that yes indeed, that class was eliminated and they added 15 required hours to her audit. Needless to say, she marched BACK in and was told they couldn't schedule her til NEXT week to make corrections. I think it was at this point in time, she began to have a meltdown. Up til then, she was holding on to sanity.

Meanwhile as all this is happening, she is missing the first several classes of the semester trying to get IN to classes she HAD been in only to be informed that one of them required a background in OPERA. I kid you not! OPERA. In the English curriculum. (It is being taught by TWO professors and this University is NOT known for OPERA as a major so you have to wonder just how many students have met with the requirements. It might end up with 2 teachers discussing the subject between themselves)

So since she didn't meet the requirements, she passed over to another class and met a student who WAS in that class and discovered that the information B had been given was simply NOT the case.

Are you following me on the Super Mario analogy?

She was within 2 semesters of graduating and is now knocked back til at least, at LEAST Winter 2011.

I have no idea how this is going to end up and THANK GOD in heaven this ISN'T Super Mario because at this point her character would be laying on the ground with x's for eyes and a tongue hanging out.

I would have thrown in the towel but not until AFTER I threw every fit in the book in front of the people who caused my audit to go to all hell and then said they couldn't "help" me til next week. Honestly..... and THIS is what we go into debt to obtain!
Go figure.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Put In (Some) Perspective

We were low on Layena, which is chicken feed for laying hens, yesterday so we ran up to the Feed n Seed. BTW, the expression "chicken feed" has lost all meaning. Have you priced this stuff lately?

This morning I carried the 25lb bag from the shed to the coop. Whooh. 25lbs. Heavy. Not something I could easily carry up two flights of step.

25lbs happens to be the additional weight I have added since moving to SELA. Okay, I may have more equally distributed it across the bone structure but it resides here nonetheless.
And the body has been hauling it around ever since. This cannot be a good thing but hefting that sack, even by supporting it on my left hip, really drove home this point in a meaningful way.

I gotta get this off me. It isn't good for the bones, the heart, the joints.....

You Will Thank Me

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pear Heaven and the Squeezo Tomato Press

My partner in all things project oriented steered us to a home with a massive pear tree loaded with the fruit and absolutely perfect in ripeness. Getting them out of the tree was a trick but with a sturdy ladder, anything is possible. I stayed on the ground and threw helpful suggestions, such as "Don't Fall!!!" while she stretched and reached beyond her fingertips for as many as we could carry off.

That amounted to approximately 60 lbs worth. Whoo-Hoo indeed.

After peeling a sinkload, I said, "Hey, do you have a juicer? We could juice this and boil into a concentrate!" And we did!

I don't know what the final tally ended up being but we got pear butter, pearsauce,brandied pears and this concentrate. I drove off with 2 jars of concentrate, 3 jars of butter and 2 jars of brandied pears. So cool!

The weather has been remarkably cool as well today, with a nice breeze. It's hard to accept that this is SE LA in mid August.

With this exceptional climate, I sashayed over to the back plot and found another pile of butternuts ready to harvest. I have lost count now of the total but I can safely say I have picked at least 80. From 5 plants. I've given probably a third of this away. But before we left for the family reunion, I baked one into a pie using a Better Homes recipe for pumpkin pie and it was terrific! I always double up on the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg anyway and a dash of salt.

It occurs to me that after the travails of the Squeezo Press... oh.... what? I didn't mention travails?

When I was up to my gills and out of freezer space, John ordered this device. Paid extra for Rush Delivery. The week before the 4th of July. It arrived in Dallas and SAT THERE from Thursday noon. It COULD have come on time Friday if it hadn't SAT IN DALLAS over the holiday weekend but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

So when it arrived I was all excited and John takes it out of the box and goes to assemble it and the tray does not go into the drilled hole. The hole is teardrop shaped! The metal dowel is round. It doesn't fit!!!!! So I called to explain the situation and the aggravation and they send out another tray and arm, THAT TOOK another week!!!!!!

It fit and we processed tomatoes like nobody's business but what a pain in the neck! 2 and a half weeks and we PAID for the pleasure!

So the Squeezo Tomato Press is good. The company, (which was not directly form the Squeezo Company. Let me stress this), we purchased it from was not so good and the Squeezo People were helpful and understanding of the situation. I get that it is NOT their problem that FEDEX dropped the ball but 2 1/2 weeks, people? All because the postage was slow and the device faulty. Quality uncontrolled.

Now to the press itself: It is very good and I again stress this because it is NOT cheap. I wanted a press that was going to hold up for years, not just a few seasons. It is well-made and the screens (I got all three) are top quality. They fit the handle apparatus perfectly and the gaskets keep everything flowing in the right direction. I found I could resqueeze the pulp a few more times to get more of the tomato meat out of the fruit. (Note to self: let them fully thaw. Ice crystals don't like to be mashed thru a sieve) My arms never tired of the cranking and clean-up was a breeze.

You KNOW that is important because the likelihood of ever dragging it out again is higher if it doesn't take more time to clean than it does to use. Am I right? Yes, I am right!

The press comes with a generic brush to help get the pulp from the holes in the screen. I am fairly certain the screens are stainless steel and the arm is heavy gauge metal. The tray the pulp slides down on is lightweight aluminum and the hopper is quite large and fits very nicely. As I wrote, we've processed many tomatoes, now, in short order and I really am excited about next year.

I was generally cheesed off at the fact it took so long to FIND and then ARRIVE and I lost tomatoes because I simply ran out space. And time. Like in a bad Star Trek episode.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Really Need To

I got up today at the usual time and web-crawled my way thru the morning 'nets with the coffee. As 6am was approaching, I couldn't help but notice that the sun rises later every day now and I love this about living at this latitude. This has been the first time in recent history that I actually embraced the notion of "summer" as something of a positive and not the negative thoughts of the past.

Summer worries me due to the heat and hurricanes. But we live away from the floodzones of the Lake now and with the garden, summer has come to mean grow in the sunlight. With each week and month after mid-March, I see fruits set and plants branch and leaves explode and fade. It has been truly marvelous to be alive this year.

Of course, with all this "growth" comes harvest and preservation and if you have read any of the past months postings you know I've been up to the elbows with canning/drying activities. I haven't written about all of it because it gets as old to write about as it is to read.

Here we are in the beginning week of August and most of the spring plantings have faded but I still have peppers and eggplants and butternut squash and the sunflowers I managed to refrain from beheading too soon. There is a bed of sweet potatoes as well but that won't be touched for another 2 months. The beds of rangy tomatoes need a good addressing so I thought if I hurry, I'd get an early start of it before the sun chased me back inside.

As I worked and listened to the chickens take turns squabbling I thought it had been a few days since I looked at the back plot. I need to check out how the squashes were doing. I think the zucs and yellow crooks are played out for the year. (That and the stink bugs have pretty much kept me at arm's length.) The luffah is really going to town now and I need to cut a lot of it back because I can't see the gourds any longer due to the vines.

The black-eyed peas are still producing and I need to pick and clean another pot of them for dinner tonight. But first I pick another dozen butternuts out of the rows before they burst. We did very well with the 4 plants and I need to make a boatload of soup/puree for the freezer. And if you could see all the Carmen peppers I picked. Sadly, because I was loathe to use pesticides & herbicides, some of the peppers have small brown spots but I chop them up and use my vacuum sealer to freeze this and can easily cull the bad bits away. I save the best ones to give to the neighbors. So those went into the wagon to process this morning.

I got busy with the pea shelling and thought I'd give a friend a call to catch up with her while I was otherwise engaged. After we finished sorting out the ills of the world, I saw I needed to empty the compost pail before I added more pepper seeds and such. So off I went to the Back 2.

The chickens are hot. Ginger is sitting and laying at the worse time of day to be indoors and I see I need to get that extension cord out there and set up the oscillating fan for them. And it occurred to me then we haven't had rain for a week! So, since the potted plants need to be watered, I stopped what I was doing and headed off to get the hoses hauled out. Which of course reminded me that if the pots need water, so do the herbs in the kitchen garden and the Guavas out front!

As I stand there watering the herbs, I feel this glorious little waft of wind blow against me and I think to myself, "man, a beer would taste so great right now!" (and it wasn't even 10:15am yet) (on a Sunday)

Keeping up with all there is to do every day means there is a lot of neediness out there. But every now and then what I really need to do is simply stop and breathe deeply. Way down deep in my lungs and remember, be a human being, not a human doing. Be in the moment. It is fleeting. I thought back in April: here is all this newness and potential! Let's see where it takes us!

And it's been dragging us along almost every day since then down the needy road. We need to plow NOW. Get those seedlings growing, mulch, mow, fertilize, weed. Pick. Clean, mulch. Pick. Can. Clean. Cook. Freeze. Clean. All the time thinking about the next thing that needs attention. That is the nature of Nature. Everything is on a schedule.

But there comes a time when a cold beer on a hot Sunday morning is what I need. And so I did. And then I told you about it.