Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sweet Potato Heaven!

Monday was such a gorgeous day..... and it started out splendidly.

We dug up the sweet potatoes!

I had allowed the vines to creep out of the raised bed and wander a bit. I didn't realize what that meant.

Give a plant an inch and they'll take the whole yard. The vines grew through the black ground cover and rooted. Then they conquered the fence and over to the compost piles.

So when I went to hack away the vines to get to the beds, I quickly realized I was stepping on something! You could see the humps of potatoes under the blastic. (black plastic) and I was forced to pull it out and replace it. The potatoes underneath were not particularly special but check this out!

The left side is from where all the greens on the right came. That was a lot of vines!

Those are 5 gallon buckets, ya'll

Ok but here's the rub. For one week, I have to try to keep them in a warm humid environment out of the sunlight to toughen the skin and then cooler to bring out the sweetness. It's 65 degrees out there with no sign of warmer. So, with this luck I may well reverse the process.

There's really nothing I can do to change this.

Have You Ever.....

...seen a chicken lay an egg?

Surely, now, your life is complete!

I cleaned the coop out thoroughly yesterday and sprayed it down with a flea/tick spray. Afterwards, I left the door to the coop and layboxes open to air out the moisture and had forgotten all about.

Around 11 am I remembered and dashed out to shut it up. I found a couple of the hens pacing out front impatiently. As soon as I dropped the lid on the boxes, two of them ran in and fought over the center box (with the brown fake egg, naturally. We've covered this in the past). They bickered and crawled under each other and tried to fight the other one out and finally, one gave up and scooted over to the left box. Muttering the whole time. (I wish I could speak chicken)

Before the Drop

Afterwards, the one that layed the egg protected the space for twenty-five minutes. Or I should say, rather, she tried to protect the space. The one on the left really wanted to be in the center box. I still don't understand what the deal is with the brown egg. They fought over it! They each wanted that fake egg UNDER their chest when they layed. So strange!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Aging Brain

I like to stay abreast of technology. But there are some things beyond I which I do not travel.

Example: I could program a VCR (remember those?) but if a power outage knocked the clock back to 12:00, I rarely bothered to reset it. That chore would have to wait til I needed to set a Recording Time and again, I was never so invested in any TV show where that became a priority.

And I put off ever up-dating a computer "operating system" until I actually need a whole new computer itself. I really don't require every bell and whistle available and the learning curve is tedious at best.

We were a Mac family til 1999 when I could no longer bear dealing with the fact that EVERYONE else was sending me email attachments in Word or who know what and I could not read it. Well, the OS in the Mac at that time was not the latest, greatest and didn't translate the info like was possbile (had I up-graded the OS....which of course I am loathe to do. Ever)

And now, I am the (or was) the last man standing with a PC (OS XP, BTW) ( ;P) and everyone else in the family has been lured to the Mac Side of the street with both computer and cellphone.

So I am back in the Land of Re-Education. My 2nd daughter has given me her (not so) old Mac Book and we have left Sprint for ATT (bundled family) and I now have a new cell phone and all this has my brain hurting.

But I think I can boil it all down to one thing: passwords.

I hate them. I understand the necessity for them but I hate them all the same. And by that I mean I hate remembering them.

I spent part of the day yesterday learning how to USE A CELLPHONE! Remember when having a phone in your pocket at the ready was all you needed to feel empowered? Like a Girl Scout, I was ready!

But they are so much more than that these days and God forbid you lose one! Your life is in that small box. So you better protect it and all the info crammed inside.

Today I will spend many hours more than necessary to blend the info in one iTunes with another and then sync that to the phone and hope to heaven I didn't erase it all.

Back up!

My brain is bleeding at the mere thought of it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Love Karl Pilkington

I really do. If you don't know who he is, here's a run-down.

Ricky Gervais had a radio show some years back in England. Probably London but I don't know. They started allowing for "podcasting" which basically means you DL it to your computer or iPod player and listen to it at your leisure. The show is in the Guiness Book of Records as the most listened to "podcast" ever. It didn't have a lot of competition back then, but I think it even surpassed Rush Limbaugh for audience. Ok it is a different audience, granted, but still. Credit due.

Any hoo... the premise was two guys playing music and talking between themselves on current topics as they found amusing on Sky Radio, I think. Their producer, sitting off-mic was a man named Karl Pilkington, who occasionally said something that made them laugh and they quickly added him to the round table.

End of story: They produced 26 Podcasts and turned themselves into legend. And very wealthy so good for them! And if you have never heard of them, it's called the Ricky Gervais Show and I implore you to look it up and give it a chance. I listen over and over and still laugh at what he says and how he says it and here's the thing:

He is not intentionally trying to be funny. He merely IS. This is the best part of it. Sometimes he is stupid and sometimes he hits it square on the head. But he is ALWAYS sincere and this is rare. Gervais and Merchant, the other man, are much better educated and have internal "filters" that keep them from ever sounding stupid, except when they jump on Pilkington for being stupid. Then they simply keep piling on while Karl sits there and goes, 'hmmmmm....." like he has either tuned them out altogether or is dubious as to which of them is probably right, him or them. Either way, hilarious.

OK so fast forward to "An Idiot Abroad", the new Sky TV show where Gervais has sent Karl around the world to see first hand how it is in China, India, Jordan, Peru, Mexico etc. and he has a camera crew following on these adventures.

Here is a portion that DIDN'T make the cut

You must know at the outset that KP is never happy about this sort of thing but he goes along to get along and finds himself in situations that he sums up as only he can. And he has been keeping a diary for several years. No exception here either. Read for yourself:

India Diary

Brief excerpt:

We decided to lose the crowds and catch a view of the Taj from a boat on the Humana River. It was much quieter on this side of the building. In fact, it was probably the most relaxed I'd been since arriving in India. No car horns, no begging, no shouting, no mantras. It was almost perfect. I say 'almost' as I noticed a plume of smoke coming from the edge of the river just next to the Taj. I asked Remish what it was, and he told me it was where they were burning dead bodies.

Like I've said, you're never far away from something mad when you're in India.

To wrap this up, I have to say the following. He started with Gervais, living in a flat with his girlfriend, the butt of every joke and jab. I believe he has a house now as well, and has published several books and is flogging this TV show* and I bet has a potload of money stashed somewhere while he continues to live his life HIS way.


* I tried to join Sky TV to watch the show but you have to live to live in Ireland or England. Boo!!!!!

What's Up, Doc?

...takes on a while new meaning on a "farm".

In our case, it means carrots and beets! I have been spending the odd hours these last two weeks or so planting the fall croppage. Is that a word? Pilkington's Dictionary includes it so I shall, too.

Yesterday saw the rutabagas, green onions, kale, lettuces and kohlrabi join the already planted garlic, broccoli, sprouts and red onions. The peas are growing up and I hope I got them in the ground early enough this year to get some. Last year, the plants grew very nicely but the flowering finally happened just before the January winds ripped them apart.

Now here is something interesting to report. Remember the sweet potatoes? They have really produced an outstanding quantity of leaves..... they grew up and over the fence.

When I first looked at digging them up, the potatoes looked like this:
Discouraging, yes. But I glanced to the left and saw this mound in the raised bed, and sure enough, there was a sweet potato sticking up out of the ground. So I covered it with soil and left it another wee or so.

I have been stressing over when to harvest and we settled on yesterday afternoon. We weren't at it 3 minutes before the rain chased us indoors. Where did the cloud come from that fast, is what I want to know.

However, just as the drops started, I noticed a bulge under the black sheeting we have over the walkpaths. I think the potatoes are growing there as well!!!!!

Click above and see how many of those signs you remember. It's fun. And sad.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Squeezo Tomato Press & Kasbahouse

Okay because I think it is as important to stand up for companies as much as it is to hold them responsible, I post this information.

The Squeezo Tomato Press saga that began a few months ago is officially over.

To recap: John purchased it through an online site and paid quite a lot to have it shipped quickly. (I don't believe I ever wrote the name of the company. I really wanted to give them a chance to make this right.)

It sat in Dallas at a FedEx facility for 5 days. When it arrived it was faulty, which caused me to have 2 complaints.

The company that manufactured the item sent out replacements parts and as I wrote, was very helpful. The Squeezo is worth it's price. (so far.... check back in 5 years)

The company that facilitated the transaction said they would reimburse the added cost of expedited shipping once THEY sorted it out with FedEx. So all in all, everyone acted responsibly and everyone got what they wanted. Not WHEN they wanted it but that is LIFE.

I received our credit card statement yesterday and they did exactly what they said they would. So, I am pleased to report that Kasbahouse online is where all this went down. It is a lovely to look at website if you are into kitchen stuff.

If you are looking for a "press" for soft fruits, consider the Squeezo Tomato Press. Made in the USA. Quality stuff.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Do You Know What He Meant By This?

Pres Obama said something off the cuff at a speech:

And over the last two years, that's meant taking on some powerful interests -- some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for a very long time. And they're not always happy with me. They talk about me like a dog. (Applause.) That's not in my prepared remarks, it's just -- but it's true.

Now in the past he has spoken about himself thusly:

When asked about his background, which includes a black father and white mother, Obama said of African-Americans: "We are sort of a mongrel people."

"I mean we're all kinds of mixed up," Obama said. "That's actually true of white people as well, but we just know more about it."

{(?) I, as a white person, don't know the details of my heritage? That was presumptuous}

aaaaannnnnd (channeling my inner Obama)

"our preference would be to get a shelter dog," which would point to the possibility of a mixed breed, or, as Obama said, "a mutt, like me."

So, ok, it's the powerful interest folks who "talk about him like a dog".....check. Moving on...

Do you know which"special interests" had it in for him? He made it a point to single out banks as the special interests who had the long knives out for him, who weren't happy about the changes his administration has made. Now I am pretty sure it was, (among others like the Unions) (and auto), the financial institutions that received a whole lot of money Bank Bail Out Program) from his administration so it's a little confusing to hear him single them out for a public slap in the face. And then he said this:

That's why -- we've given tax cuts -- except we give them to folks who need them. (Applause.) We've given them to small business owners. We've given them to clean energy companies. We've cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans, just like I promised you during the campaign. You all got a tax cut. (Applause.)

Okay, but how many worker's lost their jobs? And all of you who LOST your jobs these past 2 years..... well, lucky you: Now you receive 99 weeks of unemployment checks. That's almost 2 years. Wow. And funemployment is rising so those tax cuts for 95% is sort of a strange victory.

{Clean Energy Companies: He gave $2,400,000,000,000. (count those zeros. that comes from taxes, ya'll so SOMEONE is paying lots more for this) to develop this electric car program for the future of America.

I don't know where the electricity is going to come from...but again, let's don't get bogged down in details at this critical point.}

Back to the original question. I don't know what he meant by that remark about the dog. I really don't. I thought we Americans, as a whole, think of dogs as man's best friend. Loyal to the core. Ready to go at a drop of a suggestion. Where am I wrong and what do you think he meant by this?

Not that it matters, I realize. I am curious, though.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I Love My Car

Even when it is filthy. Can a car be said to be filthy?

It had been close to 2 years since I gave it a thorough scrub, inside and out. When we woke to 67 degrees, I told myself, now's the day to attack this project head on.

Everything comes out, out the pockets, the drawers, the cup-holders, the trunk. Out out out. I found things I thought I'd thrown away. Stuff I didn't know existed, like cell phone chargers... where do they all come from? And why are they in MY car?

Then the vac steps up and hoovers grit out of nooks and crannies. I use a ShopVac too to really get suction power and a tapering wand for tight places.

Then the soap and water to take away dust all over the inside. It occurs to me that if this had been a daughter's car, I'd have been all over her nagging at the state of it! But this was my mess! I could hear my mormor tsking at me.

Then, just before the sun was gettting just a little too hot to take, I cleaned road dirt and grime from the gaskets and seals around the doors and trunk lid. When the sun moves past the house, I'll go back out and actually clean the body.

I was admiring the car and thinking how lucky I was to have this one, how reliable it's been and still, despite Katrina dings and door-flings, it looks remarkably fresh.

I saw my neighbor and wandered over to discuss a tall post that appeared overnight in her backyard and the subject changed to cars and this new one I keep seeing out my sewing room window as it moves down the road. I thought it might be hers, but no. And then she said this:

"I had a window break that would not pass inspection for a brake tag so I was going to get the glass replaced but Tom did it for me. He put a new car under the glass."

I love that sense of humor.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Rituals and Musings

I wish I could give to you this morning I just experienced.

I love my morning ritual of wandering out to the coop at the crack of dawn with a cup of coffee and the phone, should it happen to ring. I can hear the birds squabbling and clucking. I often wonder what the deal is and what it would sound like in English.

"Move over! Move over!" "Haven't you eaten enough already?!" "Where is she?" "You DO TOO snore!"

These come to mind. They don't sound angry, really, but peevish. And today was no different from yesterday. I opened the door and the slideflap and let them make a break for it. Stu is not usually the first one to exit. It's more typically an explosion of the Buffs trying to get away from Frick n Frack. Stu marches out and then gives them all what-for and stamps around looking bossy.

With the exception of the chickens, all was rather quiet. I had noticed that the air was cooler and drier when I walked out of the house, but standing down in the runs with the chickens allowed me to really get a good sense of the weather. A significant cloud-cover overhead and breeze was coming in. It was one of those fall days when you sense something is leaving. Something like the oppressiveness of summer. I wanted to grab a bike and go for a spin around the area while everyone else was still asleep.

There was a sweetness in the air, a fragrance I could not place. I looked around, searching for some late season bloom, some jasmine or weed. I found nothing to account for this aroma. So I filled the water troughs and feed the chickens some scratch.

The 3 Golden Girls always eat from my hand and sometimes Little Bit joins in. Today it was only the three and of course, like kids of all ages and across the mammal species, three is always one too many. So, of course, the one I like the best got a quick peck on the head by another one. I quickly wondered if I would have felt the same way if SHE had pecked the other one....

I know, I know, Why Am I Getting Involved? It's chicken politics. Stay outta it!

But I did. I poured some of the grains in one palm and separated my hands so the aggressor was farther away. Did this stop the aggression?

No. She just paused in nibbling to jump over and give Dorothy a quick bang on the head. Chickens! What'r ya gonna do?

I still couldn't figure out where the scent was coming from. And then, like a bolt out of the blue, or a peck upside the head, it came to me: it was the Aveda product Paul used on the styling after the haircut. I was the bloom!

Garden Workout

Summer is over, except for the last few butternut squash and hidden luffahs lurking in the tangles. The sweet potatoes will get harvested next week. So we have been sporadically pulling the scraggles out and adding manure & straw. He does the adding while I do the bulk of the pulling.
Because this pulling leaves us with huge amounts of plant debris, we are searching for a chipper worthy of this activity. We don't want a wimpy one that can handle up to 1 inch diameter stalks. Neither do we want to take out a loan for a commercial chipper. Lastly we aren't rushing into this purchase until the barn is completed.

THE BARN????? Oh yeah. I forgot to write about this. Two weeks ago the slab was poured and now the walls are up and rafters are being placed. Labor Day is going to put a 3 day hiatus on the progress but that's okay.

Back to the subject. The luffahs are still growing out back but we are going to tackle the rest of the plot, pulling out the remaining tomato stakes and taking down the framework supporting the beans. Then the plow will do all the heavy lifting. After that, we'll sow a cover crop again. John says he's planting hairy vetch. I say he just likes the name.

But the raised beds will definitely get planted with all the usual suspects: sprouts, beets and carrots, peas; I have leeks already being seeded. Lettuce, spinach, cabbage. You get the drift.

It is great fun and a little rattling trying to decide what to plant where and still maintain that rotation scheme in mind. I was mindful of it when we began this farming but in my exuberance, I planted brassicas with legumes. and legumes with solanacae. A no-no only in that make the rotation thing more difficult. So from here on out I will adhere strictly with like things planted together and leaving some of the 11 beds empty to rest.

All this puts me in a bit of a dilemma: Farming on a small scale as we are doing requires thinking ahead. What do we want to grow? When should we plant it? How do we supplement it and when do we harvest? And really, to do this VERY well, it is useful to think way in the future and ask ourselves these same questions for NEXT season.

The dilemma comes in here: Thinking of life in the future is quite the opposite of living in the present. Being in the moment as it were.

Our exchange student from the late 90s has been here on a visit and we watched Kung Fu Panda the other night. I LOVE that film, especially the turtle when he says:

"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift, and that is why it's called the present"
So, being planted firmly in the present, here is a "being in the moment" moment.

Yeah I cut the hair. It's going to go shorter shortly. (maybe)

And yesterday, the ladies gave us 6 eggs. Still never a full 7 in one day but really. A half dozen eggs in a day is fantastic. What a lovely life.

Someone has a differing opinion

Ever Had One Of THESE Days?

Animated Short no.1 from Yum Yum London on Vimeo.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Will I NEVER Learn?

Back story: We planted several varieties of peppers this year, including jalapeno, organic jalapeno, carmen, cayenne and bells. I really tried to keep all the seedlings straight and know where I planted what but a few got mixed up. This is diffy when they are small because they all look the same, but once they get growing, we can see which are what.

At first, however, since I am a novice to the hot ones, I accidentally chomped down on a cayenne, thinking it was a small Carmen and blew the top my mouth to Canada. You would think I had learned the lesson.

You would be wrong.
Some months back, my cousins told me about picking up Hatch peppers in Santa Fe and how great they were. So when I saw a nice display of them at the Whole Foods New Orleans, I called to confirm these were those and was assured. Also they freeze well so roast them and chop them for the future. Good to go. I bought a dozen.

This morning, I made preparations to go to BR (git a haircut!) and seared a pork roast and roasted the peppers. I let them cool while I let out the chickens for the day. I stop and admire the construction of the barn, garage, workshop. I visit with the crew who have now arrived. See how calm I am? I've got my stuff together!

So I go back inside to chop up the hatches and I pop a good-sized bite in my mouth to taste one, for the first time, like an idiot.

I'm still looking for my tongue.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Says It All

If you can't read the text:

Madness does not always howl. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "Hey, is there room in your head for one more?"

While good fortune often eludes you, this kind never misses.

Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.

I Know. It's Wrong. Please Forgive Me

But...... what is he doing? I know he's tall an' all but.... really?

Be as water: follow the path of least resistance.

Next time, try releasing the pin and just collapse the tent slightly. It'll go through the opening jes fine. Ya'll will still stay dry. Promise.