Monday, October 31, 2005

and a new obsession begins....

Not exactly a new obsession, but another thing to add to my list of things I want to try/learn/ addition to chicken keeping, bee keeping, knitting/crocheting.....I can add cheese making. After doing a little research on the raw milk subject, turns out raw milk makes fabulous cheese. How cool! I have a newly found source of raw milk right down the road from me. Turns out Pennsylvania is one of only 24 states where raw milk sales are legal. Apparently there is quite a black market for raw milk. Anyway, after reading a few recipes, I figure I can easily manage farmer cheese or feta or maybe even mozarella. Maybe I could even get the husband interested in this endeavor. How fun.


Hooray for the extra light in the morning. By butt was awake at 6:00 am and the dogs were eyeing each other confusedly. Although darkness at 5:30 pm and earlier will be the tradeoff. What a busy weekend. I am running for local office (township supervisor) so the weekend was spent doing door to door campaigning and Sunday was my fundraiser. I was pretty scared doing door to door. My township is extremely conservative, so running as a democrat is a little risky. But everyone was really nice. I spend too much time talking to people about their landscaping though...and playing with dogs. But who knows, maybe that will get me some votes. "Oh, that's the girl that let our weimeraner jump all over her, sure, we'll vote for her". So I still have many more homes to cover. Hopefully I'll get to do some after work for an hour or so. The fundraiser was fun too. Not a ton of people, but the ones that did make an appearance were very generous. But I was exhausted by Sunday night. And I had grand plans to do yardwork in the few remaining hours of sunlight on Sunday, but that didn't happen. The garlic is still sitting in paper bags in the garage. If I don't get motivated, I'll be doing it with a headlamp on sometime next week.

I think maybe I'm in denial about not wanting any kids. At the fundraiser I spent most of my time with a 13 month old boy and a 2 -1/2 year old girl. I've spent a lot of time with the little girl over the past month and she now refers to me as her best friend 'Mary'. Her mom (the host of the fundraiser) put colorful fall leaves all over the buffet table and my 'best friend' and I had a terrific time taking the leaves outside and pretending to be trees and letting the leaves fall all over the lawn. Maybe it's not that I want a kid, maybe it's just that I miss being one.

One of my 'initiatives' for my campaign as supervisor is a minor one, but still one I'd like to see. I want to put a book together to list what each farm has for sale and where they are located and where farmstands are located in the summer. Some farmers sell eggs and chickens during the year, and then there are the tomato stands and sweet corn stands during the summer, but none of them are listed anywhere. And speaking of farmers selling things, in my travels through the township over the weekend, I came across a farmer that sold 'raw milk'. Which is obviously non-pasteurized, but are there health advantages to raw milk? has it been already separated? does it taste better? Does anyone know?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Merry Fitzmas?

So document drop at noon and press conference at 2pm. It looks like only Libby is getting indicted. Oh man, I wanted a Barbie Dream House and I think I'm actually getting a sweater. Oh well. Looks like Fitzgerald will keep on investigating, so there's always hope. But I really, really wanted to see 'turdblossom' go down in flames.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Still unoriginal

takoma gardener and dirt by amy stewart have come up with lists of plants they hate and amy stewart followed with a list of plants she I'll give a little of both.

Plants I.....hate?, no, too strong...intensely dislike.....

Marigolds....ewwww....I don't know why, I just do

Dusty Miller....I think it's the name....sounds like a white trash lady that beats her kids

Petunias....don't know why

most impatiens...they are always so stunted, but I did like a larger variety that I bought two years ago that were brilliant orange and just 'popped' in little out of the way places, framing ferns and hosta well.

most asters...they get too big, too fast, and flop over, and you can't get rid of them...they just keep coming up, even after you've ripped them out.

Rose of Sharon....don't know why. It just looks tropical and totally out of place in South central PA

Okay, plants I love...easy
love-lies-bleeding (amaranth)
bee-balm (Monarda)
the new orange coneflowers (Sunset)
skunk cabbage (although this isn't something you put in your yard)
beauty berry
autumn crocus
climbing hydrangea
sweet woodruff
blood red geraniums
dahlias (Bishop Landraf)
and that lime green sweet potato vine...I know, common, overused....but it is such a pretty background for so many things

Don't you just love politics?

So dear Harriet dropped out today. What strange timing. And it's reported that Bush could nominate someone else as soon as tomorrow....Hmmmm, what might happen tomorrow? Get ready for shrub to nominate....oh, I don't know,.....Matlock? deflect attention away from what now look like imminent indictments. Might be time for a terror alert too. Anything to shift attention away from the coverage of the White House falling in on itself.

In other news, Exxon posted a profit of 9.9 billion dollars for last quarter. Thats right...I said 9.9 BILLION....FOR A QUARTER....THATS 3 MONTHS!!! The next time you hear on the news that families will have to choose between food and heat this winter because of the high cost of heating oil and that there isn't any money in the home heating assistance program, try not to choke on that little bit of vomit that will inevitably creep up your throat. How anyone can continue to support these people is just absolutely beyond me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


So I'm having Thanksgiving again. I don't know why I do this to myself. Well, yes I do. If I didn't do it, it either wouldn't get done or it would be done badly, and there really is no point in celebrating Thanksgiving if you do it badly. My husband's entire family will be attending. Thats only 8 people, so it's not like I'm cooking for an army, but I somewhat suspect that nobody realizes how much work it is. There really is a lot of planning involved and I make some things a day ahead, and prepare some things just short of cooking the night before and even outline what needs to be cooked in what order the day of. I have a plan. Last year I made a 24 pound Turkey, scratch stuffing, real mashed potatoes, a sweet potato casserole, baked corn, marinated broccoli, homemade cranberry sauce, rolls, a pumpkin cheesecake with ginger snap crust, and an apple-cranberry pie. Some people were supposed to bring things, but they decided at the last minute not too, and didn't tell me, so I had to wing it. And the kicker was that at the end of the meal, everyone rushed to their cars, returned wielding grocery bags stuffed with Tupperware, and proceeded to help themselves to almost all of the leftovers, declaring it the best Thanksgiving they ever had. Husband and I, and the two nieces barely had enough left over for a light lunch the next day. So what do I do? Volunteer for it again this year. This time I told husband, that since it is his family, he must referee the left overs, as they will not be walking out the door at the end of the day. I do not get up a 5am to cook a monster turkey only to be picking at back meat the next day to assemble some kind of meal. Not again. Not this year.

I'm so unoriginal

Okay, I lifted the "20 random things about me" meme from Liz's Pocket Farm blog. Lets see how random I can get

1. I am afraid of monkeys
2. I have never flown in an airplane
3. I hate the word pod
4. I am becoming cheaper as I get older
5. My entire bedroom is white and there are empty picture frames on the walls
6. I give my husband pretend haircuts as he falls to sleep because he enjoys it
7. I bite my dogs on the muzzle (not hard) and they love it. Supposedly, it shows dominance and love at the same time.
8. I can recite the entire poem "The Jabberwocky" from Alice in Wonderland
9. I collect vintage aprons
10. I unconsciously count with my fingers
11. I want a pond
12. I am disappointed that I have never seen a snake in my yard and sincerely hope that someday I do, even though I am scared of them. I equate the presence of snakes to a healthy ecosystem
13. I still occasionally watch Sesame Street, even though it just isn't the same. It jumped the shark when they introduced Elmo.
14. I took in a picture of Martha Stewart the last time I had my hair cut.
15. I had the remnants of a security blanket up until 4 years ago. My husband sucked it up in the vaccuum cleaner and I was too embarassed to dig it out of the bag. I still miss it sometimes.
16. My first car was a 1974 Super Beetle and I can still remember the way it smelled inside.
17. I hate being cold.
18. My husband built the first fire of the year last night and I loved it. It almost made the coming of winter seem good.
19. I don't like wearing socks and put it off as long as possible.
20. I sleep naked and buy very expensive sheets

Monday, October 24, 2005


Oh bother. I just heard the forecast and they are saying rain tomorrow which may be mixed with snow. Yuck.

I didn't get garlic in over the weekend, and I still have two or three shrubs to plant. It can't snow yet. I am so in denial that winter is non-negotiable.


My neices and I were recipients of an amazing lesson in animal behavior over the weekend. Not quite as good as being on the African Plain witnessing a chimpanzee 'fish' for termites using sticks, but material (or tool) use nontheless. As I was strolling through the house on Saturday morning (a gray and drizzly day), I walked past the sliding glass doors in the family room and noticed a bright swatch of cobalt blue at the base of the shed. We have this small shed, with double doors and about a 6 inch space underneath where all manner of things have taken up residence. There is a small, half-moon shaped hole in one of the doors of the shed, which was where the bright blue was situated. I realized that the blue thing was actually a large tarp that had been folded on a shelf on the far side of the shed. But how did it get where it currently was? The tarp was now stuffed into the half-moon hole (Did my husband use the wadded up tarp to plug the hole?), extended out through the hole and then disappeared under the shed.....and it appeared to be moving. I got the girls and we sat at the sliding glass door and watched as a quite large groundhog appeared from under the shed. Apparently, this tarp was slowly being pulled from the shed, through the hole, and then under the shed. Irritated at his progress, he set about chewing the hole to make it larger, and then tugging with his teeth with all his might to pull more of the tarp through the hole. We watched this for over an hour, the groundhog going back and forth and pulling and chewing. I wonder what he had planned for this tarp? A windscreen? Insulation? Later that day, we checked on his progress. He seemed to have given up. We opened up the shed and noticed that the tarp had picked up two tomato cages somehow and they wedged up against the door, preventing the industrious little guy from pulling the tarp out any further. I was totally amazed.

Yesterday we went to see Wallace and Grommit, Curse of the WereRabbit. It was really good but I think I enjoyed it more that the girls did. At one point I was laughing so hard that I was crying. If you get the chance, check it out. Very funny and great garden puns.

Friday, October 21, 2005

To have or have not

I've been thinking about kids again. My nieces are coming this weekend and I'm looking forward to it. I love having them and teaching them new things and they are so eager to learn. Their mom (my sister in law) is pregnant and the girls (8 and 12) are not real enthused. They even stated early on that this baby could absolutely not go to Aunt Meredith's house. That was their place and the new baby would not be invited. The 12 year old has taken to coming up with lists of things they will never-ever be able to do again once the baby comes. The 8 year old is a little more excited but only because, as she says "I will have someone to boss". So this weekend will be a whirlwind of activity and I will be exhausted and wonder how in the hell their mom does it because it just seems that you are performing an endless array of cooking and cleaning and conjuring up wholesome activities to keep them away from the tv and trying to incorporate a lesson in everything and its just exhausting...and they aren't even little-little kids...they pretty much take care of themselves. And so by Sunday I am beat and yet when their parents come to retrieve them and I watch them pull out of the drive, I am sad and feeling a little empty. And so we revisit the topic of having a child.

I am 35 and I need to make up my mind. A few of my friends have taken the plunge and they seem happy, but I think they really, really wanted to have kids. And I don't feel like a really, really want to do it. People keep telling me that I'll regret it. But I think I'd rather regret not having a kid than regret having one. I think it would be interesting shaping someone into an adult and I think I would be very good at it....and I look at my husband's and my life and it seems like this long, flat road, stretching off into the horizon... just the two of us until the end. But then I worry about the future of the country and would it be fair to bring someone into the world when it's so chaotic...and I want some kind of guarantee that my child would be attractive and brilliant and funny and successful instead of odd and strange looking and likely to grow up and return home to live in my basement. And I don't have a good support system.

My biological clock is barely ticking anymore. I keep hitting the snooze and the time between keeps getting longer. I guess if I'm not absolutely crazed to have a child, then I shouldn't. Any advice out there? Anyone else going through this or been there already? I feel like when i'm absolutely sure, it might be too late, if I decide to have a kid.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Does anyone out there in the blogoshpere have any tips to give on planting mums. I have two mums to plant and two asters. Every year I buy mums and asters and every year PART of one or two come back. I've read that you shouldn't wait too long to get them in the ground and I'm probably already too late as it is, although until today, we were hitting 70s during the day and only mid-40s over night. I plant them in full to partial sun, throw some compost in the hole...What am I doing wrong? Why won't they come back? I don't get it. And they are the type that you can plant outside. I know sometimes grocery stores sell florist mums and they usually don't survive, but I know that these are hardy mums. What say you?

And while you're at it, what's a good companion plant(s) for mums? And when during the summer are you supposed to cut them back. Existing mums I have (that I obviously didn't plant, someone else did) I don't pinch back in the summer and they are huge in the fall and covered with blooms, so I'm not sure why experts tell you to pinch them back. Help.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Dare to Dream

I nearly swoon just thinking it. And Delay got an arrest warrant today and tonight on Olbermann, O'Reilly talks about retiring and Olberman breaks into a jig. It's all just too much and I am probably getting my hopes too high as usual, but a girl can dream.

pot pourri

Can you tell I'm all charged up about Plamegate???? I can barely concentrate. My garlic came in the mail the other day. Three beautiful bulbs each of Chet's Italian and Romanian Red. I need to get them in the ground soon. Hopefully this weekend. This weekend will be a busy one, what with two kids staying with me and making applesauce, and planting stuff. And I think I may have promised a corn maze. I can't remember but I'm sure I will be reminded. Oh, and watercolor with still life of pumpkins and gourds. Can't forget that. Maybe we'll do plein air and they can paint pumpkins whilst i plant garlic. Or they can paint me planting garlic...a la Millet's 'The Gleaners' . And my campaign stuff is furiously building (running for twp. supervisor), so I'm spending a ton of time from now until the 8th doing lit. drops, and door to door, and phone stuff....ughh...I don't like being this busy. Anyway, here are two neat pictures I have at my desk that I thought were interesting and some of you might like. They are from a few years ago on vacation, but one offers a view of an egret that you don't often see.

This picture creeps me out for some reason. Remember Beaker from the Muppet Show. It reminds me of him and I was always a little freaked out by that muppet.

This was a very curious and borderline pushy
Great egret (Ardea alba). We would fish off
the end of this dock and if you had bait, he (she)
would absolutely not leave you alone.
Which was a little scary, cause this bird
was fairly large.

Happy Holidays!!!!!

Dear Saint Fitz,

I've been a very good girl this year. I've really had my eye on a pair of indictments. Please, please good sir, reward my efforts and allow me to see at least Libby or Rove frog-marched out of the White House. And if you really want to show me how much you appreciate well-behaved women, I'd love an 8x10 glossy of Cheney in cuffs. That would be swell.

Thanks Saint Fitz!

P.S. I've left a tray of cookies and milk for the paralegals!!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Eating local

So I missed the whole 'eat local' challenge in August. It would have been fairly easy where I live because there are so many farms and I grow quite a bit myself. Anyway, I missed it, so now I'm trying to do my best to make local choices and seasonal choices as well, and while I still have tomatoes and squash and carrots and pumpkins and apples, I am trying to switch to more seasonal produce. Local and seasonal stuff, which means root vegetables. So while I was at the grocery store, they had really beautiful brussel sprouts. Not too big but very firm....and I bought some. The only thing is....I hate brussel sprouts. They stink and taste bad....but I haven't had them in years and I suspect the last time I had them they were boiled to within an inch of their lives. So I'm thinking of ways to make them palatable. Any ideas? I'm thinking balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and roasting. I think I could eat dirt clods if they were marinated in balsamic and olive oil and roasted. Maybe a big old baking sheet of brussel sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes and roast them.

Oh, and I bought a ton of apples on Saturday. They were 'seconds' from the local orchard. but I got a trashbag full for $4. Time to put up apple sauce. My neices are coming this weekend, so maybe I will save it for then. They love that stuff. They get to pick a vintage apron from my collection and get to use 'cool' things like food mills and mashers and's so funny. They fight over who gets to do what. So take heart all of you out there that have serious doubts about the youth of today....that insolent child glaring at you from the school bus window isn't thinking about TRL and the Nick and Jessica Breakup. She's thinking about donning a depression era embroidered apron and mashing apples with her aunt in a kitchen that smells like cinnamon.

The stockboy and the ham

So I was shopping for groceries on Saturday and I wanted to make ham and green beans over the weekend. The store I shop in has a butcher case and lots of helpful people behind it, but I didn't see any hams so I kept on moving. I stopped at the prewrapped section, where all the pork products are. I saw huge hams and then small, already cooked ones, but no medium sized smoked ham that wasn't already cooked. You need to boil the ham and then add the green beans and potatos so that everything tastes nice and...ummmm.....hammy. Anyway, I'm standing and looking and standing and looking, and this stock boy comes over and says "can I help you find something m'am?" Now he was probably 16 or so, pimply, bleached blonde spiky hair, and I'm thinking I shouldn't even bother explaining what I want to him cause he's a kid and knows nothing about cooking, much less a dutchie thing like ham and green beans. But I tell him what I'm looking for anyway. He say's "follow me over to the butcher counter" so I do, and he comes from the back room and produces a beautiful 4 pound smoked ham, with bone still in, and skin still on and he says, I cut one for my granmom this morning just like this cause she's making ham and green beans today and he wraps it for me and hands it to me over the counter and then he proceeds to tell me exactly how she cooks it, just in case I needed some instruction. And I laugh and say thank you repeatedly and I'm just totally amazed of what I thought this kid was and what he turned out to be. Lesson learned.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Field day

I got to work in the field today. It was a good day to not be behind a desk. It was cloudy, but the rain held off and gradually it got sunny around noon. We had to walk a proposed sewer line and we saw quite a few cool things.

Viper's Bugloss (Echium vulgare)

Showy Aster (Aster spectabilis), Goldenrod (Solidago sp.), and some Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), which is actually very pretty this time of year. Did you know that Poison Ivy is a valuable wildlife plant and helps sustain songbirds through the winter?

Two box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) having sex. I apologize for the crappy quality of the picture. The digital cameras my company has for field work aren't the best. But if you look in the center of the photo, you'll see a very orange male box turtle on top of a yellowish female turtle, who at the moment, is withdrawn in her shell. I don't think she appreciated having her photo taken at such a moment. But I couldn't resist. I've only ever seen this once before, so it's pretty rare. Usually you don't see them mating in the fall, but a female box turtle can store sperm from one mating for up to four years. So she can make eggs whenever the conditions suit her. Pretty cool.

Star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata). This isn't my picture, but one I pulled of the web. The picture I took was way too blurry. I didn't realize how big these things were. No wonder people complain when they get moles in their laws. You could seriously twist an ankle walking over this guys tunnels. These moles are semi-aquatic too. Neat. And check out those diggin' paws.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

living fences

So I was surfing around, and I came across an article about the lost art of creating a living fence,
which is planting trees and shrubs in a line, close together, and weaving the branches together to form an impenetrable barrier. I believe the phrase was 'horse high, cow strong, and hog tight'. Anyway, I have all these silver maples that I need to pull, so I was thinking maybe I might try a living fence. I could do an arbor too, at the entrance to the garden. I just wonder if maybe I should use something else, cause silver maples get big and I'll have a hell of a fence in 20 years. It would be pretty though. Maybe I should pick an assortment of things, like black raspberries, Viburnum sp., etc. Or maybe it would look messy. Maybe I should just buy a ton of an
evergreen shrub and plant a hedge like that. Although that would be kind of formal and I am anything but formal. Anybody know a good source of old fencing? Maybe a beat up old white picket fence. Hmmmm.....

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

better living through pharmaceuticals

Normally I don't like big Pharma for any reason. I think they convince people they need a pill for a 'condition' that is most likely normal. But this article makes me smile. Rhinoceri can breathe easy thanks to the little bluepill.

Dogs in repose

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

If you've got a blacklist, I wanna be on it

Wow, I'm almost an outlaw. I'm a seed saver. Check out this article about a few very bad seed companies gradually buying up all the other little seed companies. So they control all the seed. So they control all the food. I wonder if some day, people will have to garden secretly? Sound crazy? While the Coalition Provisional Authority was governing Iraq, one of the permanent provisions that they put in place, due to lobbying from Monsanto, was to make it illegal for Iraqi farmers to save seed. They now have to buy it every year from Monsanto. WE did that. The USA. Pay attention to what's going on behind the scenes. The Senate will likely vote tomorrow on a provision snuck into a farming bill trying to roll back organic standards. Guess who lobbied for that? Kraft and Dole. Pay attention. They aren't even bothering to pretend anymore.

good one

wooly bears

Over the past month or so, if you have been, per chance, driving behind me on the way somewhere, you may have noticed that I swerve quite a bit. No, I'm not a bad driver, nor have I been drinking. I swerve to avoid hitting wooly bears.

On the back roads around my house, on particulary warm and sunny days in September and October, these little guys are crossing the road from one field to another by the hundreds. I figure one trip to get the paper I could save 50 or so by swerving to avoid them. They hustle too, so it doesn't take them long to cross. I also rescue them from spider webs and remove them from the garage. It just seems to me bad kharma to not assist a wooly bear. Everybody knows the old time tale that wooly bears can tell you how harsh a winter it will be. The broader the brown band in the center, the milder the winter. I suppose we'll be having a harsh winter, because the wooly bears that I've been seeing hardly have a central brown band. A few years ago, a scientist, for fun, decided to test this old adage and capture a whole mess of wooly bears, average the width of the brown band, and then compare it with the average temperature and average snow fall that occurred the following winter. Suprisingly, he acheived 80% accuracy. Where are they hustling to? Are they on their way to the Wooly Bear Festival, held every year in Banner Elk, NC? No, silly. They are seeking refuge in a rock crevice or log where they can spin their brown, fuzzy cocoon and turn into this:

Pyrrharctia isabella, or the Isabella Tiger Moth. I think this is a fairly small moth and one that doesn't attract too much attention. There must be a lot of them though, cause there sure are a lot of wooly bears on the road.

Monday, October 10, 2005

I feel better already

Even though it is gray and damp and threatening rain, and even though I am feeling a little out of sorts due to the sudden onset of fall, I just ordered garlic, so I'm feeling much better. I've never grown garlic, so in addition to the cold frame I have planned, Chet's Italian and Romanian Red will give me a reason to bundle up and trundle out to the garden, as I will have something to peer at and fuss with.

if you have the time.....

In the New York Times on Saturday, Verlyn Klinkenborg, who has a semi-regular column called "this rural life' wrote about E.B. White. Specifically, a short piece called 'memorandum', which is basically a long list of things he needs to do around the house, but instead of doing them he just continues making the list. I think we all know how that feels, especially on a damp, chilly Sunday when you just can't seem to get started, and all the things that need to be done just swirl around in your head. Anyway, I searched for that piece on the internet, read part of it (you had to pay for the rest) and decided that ruminations about life on a farm from the man that wrote Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web is definitely something I'd like. Verlyn Klinkenborg also has a collection of his columns from the NYT published. The collection proceeds in a seasonal order, starting in late winter. I love books like that. Just short pieces about one human's observations on a particular day on the piece of ground that he occupies. My favorite of all time is Edwin Way Teale. Two of his books I think I have probably read at least 10 times: A Walk through the Year and A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm. I think they may be out of print now, but I found "Walk" at a second hand shop and "Naturalist" I check out of my local library at least twice every winter. There's something so inspiring about reading a naturalist's despription of the arrival of spring on his farm when you are curled up in chair, watching snow fall outside in the middle of January. A Walk through the year is written as daily observations, so it is fun to read what he was observing in Connecticut in the 1950s with what is happening in your yard today. At least I think it's fun. But I guess most people think I'm weird.


Fall arrived over the weekend. The rain on Friday was being pushed by a cold front which made it cold and damp on Saturday. For one day it was exciting. I worked a little outside, put on a thick fleece jacket, kicked some leaves around, picked up sticks. Husband watched football in the afternoon and I made a baked chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and baked corn. I contemplated building a fire. I thought, this isn't so bad. I kind of missed fall. And then the next day, when I woke up and it was still cold, I didn't like it so much. I couldn't get warm. Even the Sunday Morning Ritual of the New York Times couldn't get my spirits up. For most of the day I was depressed. I hate winter. I can get through the holidays but when January comes, it seems unbearable. I think day length really affects me a lot also. There is a day in the beginning of February,usually, where my spirits remarkably improve. But for now, I'll try to keep myself busy with bulb planting and other yard chores. I was thinking of building a cold frame out of scrap wood and some old windows we have. Maybe if I knew something was growing out there in the frigid winter, it would cheer me up a little. We'll see.

How to make a leak worse

First, acknowledge it. Previous homeowners apparently ignored the leaking dining room ceiling for 50 years and the only evidence was a water stain on the ceiling. We stared at it and obsessed over it and soon a not so small portion of the ceiling was laying on the floor. Second, spend a ton of money on a new roof and new windows. Oh, still not fixed. Call an expert who will tell you the entire side of the house needs to be re-stuccoed. Throw money at that. Then wait. The re-stuccoing was done about two weeks ago. The ceilings were next, but we wanted to wait for a big rain, to test it and make sure. Well, on Friday, we got our big rain, and the damn ceiling leaked worse than ever!! Thank God we have an awesome contractor. He came on Saturday and spent an hour with his top guy spraying water along the side of the house trying to figure out where the water was getting in. Tomorrow, the roofer and the people that applied the stucco and the window people will all be there trying to figure out who is gonna fix it. I really wanted to remodel the dining room over the winter and if I have to look at that awful ceiling and that wallpaper for much longer, I'm gonna freak out.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

With baited breath......

Can I just say that if Rove gets indicted next week, I will pee myself. This will make me so deliriously happy. There is no person in this country that shows such contempt for what this country stands for and the plight of the average Amercian workermore than Karl does. He soooooooo deserves to do the perp walk and go to jail. Although we know that he will be pardoned at the end of Bush's term, it will just be so very good to see that surly bloated bastard brought down.

and a doggie picture

my punkins

The new obsession

I want chickens. I've been saying that for the past three years and this spring I want them for real. We have a shed that is perfect for transforming into a chicken coop/potting shed, plenty of room, plenty of uses for their fertile droppings and their eggs. I wonder about dogs and chickens though. I think if the dogs realize the chickens are pets, they'll leave them alone, but not sure. And how far will a chicken wander? I work full time, so can I leave them out in the morning free and not come home to a squished chicken in the road? These things I need to figure out. I know what kinds I want though:

Buff Orpingtons


Silver-pencilled Wyandottes

They are so pretty. They will be used for eggs only though. Unless I'm standing there when the chicken keels over dead, I couldn't kill, cook and eat a chicken that I've raised, I don't think. Although, you never know. Lately I've been thinking a lot about the Depression. I'm more than a little worried about the state of our economy and find myself constantly thinking of ways to save money and stockpile. It's becoming a bit of an obsession. I read a cookbook the other night that was my great grandmothers, printed about the time of the Great Depression, listing many ways to cut expenses and make things stretch. I want to become more self reliant, and know that if things really crash, husband and I will be alright. We don't have debt, so thats good, but there is this nagging feeling that I should know how to salt pork and strain my own lard. Strange, I know. I think we're better off than most people, but we're surrounded by Mennonite farmers, and I suspect that the world could end tomorrow and they wouldn't know the difference, because they are almost completely self-sufficient. I am envious.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

What if....

Tomorrow I have a project in the SE part of the state. I don't get back there as often as I'd like to and I am excited to go. Hopefully will get all my work done so that I can visit one or two places before returning home. Definitely want to hit Chester County Book Store. Beats the pants off Barnes and Noble or Borders any day. So many obscure books to choose from all housed in an enormous space. Anyway, this part of the state is where I spent my college and young adult years. Every road and town has a memory (usually good ones) and I sometimes drive past places I used to live just to see how they have changed. Are flowerbeds I planted still there? Who put those hideous curtains in my bedroom window? A game I like to play while doing this is to imagine that I could pick one day at each of the old abodes and just step back into my life at that exact moment. Which moment would I pick? Would it be a point at which something really good was happening? Maybe it would be an awful moment that I'd want to relive, just to see if it was really that bad. A certain moment comes to mind there.....A day when I failed a statistics test in college....really failed....a 34. The professor hadn't given us enough time and I couldn't finish 1/3 of the test and I had studied so hard. I felt like the world was collapsing around me and I lay on the floor of my apartment and cried so hard I hypervenilated. My then boyfriend panicked and called my parents and I couldn't even talk on the phone. No words were coming out, just the sound of sucking air. My mom was yelling that he should call an ambulance. I was hoping I would die so I could avoid the shame of failing statistics and havng to take it again. My, how serious I used to be and dramatic. Two days later, turns out the prof. didn't allow enough time and no one in the class had scored above a 45, so we all got to retake it and I got a 93. When you are young, it never occurs to you that maybe this isn't as big a deal as you think and that things might be completely different tomorrow.

Then I like to imagine a time when I was in the process of making a big decision (or little decision that had big consequences) and imagine what would happen if I could be in that spot again and make the alternate choice. How would my life be different? What if I hadn't broken up with that guy? What if I would have gone on to graduate school instead of getting a job right after school? What if I had been truthful about my feelings for someone I liked but never told? It's a fun game to play while you are driving around, remembering things from long ago. And it makes you appreciate where you are at this very, breathing, seeing, traveling, happy...and not in statistics anymore.

Monday, October 03, 2005

seed saving etc.

Yesterday was spent harvesting seeds so I don't have to buy them next year. I cut open whatever vegetable, cull the seeds, remove any extra material and set them out to dry. After about a week, they should be okay to store. This way, I don't have to buy any seeds for next year. I put aside red bell pepper, the pickling cucumber, yellow squash, zucchini, and one kind of pumpkin so far. Also, 4 kinds of tomatoes: Elbi, Brandywine, Genovese, and Juliet. Tomato seeds must be sqeezed into a jar with water added. This is necessary to remove the gel sacs that surround each seed which actually act to prevent sprouting. After a mold forms on the top of the water, decant whatever seed/flotsam has accumulated at the top. Viable seed will be on the bottom. Then dry and pack away for next year. I'm hoping I have enough that I can start seedlings early and have an heirloom seedling sale in the spring. Had another run in with the yellow garden spider. And there are only 4 bunnies left. I'm not sure what got one and left all the others.

made in His image

Over the weekend, my friend and I went to the Bridge Bust in Columbia, Lancasster County. They close off the bridge over the Susquehanna that connects Columbia with Wrightsville, and it is supposed to be filled with food vendors, antiques, crafts, etc. There was some of that, but a lot of it was garage sale crap and really awful crafts. Apparently this was not a juried event. It was a nice day though and we had a great lunch, but I'd like to talk about the people. I know that Columbia is....shall we say....a little rough around the edges. It's a working class town and really has experienced a revival of late, with many grand old houses being redone and their farmers market building being reopened, and some really great antiques stores opening up. Yeah, none of those people were there. Every time I go out in public these days I am appalled at the state of the general populace. I sound elitist. I'm not, I don't think. I was just always taught that there was a standard of decorum when out in public. It's fine to wear sweatpants at home to clean in, but you don't wear them to the grocery store....things like that. My friend actually wished she had a picture phone so that she could capture some of the things we were seeing because no one would believe it if you described it to them. What goes wrong in someone's life that they can't even bring themselves to dress decently in clean clothing to go out in public? Or to dress their children in clean clothing? Or clean their children prior to going out in public? Just amazing. And don't even get me started on the poor speech or the farm kid with dirty overalls and red hair that opens his mouth and sounds straight out of Compton. And as I was walking around looking at this large specimen of humanity, I thought that most of these people probably believe in intelligent design. They believe that they were created in God's image. Adam and Eve, immediately after eating the apple and becoming ashamed at their nakedness, apparently donned Harley t-shirts and cutoff shorts two sizes too small to cover themselves. If I manage to get to heaven and God has a mullet and is wearing a 'Git-R-Done' t-shirt, I will be really disgusted.