Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pics for Trucks and Veggie Plants...

Well, I'm going to start with some pics of E.'s truck as it looks after hitting Ben's. I'll try to describe, for Tori, what we're looking at. The grill on the front of the truck is crumpled and pulled apart. In fact, the front of the entire truck is crumpled and the hood over the engine has been buckled up a little bit, as is the wheel-well over the right front tire. Mangled metal and shattered light-sockets. Wires hanging loose, even a couple of metal bits peeking from below the truck itself. In the first picture there, you can see how very close our house is to Ben's house. E's truck is sitting about half down in the road with the front up into the drive in front of Ben's house. We have maybe 100 feet from house to house, across roads that are only 40 feet wide. The windows on my house, that are visible are the bedroom on the left, and the livingroom on the right. The front door is hidden behind the open door of E's truck. This also gives some idea of how much pain could have been caused if she'd swerved the OTHER way.

The first of THESE pics is the back end of Ben's truck. As you can tell, they're about equal size, trucks. Both Ford's. I think E's is a bit larger because it's a 4-door crew-cab, Ben's is a 2-door crew-cab. (The seats in Ben's fold forward for folks to climb in behind. E's opens up like a regular sedan.) But, the bed-sizes are equal. Both are red in color as well. Where E. struck Ben's truck, the tail-gate is ripped open with a jagged lightning strike of ripped metal across the face of the tailgate. The back right tail-light has been shattered and ripped to bits. There was lots of glass and plastic from both vehical's lights all over Ben's "driveway". Ben's truck was pushed forward by about 10 feet, and if you look at the pic you can see where the front of Ben's truck came to rest only a matter of 3 or 4 feet from the side of his house. His truck actually connected with his barbeque grill (which is just out of sight, there) which itself came to rest only about 3 inches from striking the house. The grill is usable, but damaged, as it was pushed a good bit closer to the house than he'd had it sitting origionally. If she'd swerved in the direction of Ben's house just a bit sooner, you can see where the front windows are that E. would have put her truck through.


Now some neat pictures. These were taken Thursday night I believe. It's a rather vibrant rainbow I saw as I was out watering one last time before bed. It's as you look to the RIGHT of our house, if you're standing in the front yard facing the road. Anyway, the colors were fabulously brilliant in real life. (That truck that's just visible belongs the neighbour that stopped and offered to block E. in with HIS truck -THAT truck- from leaving the neighbourhood. It obviously wasn't necessary.) Anyway, the colors shaded beautifully from indigo (which is just barely visible here) through an incredible florescent pink. As great as the colors ARE in these pics, I wish my camera had captured them a little bit more truly. It's impossible to explain just how bright they were.

Now some pictures of my gardening efforts here at the house. These are my Sunset Runner beans. They've only gotten about 8 inches tall so far. I really hope they grow soon, as it's getting kinda late in the season for beans, already. I mean, they've got large lovely leaves on them, but they're only so high. I'd thought they'd be climbing the trellis by now.

Next comes some of my strawberry patch. (I didn't get the "top" half of it, as I stand by the corner of the house by my bedroom window.) Anyway, they all have flowers on them, now. I'm looking foward to tasting the strawberries. *grin* Again, though, I'm afraid these plants aren't sending out runners. Does anybody know if Alpine strawberries self-propogate??? Can I seperate them out when they start growing thicker, kinda like rhubarb needs to be seperated every few years??? Otherwise I'll need to get another dozen plants next year and put them in the spaces between this year's strawberries.

Here are my zucchini. They're growing well, but I'm suprised they're not getting taller yet. I kinda thought they would. But I've never grown Zucchini in pots before. I also hope I didn't crowd them by putting two in this pot.

My two tomato plants. The one on the left is the Black from Tula, the one on the right is the Stupice.

An eggplant I brought over from FIL's house this week. I wanted to see how well it'd grow on my back deck, with considerably more direct sunlight than they receive over at the inlaw's. This spring I joined a Gardening in Alaska yahoo group, and I'm one of several people in the Fairbanks area that is trying to grow eggplant. We're all comparing notes, trying to see what the best conditions are for these delicate plants.

Here is my single surviving (from the seeds I planted) cucumber plant, and my two garlics. The garlics look dead, but they're not. I promise! *grin*

Ooops, forgot to turn this pic on it's side. These are my other two stupice. I decided to cover the smaller one (on the bottom) with a cover made from the top of another milk jug. That's what I'm still doing to my cucumber out back, and the eggplant, now that the two tomatoes on the back deck have taken off and outgrown the covers.

It's hard to see, but these are my two rhubarb plants. The one on the left really actually needs to be seperated, as it's getting too big and the stalks are starting to be smaller. Toward fall, I may go down and ask Corie or Kat if either of them wants a rhubarb plant. If they do, I'll seperate it out and give them part to plant in one of their yards. (Then again, Kat is just renting. Corie and her hubby own their place. I don't know if EITHER of them like rhubarb.)

Here's a pic of my planter bed. The beet-seedlings in the center are still not getting big at all. The Swiss chard is finally starting to take off, and the turnips are doing fabulous!

Here is a pic of some Lamb'sQuarters I harvested today. Scott was going to mow, so I decided to get out and pick as much of this stuff as I could. Our entire back yard was filled with it. I got a good bit. Enough to fill my dehydrator, as well as enough to fill a cookie sheet to dry in the oven. I read that dried and gently crumbled, it makes a good "pot-herb" for winter soups. This will contain both leaves and seeds, which are a close cousin to quinoa. Good to know, for future reference!

Last but not least, my clothesline!!!!! Scott got it set up today, and this is my first load of clothes to be hung out to dry. It's right there to the left of my lilac bush, which is just to the left of my planter bed. I'd love to get a fence out around the back yard for privacy (and to keep loose mutts out of my veggies!), but we don't have the $$ for that right now. So, the neighbours get to see our skivvies hanging out to dry. *wink*


Ok, just a really quick run-down of our (my family's) Food Independence Challenge update:

Planted: The hubby and FIL planted more radish yesterday. We'll be planting more Chard and Spinach hopefully tonight.

Harvested: Radishes (the FIL), lettuce, and a bit of baby spinach. Will be picking more spinach here soon. Also, accidentally, harvested a couple of stalks of rhubarb as I was pulling a flower out of my rhubarb plot the other day. And that LambsQuarter.

Tend: weeding, watering, and thinning of all the veggies previously mentioned in this post and others.

Preserved: drying the Lambsquarter, and a bit of chamomile that I also picked at the same time today.

Make Preps: Not really, except the drying of the lambsquarter.

Cooked Something: Made homemade trail mix from dried fruit and other goodies (chocolate chips, almonds, marshmallows and coconut) bought at the grocery store. Also made some sweet crackers. These are part of the food I'll be taking with me on the plane when Tay and I head out on Wednesday.

Managed Reserves: Only as usual.

Work on/Toward local food systems: just the gardening and the picking of lambsquarters.

Composted Something/Reduce Waste: Lambsquarters did not all go to waste, composted, and using the clothes-line.

New Skill Learned: does it count that I'm learning how to juggle a couple of clothes pins and a piece of wet laundry??? *grin*


Ok. That covers it for the moment. We've gotta get heading over to the inlaws as I'm making us all Fried Cabbage and Kielbasa for dinner tonight. (Have a cabbage that needs to be used before I head out on vacation.)

Have a Blessed Day!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DUDE!!!! That Was a CLOSE One!!!

Well, it was again about 2 this morning before I got to bed, but at least this time I can blame it on somebody else, in a MAJOR way!

Scott and I were just getting ready for bed. Scott was sitting on the bed reading Sunday's paper (which neither of us had a chance to read before LAST -Monday- night) and we'd been chatting. I headed into the kitchen to quickly strain off some tea for iced-tea, before going in for my shower, when we heard tires squealing on the road outside our house, then a crash. We thought somebody had come around the corner too fast and flipped.

Not quite, but close. E., a close friend of our neighbours J and T, DID come around the corner too fast, but she didn't flip. She plowed her big-ass Ford F250 into ANOTHER neighbour's truck, which was parked in front of his house (in the "driveway", not in the road). Anyway, it'll probably be totaled because of the damage done to the frame.

She blew an breathilizer test of .120, all the while claiming that she hadn't been drinking. She also had empty beer cans and an open empty vodka bottle in the truck with her when she crashed. Immediately after crashing into Ben's truck, though, she proceeded to back up and tried to leave, but had already wrecked the steering column on her truck, so she couldn't turn it. She plowed down this big ol' poplar that lived right on the corner at the edge of Ben's yard. Took her 3 tries to take the poplar down, but she finally managed. Fortunately (for the rest of us, but not for her) that messed up the undercarriage of her truck enough that it wouldn't drive at ALL anymore (not even back & forth).

Poor Ben had already been asleep, his wife Wendy was sitting in the livingroom watching TV. Had E. swerved a LITTLE bit sooner, she would have put her truck through their livingroom window, probably killing Wendy. Had she swerved the other way, E. would have plowed into our bedroom where Scott and I were getting ready for bed. Had she swerved a little moment later, she would have plowed into Cliff's truck, pushing it through HIS bedroom window and killing him. As it is, all E. wrecked was her life, Ben's truck, a tree, and a good night's sleep for at least 4 of us.

E.'s poor children (two little girls, 5 and 1) will lose their mother (to jail, not to death). Though, I'm rather thinking it may not be such a loss as she was a terribly neglectful mother anyway (her 5 year old doesn't speak in anything other than vowels and is has such majorly stunted motor skills). It's a damn good thing she didn't have them in the truck with her this time, as they could have been hurt or killed in the impact. As it is, they'll be placed in foster care, I'm almost certain.

Needless to say, by the time the last cop left at 1 am, Scott and I were already pretty exausted. Besides Ben and Wendy, Scott and I were the only other two witnesses who REALLY saw what happened. Kat and her hubby came out of their house, but quickly disappeared again. Another neighbour down at the end of the street pulled up the road JUST after the accident, so he didn't stick around to be a witness once he made sure that E. wasn't going to try to drive away (he was in his truck and was incredibly willing to sacrifice that, to keep her from getting away). Cliff slept right through it, even though it happened only 100 feet from his bedroom window.

So, Scott, and I and Ben and Wendy all had to write up witness statements in the pouring rain. As I said, it was after 1 am by the time the cop left. I hopped in for a quick shower (had to wash off the bug dope we'd all sprayed down with, to keep the massive numbers of 'skeeters at bay, not that it worked) before bed. But then Scott and I were up till after 2, just talking over the events, and mulling over the other possibilities had E. swerved a little bit sooner or a little bit later.... It was well after 2 before either of us calmed down enough to sleep.

I talked to Ben already this morning and he said that E. didn't have insurance on her truck, even though she gave Ben and Wendy an insurance card last night. Evidently she let her insurance lapse. So, the damage to Ben's truck isn't covered by E's insurance. And Ben's got a CDL for driving, so HIS insurance won't cover accidents caused by drunk driving, whether or not it was Ben doing the drinking and driving, or somebody else. (Even given the fact that his truck was parked and he was sleeping in the house when the drunk driver plowed into it. Ridiculous!!!! What good IS insurance?!?!?!) Ben then called his home owner's insurance company, and they said that they won't cover it because the damage was to the truck, and they don't cover vehicals even when the vehical is parked on the home-owner's property. So, Ben's calling his lawyer. *wry smile* E. is toast. Not that Ben's going to get any money out of her, but she's going away for a long time, most like. (Oh, and besides all the alcohol bottles and cans in her truck, she also had 2 loaded firearms in the back seat.)

*sigh* I called my boss today to let her know that I won't be in. I'm going to be useless for work today. I'm already wishing I could climb back into bed for a nap. I may just, a little later. And Tay has a soccer game tonight in town. I'm going to take her in and meet Scott at his work, then we're going to go do some clothes shopping at Old Navy before the game and pictures. Tay needs to be stocked up on shorts & t-shirts, as she's outgrown all her current supply. I need a couple more tanks & t's to take with me to Spokane, as I've only got 3 tanktops and 2 t-shirts that are really appropriate. (The rest all have holes or major stains and aren't very nice looking any more. And I'm not wearing my library shirts while down there. Gotta get something that's appropriate for hanging out with family and going out for casual events.)

Anyway..... *sigh* What a week so far! I really hope it gets VERY boring after this!

Have a Blessed Day!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekly Gardening Update....

Ok, bear with me, this is a long, picture loaded post again.

(I'm sorry Tori!!!! I sometimes forget that you can't see the pictures. I really wish there was some way to describe them for ya. I'm not good at describing things, though. I'm terribly sorry. But instead of just SHOWING, I will try at least to give SOME description. If blogger will allow me.)

My little planter bed out back. I now have a load of turnip seedlings, beet seedlings and Swiss Chard seedlings in this bed. I never did get lettuce planted. I guess it's just not high on my priority list this year. Though, there to the left of the bed is a small strip where I really COULD have put in a couple of lettuce plants if I'd been so inclined. *shrug* I don't know. I may yet for a late lettuce crop. The swiss chard is finally recovering from my thinning efforts and starting to develope more leaves. I thinned the turnips today. I'm going to give the beets a couple more days to see what developes there. I'd heard that the best manner of thinning is to look at the clump of plants and pull all but the biggest in any clump. But, the beet seedlings are still all just tiny seedlings with no indication as to which may be doing better than the others.

My compost bin AFTER adding another bagfull of shredded (by hand, this time!) newspapers. It had started to smell over the last couple of days, which indicated that it needed to be turned. AND, I didn't have nearly enough "browns" in the bin, after Scott added the last load of grass-clippings. (AND, he only added 1 of the four bags of clippings that he got from cutting the lawn. I wish there was a way for me to make more use of those grass clippings, since he's so intent of getting them immediately off the lawn. But at least he dumped them in the empty lot across the street, instead of putting them in plastic bags and taking them to the dump. That's SOMETHING anyway.) So, I actually shoveled as much of the compost up from one side of the bin, filled the bottom with about half the trash-bag-full of newspaper shreds, shoveled all the composted materials BACK over the new newspaper shreds, then filled the other end of the bin up with the rest of the bag of newspaper, before evening out the compost over the whole lot, and mixing it up a bit.

I don't know if you can see some of the composted materials here, but it was definitely seeing some decay there in the bin. Slimy clumps of blackened, decayed matter. I think I may be keeping it TOO wet. *shrug* Trial and error is what it is! Anyway, hopefully being freshly "stirred" and with more brown-matter added, it'll reduce the stink before the neighbours start to complain. *grin*

Next, some pics of my potted plants. (Which I better go pull inside before it starts to rain. I've got two garlic plants here from garlic cloves that had started to sprout over the winter. Since I had a couple of empty pots in my kitchen window, I tucked the sprouted cloves into the soil and covered them over and have kept them watered. I'm hoping, as an experiment, that I actually get a couple of new bulbs of garlic from these. We'll see.

Anyway, I've also got 2 tomato plants here, a cucumber, and a pepper. The pepper seems to be the most fragile. (And that pepper is currently uncovered!!!! Ooops, give me a minute! *5 minutes later!* Ok, we've got a storm blowing in and I needed to get the tomato plant in the blue pot and the pepper in the black pot on the far right pulled inside before they got rained on or blown over.) The two covered pots contain the other tomato and the cucumber.

When I cut the bottom off the one milk jug for the caterpillar the other day, this was my brainstorm to use the top half of the jug: cover the cucumber. I had a second jug sitting there as well, so I cut the bottom bit off it and used it to cover one of my Stupice tomatoes. But, the Black from Tula tomato in the blue container is too big already to fit under one of those covers. And the pepper needs more general warmth than a little cover like that may provide, so I bring them both inside when it gets yucky outside. They're otherwise residing in my kitchen window.

Here is a picture of the cucumber and the tomato, uncovered.

A picture of this week's only "harvested" effort: Rose-petal Sun tea! I remember my mom making Sun tea for Dad when I was a kid. In fact, I vaguely remember her cutting her finger open badly one time when the jar that the sun-tea was sitting in on the front step fell, and she went to catch it, but caught the jar just as it broke and gashed open her finger. I wasn't more than 3 or 4 years old, and Shelli was just a year or two.

Anyway, I thought that this was a rather appropriate "harvest" for the Solstice weekend. While over at the inlaw's house this morning watering the garden, I gathered a bunch of wild-rose petals. About a cup and a half worth, once compacted a bit. (That was all I had time for, or the ability to get at, with only shorts, a tank-top, and sandals on. I didn't have proper gear to go forging into the briars for MORE petals!) Anyway, rinse them of any insect matter, place in a gallon (or slightly larger) size glass jar, cover with cold water, and set in the sun! Shake about once an hour. After approx. 4 hours in the sun, you should have beautifully mild flavored tea that tastes faintly of roses. Of course, be sure and use only non-insecticide sprayed roses! And do leave the rosehips behind, gathering only the petals!!! This allows for the gathering of the rosehips themselves later in the year!

But, aren't those petals pretty!!!! I love the pinks of rosepetals. They're not a color I'd wear, and I don't decorate with pink very much, but on roses I love it!

And a pic of my lilac bush!!! I've got LILACS!!!! Oooooh, they smell divine! Last year this bush was all scrawny with only 2 or 3 bunches of lilacs at the very top. My FIL cut the main stalk off about half way down and it promptly sent out all sorts of side-branches and extra stalks, and now it's filling out beautifully! I have 31 major bunches of lilacs on it, this year. And several smaller bunches.

It may not be food for the body, but it's food for my soul to smell the lilacs!

Now, onto the gardening efforts at the inlaw's house. I realized when I was over there this morning that i've never shown our rain-water collection efforts. We have 2 55 gal. drums, one at the back of the house, nearest the garden, the other on the same end of the house, at the front side, nearer the garage. This is the one in back.

And here is the barrel in front. I was watering from this barrel today, pumping the water that's been sitting there. But, since it hadn't rained in a few days (and, before 2 hours ago look like it may be days yet before we got more rain!), I had to refill the barrel from the well, that's what the hose is filling the barrel with in the picture. Wishing now, though, that I hadn't made the effort this morning and used aquafer water, but had instead let it sit for the MIL to fill up this evening. Then it'd be filling with rain-water now, instead of overflowing. *sigh* I guess you just can't predict these things accurately though, can you?!?! At least our barrel out back of OUR house here is being refilled, as I've taken it's capacity down to about half in the past couple of days.

A couple of the squash seedlings.

*sigh* This pic was supposed to be turned on it's side, so to see the squash seedling you'll need to angle your head to the right. *grin* It's a tiny little thing. Don't know why the squash aren't getting very big yet at the FIL's house this year. The two I have planted here at my house are getting huge already!

Some potato plants, just starting to sprout. And, one or two weeds that are currently too far into the potato patch for me to reach and pull.

Here is a close-up of a potato plant for ya. Kinda a non-descript little plant. They've just started sprouting up in the past couple of days, according to the FIL.

I got over to my next-door neighbour's house a couple of days ago, and she said hers are just starting to come up as well. Mine still haven't made their appearance. I hope I haven't over-watered them!

On to some pics of the garden-rows.

Here we have lettuce and broccoli. The first batch of lettuce is ready to pic! YUM!

Those stakes with contractor's ribbon tied around them are the FIL's effort to scare off the birds or rabbits or whatever-it-is that's been nibbling our broccoli to bits. I don't know that it's working. I hope it is, though, as I'd love to have some broccoli!! That is ONE seed that I won't be ordering from SSE next year, though. My broccoli and cabbage choices didn't grow worth a dang this year. The FIL's choices from the grocery store, though, came up gang-busters.

Here are the half-rows of swiss chard and spinach. The spinach is ready for us to start picking at. I'm afraid if we let it go much longer, it'll bolt. This according to the gardening books I've read.

The Swiss Chard is ready to be thinned out considerably. YUM! A first batch of Swiss Chard with hot bacon dressing! Scott, Tay and I have been looking forward to that ALL winter! *grin*

The Swiss chard is grocery-store-bought seed, and the spinach is American variety that I bought through SSE. (The swiss chard planted here at MY house, though, is the rainbow variety that I got from SSE.)

Here are our beans. I think these are the Empress beans I got on the left, and some beans the FIL bought at the grocery store on the right. Mine came up earlier than his, but once his started sprouting, they've been shooting up to be as big as the ones I bought.

This is a pic of the radishes and the carrots. Some of the radishes are ready to be picked, already. And certainly need to be thinned. The radish seed is also from SSE.

The carrots are just starting to come up enough that they'll need to be thinned here very soon.

The carrots are on the right, and I don't know how visible they are to y'all, sorry. But then again, anybody who's tried growing carrots knows how feathery-fine the foliage is, and how hard it is to see until it REALLY gets big. And, the carrot seed is from SSE as well.

Here are the peas. They're actually right next to the beans in the order of the rows, but ya know.... Who cares, right?!?! *grin*

Anyway, they're coming up very well. I think the FIL and Scott simply planted some sugar-snaps that FIL bought at the grocery store. I don't think they planted seed I bought, here.

Next, invisible onions on the left, and cabbage on the right. *grin* Those onions really just don't show up well for the camera, but there ARE 17 onion plants in that row. This is Australian Brown onion that I bought through SSE.

The cabbage, most of it, is generic seed that FIL bought at the grocery store, but there on the extreme right are a couple of pathetically small cabbage plants from seed I bought through SSE. As I said, I don't think I'll be buying cabbage or broccoli from SSE again. I just wasn't too impressed with that seed.

Now we make our way into the greenhouse. Unfortunately the plants have been so thoroughly mixed up that I have no idea which tomatoes are Stupice, which are Black from Tula, and which are the Polars that FIL bought seed for from Safeway. I really wish I'd been able to have more control over this, this year. But, the FIL is bound & determined to do it his own way. *sigh* And I don't have the money to do it MY way.

More tomatoes, some cucumbers, a couple of melon. Some eggplant. I don't recall what was all next to what.

Will you get a gander at how well those damned cucumbers are growing!!! They're HUGE! Tall enough to need cages or stakes, but there's just not the room in that greenhouse for them all!!! *big sigh* I really wish the FIL hadn't planted so much! Then again, I really hope they all produce well so we get at least a year's supply of pickles and tomato sauce out of it all. *wry smile*

(For Tori, since I transplanted the cucumbers and tomatoes last week into bigger pots, they've all gained at LEAST 6 inches in height, and the cucumbers have filled out immensely! They're sending off tendrils that want to hold onto cages to help them climb, before they start producing their fruits.)

More Cucumbers. Again, I don't know which are Parades and which are Bushy's, as they've been mixed up on me. Two of the biggest got caged by me today. The FIL is prefering to take a "staking" approach to controling their growth UP instead of OUT. I hope mine in the cages do better, to prove to him how much sturdier the plants will be.

Here are two tomato plants that were not started by us. My FIL got these from a coworker of his who has a full, REAL greenhouse up in the hills. So, these were started EARLY this spring, and they're already producing some tomatoes, as you may be able to tell. The one in front here has at least 5 tomatoes on it. The one in back has the bigger tomatoes, and a couple of them are already starting to turn color.

Here are 2 Polar tomatoes that the FIL started. Production wise, his Polars were earlier to sprout than my Stupice or Blacks, but my Black and Stupice are growing just as quickly now that they're in real pots instead of seedling pots.

Here are some of the melon, and the eggplant. That's an eggplant there in the little coffee can. *grin* I really should replant that into a true pot, but it doesn't seem to want to do much anyway. I've also got a pepper plant in there somewhere that's about the same size as the one I pictured above on my deck. (JUST talking to Scott, and he's going to transplant the last couple of peppers into pots. ALSO, some of the smaller cucumbers, and a few of the tomatoes are going outside to make room for the larger cucumbers and the rest of the tomatoes.)

More tomatoes, more cucumbers, more eggplant, melon, and watermelon.

And, that's it for pictures!!!

Now on to my actual FOOD INDEPENDENCE DAY Update! (Mom thought I was talking about my trip to Spokane when she first read the title of my last Update. *grin* Sorry. It's refering to gaining FOOD independence from the mass-production farm and food system we've got going in our country right now. So, FOOD INDEPENDENCE DAY! Also, trying to do SOMETHING every day to foster that independence.

Here goes:

Planted: nothing planted persay. Some trasnplanting, though.

Harvested: Only the rosepetals for my sun tea.

Tended: Yep. Lots and lots of thinning, weeding and watering going on!

Preserved: Nope.

Make Preparations: Bought a couple more boxes of canning lids. I know we'll need them, and if we don't use them this year, they'll last another year or two in the cabinet.

Cooked Something: Potato Latkes and Tomato-Cucumber Salad yesterday.

Managed Reserves: Stocked back up on the canned goods in my pantry, as I was unable to do last week due to the lack of money in the checking account. Not much, just some canned fruits & veggies, and some canned soups.

Work on/Toward local food systems: Visited the farmer's market yesterday. Bought 2 cream rolls (DANG! *drool*) and a small piece of lemon-filled cake from Honey Bakery. Also bought Tay and I each a locally made "hotdog" from "locally" raised buffalo. (I say "locally" in quotation marks because these buffalo weren't raised in Fairbanks, but in Delta Junction. That's still local in that it IS from in-state, but it's NOT local in that it's about a hundred miles away.) Anyway, the dogs were raised by Delta game-farmers and processed by Delta Meat & Sausage. I'm sure the rolls were bought at Sam's club, though, as were the condiments and toppings used. *sigh* It's impossible to win completely in a situation like this. I considered buying some bread, but there wasn't anything that looked like something I couldn't bake myself. And I was really wanting a good rustic Italian loaf, and NOBODY had anything like that, for all the 4 or 5 different "bakeries" selling their goods at the farmer's market. I darned near bought garlic rolls from Honey Bakery, though. But I remember that last time I bought them, they smelled better than they actually tasted. So I didn't bother.

Reduced Waste/Composted: Yeah, added more shredded newspaper to the compost bin (see details above) and turned over the bin really well. Reduced waste in that I'm reusing portions of milk-jugs as "greenhouse" covers on a couple of my plants. I've actually got another milk jug I need to cut and put on one of the tomatoes out in my big black barrel planter. And I kept the bag, and the newspapers from this past week, to shred into more paper-strips for another load of "browns" for the compost bin in a couple more weeks when it needs to be turned again. Doubtless by then it will have enough "fresh greens" added that it will need to be mixed up again.

Learned a New Skill: Nope. But I have been using an "old" skill to work on making use of my yarn stash. I've been working on a shawl that I started quite a while ago. I'm now on the last skein of yarn for this shawl, and wondering who I know that would like these particular colors and is smaller than I am. (It's not going to be a BIG shawl, it's going to need to go to somebody with a fairly narrow shoulder-span.) I may just box it up for the next box of goods I send to the women's shelter or the homeless shelter.


Some crappy news: We got turned down for the IDEA homeschool program. The director of the program (the MAIN director in Galena) called and seemed upset that I thought I could actually homeschool AND work part-time, and was leaving my 1o-1/2 year old child at home alone during the day. He kept saying he didn't think that the program was a good fit, or that we could meet the requirements for the program, but wouldn't give me actual details of HOW it wasn't a good fit, or how we wouldn't meet the requirements. And even though I pointed out that I was told by the LOCAL director that there are other working families in the program, and was told that it wouldn't be a problem that I work part-time, he insinuated that it's impossible to homeschool one's child AND work. I know it'll be hard, but it's already hard even WITH Tay in public school.

Anyway, the letter he sent me denying our application to the program included the phrase that the interview we had gave indication that we (I!) are "either unable (OR unwilling) to meet the requirements as set forth by the program". And yet, as I said, HE was the only one insinuating that we'd be unable to meet the requirements, while failing to give me ANY idea of what requirements he was refering to. And in both interviews I made it perfectly clear that I have time for the schooling in the morning, with time for Scott to help with the math portion in the evenings, and that I can take time off for testings that are needed during the week. I asked if there was anything I could do to assist in getting our application approved, and said that if there were requirements to be met, I'd meet them. And yet, he seemed focused on the ONE fact that I'm NOT a Stay-At-Home-Mom. It's not actually a requirement of the program, but evidently it's a requirement HE has, and I just don't meet that requirement.

And it pisses me off!!! I LOVE my job, and it provides much-needed insurance to our family. Insurance that we wouldn't have (or, have nearly so good!) through Scott's company. It also provides sanity for me! It's VITAL to who I am that I work, and most especially that I work in a library. Until I can get a job out here at the local branch, I won't be leaving the library in town unless truly forced. Why can't some folks see that working moms aren't BAD moms. We love our children too!!! For some of us, it's a monetary necessity, for some of us it is more a labor of love that we work outside the home. But that doesn't make us crappy moms! And it does NOT mean we cannot provide a home school education for our children! It simply means we've got to be more creative about how we manage it.

So, I won't be quitting my job, and I'll be telling folks about the hypocracy of the IDEA director, and I'll be finding a different program to school my daughter through.


Speaking of a job out here in NPB, Miss V. has put in her notice of retirement, and her job position is now open. An application is due in by Thursday (June 26th), so I'll need to get a move on filling a new one out, and updating things this week. Then I need to bust my butt to get a story-time planned.

If ANYBODY has any good ideas for Storytime themes (roughly 2 to 5 age-group), I'd be happy to hear them! Otherwise, keep your fingers crossed that the application and interview process go well, and I get a true shot at this job!!!! I REALLY think it'd be the best for our family. (And then I could call that jerk of a director back and tell him that I got a job 5 minutes from home, and only 20 hours a week, and what the hell does he think of that?!?! *snarl*)


Ok. Gotta get a move on. Tay and I are heading to a barbeque at the home of some friends of mine from HS.

Have a Blessed Day!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Solstice Pics, and a couple of new recipes....

First off, the back yard looking toward the North West. I tried to get as close to a shot of the sun as I could without ACTUALLY looking at the sun. *grin*

Next, a pic of Jenny and Puck enjoying the evening sunshine in their kennel. Just had to get that in there. *grin*

I don't know if you can make this out, but at 8:30 last night (when I took this first bunch of pics), it was almost 80 deg. outside in the shady side of the shed.

Another one trying to give you some idea how high in the sky the sun still was at this point. You'd think it was more along the lines of 5 pm, instead of 8 pm, as far above the horizon as the sun was.

And now here's a shot as the sun hits it's lowest point on the horizon, from what I could tell. This was at 12:30 pm.

I don't know if you can tell very well, but the sun is actually JUST peeking between the trees there in the center of the pic. That's taken from the street in front of my house looking North. I've got a post to make about the condos just visible at the end of the street, but that'll be at some later point, not right now.

And because it was just too pretty NOT to share, the sky in the OPPOSITE direction at the same point. It was all clouds with some brilliant pinks showing up. Unfortunately you cannot see the incredible lavender tone of the clouds themselves. What appears blue & gray here was actually tones of lilac and lavender, along with the pink. (The pink is actually coming through pretty true, tonight.)


I tried a couple new recipes out on the kiddo tonight, as well as a friend who's spending the night. They're out of a cookbook I have full of Eastern European and Russian recipes. The first is Potato Pancakes (Latkes).

6 large, waxy potatoes, peeled
2 eggs, beaten
1 to 2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 c plain flour
1 tsp chopped fresh marjoram (didn't have this so I used italian seasoning. I wish I'd just used dill instead.)
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream, chopped fresh parsley or chives

Grate potatoes and squeeze thoroughly dry using a dish towel. (Oops.... I just realized I forgot to squeeze the moisture out!).

Put the potatoes in a bowl with the eggs, garlic, flour, marjoram and salt & pepper; mix well.

Heat half the butter and half the oil in a large frying pan then add large spoonfuls of the potato mixture to form rounds. Carefully flatten the pancakes well with the back of a dampened spoon.

Fry the pancakes till crisp and golden brown, then turn over and cook on the other side. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm while cooking the rest of the pancakes, adding the remaining butter and oil to the frying pan as necessary.

Serve the pancakes topped with sour cream, sprinkled with parsley or chives and accompanied by a fresh, juicy tomato salad.


The next new recipe I tried was from the same cookbook and was actually a tomato salad.

Cucumber and Tomato Salad (The notes in this one claim it's from Bulgaria and that you should use Greek Yogurt. I used sour cream instead.)

1 pound firm, ripe tomatoes
1/2 large cucumber
1 medium onion

4 Tbsp olive oil
6 Tbsp thick greek-style yogurt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or chives (I have chives, that's what I used.)
1/2 tsp vinegar (I used a LITTLE more, about 1-1/2 tsp worth.)
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 small hot chili, seeded and chopped, or 1 inch lengths of chives, to garnish

Skin the tomatoes by first cutting a cross in the base of each tomato. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the skin starts to split, then drain and plunge into cold water. (Skin must STILL be peeled off with the tip of a sharp small knife. But, at least this first step loosens it up a bit.) Cut the tomatoes into quarters, seed and chop.

Chop the cucumber and onion into pieces about the same size as the tomatoes and put them all in a bowl.

Mix all the dressing ingredients together and season to taste with the salt & pepper. Pour over the salad and toss all ingredients together. Sprinkle the chili or chives over the salad for garnish and serve with crusty bread.


So, I proved to Taylor tonight that a nice little vegetarian meal is ok once in a while. Now to convince Scott. But, like it or not, I'm going to try cooking with LESS meat, and occasionally vegetarian dinners. It just doesn't make sense with food prices and fuel usage being what it is, to continue trying to eat high on the food chain so often. And besides, I'm sure it'd be better for all of us if we could cut meat out a bit. (Not that I ever want to be vegetarian completely. I like my meat too much!


Ok. I've gotta dig out an air mattress as one of Tay's friends is spending the night and will need someplace to sleep. I also need to water my plants one last time, and let the dogs back in for the night. (It is currently 11:54 pm and obviously not dark. Unfortunately the mosquitoes are out thick & mean, this time of night!)

Have a Blessed Day!