Friday, September 28, 2007


Yesterday morning, I received a phone call from school, telling me that Thing 2 had a fever. I rushed over and brought him home, took his temperature. He was only 99.3, and still pretty peppy even though he had a stomachache.

As the day wore on, the fever increased, and so did my anxiety. You see, Thing 2 is Type I diabetic, which throws a whole new spin on sick days. He wasn't eating, and he needs some carbohydrates to keep his blood sugar high enough to keep him from passing out. Thankfully Gatorade was palatable, and he sipped it slowly throughout the day.

By the time dinner rolled around, I felt like I had to get something in his stomach. The list of usual sick-day food wasn't sounding good to him, so I threw out acorn squash to see if anything would work. His eyes lit up a little at that, so I steamed some, mashed it with butter (mistake) and brown sugar. He made it through a little bit, then started to feel sick. This is where I panic, since he had just had insulin, and if he upchucked, what carbs would I be able to get in him then? Thankfully, he kept it down, we made it through the day, and he slept soundly all night.

On top of all this, we have to check for ketones in his urine, because if they get too high, they can cause nausea and vomiting, and then we're pretty close to going to the hospital.

So, hopefully you understand that I was holding my breath all day yesterday. (But apparently not my fingers, looking at my last post - cringe.)

This morning he woke up smiling with no fever. He's still in his Sponge Bob pjs, but he's up playing with his toys, singing and making Boy Noises. Food still isn't sounding good to him, but when it does, I'll be taking it slow this time.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I'm in a pissed-off mood today, stemming from many things, not the least of which is a pounding headache that I suspect is from the sulfites in the wine I had last night.

So I'm reading all my favorite blogs, and I come across one of a woman who has moved to my old hometown from somewhere in the midwest. She and her husband are really fixing up their place, and are very industrious, and watching all that they do kind of kicks me in the butt. They're off in the country, building their homestead, raising goats.

One night, they hear a horrible screaming sound. And they're pretty shaken up by it. The goats are fine, so they wait until morning. They go on a little walk to where they heard the sound that tore them from their beds in the middle of the night, and they've found two burrows or dens (I can't tell which from the photos.) Now, having grown up here all my life, I have come to the conclusion that it was probably coyotes grabbing a rabbit. If you've never heard a rabbit scream, it's truly amazing that such a sound can come from a small creature. I can't tell if the rabbits are on the property, or if the coyotes are. Doesn't really matter to me.

What does matter to me is their response to the wild animals. Tear down all the woods, and develop the land. Kill the wild animals or drive them out. This is the 21st century, people! Protect your livestock with fencing and leave the coyotes alone.

We had coyotes in the woods behind our house, until one evening we heard gunshots, and no more coyotes. Ever since we have been overrun with rabbits, rats, moles, voles, and any number of other rodents. Thanks a lot, whoever killed the coyotes. Did you bother to take into account my vegetable garden? My food source?

So what I didn't mention, is that the blogger I was reading is one of those over-the-top religious types. Normally I stay away from that kind of thing, but the combination of homesteading, my hometown, and they're starting from scratch kind of grabbed me. Is this kill all the animals thing religious hickdom? I thought they were supposed to take care of God's creatures?

Which brings me to my other rant. My over-the-top religious neighbors put up a sign that says "Pray to end abortion". Great. My personal feelings aside, is this really appropriate for a dead-end street with tons of young children on it? I don't think so. Who, except for us and a busload of elementary students is going to see it? Do they think God appreciates it? Do they honestly think they're going to convert a handful of people sticking a sign up in their yard? Sorry. It makes me even more against the right-wing lunatics, and more firm in my beliefs.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fall - It's Here!

Temps are dipping into the 30s at night now, and snow is forecast as low as the passes on Friday. Fall is here!

I am busy pulling in produce from the garden as we only have 2-3 weeks before frost, and dealing with it one way or another. At one point I had about 15lbs of tomatoes, 10+ lbs acorn squash, 12lbs pears, 10+ lbs apples and 6lbs of carrots on my counter, and I realized why the Pilgrims had Thanksgiving. The women were sick of trying to find ways to store all the food! Put it in their bellies!

I now have 8 pints of spicy salsa put up. Today I'm canning all the pears, this time using wide-mouth jars. I didn't understand the need for them before. Now I do! This should be a much easier. I haven't made the pie/cake for Mr. E's coworkers yet. Probably won't happen until Thursday as I don't have the buttermilk for one or shortening for the other.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What's Up?

So here's what I've been up to lately, besides the usual stuff.

Obviously the weather has changed. This is what the woods out back look like on a misty morning. On days like these, I'm wondering where the "old man clothed all in leather" is. I probably would call the police if he showed up at the door....

This will eventually be a moebius scarf for my mom. It's roman stripe pattern in some yarn whose name has since been lost. It's the first time I have ever 1.) Used lace weight yarn and 2.) used a provisional cast on. It took me a year and at least thirty attempts to finally figure out the cast on, and only because some wonderful person made a video of how to do it. What can I say. I'm a visual learner.

Speaking of learning, my two boys passed their 3rd and 5th grade WASL! Woo-hoo! Not that I like the WASL. As far as I'm concerned, it's just one more stress I don't need to deal with. I can't figure out what they're asking for half the time, especially on the math. "What is 2+2? Use a chart to find your answer. Explain how you got your answer." Hmmm. It just is? Funny thing is, they smoke their levels testing each year.... At least they didn't come home with huge packets of extra work so they can pass the 4th/6th WASL.

In the kitchen, I am trying to deal with a large pile of apples. So I canned 6 pints of Curried Apple Chutney, which used up 10 apples. I'm thinking that Sunday will be Salsa day, and either an apple pie or apple cake to send with Mr. E to work, and Monday or Tuesday I'll be canning pears that were on sale at the store ($0.69/lb).

Of course more bread this week. I was low on milk and used powdered instead, and it didn't come out near as nicely. I'm thinking of making my own hamburger buns. It's got to be cheaper (not to mention better for us) to make my own vs $2.50 for 12? I should do the math one of these days.

Fall is definitely here - I had to turn on the furnace yesterday, as it was 67 degrees and dropping in the house during the day. I'm charting our energy and water usage, trying to see how far I can reduce. I'm doing well, except for natural gas, and I believe the reasons for it are the fact that I have two growing boys whose clothes are getting bigger, and therefore I'm doing more laundry (slightly), and that they are taking more showers than they used to, especially with soccer. The last one is a good thing, though! I'm also canning more, which would use more gas as well. It's not like the amount of gas has gone up a lot, either. A little over 2 therms for the month, but that'd be a 12% increase over the same time last year.

There are some people who are taking the reductions to a totally different level, trying to reduce their use to only 10% of the average American's! I'm not sure that would be possible for me without freezing and using candles for lighting. Currently, our electricity usage is 4.3% less than the average household. Only 18% of our lights are CFL, so I think we can do a lot more there. They have some sort of credit for using hydro, which we do for the most part, but I think that's kind of cheating. Our natural gas usage is 11.7% below the national average, and our water usage is 36% less than average. Of course they go on to other things like gasoline, garbage, food, and "stuff", but that's way too much for my small brain to handle just now. Definitely a worthy goal, however.

Okay, I feel like I've touched briefly on way too many topics today. I'll try to do better in the future.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Slowing to a Slug's Pace

The last two days have been slow. Thing 1 caught a cold, and is now in bed with a temp of 101.3.

Our typical fall weather is upon us, with rain, rain, and more rain. Not the typical downpours of most places, just a gentle, chilly, misty, pervasive wetness. They say that Northwesterners have more words for rain than any other place, kind of like eskimos and snow. I have yet to find a word that describes something between drizzle and light rain. Rizzle? That's what we had yesterday. Slug and snail heaven.

Thing 2's soccer game yesterday was in the middle of the wettest time, and as soon as he was home, I threw him in the bathtub, where he stewed for an hour. Hot chocolate is the boys' drink of choice on days like these, usually with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, although I thought it a bit early in the season to start that. I did, however, start a fire in the wood stove, which warmed the house nicely. Maybe a bit too much, as the thermometer read 78 in the family room. Mr. E watched sports on tv, and dozed, while Thing 2 made a "nest" out of pillows and blankets in front of the stove, grabbed a book and snuggled up to read. We lazed about like that all afternoon and evening. It's nice to slow down sometimes.

However, today is usually my major shopping day, and I can't since I'm tending Thing 1. I should do all of tomorrow's chores today, but am having a hard time bringing myself to do that. So it looks like another slow day. I think it's time to start knitting again.

LTR - It feels like I'm coming down with the bug as well. Might just be a slow week....

Saturday, September 15, 2007

2007 Harvest Goal Met

Wooooohoooo! I made my fruit and veg harvest goal of 100 pounds! I still have quite a bit to harvest yet - cabbages, squash and tomatoes - and so I think I'll get to 125lbs by the end of the year.

The apples did amazingly well. I don't remember how many I had last year, but I think it was on the order of 5 lbs. This year, I brought in 39lbs! I can hardly believe that my four little trees gave me that many apples. At this rate of growth, I may be up to my ears in apples soon. Yeah, yeah. Don't count my apples.... Next year, I definitely need to spray for coddling moth, though, as Alkemene was badly infested, and stock up on ideas for things to make with apples.

Tomatoes did poorly. I didn't get them covered in time to prevent late blight, and it did in four of my plants. Fantastic made HUGE, beautiful fruit, but I think I'll only have five ripe ones when all is said and done.

I think that measuring my harvest was a great idea for me to do, although Thing 1 prefers to eats the food straight out of the garden, and not weigh it first. But this way I can measure my success, and it'll get me in gear to get out and plant, thin (I finally thinned carrots - what a difference!), water, and generally take care of my garden. It sparks my competitive streak, too, which in this case isn't such a bad thing. Next year there will be no trip to Europe smack dab in the middle of spring, so that should help as well.

I FINALLY found local honey at a little roadside stand. Hooray! I picked up some locally grown veggies, too, and we're doing kebabs tonight.

The weather is about to turn, and summer will be over. We're in for rain and 60s temps. The snow level in the mountains is supposed to be low enough on Monday, that we should see a dusting in the higher mountains. Our bbq dinners will be a thing of the past, and will give way to soups and stews, and fires in the wood stove, if I find a wood supplier....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fall Cleaning

Around here, I find that Fall Cleaning is more necessary than Spring Cleaning. Oh, I understand why it was necessary for the total house cleaning to be in spring. After a winter of burning coal and wood, the house is full of ash and soot. Boots worn in the house tramped in mud and things I'd rather not think about from streets and barnyards. And now that there's more light coming in the windows, you can see all the dirt.

Not having to deal with any of that, as we are a shoes-off house and use a cleaner form of heating, I find that Fall Cleaning is much more necessary. All summer, the house has been neglected. Most of our days are spent outside, and we wind up dumping and dashing. Housecleaning is not the most enjoyable thing to do when it's 85 degrees, either. So the household chores slide for the summer, and after the boys head back to school, I'm staring at an empty, filthy house, with a lot of time on my hands, and no excuses.

So this week, I've started my Fall Cleaning. I'm starting in the kitchen, cleaning out drawers and shelves, and getting rid of anything that hasn't been used in the last year. It's the worst room in the house after replacing the countertops a couple of months ago. The oven is cleaning away, and I'm pulling down all the spiderwebs that always pop up this time of year. They're often back the next day, though. Of course, if anyone notices one, I'm just letting the little guys decorate for Halloween!

In other goings-on, it's time to start the fall yard clean-up. I've been hacking down the daisies, pulling weeds as I go. Somehow I missed a bunch of huge thistles, so will need to put on the armor to go after them. Mr. E assures me that he will catch the mole in the backyard by the end of the week (oh, cocky he is). And a mixture of big leaf maple, vine maple, and bittersweet nightshade, roots entwined with roots needs to be pulled out and dealt with, but I don't think I'm going to get around to it today.

Off to the garden....

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Eating Locally

I now have a slightly dodgy internet connection now, which is better than none at all.

Apples are coming in at a good clip, and I am hard-pressed to find something to do with them all. It's actually fun in it's own way, as I get to pour through recipe books to find recipes with apples in them, or, yesterday, green tomatoes.

One of my tomato towers fell over yesterday, and several large, green tomatoes fell off the vine. It seemed a shame to chuck them, since we're not fried green tomato fans here. So I found a recipe for Salsa Verde using green tomatoes instead of tomatillos. It turned out pretty good, although I think I won't use red onion next time, as it bleeds into the salsa giving it a strange color.

We had the inlaws over for dinner, and they left with most of the tomatoes. I made apple crisp with apples from the orchard, caprese salad with homegrown tomatoes, garlic, and basil, and parsley potatoes, with both the parsley and the potatoes from the garden. Not bad for one meal! The steak was also local, but that was all. The wine was Spanish (brought by the inlaws), the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, Italian.

I try to eat locally, but am getting frustrated. The magical one hundred miles in this area doesn't incorporate much arable land. There are two mountain ranges, which provide nothing, and Puget Sound, which, aside from farmed fish and mussles, doesn't give you much, either. They've even warned of not eating too much wild caught fish in the Sound from all the pollution. I finally have accepted the fact that I have to look at my whole state as a local food shed.

Washington State is known for it's wheat. There are millions of acres of Eastern Washington planted in wheat. Yet until recently (like my last trip to the grocery store) you couldn't buy wheat from Washington. No kidding. It all gets carted by rail to the ports and shipped off to Asia or Egypt. I could buy wheat from Montana and Alberta, but not Washington. Now I can get all-purpose flour from here, but not bread or whole wheat, and only in 5lb bags.

We're known for apples, too, although I'm starting to supply our fruit needs from home, and good wine. There are huge fields of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries North of here, but all of the ones you can buy in the store are from California. Even from the stores that are owned locally.

I keep thinking about why I'm not thrilled with farmer's markets in general, and I think it's because of the fact that if they are offering it at the market, it's already growing in my garden. No-one sells honey or eggs there, which I would really like to get, or meats of any kind. We used to get a quarter of a cow (okay, I know that's not the right terminology), but it was really expensive, and if the power went out, as it's wont to do here, we'd be out $700 of meat. If you want flowers, there are tons, but I don't think dahlias are edible.

So what's a locavore to do? Could you live without citrus, olive oil, spices, and bread flour? I suppose you could, but it wouldn't make very interesting eating. So I think I'm just going to go for the major stuff, and allow all the accoutrements be non-local. Is that okay? Do I need to ask permission? If so, from whom?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Chaos Theory

Things have been insane around here of late. The apples and tomatoes are multiplying exponentially. I've been canning pears, making apple pie, apple cake, and Spiced Apple Pear Freezer Butter. Salsa is on the horizon, as soon as I pick up some peppers and cilantro (forgot to plant some this year).

On top of that, school started. The school bus schedules are all different this year, and so, first day of school, we patiently waited at the end of our driveway where the bus has picked the boys up for the last seven years. No bus. Peachy. So I took four of the five kids at the stop to school. After calling transportation all day, and not getting any answer (they turned off their phones and let everything go to voice mail), I got through to a human, who assured me that they would let the driver know that he needed to turn down our street. I figured he'd at least listen to the kids, who usually wind up directing the substitute drivers anyway. But no. He dropped them off at the end of the street, four blocks from our house. So the next morning, I took them down there, card in hand which clearly states that the bus stop is in front of our house, and let the driver know where he needs to go. He looked down on his sheet and said "Oh, I guess it does say that." Apparently, he cannot be prevailed upon to actually show up at school on time however, and the boys get home an hour after school gets out.

Soccer started for Thing 1 on the first day of school, and of course it's not on the same day as Thing 2. So we're doing soccer six days this week, as Thing 1's game is today, and Thing 2's is tomorrow. They've moved the date and the place twice on us now.

I (finally) finished my striped socks, and have a picture of them to show, but the network adapter on my computer is wonky, and won't connect. A chat with customer service yielded nothing but "update the drivers" which they haven't done since 2005. I just bought the adapter this year. So for now, I'm on Thing 1's laptop in Mr. E's office, and neither one are pleased.

Knitting has taken a back seat to everything else right now. By the end of the day, I'm wiped out. And after reading several stories in Magic for Beginners last evening, I took a nap, dreaming of rabbits, cats whose skin comes off, and witches. When Mr. E woke me up, I was even more a wreck, with a headache to boot. Guess I won't be reading that right before bed. I need to finish it quick, since book club is on Thursday, and it's my book to discuss.

I'm not terribly sure how to run the discussion on the book. Is there symbolism? Or did she draw a couple pieces of paper out of a hat with things associated with magic, stuff the ideas into a blender and hit "puree?" I'm not sure what to think, which may also be the point.

I had a Lizzie Bennet moment. Our neighbors are having tough times and their house is in foreclosure. I had guessed that things were bad, but Mr. E wouldn't listen to my opinions. I had discussed this with another neighbor, who was complaining about the state of their yard. I don't care for it, but am willing to make allowances since my yard isn't picture perfect either. Anyway, I was being careful about my suspicions, as I am normally a very gossipy-type person, and it's landed me in trouble before. So he, also being a very gossipy-type person, threw out the possibility of drug use, and I said "I don't want to speculate on that." Well, it sounded like something Lizzie might say. I was very proud of myself, and felt I grew a foot, which is not necessarily a good thing when you're 5'10". Anyway, I know it sounds like a Very Small Thing, but to me it wasn't. I feel like I've turned a corner on this nasty little habit of mine. And I got to say "I told you so" to Mr. E, which I don't get to do very often.

On a happier note, it looks like the weather is going to be good for a while, so hopefully some of my later tomatoes will ripen. I have a bunch of huge green ones, and I really want to try them. I'm thinking a hoophouse is the way to go here, as only the earliest tomatoes will ripen no matter what I do to them. I'm trying to think of a way to do it so that it is movable, and I can interchange with a tunnel cloche. Plans will be laid this fall! Mr. E won't like it, but I hear they make a huge difference around here, especially in a cabbage summer like this year. And maybe if I tempt him with the possibility of more pesto, since the nights are usually too cold for basil, he'll warm up to the idea.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Fair Day

Today we enjoyed our local fair. We go to this one because it is one of the smaller fairs, and it doesn't overwhelm you with the numbers of animals, whether they be quadripeds or bipeds, or the size of the rides and the lines to get on them.

Thing 1 is just about of the age where the kiddie rides are too small for him, but after a spin on the teacup ride which resulted in his tossing his cookies, we decided that most of the big-kid rides were out for this year, so he went in many of the fun houses instead. Thing 2 loved this rocket ride, and went on it at least six times, and went on a rope ladders and slides kind of fun house maybe five times. After his fifth time on the ladders and slides, Mr. E asked if he wanted to go again. He said "No, it gets kind of old after a while." So Mr. E pointed out that the rocket ride had no line, and ZOOM! he was over there in a flash. Guess that one doesn't get old quite so fast.

We went with my friends M and J and their families, and Mr. E's old boss and his son. So between all of us, we were15, which, unfortunately, is too large a group to keep together, and before long we were all split up. I was kind of hoping that we'd get to spend more time together, but since all of their kids are smaller (my two are 11 and 9, theirs ran from 7 to 3), little ones tire much more easily, and they all left fairly early. But a good time was had by all, I think. At least we had a good time, exclusive of the up-chucking incident.

I finally found a summer hat. I wish I had found it early on in the day, but now I have one. So now I won't turn quite so red in the face from the heat. The guy that sold it to me said "Let me take off the tag for you." I guess I looked like I needed it right away.... It's a straw number with a broad brim, and it looks much more feminine than my Full Sail Ale baseball cap.

I also got my baker's dozen of Fair Scones. MMMMMMM! Usually they're ALL MINE! but Thing 1 has decided that he really likes them too, so now they're not ALL MINE!, but have to be shared. Which I suppose is better for the waistline.... Humph.

Before the fair, our friend Sir J, came to install my new microwave. A week ago, I turned into Wonder Woman, and in a sudden burst of strength, pulled the handle right off the microwave, making it impossible to open and completely unfixable. So a new microwave it was, almost completing the replacing of all major appliances since we've been married. Of course no two microwave mounting brackets can be the same, and this one was to sit on top of my tile backsplash (who came up with the idea to have a low mounting bracket anyway? Must be a man.) So Sir J came to my rescue, installing the microwave for me this morning. Which I am very happy about. Because we have no power tools.