Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Honey Bees!

Blessings, Darlings!

There are two honeybees working the blooming peppermint today. I am SO happy to see them! Still not as many as last year, but the mint isn't blooming as well, either.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Preps This Week

Blessings, Darlings!

We're having a heat wave, and moderate drought, here. So I've been only working on the yard and garden in 15 minute spurts, then coming in and trying to cool off. As a result, I'm behind in the garden, and most of my carrots died.

But the beans are well up, the tomatoes are doing great, the peppers have some issues, the garlic and onions are ready to harvest. I need to sprinkle urine around the beans every other day to keep the rodents (?bunnies?, ?squirrels?, ?chipmunks?) at bay.

Started cabbage seeds, celery seeds, and rutabagas.

Missing are the honey bees. Granted, last year we had more than I've ever seen, but this year I saw ONE early on, and that was it. We have bumble bees (not lots), and tons of wasps of all sizes pollinating their little wings off. Of course, the oregano and peppermint aren't blooming as impressively this year, either. Still, zero is not a good sign.

I've starting the spring stored water rotation a bit late, but at least I've started it. I'm beginning to fill the freezer with ice (bottles and cubes) to prep for inevitable summer power outages due to storms. I will probably defrost the dang freezer, as I have been threatening to do, next week when the temperature and humidity drop.

Physical Therapy on my knee continues. It is finally improving! Not that I've started aerobic anything again yet, but now most of the time that I have to stoop to do something the knee doesn't hurt at all.

I need to rebuild food stores, but without money that's hard to do. Yeah, duh. I did buy one can of interesting veggies, one package of crackers, 4 cans of mushrooms, a bag of sugar, and a jar of salsa this week. I need to restock tomato sauce (Bob's been making a lot of BBQ sauce), paprika, catsup, mustard, etc.

Cherries are on sale, I'm probably going to start to dry them tomorrow. Bob wants some canned, too - he LOVED the previous batch. But these don't seem to have a nice a flavor, so I'm thinking that drying them will concentrate what flavor they have. And I want to get a lot of dried fruit in place by the middle of July, in case the astrological shit DOES hit the fan.

What have you done to prepare this week?

Frondly, Fern

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hot town, summer in the city

Blessings, Darlings!

It hit 100 degrees here yesterday. Not typical for this area this early in the year, but not unheard of, either.

I'm trying to adjust to this 'summer' stuff, but I hate it. I've turned the air conditioning two degrees warmer, to encourage my body to get over itself. Blech. Eighty degrees is not what I want my house to be at during the day. Now that it's after 5 pm I've got it set for 78 degrees.

I'm hoping that the weather folks are right, and that we'll 'only' be in the 80's for a while the middle of next week.

In my attempts to keep the house cool, I tried cooking some lentils outside, while I was inside. The idea was to go out and keep an eye on them. What really happened was that I forgot about them - while they were on high heat, before even turning them down to a simmer. As a result, they burned and probably ruined a good pot. Then I did it again, in a pot they couldn't ruin. Same result - burned 'em instead of simmering them.

Not cost effective. In fact, downright STUPID, especially the second time.

Third time I cooked them inside, and set a timer. That worked. And I cooked wheat berries by bringing them to a boil inside then putting them outside to simmer, and set a timer. That worked, too.

How's summer treating all y'all?

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Danger! Danger, My Darlings!

Blessings, Darlings!

And, apparently, we're all going to really really NEED all the blessings we can get.

A friend of mine who speaks fluent astrology says that the astrological forecast for the mid July to mid August time is 'as bad as he's seen in his life'. Like wars or attacks, like lack of food and power, etc. Spiritual attacks as well.

So, work on getting that 3 week supply of food/water/energy in place, put wards around your home/work/vehicles/family, get at least a baseball bat or two for self-defense, clear the spiritual garbage that is attracting flies, etc.

Oatmeal, dry milk, dry fruit will cover breakfasts. Peanut butter and crackers (jelly or honey optional) will cover lunch. Rice, stir-fried cabbage, soy sauce can cover dinners (and take little wood to prepare). Or tomatoes and cucs from your garden, with a can of chickpeas added, makes a WONDERFUL salad dinner, especially served in a pita. Yes, you can make pita over wood on a 'charcoal' grill if you practice now. Oh, make your rocket stove (google it) and store some wood now.

You can do more elaborate meals if you have the money.

On any meds? Get refills before the middle of July.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, June 21, 2010

LW - Solstice

Blessings, Darlings!

It's the summer solstice here on Earth's northern hemisphere. Or as my friend Troll summarized it for ritual: Sun High, Earth Hot.

We are in a heat wave here in DC, and my part of town is having a drought, too. We may end up matching the record number of days 90 degrees or over for June.

So let's talk summer treats.

I'm making batches of popcicles with grown-up flavors (and no food coloring). Latte ones have been a huge hit, especially with my son. My husband adores ones made from limeade, even tho' the color can best be described as a 'pale snot green'. I like all of them, but usually choose to have ones made from V-Fusion, since they've no added sugar (just plenty of natural fructose), lovely color, and count as darn near a full serving of produce.

Really, you can use any fruit juice to make them, or make them from pureed fruits.

One problem, of course, is that the molds I make them in are plastic. I could make them in paper cups, but making paper isn't great for the environment and those would be just one use. I'm working on finding a way out of this problem - I will search for stainless steel molds, I suppose.

Frondly, Fern - trying to stay cool.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Size Matters

In fact, size matters a whole LOT when it comes to wire gauge and air conditioners.

Blessings, Darlings!

As y'all may recall, we have a home business. The bulk of it is located in the garage - husband's desk is there, the lab is there, the files and office supplies are there. The garage is not insulated. The garage is not tied into the house's central HVAC system.

It is heated and cooled using two space heaters and a portable air conditioner. They run from outlets, and one of the space heaters and the AC unit use the outlet in the laundry room so we don't blow the fuse for the garage. It also means I can't use the washer when running those. AND it means that there is a long extension cord from the laundry room to the AC unit.

Today my husband cleaned the AC air filters and vacuumed the machine. He noticed that the end of the extension cord by the AC is melted and shows scorch marks.

Not good. He decided to immediately stop using it.

Okay so far. I was to pick a new heavy duty extension cord up when I go out to get the car from the repair shop later today (remember my son's car accident? The body work is totaling $1556, but will be done around noon today).

I figured that the husband would delay using the AC until I got the new extension cord.

I was wrong.

I went out earlier than I had planned to do some chores, and came back with the cord hours before we thought I would. I found the AC running in the lab. It was hooked up to a long but really WIMPY power cord. The power cord was HOT HOT HOT. We had a real fire danger going here!

This is SO wrong. Husband wouldn't use old cord because it was scorched (and probably had been scorched for ages). But he started using an even WIMPIER extension cord? The man is NUTS. And this is a man with a PhD in Electronics!

No permanent damage done. And I brought home the most robust power cord I could get, a 10 gauge one. I don't know if the plug on it is better - it was the plug that scorched on the old one - but I hope it is so we don't have this issue again.

When I next get over to the hardware store I'll buy a new plug for the old cord, so we can replace that and have the 100 foot cord available for other things. But I'm going to watch the plug on the new cord, too. I might just end up replacing those regularly.

Frondly, Fern

LW Monday: Family History

Blessings, Darlings!

Sorry about missing last week. I'm dealing with the dang knee NOW OFFICIALLY DIAGNOSED AS TORN MEDIAL MENISCUS. I've gotten a list of physical therapy exercises for it, as that is the preferred treatment over surgery. I'll be going those for the next 6 - 8 weeks. If I'm still in pain then ... off to Orthopedic surgeon.


This week let's talk about family medical history. Mine is as complex as anyone else's: high triglyerides and gout on Mom's side, along with late-onset dementia and a 50% chance of having the Jewish colon cancer gene; breast cancer on Dad's side, along with his heart disease.

But those are the easy things to see. Mom and I are sort of the 'medical memory' for her side of the family. So when I had my kidney stone and I reflected about urinary issues in the family, I saw a pattern of illnesses there - specifically 'twisted uterers' in my son's generation. It's most visible in my grandmother's daughter's daughters daughters - 60% of those girls have had to have surgery for it - but it's affected others in that generation as well.

So go forth and compile as much of your family medical history as you can. If you can get it for everyone from your grandparents out to your generation (or beyond) of aunts/uncles/cousins, get that as well as your parents and siblings.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, June 4, 2010

Most Food Costs WAY Up!

Blessings, Darlings!

Have you noticed what is happening with food costs? They have jumped incredibly over the past year or so for some items. Fruits and veggies have taken the largest jump - according to the government. But let me tell you, meat prices have soared ... but the govt doesn't acknowledge that, their food price formulas assume that you'll switch from filets to burgers so they don't really figure it in.

Last weekend we did a rare trip to a large-ish Oriental food store. The chain has some superstores, but this wasn't one of them (alas, I LOVE their superstores). We needed a few speciality items, and we looked at prices on items that are usually at great prices there.

Oh, the trauma!

The frozen sliced beef, traditionally $2.99/ lb, was $5.99/ lb. The galbi (thin sliced beef flanken short ribs) was also at $5.99/ pound. The whole beef tenderlois, which was $5.99/ pound last year, is $6.99/ lb now.

I was in shock. I left disappointed. And without the soy sauce I was after, for they were out of the brand I like.

Meanwhile, the price of grains has dropped. I've not been to the feed store to get any 50 pound sacks of wheat or corn lately, but two years ago wheat was way up near $20 for that sack. Since then the price of wheat on the Kansas Board of Trade has dropped by more than half.

So it looks like I'll be increasing my stores of grains this summer (I don't know what's up in beans yet), and seeing what happens with all other prices. Possibly meat prices will drop next year, following the drop in grain prices, but since I get most of my beef from private sales that won't affect me much. I AM glad I put in an extra 6 tomato plants, but I'll really have to start more green beans than I had planned.

And the deep snow over the winter seems to have reduced the bunny and chipmunk populations to the point that no one is eating my blueberry bushes, and the birds haven't hit them yet. We might actually get some blueberries this year!

How does your garden grow?

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life Wellness - When Problems Hit

Blessings, Darlings!

Knee so bad that I've had an MRI, and developed bursitis in the OTHER knee from overusing it to help my bad knee. Should get results from Dr. by end of week.

Aerobic exercise on hold, since I'm not joining a swim club, since I don't have the $$$$.

Life is like that sometimes. Gotta roll with it. I'm tuning up the exercise bike - tho' I don't have permission to use it until I at least get a diagnosis. Maybe I'll be able to use that. And I'm still doing upper body weights, core body exercises, and some yoga.

The main thing with WELLNESS is to do what you can. Ignore one-size fits all demands on how you improve yourself, and do what YOU can, with YOUR resources. You'll still most likely be able to do SOMETHING in all areas of wellness, even if you can't do your first choice or what would improve things fastest.

Frondly, Fern