Monday, July 21, 2014

And, it's Monday


I have wanted a cozy little kitchen like this one in many segments of my life.  I think a small, tiny space is safer when my life is out of control.  I once had a metal shelf unit with cream and red containers.  I sold it last September in the yard sale on my daughter's street.  At the time I was feeling like I was in control of my life--then it went off the rails and is still causing me panic.

It's Monday.  3:23.  The service tech never showed up to repair the fridge.  I didn't think he would.  G has replaced the first block of ice in the fridge with a second one.  We are getting used to going out on the porch for milk and butter.

I purchased two flats of very tall, overgrown annuals yesterday.  I had to cut the mat of roots off the bottom and then cut each flat into 12 blocks with a very big knife.  Each block contains one very tall ageratum or cream marigold.  The ageratum can possibly grow to 30 inches and the marigolds to 15.  I planted younger (June) marigolds in one of the parking lot containers at work.  I was impressed with how great they look.  Both flats cost me all of $3.84.  Perhaps they will impress me and look great here in my garden as well? I'm sure they are happy to be here in my garden and not in the dumpster at work.

I have harvested 6 nice heavy zucchini from my garden (one was shredded for a chocolate loaf and two went into a zucchini crust for a meat pie), 1.5 pounds of small yellow squash, all my heads of garlic (last year I waited too long and the cloves opened so I pulled early), one onion and the last of the peas. I also pulled up all the pea vines and added fertilizer and planted my pole beans.  Too many.  But I like the beans to look more like a carnival or circus climbing all over the pergola. Four of my tomatoes are changing color.  And they are big tomatoes.  I have not picked the large green peppers as I am waiting for them to turn to red as well.  My row of tomato plants is now nearly as tall as I am. Siberian Reds, Green Zebra, Abe Lincoln, Purple Cherokee, Sun Gold along with the shorter, Early Girls.

One single raspberry has ripened.  But it was very good.  The others are coming right along.  I can see future blackberries on my vines.  It will be weeks yet before I pick them and end up with bleeding ankles and arms.  I intend to make a blackberry pie this year.  I actually could make one now, as I have bags of blackberries in the freezer.  I haven't been able to make a dent in the fruit in the freezer, even eating fruit with yogurt for lunch 3 days a week.  And it's all from my garden.

The blueberry bushes are loaded with fruit.  Not ripe yet.  Still green.   My friend Patty has tons of grapes on her vines.  I am begging her to give them to me so I can make grape jelly again.  It was messy but the jelly was so good.  And we've run out.  I could also try making something out of the blueberries.  Preserves?  There is nothing quite as awful as cooking jelly on a hot August evening and then making a water bath and boiling the jars.  Then doing the dishes.

My fig tree has started to make figs.  I was worried that it wouldn't but a few weeks ago I started seeing little bumps above each leaf.  I think there are 20 or 30 of them.  I am watering and feeding the tree in hopes of them ripening this time.  G likes fig preserves.  Another set of hot jars.

Do you make jelly and preserves?  I tried tomato jam last summer and that stuff was amazing.  If I don't have enough tomatoes this year I will look for farm stand boxes for canning.

And then there's the Brandied Cranberry Sauce my neighbor gave us last Thanksgiving.  OMG. Which reminds me to add a bottle of brandy to the shopping list in November.

Update:  Repair guy showed up at 4pm.  Took all the shelving out of the fridge ( G and I just finished washing and drying it), used my hairdryer to melt the ice clogging a vent and then left.  He needs to order a part (a three way valve switch) and that will come in whenever it comes in.  So, we are making friends with the fridge on the porch which now has everything in it.  It may be days.  It may be weeks.  It could even be months.  The freezer and ice maker are still working.

Dinner out by the Atlantic Ocean.  The Dolphin.  Lobster.  But before that, a nice gin and tonic on Patty's deck, under the grapes.  I will take the camera and stun you with the sights here in Maine by the ocean.  This really is "the way life should be"  except for appliance repair.




Friday, July 18, 2014

Mid-Summer, sigh.


I long for muted, cool places.  Out of the sun, humidity and grit.  I am sticky and gritty most of the days at work.  Cleaning petunias is just about the worst thing to be forced to do.

I collected this photo of a bath with shower for my carpenter.  I want the baths to be about nothing.  The absence of "stuff".

Now--to the meat of this post.  My refrigerator.  A RANT!!!  Naming names.

My fridge is less than 18 months old.  The fridge part has stopped "holding temperature" while the freezer part continues to work.  I got this phrase from G who was in the restaurant business for over 30 years.  He knows about failure to hold temp.  Food gets warm.

We called our service warranty provider.  It will be 5 days or more before they can sent a technician.  They tried calling the two providers that are local.  One no longer has any employees trained to fix anything and the second didn't answer their business phone.  Five days with a fridge that won't hold temperature is a bit too long.  In July.

G then asked to speak to a supervisor. After 40 minutes he got one. In Michigan.  That's when we got an appointment.  In 5 days. Because we live in a "rural" area.  And she also gave us a 6 month "free" extension to our warranty.  Now, from my point of view, that warranty is worth nothing.  More of it?  Less than nothing.

G then called Loews where we bought the fridge and the warranty.  By then we wanted to "return" the fridge and get a new replacement.  They said no but offered us a "loaner" fridge for the 5 days.  It would come the next day between 2 and 5 pm.

We waited.  5pm came and went.  Then, at 8:30, I saw the Lowes truck.  Two guys brought in a very nice utility fridge and strongly suggested we put it on the back porch and not the garage.  From experience, they knew we would be using the "loaner" far longer than 5 days.  Cause they can't get "parts".  They said "keep it" as LONG as you want.  Just call when your  fridge is fixed.

We were also told we are "lucky" to have bought a Whirlpool.  The "unlucky" are the folks who purchased Samsung fridges ( I almost did) because there are NO technicians who can service Samsung in the entire state of Maine.  Which means none of the ones that have failed to hold temperature are even waiting to be fixed.  They are just broken.  Period.

They guys who delivered the loaner had been out since 7 am and still had two loaner fridges on the truck to deliver.

The point of this post:  buy local from the guy in your Town or city who hires and pays a guy to service your purchases.  Whirlpool couldn't care less (from our perspective on a 45 minute wait to get to talk to someone about service and then another 40 minutes to wait to speak to a supervisor).  Lowes was at least nice enough to give us a way to have cold food while we waited.

It was very nice to have cold milk with my bran flakes this morning instead of room temp milk.

In Garden News.  I have four lovely, shiny, heavy zucchini in the loaner fridge and I am making chocolate zucchini bread tomorrow (day off) and a pan of zucchini brownies.  I didn't get any zukes last summer and I am very happy with my harvest so far.  I might have enough to make a few jars of zucchini bread and butter pickles.   The cucumber plants are climbing the trellis.  Yeah!!!  And my yellow onions are about 3 inches in diameter.  I also have two little turnips.  I had three but I ate one. Raw with salt.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Snakeroot


I found this picture of Fennel and Snakeroot on one of the blogs I get in my "mail".  I believe the snakeroot is South African and therefore not grow-able in Maine.  But I like the "wispy-ness" of the orange flowers and will do research to see if there IS something like this that does grow in Maine. I have an abundance of nasturtiums in orange in the garden (safely fenced) which are lovely and taste peppery.  Good for a summer salad.  The garlic is nearly ready to pull.

Right now we are battling the DEER.  They have just birthed new babies--usually twins--and everyone is hungry.   They have finished off the hosta, eaten all the rose buds off the roses (we do have them circled in chicken wire cages) and are now munching on the flower buds of the day lilies.   No flowers makes Joanne a very sad girl, indeed.

A solution is to completely fence our four acres with chicken wire.  This has sounded like madness in years prior to this one.  Now, it is sounding like a very good idea.  G is spraying repellent every 4 days.  I am 5 to 10 minutes outside of Town.  And we are overrun with wild animals.

The humidity has risen.  So I will be happiest in the sewing room hemming pants.  Perhaps to work on my 10 by 10 art quilt.  Perhaps to string beads and bells on my "artistic" idea of a wind chime made from the frame of a lamp shade I found on the street one day.  I saved about 20 toothpaste caps in a pretty shade of sea blue which G has kindly drilled holes in.  I have a coupon for JoAnn's and will see if they have bells.  Nice bells that make a lot of jingle.

It seems sad to not be happiest outdoors on summer days.  It was quite lovely yesterday with a brisk sea breeze blowing thru the greenhouse at work.  But that same breeze was also blowing all the plants over and drying them out faster than we could water.  Yin and Yang.

We are barely eating.  Last night it was some fried potatoes and leftover sausages.  What is happening is--I am searching inside the freezer for things to thaw and eat.  I found two containers of chili which was nice.  Fruit from last summer for my yogurt lunches.  Last summer's frozen peppers with thawed chicken breasts.  I think there may be steaks hidden in the depths of the bottom drawer?  Who knows. G did buy himself a rack of lamb at Trader Joe's.  It's in the freezer.

 I made rhubarb syrup with the stringy stems of rhubarb in the garden.  G bought me limes.  I'm ready to try a Rhubarb lime Fizz.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I'm Dreaming Of A Clean Table Top


G cleaned out all the history and "cookies" and I was unable to find my picture file.  This picture popped up all by itself.  Good enough.  My actual table is full of clutter so I will enjoy looking at this table.  In all it's bare wood goodness.

My friend Trisha clears her tables after each and every meal.  Everything gets put away.  She does have a lidded box on the kitchen counter (the only thing on the counter) which she fills with anything she finds that doesn't have a "spot".  This is where we all (on vacation) look for keys and sunglasses and pill bottles.   We are all "a certain age".

Strawberry season is over.  Peas are coming in nicely.  My tomatoes and potatoes have never looked nicer--just in time for alerts of late blight.  Which will certainly kill everything.  It's really hard to be a gardener.  The line between success and utter despair is so thin, barely there.  And I don't like green tomatoes.  I have many small figs on my tree--like last year.  I am hoping these ripen.  I keep up with the watering and fertilizer.  I'm not sure I even like figs.  But G does love fig preserves. There may be enough for one small jar.

I am thinking of making Rhubarb Lime Fizz.  Rhubarb syrup, lime juice and soda water.  Perhaps some gin.  

We are in that particular summer "zone" when I lose any incentive to do anything but take showers, dress in loose clothing and recline on the couch.  I am fascinated with World Cup Soccer and have recorded the games to watch after work.  Only two more games.  It's like winter olympic curling.  Odd choices for me.  Unexplainable.  Even to myself.

Work.  Hot.  Depressing as the summer plants go "past" and it's not time for the autumn.  The perennials are blooming, needing deadheading, water and moving from back of store to front of parking lot.   The difference between the new stuff coming from the mother store and our stuff is astonishing.  We don't have fertilizer in our water.  Our stuff is short.  Theirs is so tall.  Hours are being cut.  Mosquitos.  Sunburn.  Temps of around 100 in the area of the potting bench--where I spend 80% of any day.  So many returning customers.  To see me.  It is gratifying.  It is also nice to be repotting a plant for the third time.  It's still alive, still growing, still bringing joy to the owner.

I have a pile of 20 cent pants (from last year) to cut and hem for G.  I stopped caring about the length and just looked for waist size.  Twenty cents!  Really, why be picky.  None of them are "dress" pants. Just work pants for a retired guy.  But before I can hem pants I need to clean space on the floor and cutting table in my sewing room.  It's all piled HIGH. 

I will be going out to pick (pull) rhubarb, check on my peas, pick parsley to wash, dry and roll for my freezer, pollinate squash, tie up tomatoes, check on the blueberries and blackberries, water the fig, check on the "jewels of opar" and water the hanging ferns on the front porch.  By then I should have enough mosquito bites to make me itch the rest of the day.  Then I will tackle the sewing room. Work on my 10 by 10 art.

Dream of ice cream later today.  And a Rhubarb Fizz.