Friday, July 31, 2015

End Of July In The Garden

This one is not mine.  I don't have nearly enough straw to line the paths. And my fence has to be much taller as the deer could easily hop over this fence and eat everything and where's the gate?

The heat arrived a few days before my son.  He isn't used to humidity as his California location is dry and crispy from lack of water.  So, his first day here in Maine was difficult.  Almost 90 degrees, sunny and 85% humidity--and then it started to rain.

He also has been induced to help "lift and carry" -- something our daughter gets very irritated with. She doesn't mind helping, but, to her, it's "all the time".   C also used his expertise to remove hard drives from 3 older computers which are now on their way to the recycling station at the Town dump.
C and I took apart my 100 year old Danish dining room table (aka my sewing table) and carried it--wow is 100 year old wood heavy--- upstairs into the room which will be the new sewing room.

Sigh---- if I ever feel like sewing or quilting again.  With the retirement of the Twelve by Twelve challenges--my interest in quilting has dried up as I guess I needed the "push" of the challenges to get into the work.  I still have shelves full of pretty fabric, bolts of plain white to dye or paint, and lots and lots of unfinished projects.  I need to make pillowcases.

The 2015 garden is in full swing now.  Tomato plants are chin high.  I collected enough zucchini from the first plants to produce (4) to make bread and butter zucchini pickles--6 pints. (in the heat and humidity of my kitchen at 9 pm after work)  I have lots of lettuce.  The mustard plants have gone to seed.  I have plenty of kale. The cucumber plants are climbing the trellis and have lots and lots of tiny, tiny pickles on each vine.  The squash plants have lots of baby squash--- and since it has been very hot, and raining every day--I need to go out with my knife and garden basket and collect produce.  I've pulled half my garlic and will get the other half out today or tomorrow.

I am hoping the heat and daily rain encourages the FOURTH attempt at seeding carrots.

Today, C and I will be making potstickers.  We'll have to drive to Town to get supplies and then we'll stand around the kitchen island (together) hand folding and pinching dozens of little dumplings. Some we'll eat and the rest will get frozen and packaged for future meals.  I have also promised him a birthday cake.  Which reminds me that I need to find the recipe for the spice cake that was always his favorite, or he can have whoopee pies or a cherry pie (Whole Foods makes an astonishingly good cherry pie).  We'll see what he chooses.

Next birthday will be our daughter's in August and then mine in September.

I've often tried to suggest "birthday pie" instead of cakes but I haven't had much success--I am the only one who asks for a birthday pie.  Last year it was peach raspberry and I loved every bite of it. (LOL).   I would ask for a banana cream pie but I would be the only person eating it.  So I usually buy a little banana cream "tart" for just me.  I also love a good banana pudding.

I am on vacation from work.  I had a long weekend off, worked two days and now have five off.  I may not go back (ha, ha).  I really like having time to wash windows (with newspaper and glass cleaner), then wash the glass on all the framed pictures on the walls, wash the dog's nose prints off the storm doors, clean the microwave, clean the large mirror in the bathrooms, vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.  Yesterday I sat on the steps and sorted seed packets.  It all feels "right".

Monday, July 27, 2015

Establishing A Guest Bedroom

In a house with four bedrooms and only one bed.  Sigh.  It hasn't gone smoothly.  My friend P is also trying to establish a comfortable (but not too) guest room for her guests.  We went looking for a full or queen bed frame for her guest room.   Me?  I prefer to have two twin beds in the guest room.

At one time, when guests were something that actually happened, I had one guest room with a queen bed, one with a king bed and the third room was my sewing room or G's office but could be turned into a third guest room with the two twins in about an hour's notice.  Our daughter has the queen.  A friend of the daughter--moving from a difficult situation with no furniture--got the king bed and the bedside tables and dresser.  And we never replaced any of it as we seemed able to fill any voids with stacks of storage containers.

We still have the 1950's maple bunk beds which filled (actually) the tiny bedroom I shared with my two brothers.  The youngest in a crib.  There was enough room for a child to walk (or fall out of bed) between the beds.  At each end, a wall.  Next to the crib--the door.  I think we had a window.  The walls were covered in parakeet wallpaper.  We shared that room until we moved when I was almost 10.  My brothers were almost 8 and 5.  Perhaps the youngest never really "matured" because he slept in a crib until he was 5???  Even with the side removed.

We are into day three with the new fridge.  It is very quiet.  The "other" one made a noticeable amount of noise with the motor and fans -- from the beginning.

The food inside is cold.  The ice maker is making ice.  Everything fit inside and I have empty spaces.
Enough spaces tall enough for milk containers and orange juice bottles.  The "chill" drawer has room for the deli sliced meats AND a week's supply of yogurt cups PLUS room for cheeses.

And, wonders to behold, a shelf above the ice maker "suitable for containers of ice cream".  It's been 2.5 years since we had room for a container of ice cream.

When the service guys came to install the new fridge and remove the old--they were rather stunned.  "This is a new fridge" they said to G when they first saw the Whirlpool.  And G said "yes, it's only 2 years old".  Why they asked?  Because it doesn't work and can't be repaired.  And they hauled it away.

Magnets don't stick to the new Electrolux.  It's actually stainless steel (or so G tells me).  The front of the Whirlpool--well, magnets stuck to it.  Enough said.

I have to get back to sorting out things in my sewing room and carrying them upstairs.  I have the paint and dye cabinet to work on this morning.  I have a Pfaff sewing machine that works on European wattage or with a transformer.  Anyone interested?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

July And the Garden Is Busting Out

Thank Goodness for the fences.  I tied up the tomatoes--I seem to need to do this every 3 days. I counted 12 tomatoes (green) and lots of little flowers.  I hope there will be MORE.  With tomatoes, I am a glutton.  I always want more.  Early Girl and Better Boy.

The cucumber plants are finally tall enough to reach out and attach themselves to the fence.  And the baby plants that I planted as "insurance" and to extend the cucumber season are about three inches tall.  Lots of tiny yellow flowers.  I hope they hurry as the dill is ready. I am growing burpless European style cucumbers and the pickling ones.

I brought two plump jalapeños in from the garden--in my pocket.  I am going to taste test.  Last year's first wave of jalapeños was hot and the second wave tasted like plain old bell peppers. Disappointing. But the freezer melt down made "soup" of all those frozen peppers.  Bland as they were, I would have used them to season chili.

I checked the squash bed and I have two (maybe 3) zucchini growing.  One more yellow squash.  Lots of flowers on the yellow plants but very few on the zucchini plants.  Fingers crossed they start producing like rabbits in the next few weeks.  I need to make bread and butter pickles.

All of the bell pepper plants have one and more likely two or three peppers growing.  I like to leave them until they start to show some red and then pick them.  The finish turning red here in the house.

Tomorrow my walking buddy (2007) and I are walking--at our old time of 8:30 am.  I am so looking forward to it.  After the walk, I'll eat breakfast, read the paper and then go off to work.  I even have a good lunch to take with me to work.  I actually eat it around 3 or 4 pm and then don't have supper.

Well, I have to sign off and check the news to see what The Donald had to say today.  He is certainly adding interest to a rather DULL race so far---  I don't see him as a viable candidate, but actually there aren't many who will make it past September.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Moving Ahead

With trepidation.

Whirlpool has offered us a new replacement fridge (by August 20th) or a check for 75% of the cost of the broken fridge.  Since---and I thought about this a great deal--- I never really liked the style features of the French doors/bottom freezer drawer fridge I purchased--the center drawer, which means both French doors must be fully opened in order to get the drawer to pull out; the size of the freezer--(smaller in volume than the two door, freezer on top, with ice maker that we owned for 20 years), with so many shallow drawers that nothing actually fit into them and the really stupid slide in "pizza" storage area---wasted space ---I decide against the new replacement.   We are waiting for the check instead.

And I have chosen to buy a simpler, side by side door fridge.  Where I can see everything in the freezer and I only have one door to open to get anything in the fridge.  The in door ice maker takes up considerable space--but it's the only thing G says he must have.  It has few bells and whistles.
I am considering the Electrolux, the Frigidaire and the GE Profile.  So if any of you own one of these, give me your opinion.  I am purchasing the 5 year extended warranty on whichever one I choose.
I am considering the local appliance store and Loew's (because they have given us a loaner both times we needed one)-- and they were very nice about it.

We also just got the bill for the house painting, the new windows, and the carpentry trim inside--due to the new windows.  WOW!!!  It was much more than either of us expected.  We just kept saying "yes" to everything the contractor suggested.  He has taken care of this house for over 24 years and everything he does--painting, carpentry, roofing has been 100% perfect.

I think we will be taking a recess from home improvements until the bank balance looks more like it's former self.  And we'll spend the extra time in the garden.  Finally everything is filling out and growing tall.  And, since I am almost finished scrubbing the tile floor on the sunporch--I can start painting in there--so it matches the house.

And we are having a houseguest at the end of the month.  G is trying to find the side rails for the twin beds.  The beds my parents bought for my brother and I back in the day--when I was five and he was three.  Lovely to have them, still.  G is going up in the attic with a flashlight tomorrow.  LOL.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Now We're Gardening!

The peas are finally ready to be picked.  And eaten.  I eat them raw.  Never have bothered to cook any of them, and then the pods are returned to the compost heap.   My chard is ready but has yellow stems.  I was given six little broccoli seedlings for "fall planting" (which is now) and I also have bean seeds waiting for the peas to finish up.  I'll leave the pea roots in the soil to provide nitrogen to the beans.  My lettuce is still doing great.  The rocket (arugula) has gone to seed.  It bolts so quickly. The beets are doing fine and the 8 (yes, only 8) carrots are looking very fine, indeed.  I need to try and reseed carrots for a late crop.  This will be the THIRD attempt on carrots.

My tiny cucumber plants are just beginning to make those curly tendrils--reaching out to grab hold of anything nearby.  I gave them a few bamboo sticks to hold on to until they get tall enough to grab onto the trellis.  I also tucked a few more cucumber seeds into the ground--for later.

My yellow and zucchini squashes are growing--too slowly for my impatient gardening--- but there are flowers (mostly male) and I continue to water and feed.  All the bell pepper plants have made at least one bell pepper each.  They are so reliable.   The jalapeño plants have fewer baby peppers but I have high hopes this year.   I want lots of zucchini and jalapeño for my bread and butter pickles. We are officially OUT of canned pickles.

I have set out a total of 18 Hungarian Wax Pepper plants (I am crazy).  I think (???) I will be pickling them.  I remember my grandmother pickling these yellow peppers and serving them with sliced ham and rye bread for delicious fall and winter sandwiches.  All the plants have yellow peppers on them--growing upright, over the top of the leaves.  I need to do research on when to pick them.  I read a seed packet and the peppers are actually ripe when they turn golden or orange, so I may wait for that color change.

As you can tell, I am planning on preserving and pickling this year without much TRUST in the freezer. All the blueberries will be made into jam.  If I want blueberries with yogurt--well, it will be blueberry jam.  I will make jars and jars of pickles to restock my pantry.  I think this year's raspberries will also be processed into jam.   Unless I have a new fridge by the time they ripen in late September.

The blackberry bushes (thicket) looked promising when all the flowers were out but now--G reports that he thinks it's all the tiny, ratty wild berries and not the large ones I planted alongside the wild ones.  I prefer the large ones.  If---the second year in a row--I only get the small wild ones---then we will be mowing the thicket down.  No reason to have it.

The fridge has now lost any ability to cool.  It's averaging 60 degrees.  Good temp for growing bacteria. The freezer is 60 degrees as well. But the fan we had replaced last summer is still working. We are waiting to hear from Whirlpool.  Best case--they will send us a check which we can use to buy a new fridge.  I asked G to turn it off/pull the plug but he doesn't want to (restaurant background) as it will then begin to create mold and bacteria.  And smell. And the doors would have to be kept open wide. And neither of us is strong enough to move the thing.  And where would we move it???? It's all very sad.  The inability to "do anything" about any of it.  We feel defeated and just want to be able to move on.  Or to even know when we will be able to move on. If....

So, I will take my broccoli seedlings, my carrot seeds, basil seeds and positive thoughts out to the garden.  Leave the negative thoughts here in the house with the fridge.

The sun is shining here in Maine and it is 82 but feels like 90 degrees. HOT.  Riley is spread out flat on the wood floor next to my computer desk.  Under the ceiling fan.  Recovering from his walk. Dog Days of Summer.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Salvia is Blooming-- Must be July

We are down to 6 hour shifts at work.  The summer slow down.  Today was hot, muggy and quite miserable.  Luckily, I learned from my experience yesterday and brought a proper lunch. I had a cheese sandwich, cantaloupe chunks, iced coffee---and I shared the bag of popcorn I had tucked away in my locker.  M helped me pop it successfully.  I do NOT know how to microwave popcorn.

The deer didn't eat anything overnight but, just in case, I clipped all the lovely pink rosebuds that could tempt the deer.  A very nice, sweet smelling bouquet.  The deer don't touch the peonies or the salvia.   They don't like the bearded iris or the false indigo either.  As of 15 minutes ago, they didn't enjoy the goat's beard's plumes.

The hydrangea are wrapped in chicken wire.

My saved zinnia seeds germinated and are now 6 inches tall with small, single magenta flowers.  I feel quite proud of them.  The deer won't eat them but last summer the slugs and snails made so many holes in the leaves--the poor flowers didn't have a chance.

The little window AC unit is doing it's usual fantastic job of eliminating the moisture in the air.

The carpenters showed up this morning (when I was hoping to sleep late) at 7:30 and power screwed the new shutters on the house.  Starting with the bedroom window.  So much for sleeping late.
Time to think about supper.

Monday, July 06, 2015

I Can't Let Life Beat Me Down

I love this line drawing of the Goat.  I should do one of my own.

G is watering the garden more often.  After his daily 2.5 mile walk with Riley.  The carpenter installing the new windows on the front of the house has given me some tips on what to feed my plants for maximum growth.  The growth I am getting this year is rather more skimpy than last year. I added manure and fertilizer but it doesn't seem to be doing anything--well, it DOES seem to be helping the weed population thrive.  And the mosquitos.

My hibiscus (swamp mallow) was really growing tall and beautiful.  The deer ate it to the ground. The rose bushes are full of blossoms.  I am wondering who will ruin them.  The deer or the Japanese beetles.  I walked (stomped) around the house saying "I hate this place" because of the deer.  Just as soon as I notice something is looking lovely---they (the deer) destroy it all.   There is little to no joy in gardening for me this summer.

I am growing tired of walking from the kitchen, through the sunporch, into the garage and then over to the loaner fridge to get  cream for my coffee or milk for my cereal.  Then back to the kitchen.  And then back to the garage to put what ever I needed back into the fridge.  The loaner is in the garage because G picked it up rather than the Loew's guys delivering.  And we couldn't carry it over the steps into the sunroom where we had the loaner last July.

I just found a tick behind my glasses earpiece, stuck to my skin but still wiggling. I don't know if blood was exchanged.  I have to have G look at the spot (I can't see the area above/behind my ear) when he gets back from his walk.  He has found 3 or 4 ticks on himself in the last few days.  I'm thinking we are picking them up in the vegetable garden.

I bought some tick deterrent but G hasn't (even though I have asked twice already) spread it around the brushy edges of the lawn as yet.  Hopefully, today.  I don't know if there is anything else we can do--besides staying locked in the house.  Lots of ticks at work--where this one on my ear may, more likely, have gotten on me.

Today was my last dose of doxycycline.  My RN friend said now I have to document and have checked any "new" symptoms.  Any rashes, aches and pains in joints, etc. etc.  She said Lyme's is similar to syphilis in that it waits in the blood for years and then comes back, worse, so much worse.
By then I hope the researchers have found a way to reverse it.

But for now--we will check my ear and see if another bullseye appears.  It's really not safe to go outside.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Trouble With Whirlpool Refrigerators

We had a service call from our extended warranty company.  I think he drove here from either Massachusetts or New Hampshire as there were (are) no technicians in Maine.

Our refrigerator was not repaired.

The closed end (sealed) fuel system which creates cold isn't working and probably was never working correctly.  The technician searched but couldn't find a leak.

G and I are left with a non-working, unrepairable refrigerator.