Sunday, July 5, 2015

Independence Day Bash

We have had gorgeous weather for the past 2 days, if you don't mind the humidity.  I was worried that our July 4th Cook Out would get rained out, but we had perfect weather.

The girls kicked off the festivities, by having a snow ball fight.  The 3 of them gathered these snowballs during one of our many snow days last winter, and they have been safely stored away in the deep freeze for the past few months.

We had our usual wonderful spread, thanks to the good cooks that we happen to be friends with:  JP cooked hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, and we had delicious salads, beans, and patriotic cup cakes, along with the typical chips, veggies and watermelon.

The major trauma of the event came when the kids swarmed up the ladder to the tree house, and unknowingly irritated this enormous nest of hornets located under the deck.  3 kids got stung, and 3 more had to be rescued by ladder from the opposite deck of the tree house.  Last night JP destroyed the nest, so it's safe to return to the Poplar Ridge tree house...whew.

After all stings were treated, 15 of us set off on a 30 minute hike around Poplar Ridge, picking wild black raspberries along the way.

Of course, after all of that exercise, we needed to eat some more.  Then it was time to cool off in the pool.

When dusk came, we all reconvened in the back yard of another friend to watch the fireworks at the Fairgrounds in town.

All in all, we had a fabulous day.  I hope all of our guests felt similarly!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Where's the Bear? #32

The bear is taking advantage of a lull in the precipitation to try out L's new bike.

I might as well take this opportunity to report on my exclamation point fast.  I am over half way through the 30 day time period, but I have to admit that I have used 2 or 3 well deserved exclamation points so far.  I guess I can't really call it a fast, but rather an extremely restrictive exclamation point diet.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

No Whey

Things have been a little more weird than usual around here for the past week or so.  Tomorrow JP and I will be working for a different employer, as the sale of the Hospital is finalized at midnight tonight.  There have been copious forms to fill out, negotiations to make, meetings with the new administration to have, and we still need to get fingerprinted.  In the long run, it seems like this change will be great for the community, maybe not so great for the employees of the Hospital.

Add to this hot mess, the fact that JP started having visual issues last Monday evening, then drove himself an hour away to our old home place in WV on Tuesday for laser surgery for a retinal tear while I covered his office.  The symptoms worsened, and he was fast-laned to the Retinal Specialist just North of here last Friday.  There it was confirmed that the first laser surgery was for a fictitious "tear", but that he did indeed have a tear of the retina in a different area, as well as a partial retinal detachment.  He had cryosurgery, and pneumatic retinopexy (in which they inject a bubble of gas into the eye to hold the retina in place until it heals.)  Because of this, he has not been allowed to lie flat, bend over, or do any strenuous activity.

We all accompanied him even farther North for a follow up today, where he was given the good news that after tonight, he will be allowed to sleep lying flat in bed again. 

Since we both took the day off today, and since he still has vision issues, (as most of the lower visual field of his left eye is obscured by a bluish bubble,) he asked me to work yesterday.  My routine has been shot all to heck.

Add to this the fact that our deep freeze (filled with all of the berries and peas that I've been picking this summer, and some remaining veggies from last year) bit the dust on Friday.  We were pleasantly surprised that Lowe's delivered the new one on a Sunday afternoon, and less than 24 hours after we ordered it.

The frosting on the cake, however, is the fact that it rains. every. doggone. day.

Since JP is not allowed to use the riding mower (too much jostling and vibration), I have been trying to push mow just around the house in between rain showers.  It has taken me 3 days.

I have managed to accomplish a couple of things.  I scrounged up a carpet square that J will use for showing her rabbit at the Fair in about 5 weeks, and I made my weekly half gallon of Greek yogurt. 

I have been faithfully saving the whey left over from making said yogurt in the freezer for the past month.  JP found a recipe for making ricotta cheese that calls for at least 1-2 gallons of whey.  I have to say that I was skeptical that anything else worth eating would come out of this viscous yellow liquid, but I was game to try.  I followed the recipe to the "T", stirred and measured the temperature faithfully, but nothing happened.  Only then did JP research and find out that if the original cheese was made by heating the milk to >120*, you can't use that whey to make ricotta.  I heat the milk to 180* to make yogurt.

So there you have it.  It's been weird.  Whey weird.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


It's raining again.

I picked the peas in my garden yesterday, and the vines were rotting underneath from all of the moisture.

From a distance, my flower garden is looking pretty nice.

Up close, it looks like we live in the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Where's the Bear? #31


Today, I noticed the bear smelling my lilies.  He seems to enjoy them, judging by the smile on his face.  I think I dug these from your garden, K.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gourmet Beetles

The rain continued through Saturday.  With no hope of doing any yard work on Saturday, due to perpetual precipitation and flash flood watches, we decided to go South to see "Inside Out."  There was apparently a power outage right at the end of the film, and we sat around in the semi-dark for awhile until they were able to restart it.

On Sunday, the sun finally came out.  The Japanese beetles also came out with the sun.  My sweet peas and weeping cherries were crawling with the suckers.  I happen to know that chickens are big fans of Japanese beetles, so I plucked them off of my plants by the dozens, and dropped them in a bucket half full of water.  By Monday evening, the hens had gobbled up several hundred beetles, and there no longer seem to be the hordes piling about.

While harvesting beetles, I noticed that my "little" oak tree, which is now 10 or 12 feet tall (do you remember helping me load and unload that tree from my mini van ladies?), is making tiny acorns for the first time.  It must be happy living on Poplar Ridge.

JP received a poolside basket ball hoop for Father's Day.  Due to dilution by rain water along with warm weather, the chlorine level in the pool got too low, and it turned slimy.  It has been duly shocked and cleaned, and should be ready for swimming by tomorrow.  Perhaps we can try the pool BBall this weekend.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Plethora of Rain and Exclamation Points

Normally I wouldn't complain about the rain, as I rarely irrigate my garden any other way.  It also seems sacrilegious somehow to whine about too much rain when we've had to haul water for the past 2 summers when our well went dry.  But here I am, dismayed by all the rain we've had.

For one thing, I've had to keep dusting my plants with diatomaceous earth to keep them from getting munched by various veggie munching insects, as the rain continues to wash it off.  It appears at this point, that the bugs are winning.

In addition, I have to repeatedly remove water from the pool, and add various chemicals, as the rain water unceasingly dilutes it.


This morning, the girls and I went out and picked a trio of berries before the rain started.

We also found a trio of beautiful Black Swallowtail caterpillars on L's parsley.

All the rain is making the veggies grow (as well as the weeds.)  I picked Sugar Snap Peas for the first time on Monday.

I don't think it is caused by the rain, but I've noticed the overabundance of exclamation points in my emails, blog posts, and texts lately.  Typically I go through and edit out over half of them before posting or mailing (with the exception of texts) and too many yet remain.

I listened to a podcast last week called "How to Do Everything," which bemoaned the excess of exclamation points recently, and suggested going on a 30 Day Exclamation Point Fast.  Thus, I am not using any exclamation points for the next 27 days.  Join me, won't you?  At least take a listen to the podcast, it's quite humorous.