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.

Where's the Bear? #30

This week the bear seems to have found a cool spot to relax in, and some cool peeps to relax with.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Where's the Bear? #29

The girls are always complaining that there are no good "climbing trees" on Poplar Ridge.

The bear seems to have found one.

Can you believe that J planted this little Silver Maple 5 years ago?

Monday, June 8, 2015


I was just in the Chick-bit house, battening down the hatches in preparation for "severe thunderstorms with damaging hail" that are forecast for this evening.  I spied this little guy out there.

You can see how tiny he is - maybe 10 inches long.
Before I could catch him, he slithered through the chicken wire and burrowed under the litter in there.  I dug around with a stick for a bit, but couldn't find him.

He is a Ringneck snake, and while Wikipedia states that they are "slightly venomous", it appears that they rarely bite, and the saliva contains a toxin that can cause a superficial skin reaction.

He doesn't appear to be any danger to my pullets, hens, their eggs, or J's rabbit.  I still don't like the idea of him burrowing in there...out of sight!


This is the newest addition to my flower garden, a bright yellow Arctic Poppy.  Doesn't it look cheerful?

This morning, I mowed the garden and picked strawberries, while L spent her time cleaning the tree house from top to bottom. 

I am standing at the top, in the blueberry bushes to take
this pic, there are beds of potatoes and beans in front
that are not visible, and 8 beds below strawberries
 + asparagus bed!!
When we were both finished, I made chai lattes.  We drank them and ate chocolate covered "biscuits" in the tree house while I read to the girls from "The Phantom Tollbooth", by Norton Juster.

Almost as soon as we came inside, the sky broke open with thunder and rain.  Whew!

No big plans today...kinda nice for a change!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday Hike

It has been a very productive weekend!

While JP did his 4-6 hours of mowing on Saturday, the girls and I worked in the garden.  I had been out several times during the week, and got all of the raised beds worked and ready to plant...even got the second bed of potatoes planted and mulched.  On Saturday, we were able to plant 2 beds of beans, 2 1/2 beds of corn, and some baby broccoli, tomatoes and basil.  Everything that can be planted, is now planted...hooray!

We also worked together to move the fence around the chicken run in order to mow, and sectioned off an area for the pullets.  My Dad cut a door on the other side of the Chick-bit house for the pullets, and we let them out of door for the first time yesterday afternoon.  They are pretty skittish, and never get too far away from the door yet, but seem to enjoy pecking, scratching and stretching their wings.

While cleaning out the garage, JP discovered this bin of potatoes that I obviously forgot about over the winter.

Today we decided that we needed a day to play to make up for the all the hard work yesterday!  First we took a hike around the property on all of the paths that JP mowed.  Then we played 4 Square for awhile.

Jumping in the pool was so refreshing both yesterday and today when we were hot and tired!

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Where's the Bear? #28

I caught J pushing the bear on the horse swing, "Liberty", this afternoon.

I think he's enjoying himself!

Monday, June 1, 2015

This Summer's Gonna Hurt Like a...What?

We have a free trial of Sirius satellite radio in the Subaru for 2 weeks.  J's favorite station is the pop hits.  I am continually amazed by the profanity and inanity of song lyrics these days...such as the Maroon 5 one that I used in the title of this blog.  There's another one that says "Let's Marvin Gaye and get it on", another that goes "Talking body, you got a perfect one so put it on me."   And this is the stuff your kids are listening to, people!

I prefer the "80's on 8" channel myself.  Do I sound like an Old Fart?  Well I feel like one these days.  Apparently my summer's gonna hurt like an old person's back and arthritic hand.  Sigh. 

It is the first day of June, so I really need to finish getting my garden planted.  It is such slow going because of my hand.  I feel a bit better tonight, having gotten quite a few beds worked up in the garden over the past couple of days, all ready to plant!

This weekend, JP and I planted 5 tiny sugar maple trees around the ridge as well.

The Dog Warden was up this afternoon, and removed the little brown dog, who had taken up residence on our veranda over the weekend.  He howled at the back door last night, wanting to get in!  The kitties, who also reside on our veranda, are glad he's gone.  I'm happy to say that he went quite willingly, bribed by bits of Beggin' Strips.

J and I have just returned from 4H, where she has FINALLY started to learn about how to show her rabbit at the Fair.  It reminds me of when I was in PA school, practicing physical exams on my colleagues...doing and saying every single stinking thing that I could (or should) be looking for or at.  That's what it's like.  Unreal.

Just like this post, this summer vacation has started out as a jumbled up patchwork of strangeness.  J and I have a Junior High Soccer meeting tomorrow night, and I have a follow up appointment with my hand surgeon the next day, then...I think...we should be good to go.  All summer, all the time.  No worries, Mate. 

My flower garden is looking like a
patchwork as well.  Isn't your rose
 lovely, K?