Friday, July 31, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Smell of Summer

Someone should invent scented photography.

'Course, then, you'd look kinda silly with your noses plastered all over my blog...

So I guess you'll have to imagine... they smell even more glorious than they look...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Relational Difficulties

Jonah: "Mom, can I go with you tomorrow?"

Me: "Um. Where am I going?"

J: "To your parents' to see the animals!"

M: "Uh... no, I'm not going to my parents'. It's too far away. Besides, I would take you with me if I were going. Say... Who are my parents, anyway?"

J: "You know! Those... uh.. girls! Who live down the road."

M: "Really. No, my parents are Grandma and Grandpa. Daddy's parents are Oma and Opa. Your parents are me and Daddy."

J: "No! My Grandpa is my Grandpa!"

M: "Yeah, and he's my Dad! How do you think he got to be your Grandpa?"

J: Long pause. "No, you and Daddy are not my parents!"

M: "Oh yeah? Who is then?"

J: "My friends! My friends are my parents."

M: "Well. And how old are your friends?"

J: "Um... five and half!"

M: "This conversation is not making sense anymore."

J: "Yeah. Cuz you're my Mommy. Not my parent."

Be Happy, America!

I just came across this article on Natural News about the top 10 reasons to be happy about the coming financial demise of the United States. Now, I usually take anything I read at that website with a grain (or ten) of salt since it leans pretty heavily toward New Age/godlessness and vegetarianism (which I do not believe to be a truly healthy and balanced diet). But this article has to be the best take on the economy that I've ever read. Not sure if it's really reasonable, but it sure is a fun and positive thought!

For example, I really like #4:

Good News Item #4) When the U.S. government goes bankrupt, so will the FDA! And that means an end to the tyranny and oppression against the natural health industry. Remember this: U.S. government employees are but one paycheck away from disloyalty. There's a whole universe of knowledge about natural remedies just bursting to emerge once the heavy hand of oppression is lifted.

As well as #6:

Good News Item #6) The financial demise of the U.S. government will bring down Big Pharma, too, resulting in a new age of natural health remedies becoming more readily available across North America. Why is this the case? Because Big Pharma relies primarily on government revenues to stay in business, and once Big Government goes broke, Big Pharma will have no easy way to extract revenues directly from the people. They only get away with it now because they can lobby Washington to steal taxpayers' dollars and transfer them to drug companies.

Now that's the way to look at it!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Six good years, today.

Looking forward to many more.

God has blessed us...

...and made our life sweet... share together.

This Made Me Laugh Today

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Letter to the NRA

Dear Sir (Charleton Heston?), or Madam, as the case may be, since unfortunatlyMr. Heston was not the person who called me repeatedly about joining your honorable foundation;

I've wanted to write for some time to thank you for the hard work you do in upholding our right to wear t-shirts. Or, wait... was it something else? Oh yes, firearms. It is a great thing you do-- protecting our Declaration of Independence from Evildoers by Our Right to Step Out on the Porch With a Shotgun. My husband and I are now discussing the purchase of a small handgun which we will keep in an accessible location and which I will actually know how to use more comfortably than the above-mentioned Shotgun. You know, in case I need to Step Out on the Porch.

It was really a picture of customer service the way your minions persistently called us every Monday and Tuesday morning, along with Wednesdays and Saturday evenings for three and a half months, willing only to speak to my husband. Let's face it, he has a busy schedule and, well, I don't get to talk to him every time I want to, either. Alright, I admit that there were times when I did not answer the phone --modern caller-ID technology is quite something you know-- but I can be a little hormonal sometimes. I'm so sorry it took so long, but your doggedness paid off handsomely when I called him in from his work outside -- I don't remember exactly what it was, perhaps he was chopping wood or pouring concrete or working on his rifle range or slaughtering the bear he had just shot, again with the above-mentioned Shotgun-- and he duly accepted your generous offer of a one-year membership at your relatively reasonable one-year membership rate. Because we are all for gun rights and we want to do our part.

Your telephone sales person took down all the information quite accurately as I spoke to her about the details of my husband's (I'm sure you'll remember him-- he's the one you called for repeatedly?) membership. Given the exactitude, you might imagine my surprise when the membership package arrived with my name on it, rather than that of my husband-- the one who actually owns the guns. Now when They come to take away our guns, they'll know just who to ask for. Oh and hey, thanks so much for the big, imitation bullet with Theodore Roosevelt's actual signature on it. I'll always treasure it.

But far more exemplary than your customer service, is your capacity for, well, other services. I mean, really, where would I be without NRA-provided life insurance? Or what about low-interest loans and credit cards direct from all you generous people who own guns, just like me? Your reps are really on top of getting the word out there about your services and paid advertisements. Why, I'm pretty sure I can look forward to getting something in the mail from you folks at least three times each week, and that's not counting your monthly magazine, which I do thoroughly enjoy, as soon as I can find the content nestled in all those ads for concealed-carry holsters and canned buck-scent. Also, I find it admirable how well you keep up on renewal notices. In the three or four months that I've had this membership, I've noticed that there is no way I could forget to renew with all the reminders that are so kindly sent my way.

Anyway, I won't take up any more of your precious time which I know is well-spent finding more ways to support the United States Postal Service. I just wanted to send a note of thanks for all your dedication and hard work. Thank you!

I remain always,
A responsible gun-owner.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


This morning I hit the "sleep" button at 5:15, only to have the alarm wake me up again 9 minutes later. So unfair.

I got up, dragged myself through my morning chores and routine, even though it wasn't really morning yet. The sun wasn't up, after all. It was drizzling rain and I hoped it wouldn't rain on us all day while we picked blueberries. There are two most common extremes for berry-picking-- burning sun or pouring rain. Usually, it's one or the other.

I drove to a friend's house to pick up her two 8 year old boys to help with the picking (since my dear friend just had a baby and is not yet up to berry picking) and then drove to another friend's house to pick her up.

I had spent a 45 minutes in the car already, and we weren't even at the berry farm yet! So we drove another 45 minutes. Thankfully, the rain stopped, though the bushes were still drenched, so we managed to get soaked well enough.

We picked for 3 1/2 hours and got 75 pounds of blueberries!

(That is not 75 pounds in that picture. It's just my 15-pound take... Wish I had taken a picture of all those berries together, though!)

After we were done picking and ate some lunch, we decided we hadn't spend nearly enough time in the car, so we drove yet another hour further north... buy a goat!

After which I retraced my steps (tire rotations?) back home to get my new girl settled in.

Oh, and my van stinks.

Like goat pee.


She's very sweet and friendly, gives a flood of milk (I know because it all ended up all over my milk stand when she started to dance and put a foot in the bucket!), and she's a little camera-shy.

She also doesn't have a name.

I mean, she does... the name on her papers... "Twiggy Shins Black Baby".


Not sure I've ever heard a worse one...

I mean, ya might as well call her "Rumplestiltskin."


So I need to give her a real name. Some thing I can call her. Something sweet and feminine, because that's what she is.

Since my other girl is "Cappuccino", I thought maybe I should continue with the coffee theme. "Espresso" is the obvious choice. But that's doesn't exactly roll off the tongue now does it? Neither does "Starbucks". Nathan said, "Call her 'Dark Roast' and we'll call her 'Darky' for short." and I said, "Um... nah."

So then I thought, a cappuccino drink has milk in it, right? (Right?) So maybe the theme should be "milk" since that's what I have them for. Buuut... nothing comes to mind. She's black so maybe I should go with something chocolaty... "Cocoa?" But she's not really that color...

Or I could give her a name from the Columbia River Gorge, like "Rowena" or "Celilo"...

Or maybe I should just give her a froofy, feminine name like "Daphne" or "Fiona".

Or maybe I could hang it all and call her "That Black Goat".

Yeah, so I'm having trouble with this.

Okay, dear reader, this is your chance to weigh in with your favorite goat name! I'm counting on you to come up with some good ones!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

London Bridge...

Don't worry! It's not falling down!


(Careful Dad, you're looking a little faint. Maybe you should sit down.)

Don't worry, Dad... has jacks to hold it up.

And it hasn't moved. Not even a centimeter.

Pouring a footer tomorrow.

But for now, I'm walking on my tip-toes...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Unfairly Matched

I came in the house today with a handful of gardeny things for supper. Jonah met me at the door, a bamboo pole in one hand and some bailing twine in the other. "Here, Mom, you get this one..." he said, hold the twine out to me, "...and we'll fight! Ready..."

Hm. Seems he has the advantage in this match...

Guessing Game

Just thought I'd share this-- My Mom has a fun guessing game contest going on right now at her blog! Go check it out and give it your best shot!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

This Is a Post About Beer

Er... Scratch that. It's a post about immitation beer. No wait, that's not even right. "Wannabe?" "Fake?" "That which should not even bare the name 'beer'?" Something like that.

Beer is a bit of a luxury around here because it's not exactly a necessary grocery item (oh, be quiet, Kris). For this reason, I'm making plans for a little homebrew operation, but that's another post for another time.

See, I like beer. Not as fanatically as my brothers like it, but I do. Not even as an everyday thing, and not even a whole beer most of the time. Wimpy as that may sound, the fact is, I like to have it with food, and my stomach is simply not large enough to hold my meal and a whole 12 or 16 ounce beer. That may be because when I have beer, I want something substantial. None of that fizzy pee-water stuff for me. Nathan teases me that I like a beer that I can stick a fork in. Something like this:

That was an Espresso stout that I had with my dear friend and sister-in-law, Loraine, while visiting in Oregon a while ago. Yes, a 10-ounce glass. Perfect.

And yeah... another post for another time.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand.

Yesterday, I held a "jam session" --no, not the music kind, but rather the actual "jam" kind... you know berries, sugar, pectin? Jam.-- here at my house with two other families. After spending the day whirling berries in the food processor and canning the result, we made pizza to feed our families. This pizza, with it's bubbly, cripsy, garlic-oiled sourdough crust, was just calling out for beer. So I sent Nathan and another guy on a beer-run. They went to the nearest tiny-town, where the choices are, well... limited.

Here's what they came back with:

(Yeah, that's right. Read it again. Bask in my glorious non-photoshop skilz!)

This is something I had never tried before.

This is something I really never had the inclination to try.

But we were eating pizza, after all, and good pizza. And this called for beer.

BEER, I tell you.

So I opened it up, and took a swig.

And I was instantly transported... back... back in time....

Back to washing endless dishes in my Mom's kitchen. Seems like I was always on KP duty...

Becuase, I'm telling ya... this stuff tastes like Dawn.

Yeah, ya know, the dish soap?

No mistaking it. I sip that stuff and get a definite whiff of "brother blowing a handful of soap suds in my face."

Or that time when I was really little and Kristin emptied the entire bottle of Dawn into our bathtub and we splashed until we had mountains in of bubbles over our heads and then Kristin started crying because he got soap in his eyes...

Are those the things the fine folks at Anheuser-Busch want me to be remembering while I drink their so-called "beer?"

I mean, come on. It doesn't taste even remotely like lime. Did someone forget to rinse the brewing equipment, again?

I wasn't imagining it, either. Everyone at the table agreed that it tastes distinctly like Dawn.

Ick. Give me a good, dark, microbrew anyday.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Battling the Enemy

I always get a little alarmed when I see squash leaves that look shrively, like this:

...instead of perky and happy with life, like this:

At first, I though it could be lack of water, since we seem to be going into a drought again. But then I noticed that it was only one vine that was looking sad, and it was not just a "little wilty."

I knew right away who to blame.

My enemy.

My arch-nemesis.

My greatest garden guerrilla.

That abundant adversary.

That deep defiler.

August assailant!

Inordinate invader.

Prominent PEST!


Okay, maybe not all things. Pretty much just the winter squash.

But it is still representative of the numerous bugs that plague my precious crops.

So it pretty much gets to bear the brunt of my wrath.

It's the squash vine borer. (Public service announcement: do not click that link unless you are feeling particularly strong of stomach. Better yet, don't do a Google image search, either.)

Yes, the grubby little squash vine borer, and I hate them with every fiber of my squash-lovin' little heart.

And I love squash an awful lot.

It's one of my very favorite vegetables. (Okay, so every vegetable is my favorite. Except celery. Yuck, bleck, bleaaaah!)

The squash vine borer has been determined to deprive me, year after year after squash-deprived year, from (one of) my favorite vegetables.

And so we are at war.

He may have one many battles, but he has not won the war.

Fortunately for you, I do not presently posses a photograph of this mangy little beast. I do have a photo of the damage one has already inflicted on one of my squash vines:

These irritating insects fly around and lay their eggs at the very base of squash plants, right at the stem where it comes out of the ground, and at various intervals for the first foot or so of the plant. The eggs hatch, and the little worm burrows into the stem where it eats, and grows and eats and grows and leaves in it's wake a weakened plant and copious amounts of nasty, yellow worm poop. Eventually, the plant has no more connection with the ground and it dies. Usually, it dies before the fruit is mature, leaving it's poor, orphaned babies to die attached to lifeless umbilical cords.

Yes, it is THAT tragic.

My main defense in the past has been to look for the nasty, yellow, worm poop and cut into the stem with a knife to find and remove the fat, white grub. Then I feed it to the chickens and laugh maniacally.

Lather, rinse, repeat through multiple worms in multiple vines.

I heap the soil over the wound to help the plant re-root. Sometime, this is successful, but sometimes it is too far gone. Sometimes, there are so many grubs that I can't possibly get them all.

I've also tried sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant, but it washes off, and it's hard to get it on the underside of the vine where the grub is perfectly happy to bore in.

This year I laboriously wrapped the stems in old pantyhose (man, I hate that word. Ugh. Pantyhose. Shudder.) to try to keep them from getting in.

It didn't work.

I've been told I should start my plants in the house so the get an earlier start and can resist the borer.

That doesn't work, either. The borer just figures that's an even bigger and juicier plant to parasitize.

I have recently come across the thing that I think will be key to my victory over this pest. Knowledge is power, people, and now I KNOW SOMETHING. I hope I have not learned it too late for this year (though I fear it's close, as evidenced by the damaged plant in the photo above...).

Squash vines will form roots at the leaf nodes along the stems. If I heap soil over the vines at intervals, they will grow extra roots to support the plants and keep the fruit growing even after the borer has killed the base of the plant.

Brilliant, I tell you, BRILLIANT!!!!


This technique is a little difficult to use now that the plants are so big and tangled and the ground is so hard from lack of rain. Also, I'm not sure if there is time for them to grow adequate roots before the borers take over.

But I'm still gonna give it my best shot.

Even if I don't have complete victory this time, it's so close... I can just taste it.

Summer Simplicity

Homemade kefir (from our very own goat milk!) +fresh, wild, black raspberries + honey from our neighbor's bees + an egg from our chickens this morning + a little cream to boost the healthy-fat quotient = yummy, super-nutritious, easy, oh and, YUMMY lunch.

Mmmm... It's a good way to have plenty of energy to get through the rest of my day after being up waaaay too late last night working on a website, with a big long list of things to accomplish today...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Something Rustling in the Bushes

Hey, why is that little tree rustling around?

Why... it's a...

...A face peeking out!

Maybe it's an Enting.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Idot's Guide to Artisan Flat Bread

I've never done a cooking tutorial on this blog (uh... that I can remember anyway). It's just not really my style, I guess. You can get that at any number of food-related blogs. I have been asked to do them before, however, so I'll dip my feet in the water with a quick demonstration of pita bread. I make all our own bread products, partly because I enjoy it, partly because it's healthier (generally I use soaked or sprouted freshly ground flour), and also because I never go to the store.

Just to show you how lame I am at this food-demo thing, I'm not going to post a recipe.

Booo! Hisssss! Get off the stage!!!

Hey, quit with the tomatoes, alright?

See the thing is, I don't really use recipes very much. Well, I do for my sourdough bread, but only because I'm trying for a consistent product, and it's a more difficult bread. Other breads? I just make it up. I have a pretty good idea of proportions and I just throw something together. When I do use a recipe, I'm not known for my measuring skills. I'm kinda lazy that way...

Pita bread doesn't need a special dough. Just a basic, softish bread dough-- flour of your choice, water, yeast, salt, butter, honey. I work in proportions of flour (don't worry, not even I really understand it). This dough was based in 6 cups of fresh ground hard white wheat flour.

So, step 1. Mix the dough, let rise until doubled, punch down, turn out of the bowl onto a floured surface. (Yeah, that's all one step. Told you I was lousy at this. Look, that's the way most breads start, okay?)

2. Divide the dough in pieces and roll the pieces gently into roughly 3 inch balls. Let them rest a few minutes so that the gluten will relax and you don't spin your wheels trying to roll dough that just pulls back.

3. Put dough bowl into sink to soak (who really wants to chip dried dough out of a bowl when it's time to wash dishes?) right next to this morning's oatmeal pan and the nasty pan still soaking from last night, left from cooking a pile of old cow ribs.

4. Begin rolling dough balls into rounds. Be sure to use a fancy French tapered rolling pin because you will feel all hoity-toity and besides, that is the only way to be artisan-- use French stuff.

5. Let the rounds rest on the sheet pan for a few minutes, then put them right on the bottom of a very hot (450) oven, that you preheated a while ago, but I forgot to tell you to do earlier.

(You know that excuse some people have for not cleaning their ovens because "no one ever sees inside the oven anyway."? Well, I just blew that one out of the water, didn't I? Now the whole internet has seen the inside of my oven, complete with dribbled bits of burned pie filling and old cow juice.)

6. Set the timer for 3 minutes.

7. After 3 minutes, move the pan up to the top rack, and put another sheet pan of pitas on the bottom.

8. After three minutes, remove the first pan, and move the second to the top rack, adding another pan-full to the bottom, if you have one ready, which I didn't, and time for three minutes.

9. Scrape the crusty bits from the pan and taste.

10. Slap forehead as you wonder (now that you already have 6 pitas fully baked) what kind of idiot would leave the salt out of the pita dough?

(What about not using a recipe? Oh, shut up.)

11. Blame it on the Royal Dough Taster for not allerting you to a problem with the dough.

(Do you like raw bread dough? I think it's disgusting. I love cookie dough, but bread dough? Yuk! Jonah loves it.)

12. Wonder why the Royal Dough Taster is wearing a sweat shirt and sweat pants when it's 85 degrees outside with 100% humidity and the oven on.

13. Take all those beautiful pitas you've already rolled out...

14. ...and pile them all up, spinkling salt between each layer, in futile attempt to make them into something useful.

15. Gnash your teeth and remind yourself that you've tried this before and it is just never quite the same as remembering the salt in the first place.

16. Take your freaky claw hand (if you don't have one, get one!) and knead the salt into the dough.

17. Repeat steps 4-8 until you have a pile of less-than artisanal and slightly idiotic pita breads.

18. Put the unsalted pitas on top so that they will be used first by unsuspecting members of your household and only you will know the secret...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'd Like You to Meet...


Isn't she lovely?

I actually bought her over a month ago, but a dear friend of mine has been boarding her and enjoying her sweet milk while we got our fences finished. Nathan got the fence in good shape yesterday, so I brought her home!

She's not too sure about her new home... fact, so far, she'll only eat if I'm standing nearby. The rest of the time, she stands at the gate and yells for me to come back. She very co-dependent and a little insecure... But I think it's kinda sweet.

She's certainly not lacking in food. Nathan fenced a big brushy area for her to eat down. Goats prefer brush to all other food. And she's not actually alone. I borrowed a little goat to keep her company until I find another doe. (Not as easy a task as I had hoped...) But this little borrowed goat (Fact: he's named "Phantom" because he's so ugly (in a cute sort of way) that it seems like he needs a mask.) is of the masculine sort, and sometimes a girl just needs the company of another girl.

So she's been a little pensive....

...eager for company...

...and completely lovable.