Monday, September 28, 2009

Take Me to the Fair

Our county fair is so late in the summer, it's not even summer any more. In my most humble opinion, that is just stupid. Why should you have to carry a jacket around the county fair and then still freeze to death when the sun goes down? Stupid, I say, stupid. Why... when I was a young'un, it just wasn't fair if you weren't sweating.

But we still go. Everyone does. What else is there to do in this town? Not much, that's what. And they do make the fair so appealing, what with tractor pulls and um... tractors... and well, souped-up-tractor pulls.

Midwesterners like their tractors.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that every tractor owner and dealer in the county brings all their tractors to the fair to sit there for the week.

Of course, I knew Jonah would get a real kick out of this.




And he did!

Until he saw the carnival, that is.




"Please can we go on rides? Please, please, plllllease?" he begged.

Yes. Of course we can.

So off we went to... look at the photography exhibit. And the art exhibit. And the home ec exhibit.

Mommy did, that is. When Daddy and Jonah got bored (and they did. Boy howdy...), well...




They looked at more tractors, of course.





"Pleeeeease?"

"Please, what?"

"Pleeeeeease can we go on rides, now?"

Yep.

Eventually.

And off we went to look at the animals.




But still, ever in the background, the carnival beckoned...





I think it was worth the wait.

(Even though he tried to change his mind as soon as we got on the carousel. "Maybe I don't want to do this... Maybe we should go see more tractors...")



The carousel was fun, however, as were the boats...




...and the safari train.

(My baby!! Riding fair rides all by himself!)






And Daddy even got a picture of Mommy and Jonah going down the BIG slide together!





Or... uh... well, he missed, actually.

Moving on.

Another favorite midwestern attraction is the combine derby!

That's right, folks, combine derby. As in, old retired combines go head to head in bang-bang smash'emup entertainment.

As we didn't want to pay a premium for grandstand seating (yeah, we went to the county fair on a state-park budget...), we went with the cheap seats.




The view was... lacking.



But we could almost see what was going on, and it was fun anyway.

After a quick walk through the 4-H barns (Mommy's favoritest part!) we took a very tired little boy back home to bed-- thoroughly filled up on fair-fun for the whole year.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fabricated

My deepest apologies for continuing to beat this dead... uh... horse, but I really just couldn't resist.










(Confused? Read the comments on the original post.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wild Man


My Mom had given me this Indian (I don't really have to say "Native American", do I? I mean, after all, I'm a "native American" with German heritage...) costume quite a while ago. She'd saved it from my brothers so that Jonah could wear it. When he first saw it a few months ago, he acted like it was poison and was not about to put that weird thing on.



Well, yesterday he found it, and then proceeded to even put it on, with much joy and exclaiming.

Then, of course, he needed a proper weapon. And a hat. The hat makes the man, you know.

So I made him these things, after which he proceeded to beg for a "bucket on my back to hold my arrows!" and I put my foot down there. No quiver. Nathan laughed and said, "Happy is the man who has his bucket full of them..." Today, I did allow a target with a bullseye and a drawing of a buffalo to shoot at.




So now I don't think we'll ever be able to get him to take it off. It's part of him, and everything he talks about.

He wants to shoot buffalo.

"Indians don't sleep in beds!" we heard at bedtime.

"Indians don't have names!" he said when I called him for supper.

"Is there buffalo on my sandwich?" he asked at lunchtime.

It took a while for him to get the co-ordination of his little bow and arrow, but once he did, he spent the day stalking me with a loaded bow (takes a while to load, too) and shooting me when I walked by.

And you know what? The kid has remarkably good aim.


video

It's uncanny, really...


video


And yes, he is wearing the shirt backwards today...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Keep Up the Good Work

All summer, the county road commission has been "chip sealing" the back roads around here. With the help of the Economic "Stimulus" Plan they're "putting America to work" as the sign says, laying that sticky goo covered in gravel which settles into place as everyone drives over it. Seems like "make-work," as far as I'm concerned, since the gravel just settles right into the potholes and the cracks open up again when the road heaves in the winter and spring.

On the way home from Story Time at the library in a nearby small town, I saw that they had only just painted the lines on a recently chip-sealed road. Ah, bright, new yellow lines...

And then I saw It.





Behold, I give you:




Our Tax Dollars at Work





(Sorry... hope you weren't eating your lunch. Have a nice day!)


(ETA: see sequel here.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Important Work

While Daddy worked at making sure the house wouldn't leak all winter...





...Jonah worked at making sure it wouldn't fall down.



"These are the supports!" he said in his adorable, self-satisfied, worker-man voice.

You Know You Want Some...


Sourdough bread with basil and dried tomatoes from the garden and a little cheddar cheese, too.






AND you know you want a sandwich of that bread with a garden tomato and some smoked turkey, homemade feta, cream cheese, mustard and butter.

Yum.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Equinox






Happy...




...First Day...



...of Fall.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fallish Pursuits



Yesterday afternoon we had the privilege of picking some beautiful, unsprayed pears from a tree belonging to some people in our church. The owners of the tree are not able to pick this year, so we did the picking for them and split the produce.




The tree was positively loaded.



I'm not sure I've ever seen fruit hand so heavily.





Jonah must have eaten at least a half a dozen, in between asking when we would be done.



The picking was easy-- go up the ladder, come down a few minutes later with a filled bucket.




Nathan picked the highest pears...




...and I stuck to the lower ladder and peaked at him through the branches.

I had him move the ladder around for me between buckets-full.





I did... er... climb up into the crook of the tree to reach some pears on the inside...



Which was kinda stupid.

"Look, Ma! No brains!"





We finished up with crates and buckets full of wonderful Bosc pears.





And now the work really begins.




Sorting and canning and drying and storing...



So worth it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rubity, Scrubity, Sweepity

I can feel it.

Creeping on.

Steadily, as I putter around the house.

I put things away, I throw away papers, I sort piles.

My hands start inching up to my scalp to pull out all my hair and rend my clothes.

Every fall, just like every spring, I get this way. It always comes right around the equinox... "First Day of Spring" "First Day of Fall"... It's just like a werewolf transformation, except without all the fur and teeth and nails and blood. Uh, yeah, just like that.




ARG! This place is a mess!

It didn't bother me all summer, but now... oh the piles, the dustbunnies, the junk covering every flat surface.

WHO is going to clean this up? Who is going to sort and throw things away? Who's going to take a truckload to Goodwill? Who's going to build me some shelves and then spend piles of money on trendy little shelf baskets and other wonders of organization? Who was supposed to be keeping up on things so that I don't get carried away by accumulation?

WHO????

Where is my housekeeper?

Where is my trusty assistant?

Where is my work crew? The hired help?

How about a devoted domiciliary domestic?

HANDMAIDENS! Doesn't the Bible say something about "handmaidens"??? Where do I get some handmaidens?



Sigh.


It's that time of year where I wish I could just hit the "refresh" button on my whole house. Then I would go hang a few new pictures and get on with life.

I hate cleaning. I'd rather read a book, make cheese, formulate more fantastic kitchen experiments, and color in all the o's and a's and p's on the junk mail.

I'm no good at this. I don't know where to start. I want to move the piano into the living room so that I can actually play it (har, har, I kid myself). To do that, I first have to move everything out and get the floor repainted. THEN I can move in the piano (after I get all the loose change and various books cleaned off the top), as well as my grandma's china hutch that is being stored at church so that I can fill it with the china that I don't have the pretty table cloths and glasses that are currently stored in boxes upstairs, the finding of which will require me to clean and sort boxes upstairs... Gar. I'm tired just thinking about it.

That's not even taking into account the pile of papers on the peninsula and the pile of papers on the desk and the pile of papers on the table.

I wasn't kidding about those shelves. I want my husband to build some shelves --floor to ceiling-- in a naked corner of the living room, but he hardly has time for that. I'd love to come across a great, big bookshelf or shelving unit to put there, but what are the chances? I love organization and having a place for everything, but the problem is in having the means to be organized. And then there's the issue of every time I talk to him about shelves or storage, he argues that we wouldn't have such a need if we didn't have so much stuff. I counter that I don't keep things that we don't use and I try to keep on top of getting rid of useless things that find there way here and the fact is that busy (and frugal) people simply must have certain tools and just wait until Jonah's in full-blown homeschool! And then he says to get rid of more stuff and you can see how this whole argument goes nowhere fast.

But I digress.

My whole point is that my house is crying out for a little attention and organization and I'm too lazy to get to it.

You know in The Sword in the Stone when Merlin sets the dishes to washing themselves so they could go outside and do more important things like learning stuff? Yeah. That's what I want.



Now where did that Merlin get to...?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hodgepodge

I kept saying I would, and I finally did.

Beer. It's brewing. I've been wanting to get some going for a long time. I really, really like good beer, and I really, really despise bad beer. And I really, really can't be buying good beer. (So, yeah, this is the part where I cross my fingers and hope that what I make is actually, you know... good.)

I kept waffling about what I was going to do. Most people brew five gallon batches, but that just seemed a little out of my reach right now. Aside from the part about "what if it flops and I waste five whole gallons?" there's the investment. Yeah, I know that the equipment all pays for itself after a few batches, but I just don't have a hundred bucks to put up for the stuff all at once. Besides, where the heck would I store fifty bottles of beer?

So I scrounged together some things around my house, made an order from a brewing supply company for just a few essentials plus some ingredients (spent waaaay less money), did a bunch of reading (especially this post at Real Food, My Way), and started a batch. One gallon. Yeah, I know. The inefficiency. Well, whatever. I like the idea of starting small. I like the idea of experimenting and having plenty of opportunity to gain experience in this new endeavor.



I put it all together, and now-- I wait and hope. To be safe and since there's very little head space in the carboy, I have it set up with a blow-off tube for the first few days (after which I'll switch to an airlock) in case it decides to... blow.

~~~

After Jonah brushes his teeth before bed, he usually brings me the dental floss and asks for some "frost" because he "has to do frosting." Tonight, he gave me a more detailed explanation--

"After you've been outside all day, you get bugs in your teeth. You have to do frosting to get them out of there, other wise, they stay there, in your teeth, and that's really yucky. That's why I do frosting. To get the bugs out."

~~~

We have bad colds. Pain, despair, and misery, oooOOOooh... I feel like I'm wasting the last good days of summer (what little there's been of that). A month ago, we had the flu. Just finally got over that and back to normal, and then it was appendicitis. Now we're just picking up where we left off, and we have miserable colds.

I do not understand. We don't usually get sick very easily or very badly (at least not since we started taking our cod liver oil regularly). Er, that is, I might get miserably sick, but it's unusual for Nathan. He is particularly bad now, wheezing so much he can hardly breath at all and nothing, nothing we do helps it. My cold isn't too horrible this time. I can certainly work through it, but then to top it off, I got a migraine today. Nathan came home and saw me lying on the couch with a pillow over my head, assessed the situation, and sent me upstairs. He, himself, wheezed his way through the milking (with an ornery goat who rewarded him with a foot in the bucket) and through the dishes as well. Don't I have a sweet guy?

It seems like God it always trying to point out to me (in my infinite stubbornness) that it doesn't matter how much of a "health nut" that I am, that I do everything "right", our bodies are still broken, and health and life are still gifts. Like a friend helped me see recently-- "Imagine how impossible I would be if I were a health nut with perfect health?"

~~~

My van reeks. I mean, it reeeeally stinks. No, I didn't spill a gallon of milk in there. No, I didn't accidentally lock a cat inside.

I took one of my goats on a "date" the other day. Not with me, but with a, um, boy. A boy goat. I dropped her off at his house for the day, and then I went and picked her up. And all the way home, she dutifully transferred the "eau de buck" from her boyfriend to the upholstery in my van.

~~~

Aren't you just so glad now that you read all the way to the end of my potpourri and got that lovely little tidbit?



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Down the Street

Nathan and I were winding down, talking about plans for tomorrow.

Me, thinking out loud: "Well, I have that appointment with the surgeon, and if I go to the rummage sale at the college first... hm... what time to should I get there? If I get to the doctor's office a few minutes before 11:00, and I'm not even sure where the office is... I guess I should figure that out..."

Nathan: "That would be a good idea."

M: "Yeah."

N: "I think it's on the corner of Bankrupcy and Deep In Debt."

M: "There's a corner there? I thought it was a dead-end?"

N: "The parking is around the corner. It's a cul-de-sac. With no turn-around."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Only Mostly Dead

So, one week post abdominal surgery. I've been doing more and more every day, just avoiding lifting and other strenuous things as per my two-week light duty instructions.

Had lots of energy this morning-- actually did my own dishes. Wiped of the stove. Swept the floor. Felt good to have some semblance of cleanliness (just a very little, really) returned to this place.

Then this afternoon, I went to town to get a few groceries in the house. It was time. So I stopped at a couple stores, took it slow, didn't let Jonah ride in the cart ("You have to help Mommy push the cart. No, HELP me. Don't... hey! Get your foot down! No, push with two feet! Jonah! You can't ride. Push! Help me push! Get your foot off. You're dragging. St... Arg! Stop it!"), and went to a co-op order in which I had everyone else do all the lifting and carrying.

And I drove home...

and...

Crash.



Ugh. I can't believe I'm this tired after a little trip to town. I let Nathan bring in and put groceries away because I couldn't wait to hit the couch. Must. Lay. Down. Now.

Supper? Who needs supper? Scrounge. I'm not making food. I feel like a shop rag.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

How Boring...

We have a system worked out now where I help Nathan with animal chores, since I'm not yet up to doing them all myself again. I go out and do the actual squeezing part of the milking, and he does everything else. It works for now. Here's my post-milking conversation with Jonah tonight:

I was washing up the milk bucket tonight and Jonah was drinking his obligatory cup of warm, fresh-out-of-the-goat milk. The kid almost never drinks cold milk. (Yyyeeek.)

"Mom, we don't have a Kool-Aid goat yet." Jonah said.

"Uh... no... we don't..."

"OR a chocolate goat."

"Nope. Just plain ol' milk."

"Well, my sister, she has a chocolate goat AND a Kool-Aid goat. That's in California. One is brown and the other is brown... oh, no... it's purple. It gives purple Kool-Aid. And the brown one gives chocolate milk. But that's in California."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Weak Enough to Be Given Strength

I am not very brave.

I thrive on routine. Predictability. I like everything in it's place. I don't like change. I fear what is uncertain.

I am not brave.

Also, I cry embarrassingly easily.

I have been this way since I was a child. As long as I can remember. Near as I can tell, God has spent that whole time giving me lessons in trust and teaching me to have a little faith already, fercryinoutloud.

But I am slow and feeble and not apt to learn my lessons quickly. Among numerous small things, I've moved far across the country (more than once), been in a car accident, given birth (loooooong and agonizing), experienced a miscarriage-- all events that rocked my secure little world considerably. And has not the Lord always ordered everything in my path so that I am perfectly cared for? Yet I still crumple up in a ball and suck my thumb and tremble whenever things go slightly awry.

You would think I would learn.

I always knew that someday I would have to reconcile my crippling fear of doctors and hospitals. It's very interesting to me that God chose something pretty straightforward and almost "routine" since it's so common, and yet also without recourse. I mean, what do you do when you have appendicitis? You have it taken out. Everyone knows that. There's no way around it. It's that, or stay home and die. I even called my naturopathic doctor (er, after I called my Mom, of course) for advice. Since it was a Sunday morning, I couldn't get ahold of him (there again-- no way that I could even get ideas about trying something else first), but he did call back that night after we were already in the ER and said on my answering machine that there there are things you can try, but there's really no sure-fire alternative to surgery with appendicitis. Once the appendix is infected, he said, you pretty much have to go the the hospital. We didn't want to mess around with something that could go so bad so fast, so go to the hospital we did.

Now, there is a massage/visceral manipulation technique that I have heard about which will supposedly open up the appendix and allow it to drain. I did this to myself Sunday morning, and I heard lots of burbling and it started to feel a little better. But I honestly don't think that was a cure, at least in my case. It still hurt quite a lot, though not nearly as bad as it had during the night (which, really-- I should probably have headed to the hospital then. But I hadn't yet put two and two together and figured out what was going on at that point.). Aside: You should have seen the surgeons' faces when I told them I "tried to drain my appendix". They tried hard to be expressionless, but all I can say is it's a good thing they weren't drinking any coffee.

We waited two hours in the waiting room for the emergency room. Both the ER and Urgent Care were swamped for a Sunday afternoon. I guess that's the way it goes in hospitals, and that's the way it was all that day- hurry up and wait. Wait for the nurse to start the IV, wait for the surgeon, wait for the nurse, wait for radiology... clutch my belly and wait, wait, wait.

Then came the CAT scan--Ack! You want me to drink a quart of... what is this nasty stuff anyway? Hey, what is that... you're injecting that into my veins? Ahhhh!!! It burrrrnssss ussssss! They had to fax the scan to an offsite radiologist to read who had to fax back the report before the surgeon could read it and decide what I needed. Then he was apparently going off-duty, so the called the on-call surgeon to come in. The radiology nurse said to me that "Well, I can't make a diagnosis, but I can say that they don't call in a surgeon if he's not going to operate." So that was that.

I liked the surgeon. He was down-to-earth and easy to talk to, cracking jokes and assuring me that my fear was natural. But he was also very firm-- "You need this surgery. You have an infection, and you have to have it taken care of right now before you get a lot sicker." He was actually concerned that my appendix may have already ruptured.

Everything moved much faster at this point. They had called in a whole surgical team in at 9:3o at night whose only job was to get my appendix out, so it didn't take long to get ready.

I was almost overcome with fear. I know that people have surgery (even voluntarily, the crazies!) all the time. I know the surgeons are skilled and appendectomies are one of the easiest surgeries to do. Above all, I knew that God would certainly take care of me. But I just couldn't help the fear and anxiety I had. It was so eerie to know that they would put me to sleep and do all kinds of things to me that I wouldn't have any control over! I'm not good with lack of control-- illusion that "control" may be.

It was a lesson in trust. I prayed and prayed. I called my Mom (and was so thankful for the phone card that a dear friend had brought and put in the truck for us. Our cell phone was dying and Nathan had not brought the charger), who asked lots of people to pray for me. I kept repeating the verse I had read that morning, "Thou has beset me behind and before and laid Thine hand upon me." (Ps. 139:5) Everything all around me was already set into place. God had already selected the people to take care of me, and the circumstances were ordered. I had no idea where I was going to find the courage to go through this, but it didn't matter, since it was not in my hands. I was on a bed, and it was wheeled into an operating room. What could I do? Run out screaming?

I was really glad I had packed my homeopathy kit. To me, this seemed like a perfect way in which alternative medicine can actually complement conventional medicine. Conventional medicine has it's place, like in emergencies and trauma. There was no homeopathic cure for my illness, but I could at least use homeopathy to deal with it's effects. I had Nathan give me some Aconite in the ER room to help with my anxiety. It was amazing how much that helped me to keep from panicking. Then right before they took me into the operating room, I had him give me a dose of Arnica to reduce the trauma of the surgery. I've kept taking the Arnica when I feel pain (I think it helps just as well as the Vicodin but without the side effects!). How easy it would be for doctors and hospitals to use such simple medicines to help their patients! Of course, Big Pharma can't make money from Arnica... But that's another rant for another time.

I was so thankful to have my sweet husband there with me. I couldn't have been there by myself. He was comforting and patient. He kept reminding me that God would take care of me. That I would be okay. He didn't get upset with my weakness, he just kept holding me up. "Besides," he joked, "I can't not take you to the hospital or your family would get mad at me."

It was 10:00 when the wheeled me into surgery, 11:00 when they brought me out. It was pretty strange to be put to sleep, and then be waking up again with things different... and hurting... I had the odd notion of the passage of time, but it was like waking up from a dream that I couldn't remember. I was very agitated when I came out of the anesthesia. I was groggy and could quite move or talk, but I was thrashing my head back and forth and coming to the realization that something hurts! My shoulder! My shoulder hurts! I mumbled. I grabbed Nathan's arm, My shoulder! " There's nothing wrong with it!" he said. "They didn't do anything to it!" It hurts! I insisted. They said I had reaction to the gas they gave me which caused pain in my chest (which was radiating to my shoulder). I couldn't talk or swallow because my throat was swollen and sore from the breathing tube. Nathan fed me ice chips and I tried to open my eyes and clear my head. I don't know how long we were in the recovery room. After a while, they took me to a room and I had to walk across to the bed. I leaned on two people and tried to will my legs to move in the right order.

After I was in bed, Nathan told me he would go home to take care of the animals and milk the goats. I suggested that he just go home and sleep a few hours and then milk early in the morning before coming back. I knew that one missed milking would not be too horrible for the poor goats. (We had tried several times to call a friend to go milk for me, but we weren't able to reach her.) Nathan said that in that case, he would sleep a few hours in the chair and go home to do chores in the early morning. I tried to insist, but he was determined. I was thankful to have him there. I was terribly thirsty, so he gave me drinks and helped me try to get comfortable and then he slept a little before going home at 5:00.

I tried to sleep (between nurses checking my vitals every few minutes), but the pain medicine made me feel weird and my brain wouldn't shut off even though my body was mostly asleep. Everytime I moved or didn't move, something hurt.

Early in the morning, the nurses made me get up to walk and go to the bathroom. I was still pretty drugged and my head was so foggy. I gasped as I sat up from the suffocating pain in my right lung. They explained again about the reaction to the gas and said walking around was the best cure. They also threatened me with a urinary catheter since I was having trouble willing my bladder to do what it was supposed to do. Thankfully, I had a sweet nurse who stalled for me and took care of everyone else first, allowing me time to drink more water and walk and get my muscles working again. Nathan came back, and he had the foresight to bring me a thermos full of hot turkey broth (which I had him take out of the freezer to thaw the day before.) I was glad to drink that instead of the horrible fake stuff they brought me. (Why, oh why, can't they feed you real and healing food in a hospital of all places? Sorry... another rant for another time.) I had Nathan find the reflexology chart in my wallet and he worked all the bladder reflex points in my hands and feet. Here's another example of complimentary medicine-- after he rubbed those spots for 15-20 minutes, I said, "Hey, there's a familiar feeling..." and got up and emptied my bladder right as the nurse came in with the catheter. (Hey, sorry for the gruesome details-- I'm just tellin' it like it was!) Praise God for that!

I suddenly remembered a co-op order that was coming that morning, though I had no idea what time. Nathan was able to track down the coordinator and find out the time, so he went to pick that up for me.

After that we spent the rest of the day waiting to get out of there. I was required to walk the hall six times before I could leave, so you better believe I was walking! The walks were slow and short, however, as I was shocked at how surgery really knocked the stuffin' out of me! After a while, the nurses told me they had seen my doctor on the floor, so he would be coming soon. "Soon" is relative in a hospital, so I killed the time by making phone calls (with my voice still hoarse from my swollen throat) to update my Mom and a few friends. At this point, I was getting very irritated about sharing a room. They had pulled back the curtain that divided the small room to make room for the other lady's visitors, and the last thing I wanted to was to try to be amicable with people I didn't know. I was so tired from two nights without sleep and the noise and activity was getting to be more than I could handle. I just wanted to go home so I could rest in the peace and quiet of my own home.

I hung up on a friend in a big hurry when I saw the doctor walk in. When he asked how I was feeling, I said, "Great! Can I go home now?" He looked at me dubiously as I'm sure he could tell I was lying about that first part. He checked my incisions (the surgery was done laparoscopically, so I had three small incisions instead of one big one), gave me my post-op instructions, and said I had to have another round of IV antibiotics and then I would be able to go. He told me to call his office for a follow-up appointment in one to two weeks.

I was itching to get that IV antibiotic treatment overwith, but the nurse said I had to wait until 4:00. At my disappointment, she said she'd allow it at 3:30. She was busy, though, and didn't make it in until 3:45. (You can see I was counting the minutes at this point. I'm so thankful I didn't have to spend a extended period of time in the hospital. I don't think I would have made it!) Then what should have been a half-hour treatment, turned into a hour and a half as we battled the IV pump from "H" "E" "Double-hockey-sticks." It had been malfunctioning the whole time I was there in that when it was unplugged when I got up to go to the bathroom, or if I bent my arm, or maybe if I looked at it funny, it would go on the blink and was not to be reasoned with until the nurse came back, and as I said, she was very busy.

When it was finally done, they unhooked me so that I could get dressed, and we waited for discharge papers. Near as I can tell, hospitals know little about efficiency. Poor Nathan was sleeping sitting up.

Bust out, we finally did, however, and Nathan drove me home, being careful of the bumps in the road, where we both collapsed gratefully in exhaustion. Well, I did immediately, but he had things to take care of, so his collapse was somewhat delayed. He went and picked up Jonah from the friends he had stayed with for the past three days. Jonah had lots of questions for me and was not inclined to leave my side. My friend S. came and milked the goats for us so that Nathan could take care of getting us settled back in.

We were all more than glad to fall into our beds that night...


---

I mostly wrote this for my own benefit, and if you're still with me, I'm duly impressed! I already know what a wuss I am and that things could be so much worse, so don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. Today, I'm just thankful. Thankful to be getting better instead of stuck in a hospital, sick. Thankful to be able to sit on my front porch with a cup of tea and watch the maple branches blow in the breeze. Thankful for a sweet husband and son to take care of me and help me. Thankful for returning health, and for God's preservation.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jog

I'm so very glad to be home.

You didn't even know I was gone, did you?

I wasn't feeling very well on Saturday. Then I was feeling worse on Saturday night. Then on Sunday morning, I was feeling so not-so-good that after Nathan got home from church, he took me to the emergency room.

I wasn't terribly happy about it, 'cause I knew what they would do.

You know what they did?

They made me feel worse.

Yes! They did!

The nerve!

But, sometimes you just have to feel worse before you can feel better.

And after an emergency appendectomy and several helpings of Vicodin and a real night's sleep in my own bed, I am feeling better.

All I can say is that the Lord is very, very good to me. I am very thankful that He brought me back home, in (objectively) better shape than when I left.

I will try to post the whole story soon, but meanwhile I'm going to try to summon the energy for a shower... and take another nap.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Big Words

Jonah was playing near me with a Little People castle toy that was given to him.

"Raise the portcullis!" I heard him say in a deep pretend-voice.

Blink. Blink, blink.

Portcullis?

And the other day he informed us that "Yaks belong to the cow family!"

He can't even read yet and he's spouting facts all over the place!

Duckies!

Remember this story about my little muscovy duck who wanted to be a Mommy?

Well, she tried again and I'm happy to report that her diligence and patience has paid off:



She hatched seven adorable ducklings this week!



They've come out for the first time today, so I had to take some pictures. The momma actually would have brought them out earlier, except I kept them blocked into the nesting area for fear of the cats. That momma duck was ready to get outta there after sitting for six weeks! In fact, after those first seven hatched, she didn't keep the last 6 eggs warm enough because she had to get up and take off for periods of time. Two eggs started to hatch and didn't make it, and the other four didn't start, but the did have babies in them. I was sad about that, but such is life.




But I'm so glad that we got these seven!




That little guy is the only one who is gray like his momma. Two others have black on them, and the other four are speckley.





The waddle along after the other ducks on their little strolls through the grass.




I did not let them out on purpose today, but near as I can tell, a goat busted up their nesting area in search of goat food to nibble. The decision was made for me. So far, it's worked out okay. The cats have not paid any attention to them and the mother is very protective.




They're just so much fun to watch!

video

Two Irritations

I am dragging some serious derriere today. I just can't get motivated to work on my to-do list. Do I really have to do stuff? I think I'm just in need of some hardcore ceiling-fan time.

Also, my house is a m e s s and I seem to have forgotten how to clean.

Selective Amnesia.

Oh, and the fruit flies are going to carry me away. If you don't hear from me for a while it's either because I'm off in some land of wherever-the-dang-fruitflies-materialze (seriously! Where do the come from? They're everywhere!) or I went on a rampage and bashed the compose bucket to bits and one little piece of ice-cream-bucket plastic lodged directly in my right extensor digitorum rendering me tragically unable to type.



Oh, I guess that was three things. Whatever. Guess I forgot how to count, too.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tell It Like It Is

I was just watching some YouTube videos of Rep. Mike Rogers (from Michigan!). I like what this guy has to say!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pickled

Hmmmm... What to do with a kohlrabi that is the size of a small child's head?



No, it's not overgrown. I grew giant kohlrabi this year. I don't think I'll ever go back to the regular kohlrabi. Kohlrabi was always a special family favorite when I was growing up. My Dad has always raved about it's tastiness. You have to pick it at the right time, however, because if left too long, it will get woody and fibrous and inedible. But this giant variety --called "Kossak"-- gets huge and doesn't get woody at all! It's big and delicious and I don't have to worry about forgetting to pick it and letting it go too long.

But it's also big.

Did I mention it was big?

See, here's a comparison. The purple one is the standard Purple Vienna type, and this particular specimen turned out to be, yep you guessed it, overgrown. I had to toss it.




Well, let's let Ms. Prudence Penelope, the lovely Speckled Sussex, be the judge:


Vienna?



Or Kossak?


Er... well. Turns out she doesn't much care. She'll peck at either.

Anyway.

I think I mentioned the size of this kohlrabi, since it is "giant" and all. It's several meal's worth of kohlrabi for our little family.

So I decided to try pickling it.




And not your usual pickling, mind you. Real, traditional, fermenting.

I've discovered my food passion. I really do love making food of all sorts, but when it comes to things that involve microbes, I'm smitten.

Take some ordinary food, ddd some friendly bacteria, maybe a few yeastie beasties, and I'm just in love.




This includes sourdough bread, cheese, beer, wine, the many versions of fermented milk, kombucha, water kefir, lacto-fermented cider (hard cider coming soon!), sauerkraut and pickled veggies. So far, I have not embarked on beer and wine, but they are next on my list. I've mastered and enjoyed all the others. I'm almost obsessive about fermenting anything I can get my hands on!

It's a sickness.

Or... a "wellness"?

Hee, hee. Yeah, that. Fermenting raises the nutrient level of foods exponentially. It makes them more digestible, and since we have fairly short digestive systems (as compared to cows and sheep and goats, which are basically fermenters with four legs) we do well on foods where the digestion has been started for us by some friendly buggies! Not to mention the fact that we need those buggies to take up residence in our guts and do all kinds of good things for us! (Did you know that the microflora in and on your body outnumber your own cells? We could not survive a day without them!)

I won't get into all the science of it, since that's well-documented in several other places. Suffice it to say that I love fermentation!

So this was the natural choice for my giant kohlrabi.




After I peeled and sliced the thing, I packed it tightly into quart jars with a garlic clove in each, dumped in a heaped tablespoon of salt, and filled the jars with water to cover the vegetables (leaving plenty of head space as they tend to fizz up quite a bit).




I set them aside to ferment for a week with my other pickley things-- beans and cucumbers prepared the same way.



I don't intentionally leave the jars in the sun, it just happens to get a little afternoon sun in that spot. I suppose it would be better in the dark, but... oh well.

After the jars have shown good signs of fermentation (usually the brine will fizz up a lot and then start to go back down), I transfer them to the fridge to age a while. I never open a jar before it's aged at least a month, often longer. For whatever reason, they just get so much better that way. And they'll keep in the back of the fridge pretty much forever (mine never make it that long, however).

(Aside: I made this pickled kohlrabi a while ago and we recently opened a jar and ate it. And? Oh. My. I think its' my new favorite pickle. I could eat those things all day, they're that addictive. Crunchy and salty and fizzy and smooth and still retaining that classic kohlrabi flavor. Yum.)

This year, I've been blessed with a spare fridge (I know! Luxury!). It was free. I had one last year for a while, until it died. (Free fridges do that.) In the past, I would only make a few jars, so I could fit them in the fridge. This year, however, I'm working hard at filling my spare fridge with fermented things. I have many jars of veggies in there now, as well as a couple of gallon jars of feta cheese aging in it's brine. Oh, and there are a few watermelons and non-wormy apples in there for now as well. I can keep the spare fridge a tad bit warmer than my kitchen fridge since the fermented things have all the good buggies to protect them from spoilage, and they will continue to ferment slowly.

I really only need the spare fridge during the fall until the basement gets cold enough. My plan for this year is to move these things down to the basement once it get's to about 40 degrees down there. Way-back-when, everyone had a cold storage built into a hill that stayed cold and acted as a fridge for storing their produce. My basement works pretty well, but it doesn't quite cool off soon enough. And besides... I do live in an age in which my husband can go pick up a free fridge and we can plug it right in... Spoiled, I know.



I treated my cabbage --two large, dense heads from a neighbor, and three puny little things from my garden, arg-- in much the same way.



Chop.




Chop, chop, chop, chop, chop... for a long time. Yes with a knife. And it takes forever.





When I first started making sauerkraut, the instructions said to pound the cabbage for 10 minutes to bring out the juices. I dutifully pounded. And pounded. And pounded. Too. Much. Work. I discovered, somewhat by accident, that if I salt the cabbage and let it sit in a bowl for a while as I go do something else, when I come back-- voila! Juicy cabbage.




I used to pack it into quart jars, but we're eating so much of it now that I decided to scale it up a bit. Can you believe that I passed up a nice, big sauerkraut crock at the antique store (it wasn't a real antique-- it was a reproduction, but who cares?) for $20. I'm such a miser that I couldn't spend 20 bucks on a crock. But why would I when glass jars work just fine? 20 bucks is 20 bucks, after all.



I use the top of a meat hammer and pack it down as tight as possible. All that cabbage made a gallon and a quart of kraut. I always have plenty of juice from the cabbage to cover it all and since I put on a tight lid, I don't worry if a few pieces float up. It's never (yet) been a problem for me.

So this is my game-plan for fresh food this winter-- ferments. Can you believe that I don't buy produce during the winter (or very little...)? Yes, I am that much of a nutcase. We mostly eat seasonally. Whatever we harvest is what we eat. But we need to have something fresh to eat, and people didn't use to be able to just go to the store and buy produce trucked in from who-knows-where. They had to have some way of getting their vitamin C-- sauerkraut! And pickles! And coming soon, for it's wonderful B-vitamin-boost-- beer!

Mmmm... gotta love those microbes.