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Mercury is Messin’ This Mother Up…

I found out on Friday that Mercury was in retrograde, according to my friend at Hippie Cahier.  Apparently, this is a bad thing.  I’ve decided to blame everything that’s happened to me this week on that messed-up planet…

1. “Goodbye, Red Meat…I loved you well.”  Kaylee, Scott and Elise came over for supper on Sunday night.  I served a beef and barley stew (with rutabaga and carrots from the garden).  Everybody loved it…I would have thrown in a few more vegetables and a bit more barley if I’d known how much they would love it!  Monday morning, the beef caught up with me…I gave up pork several years ago due to difficulty digesting it (I don’t have a problem with cured meat like ham and bacon, thank goodness!), and have lately started having trouble with beef.  I did not go to the bookstore on Monday.

2. Computer/Internet Issues.   Those started on Tuesday when I got back to the bookstore.  Every time I’d try to leave a comment on somebody’s blog, I’d have to do it two or three times because I would get booted off the Internet…it’s been like that all week!  I’ve had trouble with Hotmail too.

3. Modelling Clay Emergency.  We got home late on Tuesday night, due to Anna having cheerleading, Devin having an orthodontist appointment, and Hope’s cheerleading practice being changed from Wednesday to Tuesday.  Thankfully, Jim’s parents picked up Devin and Hope for us since it was impossible for us to get there in time!  After supper, Hope announced that she had to have modelling clay for a project at school…too exhausted to go out again, I suggested we make it.  She also told me she had a couple of other homework assignments…aargh!  Hope printed a modelling clay recipe from the Internet, and I got out the flour, salt and water.  She wanted four colours of clay…I spent the next hour trying to incorporate food colouring into the rather stiff dough (I really want to thank whichever child lost the lid for the blue food colouring…my hands were blue for three days!).  The colours came out very muddy-looking.  Meanwhile, Hope was busy in the dining room.  After a while, she came out and chucked the clay in the garbage: “I can’t get it to stick!” she said.  “I told you we should have bought it!”  I wrote a note to the teacher to explain why the homework didn’t get done…sigh…

4. Modelling Clay…Take #2.  We brought home massive amounts of dollar store modelling clay for Hope’s project on Wednesday night.  We also got Christmas cards, wrapping paper, and candy canes (for hot chocolate, of course – one of Anna’s “emergencies”).  Hope got right to work with the “good clay” and constructed her cheerleading stunt group.  She told me that the legs kept falling off, so she decided to leave them off.  There is also no “front” in the stunt group (the “back” is hidden behind the “flyer”):

Hope's Cheerleading Stunt Group

5.  Revenge of the Orca Beans.  Jim made supper, but I didn’t eat much because I wasn’t feeling very well.  I had made chili on the weekend with orca and romano beans from our garden, and had put some in my lunch on Wednesday.  Some of the family had eaten it Monday night, but I was still recovering from my “red meat episode” so had opted for cereal instead.  Jim had mentioned a bit of stomach distress after having it for his lunch on Tuesday, but I blamed that on the massive amount of chili powder he’d added to it.  By 6:30 Wednesday night, I was in agony…I spent the next 4 hours in close proximity to the commode and eating the Costco version of Imodium like M & M’s.  In the midst of my misery, I remembered that I had sent some of the killer chili home with Kaylee (Scott won’t eat beans, so she doesn’t make chili), and decided I’d better give her a heads-up.  I dialled her number.  “Hi…you know that chili I gave you?  Did you eat it yet?”  Kaylee told me that she’d planned on having it for lunch the next day.  “Throw it out!” I told her.  “I’m dying here…”

6.  “Expedited” apparently means “Whenever you feel like it.”  I felt like a dishrag on Thursday when I woke up…I opted to skip work again (lucky I can do that!).  Jim didn’t feel well either, so we stayed home together.  Dad phoned me from the store to let me know we had gotten an e-mail about a book I’d ordered for a friend on November 25th.  I had requested “expedited shipping”…according to the e-mail, it was sent on the 29th…it took them four days to get it out of the building!  They also stated that it would take up to 14 business days to arrive!  If time wasn’t of the essence, I wouldn’t have bothered paying the extra for shipping!

7.  Farewell to a dear friend.  Friday was a sad day…members of our book club gathered at a local restaurant for dinner to send a good friend, S., on her way out of the province.  She is moving 2000 miles away with her new man, who we met, and approve of…very nice fellow!  Dad and I gave S. a book about Emily Carr, an artist we knew she liked…S. was moved by the Celtic blessing I wrote in the front.  I had a glass of wine, and a beautiful spinach salad before bidding S. “Adieu”…I know we’ll see her again…she is a Maritimer, and they always come home!

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Today’s Post is Brought to You by the Letter P…

Since the letter P seems to have popped up a lot around our place in the last week, I decided it would be pleasurable to post about it:

1. Last Saturday, Jim, Anna and I went blackberry picking at my private patch on the West Side (Hope preferred to purchase packages at McAllister Place instead).  Jim ploughed purposefully through the prickles, blazing new paths.  We picked a full plastic peanut pail of blackberries in about an hour-and-a-half.  Anna was perfectly fine until she was pursuing a particularly perfect bunch of berries, lost her balance, and pitched into the prickly purgatory.  She suffered painful scratches which we later applied Polysporin to.  I pointed out that I had perspiration pouring down my posterior – Anna said that was a piece of information she’d prefer not to have been privy to.  After picking up Hope, we stopped at Jim’s parents’ to pick up a ladder.  Jim wanted to put up the new ceiling fan we’d purchased at the yard sale in St. Martins.

2. This week, I took my persnickety pupils to finish up shopping for school supplies.  Hope got purple wedge heels (Anna bought them for her), which later caused her to fall and tear a hole in her pants.  It’s a pity that it is no longer prevalent to patch jeans!  Hope also got purple sneakers (she protested when I prevailed on her to purchase size 10 – said she didn’t want to have “clown feet!”).  Jim got Hope a purple plaid bookbag, and purple plaid sneakers for Brianna at Payless.

Hope's precarious purple sandals...

Hope's purple sneakers...Size 10!

 

Hope's purple plaid bookbag...

3. Jake, our poodle/schnauzer got a haircut this week.  The job was somewhat patchy, as the guard kept falling off the trimmer.  He made me laugh yesterday when I caught our pooch perched on the arm of the chair perusing the kids who were playing outside on the trampoline.  His back legs were sticking straight out…I tried to photograph him, but he defeated my purpose by turning around to look at me!

Look at Jake's side just in front of his back leg...that's where the guard fell off...

4. We’ve been snacking on foods that start with the letter P this week.  Jim and I both like peanuts (Jim eats barbecue, I prefer honey-roasted).  Jim got a big bag of mixed chips – he doesn’t like pretzels, so he leaves them for the Pretzel Princess (that would be me).  I also love glasses of pineapple juice over ice.

Jim's bag of barbecued peanuts and my jar of honey roasted...

Jim's rejected pretzels...

 

5. Wednesday afternoon, I stopped at the post office to pick up postage stamps.  I had to pass the Big Brothers/Big Sisters book sale, so I purchased another pile of books.  We have a customer named Phil who likes all things outdoors…several of the books made me think of him.  As I passed through the City Market, I actually ran into Phil, and told him I bought books for him.  He put aside several as he was waiting for a payment to pass at the bank.  He plans to order a pricey publication on fishing when his check clears.  

6. On Wednesday, I pissed off a passionate patriotic person with something I posted.  I pouted for a couple of days…my proclivity to post was temporarily paralyzed.  I am partial to the person I perturbed, so we both apologized profusely for provoking each other and the precarious predicament has passed.  Everything is peachy! 

7. On Friday, we called the plumber because we had a leaking pipe in the kids’ bathroom.  When I talked to him on the phone, he proposed that sometimes pinholes in the pipe cause leaks.  I proclaimed that the problem was probably bigger than a pinhole, as Jim had seen quite a puddle of water in our basement.  The plumber made a big hole in the wall, and replaced the tap.  He didn’t have the right part to make it possible to have a shower.

Plumber's handiwork so far...

8. On Friday evening, I was in the garden when I perceived a couple of pink poppies peeking out amongst the profusion of plants:  these were the third and fourth ones I have seen (the first one was in Dad’s pea patch).  I did not plant poppies this year (although I purchased seeds for them).  I had been pulling perplexing weeds that I couldn’t identify in any listing of pervasive plants prevalent in our province (after poring over some publications on plant identification, I became privy to the name of another pretty weed we have: purslane).  Upon examining the leaves of these poppies, I realized they were my mystery weed!

Pink poppy in the pumpkin patch...

The plentiful purslane...

 

9. Remember the pumpkin that was growing on the fence?  Well, it’s even more portly now!  The biggest ones are starting to turn orange.  Our beans continue to be prolific, particularly the Blue Jay, Mennonite Purple Stripe, and Royal Burgundy beans, which all have purple on them.  It’s doubtful whether our peppers will ever produce.  We’re still waiting for the purple Brussels sprouts too.

Pumpkin on the fence...

Big pumpkin...

Purple blossoms on the Blue Jay beans...my most prolific producer...

A Mennonite Purple Stripe bean run amok...this one's about 7" long...

This Royal Burgundy bean is more purple than burgundy (turns green when cooked)...

Still waiting for the peppers to blossom...

Still no signs of sprouts on the Purple Brussels Sprouts...

10. We’re having people over for supper tonight, my little Puddin’ Pop, Elise, and her parents.  I’m looking forward to seeing her…it’s been at least three weeks!  I had planned to have pork in the Crock Pot, and mashed potatoes, but got a beef roast out of the freezer instead…I must have been preoccupied! 

Me and my Puddin' Pop, the last time I saw her on August 5th...

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Hammond River Harvest…

I spent most of yesterday in my garden…it seems the work never ends!  I pulled out some of the lettuce greens that had gone to seed, picked beans, blueberries, black raspberries, zucchini, swiss chard, beet greens, and more lettuce for supper.  I also harvested my first yellow cherry tomatoes!

This yellow cherry tomato was about 1 1/4" in diameter, sweet and mild!

This is the first red tomato to begin ripening...it's Scotia Red, I think...

Tonight, I will make chocolate zucchini bread with the zucchini I picked.  All the squash and pumpkins are doing amazingly well.

Two Red Kuri squash, about 7" in diameter...

Uncle David's Dakota Dessert Squash, about 6" diameter - should be ready to harvest in a few days...

There are at least three pumpkins the size of a basketball already...

This little pumpkin is growing on the fence, about two feet off the ground...not sure how long it will stay up there!

The Autumn Beauty sunflowers have surpassed the height given on the package by several feet…it said they were 5′ high, and many of mine are 8′.  This is with no fertilizer whatsoever…I wonder how big they’d be if I’d put manure in the soil?

My "Wall of Sunflowers"...

I’m really excited that my first broccoli head is nearly ready to harvest…I’m trying to hold off until it’s a little bigger.

My first broccoli head...

Also imminent is the harvest of the first rutabaga.

This is Gilfeather rutabaga, named for John Gilfeather, a bachelor farmer from Vermont...it's about 4" in diameter...

I still have a little while to wait on the cauliflower and the purple Brussels sprouts.

You can see a head forming in the center of this cauliflower...

This Purple Brussels Sprout plant is about two feet high, but still no signs of sprouts!

My shell beans are coming along well too.

These are Italian Borlotti beans...

These are called Orca or Yin Yang beans...the seeds are black and white...

I will harvest these later in the fall when they have dried, and then use them for chili and other soups.

I’m off to make tonight’s supper – corn on the cob (from the store), and chicken thighs, with green beans from the garden.

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The “There Should Be an Award For That” Awards…

1. The “Miss Malaprop” Award.  Winner: Hope.  Last week, we were having supper, and Jim mentioned that he was having trouble with his sinuses again.  Hope offered to let him use her “nozzle spray” (Jim finally saw the specialist today – he needs surgery to scoop the stuff out of his sinuses and fix his deviated septum).

Hope's "Nozzle Spray"...

2. The “Sadistic Parents” Award.  Winners: Mr. and Mrs. Dull.   This week, I evaluated a book called A Battle History of The Imperial Japanese Navy (1941-1945).  It was written by a guy named Paul S. Dull.  Unless his middle name is something like “Sigmund,” I would probably be using that one rather than “Paul” (especially since he’s an academic!).

Book by Paul S. Dull...

3. The “Blonde Moment” Award.  Winner: Mia Michaels, So You Think You Can Dance judge.  Last night, Adichiké did a big jump during a duet with Kent.  Mia said he looked like a “giselle.”  Both Nigel and Adam quickly corrected her.

It's "gazelle!"

4. The “Most Moving Choreography Ever” Award.  Winner: Travis Wall, choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance.  Last night, Robert and Allison danced a piece to Coldplay‘s “Fix You” depicting Travis and his mother, Denise, who was facing major surgery.  My mom was chronically ill for the last 23 years of her life…I was bawling so hard, I was literally wailing.

Robert and Allison making everybody cry...

5. The “Most Birds on a Feeder” Award.  Winner: The goldfinches in our back yard.  We have had as many as seven at once on the finch feeder.  Second place: The blue jays.  Their record is four (but they don’t play very well together).

Five yellow birds on the finch feeder (taken by Jim)...

6. The “Worst Title for a Kids Book” Award.  Winner: Felicity Hayle.  This British author titled her 1958 children’s story “Our Brother Nick and the Tattooed Gardener.”

Another book in the "Our Brother Nick" series...

7. The “Yummiest Veggies” Award.  Winner: the first green/yellow/purple beans of the season from our garden.  We had them tonight with BBQ chicken and veggie burgers…yummy!

These purple beans turn green when cooked...

8. The “Shortest Career” Award.  Winner: Hope.  She announced on Tuesday that she was going to be the “Mommy” that day.  She did laundry (minor glitch with putting laundry detergent in the fabric softener dispenser, but we figured it out – not easy over the phone) and cooked supper (macaroni and cheese, peas).  When asked after supper if she still wanted to be the “Mommy,” Hope said, “Meh.”

Mommy for a day...

9. The “Multiplying Sock” Award.  Winner: Our family.  With seven people, we have enough socks to fill a small room.  None of them are ever together with their mates.  I hate matching them, and the girls seem incapable of wearing socks the same colour at the same time.

My sock pile is considerably larger than this one...

10. The “Mind-Reading” Award.  Winner: Jim’s mom.  Hope asked at supper last night if Grammy was having a birthday party for Jim and I.  Less than two minutes later, the phone rang – the party is Wednesday night.

Jim's mom on New Year's Eve...

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Introducing Anna, Guest Photographer…Part 2…

I’m working in my garden again today…here’s what’s happening in my yard:

Herbs and lettuce the squirrel hasn't destroyed yet...

These are my broad beans...I thought they looked like rabbit ears...

This little guy was hanging out in my garden...hope he wasn't contemplating chowing down on my beans...

These are apple blossoms which have blown off the tree...

It won't be long before we have peonies...

Blossom on the flowering crab...

Purple Lilacs at the front of the house...

White lilacs at the back of the house...

I’m coming down the home stretch on finishing the planting…still have to replant the tomatoes and onions that Jake destroyed…may buy some plants for backup!

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