Friday, July 15, 2011

Urgent care...... definition please!

A lovely picture of what last year was a black calla lily.  This year it's pink..... lesson, expect changes!

Two days ago I took myself to Urgent Care.  As I had; a take your breath away charlie horse for the last six weeks and now swelling had set in.  Googled everything I could find on swollen legs and leg pain only to find "blood clot" coming up over and over.  Scaring myself into a trip to Urgent Care.

I am of the school, let's wait and see........ six weeks was long enough and now it was just getting in the way of daily chores; like getting your underwear and jeans over your calf.  This should not be a wrestling match with ones self.
Urgent care poked, prodded, scanned and wrote a prescription.  Diagnosis....... maybe a Baker's cyst that had lodged in your calf.  Considering I thought I had blood clot I was relieved.  I have reams of paper work to read and was told don't mess around call for a follow up with yet another physician.   Three out of three physicians are booked two - three weeks.  My brain said;  Good God are we all really that sick? Then a dear friend pointed out......... "SANDY YOU ARE IN A BUBBLE!"  I like the bubble!  Last time I went to a "facility" I had a baby and that was a 40 minute labor and it was a midwife.  I was home eating lunch by noon.  And I know I am very, very, very, lucky!  It was pointed out to each person who makes the Dr.'s appointments what had been diagnosed at urgent care.  Three out of three;  OK not life threatening we can get you in 2 weeks.  Finally I found someone who take me in 7 days.  Their idea of urgent and my idea of urgent are not even remotely the same. 

That done I googled the prescription.  Nope!  The side effects alone could stop a horse!  I am going to take this for anti inflammation and pain.  You move 26 yards of mulch and see if you don't have pain and inflammation!  It just is and it is expected!  

Here is what I consider urgent:

two tons of gravel waiting to be spread....... which is blocking the driveway! 

15 pounds of beets just pulled from the garden and needing to be pickled! 

prepare for a show coming up!  

gardens to be weeded, watered, tomatoes tied up, deadheading and peppers are coming on strong! 

by noon this is what I am looking at:

it will be double by 8 pm tonight.  

All that said; I am watching the mess in congress, raise the debt or not.  The grandstanding and worries about re-election are fore front in the minds of Washington.  How about what's best for the country and get on with it.  I started realizing a few years back I better start taking care of myself and planted a garden and put up a few things, I know it's now out of control.  The more congress spends the more I can so I guess we are both out of control!  The solar panels will eventually get on the roof and I might sink a well in the backyard so I can have water without depending on some politician deciding if they can fund the water treatment plant.  Medicine is the same way.  I can sit here on my ass for 7 days waiting to find out what this is or I can walk 4-5 miles a day, eat my fruits and veggies, stop eating anything with salt and take a handful of herbs that I know are anti-inflamatory.  Take some responsibility for yourself!  

Ran up to the store to get canning lids and standing in front of me is woman with 4 little kids and one in the oven, doesn't speak a word of English and is fighting with the check out guy that her WIC coupons are good for the stuff she is trying to buy.  NO, IT DOES NOT COVER COKE!  The check out guy looks at me and says he is going home to West Virginia.   
I think there might a few changes coming......... stay tuned campers! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The heat goes on.........

The wilted afternoon gardens at their finest!  With the daily temps hovering in the 90's I must say we are all wilted; flowers, vegetables and the gardener.  Cannot remember the last time we had a good rain so things are showing the wear and tear of summer.  Seems more like August than July.  The weather folks promise a cooler day tomorrow and to hang on one more day........ and Santa is coming at Christmas.

I have decided not to turn the stove on to can the beets this week and are watering them daily, hoping they will do better in the ground than my fridge.

A few flowers are doing well in the heat but they will not last long.

a nice miniature rose that seems to love the heat.....

Acapulco lilies, oriental

the basil is sprouting nicely and seems to love the heat as well......

the patio base has been ordered and I cannot wait to sit by the pond and have a cool drink when that is done!  Like that will ever happen :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Peaks and Valleys, peaks and valleys.........

Since rounding the first half of the year and going over records, trying to balance books and trying to keep the gardens look good it occurred to me this is a year of peaks and valleys.  
Spring brought so much rain I thought my toes were going web.  Even in the midst of swimming to the car I thought; We should be storing this water.  Did I listen?  Of course not!  Now I am tethered to the garden hose trying to figure out who needs a drink to survive the 90 degree heat. 
Peaks and Valleys in the water department.

 Yesterday it was barely 70F.  degrees, today 92 F......  This Spring we went from sweltering 90's to freezing in two short days.  Again, Peaks and Valleys in the temperature department.

My kids seem to be riding the peaks and valleys too.  Which in turn takes me to new peaks and valleys.....
I'm in Grad School!  I need to pay for it!  (and she was awarded a terrific scholarship)


So goes the stock market.  Last Thursday I spent a lovely evening with a "financial advisor" who pointed out we are in for a bumpy ride until the election.  The most we are staying in funds is 5 - 30 days, used to be 3 to 6 months, those days are gone!  Peaks and Valleys! and he had the graph to prove it!

The Shows have been pretty good this year I can happily report.  Returning home with my little pile of money I sit down and distribute for supplies, electric bill, jury fees, show fees and back to; "How can I be this tired and broke?"  However all show fees are paid until the end of the year and I have a ton of clay sitting in the studio waiting to be turned into pots.  Yards of waxed linen sit on my weaving table and I want for no thing.  Just wish there was a wee cushion.  Again Peaks and Valleys......

You're in, you're out......  riding the Peaks and Valleys of the jury.  Not one show came through in August, September or October.   November starts with a bang, 5 shows back to back!  Not sure how I will pull that one off or if I even can.  For now I am making lists and descending into the studio to work full time and a bit more to pull enough inventory together.  Will the kilns hold up?  Will my hands hold up?  Will the weather cooperate as all the shows are out of town.

It just seems to be the norm this year.  I prefer the center but will adjust my sails accordingly....

the center.........

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

one more to go.........

Started out the day with a quick walk around the gardens.  Squash nibbled, cukes gone, peas almost gone, new damage to the rudbeckia and echinacea.   But all in all things were looking up.  The monarda had bloomed as had the daisies.  A new favorite combo:  drumstick alums pushing up through the daisies.  Alums have a tendency to fall over in the slightest wind or rain and the daisies are great support! No staking this year!

one of the last remaining rudbeckia bloomed...... the variety is Toto mix.

the first lilies bloomed this morning too.......

I weeded the vegetable garden, tied up the tomatoes and did a slow burn when I got to the peas and beans!  That's it, set the trap!  Clearly Mrs G. Hog was undeterred by a little shock from the fence.
I had an ear of raw corn and popped it in the trap, scattered the husk around and went back to the weeding.  Planted a couple containers of basil, parsley and lettuce and noticed the sun rising higher in the sky.  Ran in to get a tank of water and headed out to the studio.  

While sitting there trimming pots and listening to a riveting story on cd.  I heard... SNAP!  
My brain registered........ trap!  I dropped my tools and sprang from stool only to find Mrs. G. Hog pushing her way out of the trap to freedom!  NOOOOOO!!!  I had you in my icy grasp!   Curses and curse you and your evil children!  She had eaten the corn to a nub.  One more ear left....... kind of like your last match when lighting wet kindling on a cold winter morning.  
I thought how dumb can she be?  
Surely she would be so freaked out she would gone today.  

Back to trimming and my riveting story!  An hour later..........SNAP!  I sprang up, pole vaulted over the dog and ran out the door.  GOTCHA!  I slammed my foot down on the door as she rammed it with her nose. Her High Holy Queen of Mean-ness was flipping out!  She turned and rammed the other end of the trap which I quickly picked up and slammed against the woodpile.  She pivoted and rammed the trap door again.  Unbelievable!  
Now what?  How do I get this whirling ball of fur, teeth and claws to the truck?  
Walk 5 steps and drop the cage on the ground while holding the door shut.  That stunned her enough to walk another 5 feet and drop the cage.  I prayed to all that was sacred the trap would hold together just one more time.  Sorry but I got pots to make and you got stuff to eat so cooperate!  I heaved her into the back of the truck and slammed the tailgate and cap.  Ran to the studio and put everything under plastic and book on hold.  Grabbed my car keys and camera.  Off to the toxic waste dump!  Your kids are going to be so happy to see  you!  My hands were shaking as I put the key in the ignition after snapping her mug shot.  

Finally arriving at the super fund site I peered though the window on the cab of the truck and she was not in the cage.  Great.......  I had visions of dropping the tail gate and one fired up fur ball would launch itself onto my face....... shades of Monty Python.  I opened the cap door first and in the back of the truck in the corner was Mrs G.   Talking sweetly I told her I'm going to drop the tailgate now and you just mosey on out to your loved ones....... don't you worry about that 3 foot drop, you'll never feel a thing.  
I gingerly removed the cage to give her free running space and she just sat there.  
Moving to the front of the truck I pounded on the cap and said; GET OUT!   The second or third bang did it.  She took off on a run and was air born, if only she had had a little cape a new super hero would have been born.  In fact we were both air born and I hurled myself into the cab and slammed the door!  I watched her go through the review mirror.  

One more to go......... glad it's the last little one and not another Mrs. G. Hog!  

and now back to your regularly scheduled studio time.......... 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

it's officially canning season!

well at least at our house!  I know some die hards have been at it for months but I had electric fence to string and patios to rip up.  While waiting for my crushed limestone I decided it was time to break out the canning stuff.

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble......... the season is on!  I walked out back to check the gardens after a good soaking rain last night and found rhubarb the size of elephant ears!  I was opting out of the traditional strawberry rhubarb jam and instead went for a lovely rhubarb onion chutney.  I mixed up the recipe like I mix glazes and hoped for the best, not floating blue.

Here is the result: 

Rhubarb Onion Chutney
8 cups chopped rhubarb stalks
4 cups sliced onions
4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons canning salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups apple cider vinegar
5 garlic buds peeled and chopped fine
2 tablespoons whole mixed pickling spices

In a large heavy kettle, combine all except the pickling spice.  Tie the pickling spice in a baby sock and add to the pot.  Bring to boiling and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer until half the liquid is gone, about 1 1/2 hours.  Remove the spice bag, ladle the hot chutney into hot sterilized jars, adjust the lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Made 18 half pints, just right for gift giving :)

I just love the little lids popping!!  So far all have sealed! 

I had a half jar left and we tried it on whole wheat toast point and fresh che'vre.  Even the finicky one loved it!  Think it might go on my grass fed burger tomorrow too! 

While waiting for the the jars to process I tried this:  Kind of made it up as I went along too..... 

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

 Butter crust
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup all purpose flour

Key Lime Filling
3/4 cup 1% low fat cottage cheese 
1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon lime zest
3 1/3 tablespoons fresh key lime juice
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1 egg white
Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Beat the first four ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add 1 cup flour, beating at speed until well blended.  Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8" square baking pan sprayed with non stick cooking spray.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile back at the ranch prep the filling.  Process the cottage cheese in the food processor until smooth, took about 2 minutes.  Add the greek yogurt, and sugar, process again, about 20 seconds.  Add the next 6 ingredients and process another 30 seconds.  Pour into the partially baked crust and bake another 30 minutes.  Edges should be slightly browned. 
Cover and chill 8 hours, cut in to bars and serve.    

Saturday, July 2, 2011

two down and two to go.........

not sure which one this is but it's one more off the list!  I'm taking pictures to hang on the back wall of the trap, maybe Mom will get teary and just wander into the trap.  There are now two cavorting in the fields of a distant land.  

The electric fence does not seem to be working as I watched Mrs G. Hog do an over handed swing and dismount off the top wire into the lettuce yesterday afternoon.  Tested and not working!  Not Happy!  

A tad bit hot here yesterday,  86 F.  in the shade.  Seemed like a great day to tear the patio brick up.
Not sure what the temperature was on the sun baked patio but I have a list and it was on the list so get to it. The job seemed a bit daunting.  Brainstorm......... call the 14 year old neighbor kid!  Perfect summer activity for a kid with nothing to do all day and besides he loves Harry Potter and it would give us something to talk about as we ripped up the brick.  He was down in a flash on his skateboard!  He did great on the first row but by the second row he was fading.  Keep up I chortled, I am an old woman and you are a kid, he didn't care.  Gosh it's really hot out here, do you have any water.  Let's do one more row and then break.  OK...... ran in got him the big gulp with ice and ran it back out.  Hmmmmm that means you can stop every 5th brick to drink...... bad idea.  As the sun rose in the sky I felt like I was being chased as I really wanted to get this done by noon.  At noon he announced he had to go home and watch his brother.  Okey Dokey I said and gratefully paid him.  I took a water break and then decided to hit it again.  At 3:00 p.m. I had 5 more rows to go and decided one more water break and then finish as I probably wouldn't be able to move in the morning!   Stacked the last brick at 6 p.m.  What a day....... and I was toast!   Between Mulch and Bricks I want to know why I'm not a size 2?  

The messy abandoned patio at 9:30 a.m.

The missing patio at 6 p.m.

The stacked brick.........

Got up this morning to ordered the crushed limestone base only to discover the supplier is closed until Tuesday.  What do you mean; ON VACATION?  Hey some of us have projects!!  

Midway through the patio pull I got a fantastic call from the Rochester Museum of Art Fine Craft Show. I had been wait-listed and not holding out high hopes of attending this year.  I am very excited about exhibiting at this show.  It's the first week in November and I cannot think of a better way to kick off the pre Holiday show season!  Here is the link:

So today I will can up the rhubarb relish, make salads for the week, finish grocery shopping, water the gardens and go to the studio.  And although it's only 88 F. today the humidity is at 90% and it feels like the tropics.  Thunderheads are building and we hoping for rain, beats dragging the hose around!  We really need a good soaker to keep everything green and bouncy! 

OH and here is the recipe I promised everybody from the local picnic on Thursday! 

Pineapple Carrot Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple

1- 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
2 cups confections sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.

2.  Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Make a well in the 
center and add sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Mix with wooden spoon until smooth.  Stir in carrots, coconut, nuts and pineapple.

3.  Pour into 9x13 inch pan.  Bake at 350 for about 45 - 50 minutes.  Don't panic, the center will sink a little.  Allow to cool.

4.  To make the frosting:  Cream the butter and ream cheese until smooth.  Add the confectioners sugar and beat until creamy.

Servings per recipe:  24
Calories per serving:  297