Sunday, May 28, 2017

all growed up

Some of you might remember these girls from their first Granny Camp back in 2009...



Well, this is what they did last Friday night...with honors.

In August Jade will be leaving for college at University of Texas San Antonio and Autumn will be leaving for college at University of Texas in Austin.

They will be separated for the first time in their lives.

Friday, May 26, 2017

potato potato tomato

I dug up all my potatoes yesterday. At least I think I got all of them, about a five gallon and a half bucket full all told. Then I brushed off as much dirt as I could and laid them on hay two layers deep in little perforated baskets and stashed them on the bottom shelf of the pantry, the coolest darkest place in the house.

Most of them were just regular potato shaped but some were quite...different. Like this little piggy

and rubber ducky

and I don't know what this is, a walrus maybe?

The tomatoes are almost done with their first wave, harvesting is dwindling though you couldn't tell from yesterday's gather. 

The plants are still setting fruit though at a much reduced rate. As soon as the nights get consistently above 75˚ and the days consistently above 85˚ - 90˚, they will stop setting fruit at all.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

bits and pieces

We finally got some rain, 2 1/2” between Saturday night and til about noon on Monday. Everything looks much happier. Sunday, after the previous night's rain and before it began again, I went out to the garden and dug up more potatoes and got two really big ones and a handful of smaller ones. I'm supposed to keep all the little ones for seed potatoes for a fall crop, so say all the country boys in the neighborhood.

Since so many of you were interested in the roasted tomato sauce, here's the recipe I found on-line:

5-6 pounds medium or small tomatoes, stems removed
1 medium head of garlic, peeled (you can chop the garlic if you want but can keep cloves whole if you'd like)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Place the tomatoes on large baking sheet with a raised 1-inch lip. Add the garlic cloves and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Use your fingers to mix well to coat. Top with torn basil leaves and season with kosher (I used pink himalayan) salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 4 hours or until tomatoes are soft and bursting (it was 3 hrs and about 20 minutes or so for me so keep an eye on them). Allow to cool then pour into a blender in batches. Pulse 2-3 times then blend for 1 minute or until desired chunkiness. Pour into quart jars or pour into freezer bags to freeze flat. Will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week or 4 months in the freezer.

a moth and a butterfly

You might remember my birthday was last month. I think I mentioned it in a previous post. Our usual celebration is a movie and dinner but we had to wait until the following Friday since the movie I wanted to see, Guardians Of The Galaxy II, didn't come out til then and it even starred my only still living heartthrob, Kurt Russell. I'll spare you the trailer because if you are a GOTG fan, you've already seen it. However the other thing about my birthdays is that I buy my own present. This year I bought a small stone sculpture by fabulous stone sculptor Jennifer Tetlow who lives and works in North Yorkshire, England. I've followed Jennifer's work for several years and I really love her aesthetic so I finally am the proud owner of one of her pieces...Flutter.

my pink crinum lily

One last item of note...another surprise in the mailbox, Barbara at Kittrell/Riffkind Gallery sold another piece for us. I guess if she's going to keep doing that, I need to start making some new work.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

continuing train wreck, tomatoes, and snakes

I'm trying very hard not to be consumed with what's going on at the White House and our government but how can one not be?! Still, re my last post title, I figured everyone was getting tired of the political stuff when I posted that and the next day things just basically blew up...again!...with the appointment of the Special Counsel to continue the investigation at the FBI. I'll spare us all the ongoing blow by blow and just do a re-cap later. I don't know about you but I need to think about something else for a few days so I'm glad it's the weekend.

Now for something completely different...yesterday I put up 6 3/4 cups of tomato sauce (for a total of 17!). This was my third effort at tomato sauce. The first one I pureed the tomatoes and garlic and spices and then cooked it down to about half but it never got as thick as I felt it should be. Gave up and froze as is. Next I tried slow roasting the tomatoes and garlic and basil for about 3 1/2 hours and then pureed it and it was perfect and very tasty. 

pre-roasting and slightly out of focus

So I did that again. While the tomatoes were roasting I put up 6 cups of skinned cut up tomatoes (for a total of 26!) and I still have 32 tomatoes to deal with and they are still ripening on the bushes.

Last week when I laid out the limestone slabs I aggravated an old back injury so I haven't been doing much out in the yard, well, I haven't been doing anything out in the yard. I thought it would be better in a few days but it has actually taken all week to subside. So of course we had a small job to do early last week, nothing fancy, just sandblasting a shower enclosure, but it entailed lifting and moving heavy glass. Probably one of the reasons it took my back so long to get over it.

And speaking of work, an art consultant who has not contacted me for the last 7 years has asked for a proposal for a project that won't happen til next year so we are in the very early stages of budget proposals. I used to get a lot of work from this company and the jobs were always very nice ones that I enjoyed working on but they moved on to another glass art company that does a wider range of technique than we do including color. I figured they weren't even showing our work to potential clients anymore so it was a pleasant surprise and sort of ironic since I had finally voiced the idea that I was actually completely retired.

I was dog sitting my sister's dog this week while she was out of town and Wednesday, both dogs were doing that cautious curious stance they do when they see something they aren't sure of looking at something behind the bucket of parrot feather at the edge of one of the flower beds so I went over to see what they found...

an adult coral snake

Coral snakes, the most virulent of the vipers with the exception of the black mamba, prefer to hunt in the mornings or evenings, and are shy, non-confrontational, and reclusive. They have small rounded heads and even smaller mouths and it is rare for them to bite a human. Most bites occur when people try to pick them up but because their venom delivery system in not very efficient they basically have to chew on you awhile to get enough venom to do harm. As such, when I run across them I generally let them alone. This one I poked with a stick to get it to move deeper into the foliage out of reach of the dogs.

This morning while I was watering I happened to notice this...

Likely the same one, getting a drink from the water lily pond.

It has been so dry here, haven't had rain in weeks, that the bees are swarming the same pond and it's filter.

One last picture...

toad in a hole

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

at the risk of running off all my readers...

Trump met with top Russians in the Oval Office, one of whom is generally considered to be a spy and the other the ambassador, excluding the American press from the meeting that the Russian press attended during which, in a fit of braggadocio, Trump passed on some extremely secret intel, code-word intel, that not even all our own people were privy to and not shared with all our allies, jeopardizing not only people and operations in the field but also an important source of intel as they may now think twice before passing on new information to us making this country less safe. You understand this, right? The president of the United States jeopardized the citizens of this country that he swore to protect as well as an important intelligence source and jeopardized the agent in place just so that he could look big and brag in front of the Russians who are NOT our friends. What's worse is that he probably had no idea of the sensitive nature of the information that he was blabbing to the Russians because he thinks national security briefings are boring and he doesn't pay attention.

It is true that a president can choose to declassify information, and that is Trump's indignant reaction to the uproar of passing sensitive intel to the Russians but this was not done after a period of consideration or meeting with security personnel to discuss and decide if it no longer needs be classified. No Trump 'declassified' this intelligence on the spur of the moment to inflate his ego.

Then, the next day after this revelation, Comey reports that Trump had asked him to drop the investigation into Flynn's connections to Russia which Comey rightly refused to do and which eventually got him fired.

And today, while Trump was singing the praises of Turkey's president, Erdogan at the White House, Erdogan's bodyguards were beating up American citizens protesting near the Turkish embassy. Trump's response? Crickets, because that is exactly what he would like to do to protesters.

You would think that in the face of this obvious attempt at obstruction of justice and Trump's casual leak of extremely sensitive information to our national foe that put our intelligence gathering at risk and his blatant disregard for American citizens that Congressional Republicans would finally be moved to put country over party but you would be wrong. Apparently, you have to lie about having sex to garner impeachment proceedings.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

an ordinary Saturday

Every time I think it's getting hot enough out there that working outside all day is no longer an option and I start to stare at the slab of wax on my work table, another front comes in and cools it off for a few days and I'm right back out there. I'm done with all the major projects for this raised bed and improving the area of the garden, get the garden planted, get the blueberry bed in, new flower bed, remake the end of another flower bed, so now it's just maintenance...watering, weeding, getting new things acquired in the ground, repotting others into bigger pots, digging up all the pecan trees the squirrels planted, trimming around the beds, cutting the dead wood out of the shrubs, that sort of thing.

Yesterday, I finally completed a task I started last November. I didn't start out the day with that intention but since my path across the side yard has changed the scattered mayhem of the sandstone paving slabs, which I had traversed several times already that day, finally got to me. 

Depending on the season when I am walking over to the shop, I either walk down the driveway to walk in the sun or I walk across the grass close to the house to walk in the shade. You might remember that last fall I unstacked the sandstone slabs and laid them out helter skelter in preparation for reconstructing them into a short walkway. Short because the original walkway that these comprised was at the city house and it was a short cut from the sidewalk to the front door and the driveway. Anyway, yesterday I found myself putting together a jigsaw puzzle with no picture to guide me. Wouldn't have been too hard a task except that the pieces were all really heavy.

There's always small open areas where the stones don't fit exactly so I drug out my glass doorknob collection and rummaged through it and selected some to fill in those spots. We used a lot them in the city house but since moving out here we haven't, so far, bothered to change any out. 

I have one old glass doorknob that was an exterior knob and probably faced west and has turned purple from the ultrviolet rays of the sun.

I going to get up in a minute and start to make some tomato sauce and maybe put up some of the peaches I picked up on Saturday. The local orchard didn't have enough to open but if you messaged them they would hold some for you to pick-up. I'm happy to now be on their call list. These are the white flesh peaches and so sweet and delicate. I made a pie yesterday and still have too many to eat before they go bad so I'll be putting some of them up in the freezer too.

But back to the tomatoes...Marc made a great tomato pie and we've been having them with lunch and I've been giving them away and cutting them up for the freezer and still I am overwhelmed with tomatoes. My daughter took a whole window sill's worth home with her yesterday and I replaced them immediately with that day's pick and then some. I thought I would only get about 6 or so but I actually had the biggest pick so far.

It was late when I relinquished the kitchen back to Marc, too late to come up with or fix anything for dinner so we settled for this...

Friday, May 12, 2017

because apparently working out in the yard and going to yoga doesn't get me tired enough

image via:

I think I figured out where I went wrong. I had been so good about doing my 5 sun salutations a day for well over a year. Then I discovered a regular yoga class was available and started going twice a week, which I am very good about, and I started thinking that because I was going to do yoga later on those days, I didn't need to do my routine at home in the morning. And once I stopped doing it two days a week in the morning it was easy to forget on other days. Sleeping til 8 or later which I seem to be doing lately doesn't help when the day is demanding attention. So I'm trying to get back to every day even if it's nothing more than the basic 5 even if it is class days. I'm managing about 4 out of 7 but this week I did something different.

image via:

Two of the regulars at yoga have been doing the kick boxing class held at the same place on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as yoga and they've been cajoling me to come try it so I finally relented and went last Tuesday. It's stretching and then warm up with calisthenics the jumping jacks about did me in and holding plank and push-ups and the like and then more of the same with weights. He was handing me the 2 lb weights while everyone else was getting 8s so I reached for the 5s. It hasn't been that long since I stopped working out at the gym and even the 8s would have been fine. And then, finally the boxing part.

Everyone there is, of course, younger than me by at least a decade or more and the cute young man who teaches the class, when he was helping me get boxing gloves on, asked if he could respectfully ask how old I was.

67”, I told him.

Oh, my mom's age”, he says.

So we partnered up and took turns giving or absorbing (with big pads) blows...left jab, right hook, then quick blows in succession, then he added a round house left hook, then a right side kick and by the time he added in the left knee, I was tired and having a hard time remembering the whole sequence. But it was fun and I'd think about doing it on a more or less regular basis except for the fact that I already drive into El Campo twice a week and this would make 3 times a week and depending on what day, three days in a row. And the cost. It's a $15 drop in for an hour. I'm not saying the cost isn't worth it but it's a little pricy for me every week combined with the yoga.

But my first two weeks are free so I plan on going one more time at least.