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Color Me Exhausted in a Good Way

November 8th, 2022 at 01:19 am

Saturday, November 5, 2022

I really had forgotten what being well felt like and what it meant to be exhausted from working hard instead of simply existing.  It's a better feeling, a feeling of accomplishment, of pride in what you have done, even if, in the end, every joint in your body aches the same.  Still, this girl got stuff done.

In the morning I divided the last of the chicken bones into the two Instant Pots and got the broth going, cleaned jars, and set up my area, and had DH put the heavy double decker All American canner up on the stove because that thing weighs a lot, but you get what you pay for.

Then we went outside and did some garden work.  You will not believe me, but I did not want to run back in the house and get my camera, because my legs are barely working as it is and photos uploading are always a crapshoot around here anyway, but my darn yellow zucchini had a big old flower on it today.  And those tiny flowers that were on my pepper plants?  Those are now tiny peppers.  What on Earth, people?  Maybe I really should go get some green house plastic.  The pepper plants at least would survive all winter, I think.

Anyway, we got the tarp put down on the potato plot and we added four feet in one direction and two feet in the other to increase the size.  DH worked on taking out a tree stump that had been left in the way of where we want to build a raised bed next year.  He dug down to get as much of the roots as he could, but there was a tap root so he could only go so far, but he got out all the tap roots.

Meanwhile, DS dug out some wild blackberry canes while I cut them out of the climbing rose bushes.  I don't even know where they sprang up from.  We haven't had this variety of wild blackberries in our yard before, but our neighbor does.  This was nowhere near theirs though.  It was literally in the middle of the back yard.  We can't get all of it out, but without taking the roses out, which we will in spring to move them, but we should be able to dig them out then.  There wasn't too much of them and I will poison those if I have to.

I am not playing the wild blackberries are taking over my yard game.  I am already playing the keep the morning glory that the other neighbors let run rampant and won't keep in their own yard so it runs all the fences in my yard and constantly crawls into my garden all summer out of my yard game.  I think next year I will poison those, too, neighbors nice hedges be darned if they get any on it.  I hate to poison, but there is no winning with either of these plants.  Morning glory should never be planted outside of a planter that is on concrete with no ability to get to dirt.  It is so invasive and impossible to control if you don't hack it back all summer.

My son has started drinking coffee again so he is saving the coffee grounds for me to bury in the raised beds.  I will do so as long as the ground isn't frozen.  We haven't had a hard freeze yet, but I am sure it is coming.  Well, that's about it for this update.  Still planning to post that payday report.  Just have so much other stuff on my mind.

Me from the future:  I forgot to post this on Saturday and just left it open with about 50 other tabs.  Glad windows didn't randomly decide to restart.

Groceries in Bulk and Piecemeal

November 2nd, 2022 at 11:42 pm

I know I haven't posted my payday report for last payday yet.  I have it on the agenday.  This is more of a brain dump, rant, food prepping/canning to save money in the long run, sort of thing.

I went through the grocery ads online this morning.  I can't really do them with the paper in my hands anymore, becaues the mail delivery has gotten so bad that for an ad cycle that starts today, I have gotten them as late as next Monday, but it is usually Friday or Saturday.  They should be coming in the mail on Tuesdays.  I guess if they didn't have 20 pounds of straight to the recycle bin politician flyers to deliver for the past few months, not to mention Christmas catalogs no one ordered, maybe we'd get the rest of our stuff on time.

They didn't even deliver the mail on Thursday.  I know because Mom put out a letter to be deliverd on Wednesday night with the little flag up and the flag was still up at 9:00 p.m. and our letter was still in there to be picked up.  Then on Thursday we put the letter back out in the box and when it still hadn't been picked up by 6:30 p.m. took it back out and the mail showed up at 7:00 p.m.  That was annoying.  We didn't get any mail on Friday or Saturday and none picked up, so they are obviously not coming to even look if the flag is up for outgoing mail.

We ended up taking our letter to the post office on Monday, since we can't rely on our carrier.  Our mail is supposed to be delivered by 2:00 p.m. according to the delivery schedule and has been up until September when it started fluctuating wildly.  I put in a polite, but formal complaint, too.  It should not take me that many days to try to mail a letter, it shouldn't take that may days to get the grocery ads, and I'm not sure we're getting all of our regular mail, either.  I haven't got my statements from my one credit union that only does snail mail twice this year and Mom has had the water bill go missing once and the garbage bill twice.  So I mentioned that, too.  You hear about carriers just tossing mail when they don't want to deliver it.  I wish they'd toss the political flyers, not the real mail.

Anyway, back to the grocery ads, there weren't a lot of good sales.  I guess after two good weeks of sales I wasn't expecting much.  There were a couple of buy one get ones where they don't tell you the  price.  I don't pay attention to those, since they are usually full price, they just jack up the price of the first one so it covers the price of the second.  And I'm not going to make an extra trip to the store on the off chance I am wrong for a meat that I am iffy about to begin with.

So while that store did have a good salmon sale, it was for Atlantic salmon, which no, not when I live on the Pacific and that is so much better.  And a decent t-bone steak sale, but not when I have very good sirloin sale steak in my freezer.  There are decent produce items on sale, but I'm not sure it was enough to being me in.  They had good pork items, but since I have half a hog in the freezer we have barely made a dent in, there is no point in that.  So the main 3 stores are just meh this week.  I'll have to buy produce somehwhere, but that's all I need to buy.

Which means I'll be going to Winco.  I've been wanting to make it over there anyway, since I want to stock up on canned green beans and get 40 pounds of Roma tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce to can.  If they don't have 40 pounds available I will take 20.  I can get 20 more from another store if I have to.  I also want to get some fresh peppers to make some chili this week and they have the biggest choice in peppers, and some cilantro.  And they have bulk herbs and spices and wild rice blends.  And everything is just so much cheaper there with that kind of stuff.

I plan to go to TJ's as well, to see if they have turkeys yet.  No one is advertising turkeys and the one place I did see mention of it was with one store saying to order your turkeys now.  This would be a store that normally would be doing one of those things where if you spend $150 you'd get a free turkey by now.  So I'll look this weekend if they don't have turkeys.  I'll probably switch to one of the back up plans, either the Cornish game hen plan or the duck plan.

Yesterday was the last day of the .99/lb sale for chicken thighs.  It'd been selling out every day like crazy so every day we've gone it has already been wiped out by 9:00 a.m.  Mom got there at 7:30 a.m. when they opened yesterday and was finally able to get what I needed, which was 40 pounds or 8 value packs.  I figured I'd lose at least 5 pounds to skinning and deboning.  It filled 3 gallon sized Ziploc baggies, so maybe more than that.  At least I can use that to make bone broth.

It wasn't as bad with the chuck roast last week, which they at least had until 5:30, before they sold out, but .99/lb chicken is way easier to stock up on for some budgets than $3.99/lb chuck roast.  The butcher says people are really worried about the gas shortages and whether or not truckers will even be able to haul food next week the way things are going, so they are stocking up like crazy.  They are worried about even having fuel for their own gas stations over on the east coast by the end of next week for their store brand.  We are more protected here because of the refineries, but even so it'll come here eventually if things don't change soon.  Crazy times.

I spent from 9:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. skinning and deboning and cutting up the chicken for canning.  I ended up sleeping in, because I am on day 2 of caffiene withdrawal, but tomorrow I will get started on canning the chicken and getting a bag of bones in each Instant Pot.  I'll have one more bag of bones to do after that, but I will have some beautiful broth when I finish.  It should be 21 quarts or so, but I am not sure how I will actually divvy it up yet.  I know I want some in pints and some in 24 oz and some in quarts, so we'll see how it goes.  I might actually divide the bones up into four batches.  I think there is enough and then I could have 28 quarts' worth, however I do it up.

Pints are great if you just want to pop one, warm it up and drink it.  Doing that was great for me when I was so sick I couldn't eat.  All I could do was drink and barely that.  It got at least a little nutrition and hydration into me.  The 24 oz size is what I use in a batch of homemade enchilada sauce.  1 quart is what I use to make soup or to make skillet lasagna or sometimes 2 if I make a double batch.  Sometimes I will make my pasta in it if I am doing it in the Instant pot. It makes a fantastic macaroni.

I picked that cucumber finally and one green and one yellow zucchini.  The plants aren't dead yet, we haven't had a frost.  There are still a couple veggies growing really slowly.  The green beans did die when it hit 37, but they aren't planted two feet off the ground.  We are still having days in the 50's with a few sunny hours between rain showers, so I guess I won't give up on them until they give up on themselves.

Busy and Productive

October 24th, 2022 at 05:08 am

I took advantage of being on my second round of prednisone in a month and it has coincided with one heck of a meat sale at Fred Meyer this sale's flyer cycle.  They had chuck roast on for $3.97/lb, a price I thought was long behind us, but was secretly hoping we'd see again.  DH went and got some on Saturday and I spent a few hours cutting up seven large roasts and this moring I canned them.  We used the double decker canner and got 13 quarts.  I would have needed another roast to get a full canner at 14 jars.

When using the double decker canner, it takes around 2 hours and 40 minutes to can and up to 3 hours if you are starting with meat that you pulled out of the fridge and not stuff that has been sitting out while you cut it all up the same day.  No more than 90 minutes set out, but that does take a lot of the chill off.

Once I had the canner full, I sent DH to the other Fred Meyer and he was able to get 12 roasts there.  8 for canning and 1 for dinner tomorrow and 3 for the freezer.  He also got us 2 value packs of sirloin steaks for the same price per pound and some nice grapes.  I don't know if I will go back for anymore on Tuesday, but I'd like a total of 8 in the freezer, because that is how long it took this sale to come around again and we like to have chuck roast once a week.

I'll have to check how much money is left in the grocery envelope, but I think I have enough for 5 more roasts and I don't have to buy anything else between now and Friday, which is payday and refills the grocery envelope.  My mother got 12 for her freezer, but she got smaller ones that she could cut in half and then repackage and freeze.

After that was done, it's the first day it's been comfortable to go outside in a couple of weeks, first because of the Chilliwack fires giving us the worst smoke I can remember, it was like walking through fog, and then it rained for a few days and washed it out of the air.  Everything started drying out around four p.m. yesterday and was nice today.  So at 4:00 p.m. today we went out and worked for 2 hours.

My son and I were able to get the green beans picked, about 3 meals' worth and there won't be much more than that.  Then we harvested the the basil.  I still can't believe the basil was still going.  We had one night at 37, but most are in low 40's and with the beds two feet off the ground it makes a difference.  I got one of those fancy biodegradable grocery bags full of basil and then pulled the plants.  I'll be dehydrating overnight and tomorrow and maybe even some more.  It's a lot of basil, but should be enough for the year.

After that we picked all of the tomatoes off the plants, colored ones and green ones, cut up the plants to take to the green dump and then pulled out the base and roots.  They were still flowering, and there were still green branches and leaves, but there was a lot of dead branches and mildew all over many of the branches and there was no time for anything to grow.  No blossom end rot.

I picked the last of the cayennes, which was the last of the peppers.  Several of the plants are still alive and some even have flowers, but they have seen better days.  Between what I harvested and dried a week ago and this week, I will have enough to make my own cayenne powder for the year.  Maybe two years, so I might not have to grow it next year and can save that space for a different type of pepper plant.  My pepper production has sucked two years running.  I blame it on no bunny poop.  I still need to contact that rabbit rescue about getting some.

I've still got cucumbers and zucchini growing.  I don't know what the heck is going on there.  By all rights they should be dead.  They've slowed their growth down, but they are still going.  I've got several zucchini and two cucumbers that should be big enough to eat by the end of the week.

Once I finish with the basil, I am going to harvest and dry sage and then do some oregano.  No thyme, this year.  The thyme hasn't recovered very well yet from not getting watered like it should have this summer.  It is coming back though.  I can pick a sprig here or there as needed, but no big harvest.  I will also dehydrate all of the tarragon, parsley, and oregano, then pull the plants.

They are still pretty small and I will just plant new ones in the spring.  Normally I would either transplant them or leave them, but the are in the way of where I want to plant garlic and I am not sure a transplant would take before the first frost or the first hard frost hits.  It usually hits on Halloween or the first week of November.

While I was doing that DH was going over the second half of the potato plot for a second time.  Between the two sides we found several more potatoes.  Around 40 pounds more.  Total potato harvest this year was 143 pounds and 9 ounces, not counting the 2 potatoes tossed for some kind of bug damage.  We saw no slug damage and no mouse damage this year, but we didn't use mulch, either.  Just kept mounding up soil.

I brought in all of the sweet onions from the garage.  I will spend time tomorrow peeling and chopping onions for the freezer in a couple of days and either tomorrow evening or the next day cutting up more roasts to can.

My focus after that will be waiting on a good chicken thigh sale.  Right now .99/lb is still doable.  It is easy enough to skin and debone chicken thighs.  Then I throw the bones and the skins and herbs in the Instant Pot with some salt and pepper to make bone broth with lots of gelatin.  Once the broth has set overnight, I'll scrape off the fat and use it to cook with.  Eggs taste really good cooked in it and herbs don't matter if they get trapped in the fat.  I like using it in stir-fried rice, too.

Anyway, I am completely out of canned chicken, so need to get a lot of that done.  I'd like to get 14 quarts and 21 pints on the shelf for starters.  The pints are good for making chicken salad and the quarts are good for making chicken pasta alfredo for tv dinner freezer meals.  The double decker canner will take 21 pints if I steal the rack for the single level canner.  Then I will wait for the next sale and try to get 28 quarts done.

Somewhere along the way I need to can carrots, parsnips, celery, and potatoes.  I'll need to save out the potatoes I want to keep as next year's seed potatoes and properly store them, and those will be ones with several eyes and about the size of an egg.  Then I will pick out all the large easy to peel ones for canning.  The rest will be eaten over the next several months.  I have burlap sacks coming to store them in and we will keep them in the coolest part of the house not in the basement in the cold season, the back entry way.

DS will be helping with all the peeling and cutting up.  We will soak the potatoes overnight to remove some of the starch and then process the next day.  So, so much to do, but we've got time and my pantry shelves will be full again.  I'll be on prednisone through the 2nd, but we have to go down to Seattle on the 31st for medical things for both kids and won't come back until the evening of the 2nd, so basically just until the 30th, really, because we'll want to come home to empty counters so I'll need to be washing, labelling and putting away full jars on the morning or afternoon of the 31st, not canning on the 31st.  So I have six days, which I have to work around a couple of appointments.  I think I can do that.

I'll prioritize the meat and the carrots.  I'm not sure what I'll do with all the green tomatoes.  I know I will lay out the big and medium sized ones to ripen, but there were a lot of smaller ones, too.  Maybe I will see if my chiropractor wants them.  I have no idea if the little ones will ripen at all, but he might like fried green ones, which we don't.

Anyway that what I've been up to and what I'll be up to, assuming my hands actually work tomorrow.

Potato Harvest, Garden Talk, Aerogarden, Computers, Canning--Long Post

October 14th, 2022 at 01:30 am

We've got the potatos all dug up.  We did it over two weekends.  I haven't weighed them yet, but visually it looks like we got more than last year.  We are letting them sit for two weeks for the skins to harden before we start weighing them by variety.  I can tell at a glance that the red La Soda did very well this year, both the seed potatoes that we bought and the ones that we saved our own seed from.  So did the Canela Russets, which are a variety of Russets that have a much lighter skin than most Russets, but taste just like Russets, only they were a lot smaller than they should have been, but they really made a lot.  They should have been 4 or 5 inches long, but we got them about 3 inches long.  We also got a lot of Kennebecs from our seed potatoes and a ton of our own Gold Rush potatos.

By and large the seed potatoes we saved did better than then one we bought from the nursery, except the red La Soda.  The ones we planted from the nursery were bigger than ours to begin with, though.  We saved smaller ones, so even chitted, the ones from the nursery were bigger pieces than the small whole ones we planted.  That makes a difference.  But ours still did well, a lot better than last year.

Anyway, the grocery store potatos that we planted that sprouted on us, also did very well, which I find very interesting, because the Russets weren't even organic, so had probably been sprayed with sprout inhibitor, but they sure had sprouted a lot when Mom gave me the half bag to throw away and DH and I decided to make another row and plant them.  We also did 3 rows of organic yellow potatoes that we had let sprout to plant as well, because shipping the potatoes was so expensive and most yellow potatoes cost more than any other kind from the nurseries.

I'll have to note it all down in my garden notebook and compare it all to last year when I have the final numbers, but with a cursory glance that seems to be how it has come out.  We had good luck last year with the grocery store potatoes, too, whether organic or not, and planted a lot more of those than nursery seed potatoes.

I will again save out seed potatoes, but will only purchase two varieties this year instead of 5 or 6.  I want to get more of the Magic Molly French Fingerlings and the German Butterballs.  I was successful enough with the other varieties to save some of those out, but only enough of the Butterballs to have 4 or 5 meals with them.  I only got 3 pounds of them to plant last year to try, so next year I'd like to get 25 pounds of them.  The Magic Mollys we could have about 10 meals from or have one meal from and save the rest to plant, but I would really rather eat them and get 25 pounds of them to plant.  I only got 5 pounds of those and so got more of them and they were bigger than the Butterballs because we didn't dig them early like you can.

If I can find both of them in 25 pound increments and not just 50.  I really have to watch for when they become available to order.  Last year I didn't start checking until January and a lot of the 25 pound selections had already sold out.  They don't ship them until planting time, but people were ordering really early so I am starting now to check weekly.  I don't need 50 pounds of each.  The shipping on that is way too much.  We will only eat one meal of each to make sure we like those varieties and I will hold back on making more until we know about whether we can order more in case we do have to save all of those for seed potatoes.

The rest of the yellow potatos I planted were the Gold Rush seed potatoes I saved from last year.  Those did pretty well, too.  There was a lot of production for the amount I planted, which was not as much as I wanted to, but still another row than last year.  I'll double what I save out for next year.  Eventually I will have enough of each variety I want to plant to never have to buy seed potatoes at all from the nursery.

All that's left to do there is to put down lime and rototill it into the soil.  I'm thinking about putting down some peat and rototilling that in as well.  There is still a lot of clay in the soil despite how much we have amended it back there.  I'm not even sure we'd use a whole bag this year, maybe half and see how that goes. We'd also rototill that in and some more compost.  Then we'll go out to the bay and harvest enough seaweed to put down on top of it and cover it with black plastic and the seaweed will compost down over the rest of the fall, all winter, and into the early spring and feed the soil.

When you can't buy manure anymore and still want to keep your garden organic, you go with what you have, and seaweed is a great fertilizer.  Just make sure you have a license for gathering sea plants.  It's usually the same one as for gathering shell fish and generally is separate and less expensive than a full on fishing license.

My tomatoes are still going so I am letting them.  I am going to thin out the vines, though, and trim off any flowers left.  The nights are still 48 to 50 and the leaves have not died at all and the days are in the mid to low 70's, so no reason to pull them out.  I do want to plant garlic where the tomatoes and peppers are, but I generally wait until the first nice day after the first frost to plant them.

In a typical year the first frost is Halloween, but it's not feeling like a typical year.  It's feeling like an Indian summer year, which we get about once every 5 years or so.  Then the first frost goes into mid to late November.  It's been as late as December 2nd before on a year that had no snow and barely even froze.  I plant in November anyway when that happens.  The garlic still grows fine.

I do need to get my sage and thyme out of the containers they are in and into one of the garden beds.  They have both burst their plastic containers because they are so big.  I didn't have room for them in the beds this year, but now I will get them in place so I do.

I still have one very determined cucumber plant alive, but if it gets much colder at night it's going to die.  It's got a few small plants on it.  I am thinking of tenting its trellis in some clear plastic, at least until they get big enough to eat.

The zucchini plants have some small zucchini on them, but again, I am not sure if they will get big enough to eat.  Maybe I will tent their hoops, too.  I need to harvest the peppers, too.  Only the cayenne has peppers left.  I am thinking about bringing the jalapeño plant inside for the winter and leaving it under a grow light.  It did not have ideal conditions this year and got overshadowed by it's neighbor plants.  I like doing pico de gallo year round, but the jalapeños in winter are always so dinky.  I know japapños are still a cheap pepper, but I like them big.  I want to do one last harvest of basil before pulling the plants.  They will die the minute it hits 45 at night.  We have maybe another week before that happens.

I'm going to grow some cilantro (for the pico), parsley and basil in my Aerogarden this fall and through the winter.  Then I don't have to buy bunches, I can just snip what I need, and if it grows too big I can dehydrate the rest.  I always feel like I am wasting some with the bunches, because they go from fresh to suddenly slimy when I go to use up.

I am thinking of getting the biggest Aerogarden, so I can grow some cherry tomatoes and some lettuce, too.  I have enough room.  Or if I get the biggest one, I can grow a jalapeño plant, a cherry tomato plant, and bell pepper plant in that, too, along with some lettuces in the front.  That would be nice, because it has the built in lights on a timer, so I only have to put in the water and the fertilizer when it tells me too.  And they have a big reservoir outside the Aerogarden itself that you can buy and hook into it , so you don't have to fill the smaller one in the machine itself, so you aren't watering as often if you want to buy that.

I haven't spent my allowance in a long time, so right now I have $500 in the envelop, and it will be $550 with tomorrow's payday.  The one I want, along with the grow pods I want, plus tax, will cost $869.01.  There's no shipping over $500.  If I want to get the extra reservoir, it would cost an additional $38.84, so a grand total of $907.85.  Which means I need to come up with $357.85 to buy it.  That means if I save my next 5 allowances I'll have $250, which brings it to 107.85, so I can use part of my Christmas money from DH of $200.

We usually order our Christmas presents in November, though, so technically I wouldn't have to use any of December's allowances at all, doing that.  I could just use the Christmas money as usual and add it to the allowance I would have saved by November 25th, which is when I'd be able to order.  I have $10.53 left in the gardening envelope, so that will make up the shortfall of $7.85, so that will work out.  If MIL gives us our Christmas money early so we can order stuff so it will be here by Christmas, I could use that as well.

That's usually somewhere around $200 each for me and DH and $100 or $150 for the kids.  Not sure about this year, though.  Her stocks probably got hit as hard as ours were, but she still has to take out $15,000 a year and she doesn't need that to live on between social security (she was able to claim FIL's) and she got FIL's pension since he was still employed when he died.  That's a little over $3000 a month and she has no debt.  She doesn't even spend all of that.

Or I could just use the money in the beef envelope for next year's steer and buy it now.  That's $407 and I wouldn't need all of it.  Then I can start saving for it again.  We still have several months before we are ready to get a beef.  I'm planning for late July or August, so I have enough time to replace the money.  Or I could just replace the beef money with my Christmas money and still count the new Aerogarden as my Christmas present from DH and MIL.  Maybe that would be the better choice.  Then I could order now and I'd get it going much sooner.

I had been saving up my allowance for a new computer.  Not that there is anything wrong with this computer, but I just feel like there should be a replacement fund for when it goes belly up.  I'd like a nicer one than I could afford last time.  I am used to nicer ones.  But I can start saving up for that again.  I'd rather be able to grow some vegetables and herbs indoors and not have to go to the store just for greens or the fresh herbs I use the most or pay for bell peppers, which are ridiculous these days, especially in winter.

DD needs a new computer soon.  Hers is ancient.  I'm really surprised it is still going.  It's a desktop and it is about ten years old and she's so close to maxing out the memory, despite doing all the things to compress and get rid of unneeded junk files.  I've got money for that set aside and we are waiting for the Black Friday sales online or Cyber Monday or whatever.

She just wants a new desktop and she knows which one she wants.  And we will take the hard drive out of the old one and put it into the new one so she doesn't have to transfer everything the hard way after running all the utility fixits in case that helps.  I'm giving in and trying that.  It has a free 60 day trial as part of my family Norton licenses and will work across all of our computers.  If we like it, we'll probably keep it.  I want to see if it makes any difference first.  60 days is a good trial period.

Tomorrow is payday.  I am going to try to get back in the habit of posting my payday reports for accountability.  I haven't wanted to and I still don't want to.  They won't be pretty for a while with so much going to the credit card, but we'll get there, one payday at a time.

I have a beautiful pot roast in Instant Pot 1 and am about to put Yellow potatoes in Instant Pot 2.  Not mine, these are still from the store, since ours have to have the skin harden for two weeks for proper long-term storage.  They will also be easier to peel.  But what I am making are new potatoes from this season and not the old ones from the potato sheds that were grown last year.  So they taste great.  When I get through what I have left, ours will be ready.

Well, I'm off to peruse the grocery ads.  Hopefully there will be some good sales.  I'd love some boneless skinless chicken or some pot roast so I can can some up.  I am out of canned chicken and I don't have enough beef to make me happy.  I'd also like to can some carrots.  There are not enough on my shelves to get through until next year's harvest.  I saw they were putting out ten pound bags of organic ones when I shopped two weeks ago, but I was running out of grocery money and wanted to have enough if I needed it for the second week.

They also had 25 bags of regular juicing carrots, but it is hard for me to can 25 pounds of carrots in one go and I prefer organic since carrots pull up everything that is in the soil.  Farmers plant carrots to clear contaminants from the soil.  They don't sell those ones, but even the ones planted regular can still pull up stuff they don't know is in the fields.  Parsnips are good at that, too.

We will can about half of the potatoes we harvested, except the reds and store russets.  They don't can as well.  Yellows can the best.  I will try canning a batch of the canela russets and see.  Our green bean harvest wasn't great this year because we planted so late.  I do have a full shelf, but I wanted two.  So I will probably stock up on canned ones for the store so I can have a full shelve of those.  I have about 24 cans of those and it fills 1/4 of the shelf, so I'd need 72.  If I buy two cases every time I visit Winco, that should do it.  We didn't plant corn this year, but we don't eat as much of that.  We have 12 cans of that and I think another 12 cans would be sufficient for a years supply for us.

Okay, now I'm really off.

Selling Garlic and Salmon Fishing

September 22nd, 2022 at 11:16 pm

Yesterday was officially six weeks on the garlic drying so today I get to go out to the garage and sort through them.  I will pick the best looking bulbs of the bunch to save for planting towards the end of October or the start of November.  It will be great not to have to pay for bulbs this year.  I have already picked out 4 bulbs of the Elephant garlic, it is just the Music I have to sort through.  I figured it out, though, based on current costs in seed catalogues or their websites.

1 bulb of elephant garlic goes for $13 for conventionally grown and $18 for organically grown.  Yes, just one bulb.  I about fell over.  The bulb I bought last year was from the grocery store and was $3.99.  I am assuming it was conventionally grown.  I bulb of elephant garlic only has 7 cloves, no more, no less, so you can never grow more than that.  So this year I will be growing 28 elephant garlic plants for free and next year I will double that to have 48 and the next year I can consider them organically grown, since I will have grown them using organic methods.

I won't go above 48 the following year for my family, though.  There is only so much elephant garlic one can use  I will grow and sell some for seed to other people for far less than what is in the catalogue.  Maybe $6 or $7 per bulb which is more than reasonable for organic.  I'll check the catalog price the year I would sell them.  I would have space to grow 96 plants so could sell half of them.

Worst case scenario, I dehydrate them and grind them when I need garlic power or rehydrate them night before if I need them in a recipe the next night.  After taking out my 48 and the additional 14 I'd hold back for seed for the next planting, that would give me 34 bulbs to sell to others.  The following year I would know if I saved to many for myself and could adjust accordingly.  And I'd know the demand.

I do, eventually, have plans to sell organic Music bulbs of garlic as well.  That's something that sells out so quickly that it is almost impossible to get.  I barely got the conventionally grown ones last year.  They are going for $9 for one bulb this year.  Last year I paid $50 for 21 bulbs.  When I went back the next day to see if they had shallots, the Music was marked as sold out.  So were the shallots, but I will get some this year.

So once I build up past how much I want to have only for us to eat, which would be about 30 bulbs for cooking and dehydrating (we use a lot of garlic so between that and the music we should be fine), any extra could be sold as seed bulbs.  People on my farming list are asking all the time if anyone knows where they can buy Music.  I could eventually do a small bag of Music bulbs, maybe 5, for $15. 

Garlic involves some labor at the begining in the planting.  During the growing season, you pull the occasional weed, and you turn on the soaker hose consistently.  It's pretty care free as it has no predators.  I keep a cage on it anyway so the deer don't bed down in it.  Then at the end you dig it out and put it in drying racks for 3 weeks, trim the stems down, dry for 3 more weeks, and then box up and put in a cool, dark place to store.  I spend maybe 2 hours total, so selling 6 bags of garlic would be more than enough to pay me back for my time, plus I get a lot of garlic out of it, too, for my family.

It's time to turn the onions over, too.  They need to be trimmed down the rest of the way and dried out for 3 more weeks.  And it is time to start digging up the potatoes.  Most of the plants are completely dead.  The rest can go another week.

DH is going salmon fishing.  Apparently they can only get 2 each, which sucks.  In Alaska they get to bring home 6 fish each on each type of salmon and some they can bring home 25 to 30 per household.  Then B.C. gets a ton.  No wonder there's no fish by the time it reaches Washington.  I'm okay with the tribes getting their share, they deserve that above anyone else, it's all the other folks getting tons and tons with crazy high limits that bugs me, while we have dinky ones.

It used to be worth the gas money to go out when gas was cheap, but it isn't really anymore, especially with only 3 of them going out to split the cost.  And that's assuming they catch any fish.  Otherwise, I'd just as soon go to the grocery store and buy 2 whole wild caught coho salmon.  It'd cost less, unless they come home with monsters.  I'd be tempted to get a fishing license and go out so we could get two more fish, but again, we could just buy a fish with the cost of the license.  This is probably the last trip of the season, too.

Mom wants to do a dump run on Sunday.  Well, she wanted to do it on Saturday, but fishing.  She's probably going to pout about it for the rest of the week that it isn't on the day she wanted, and then forget what day of the week it actually is, think it is Sunday on Saturday (happens a lot on the weekend), stomp around and have a martyr complex that slips into an "Oh, woe is me," thing, until someone reminds her it isn't Sunday and she'll snap out of it like she wasn't behaving that way at all and not apologize to anyone for acting that way.  Gotta love dementia.  Monday through Thursday are generally pretty good, though.

I picked another 2 pounds of tomatoes yesterday.  It was mostly the little yellow pear ones.  I need to wash, destem, quarter, and roast tomatoes, so I can make roasted tomato ketchup.  I saw a lady make it on youtube and it looks so good.  I might have enough yellow tomatoes to make one jar of just yellow ketchup.  That would be interesting.  I love making roasted tomato spaghetti sauce, so I can't imagine this wouldn't be good, too.

I got my first purple green beans yesterday.  They grow purple, but turn green when cooked.  It's about 2 quarts.  It's not enough to run the canner, but considering the way this summer went, I am grateful to have gotten any.  The canner instructions say to run it with 4 jars, and I don't want to do pints of green beans, because we eat a cup each at dinner.  But if I hold off for 2 days, there might be enough ready to do 4 quarts.  There were some that were almost ready and there were some that could be ready since I gave them a good soaking and we are back to weather in the mid-seventies again.  Or I could just run them with pints of carrots, since carrot pints and green bean quarts run for the same amount of time and I am almost out of carrot pints.  Then I could do a full canner load and I can do that again when I have more green beans.  Two birds, one stone and food on the shelf.  Perfect.

I would have canned it with the ketchup, but that is waterbath canning and the other is pressure canning and they take different times.  Food safety first and foremost.  I really hope the ketchup turns out well.  I'd hate to waste all those tomatoes.

 

All Over the Place

September 14th, 2022 at 12:12 am

We are spending too much money again.  I am not sure if we are going to get out of this month without carrying a balance forward into next month on our credit card.  Some of it was paying for glasses and contacts for me and my son, but a lot of it was eating out way too much and being a little too fast on the draw with that amazon mouse click thing.  You know when you suddenly get a big raise and you think, "Yee Haw! I can spend again, I don't have to be tight anymore!"  And you overdo it?  Yeah, that's us.  So now I need to reign it back in and get us back on track.  I don't want to use the emergency fund to cover us.  Maybe interest is what we need to teach us a lesson here.  Moving on.

I read an article the other day that said that those who get debt forgiveness for their college loans are going to have to claim that amount as income on their income taxes.  I wonder if they know that?  I bet it is going to hit a lot of people hard in the gut at tax time.  It'll make a lot of people used to getting a tax return have to pay taxes, maybe for the first time in their lives and they probably won't have that money to pay because they won't know about it.  No one is preparing them.  No one is showing them the dark side.  Just the la la la skipping through the daisies side.  It's not really forgiveness if it comes with that kind of string attached.  If they are going to do it, they should do it free and clear, not with a price tag.

It is so nice to see clear, blue skies again.  The forest fires were blowing their smoke this way again, giving us the apocalypse sky of light brownish gray with a brilliant orange sun behind it.  The sun always looks amazingly pretty when this happens, but I prefer to be able to go outside and breathe.  I did have to go outside one day with one of those medical masks they wouldn't let anyone buy at the start of Covid and quickly pick tomatoes, but otherwise stayed inside.  Even with that, I had to use a nebulizer treatment afterwards.  I got 12.2 pounds of tomatoes, making the running total of tomatoes 23.6 so far from the garden.  I'm going to pick more today, so will update that in the next post. 

On the medical front, I continue to lose weight, this time in a more healthy manner than when I had that horrible stomach flu.  Once I started eating again after that, the weight loss that stuck was 12 pounds.  I've now lost 20 pounds.  I'm eating mostly chicken and fish, regular vegetables, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes, and squash.  I'll have rice or corn on occasion, but no other grains.

I can't remember the last time I had beef, maybe 3 weeks ago when we had spaghetti, though we did have a ham from our half a hog a week ago.  I didn't have much, though it was very good, just a little too salty for my taste.  I cut off all the fat.  We'll save the other one for a holiday when there will be more people to eat it.  I did save the ham bone and will make broth with it later on.  It will flavor broth nicely with it's smokey saltiness. 

Plus I have all the scraps I have been saving, onion skins, garlic skins, shallot skins, carrot peels, celery tops, parsley stems, and a few herbs from the garden, to add in to making the broth for extra flavor.  I used to always do that when times were tight, but over the last couple years got out of the habit.  When food costs started skyrocketing, I got back in the habit of doing a scrap bag in the freezer again for broth. We have to be economical with food in these times of massive food cost rises.  I always try to be, but it is necessary now more than ever to go back to my previous cost cutting ways.  Which, in the end, is better for my diet.

As for other medical stuff, yesterday I got my mammogram.  It's been 7 years since I've had one done and the technology has changed.  It is very futuristic robot looking as opposed to a garage workshop vice clamp.  Don't get me wrong, in the end it is still a vice clamp, but looks like it belongs on a space ship.  They really ought to have some kind of chair that moves with the machine for disabled and old people though.  Getting into position hurt my back and legs, which was the part that caused pain.  Now my doctor will stop nagging me, though.

I know I should have done it sooner.  My mom had breast cancer at 40 and I did one at 30, one at 35, one at 40 and one at 45 and I was supposed to do one at 50 so I am 2 years overdue.  But I've has so much other medical crap to deal with between me and my daughter these last few years, I really didn't want to deal.  My eldest sister (64) had uterine cancer recently, so it has hit my family of origin twice.  That's what got me to go in.  That's the only one I don't have to worry about since I had a hysterectomy at 33, but still.

I'm thinking about having DD tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations and probably me, too, depending on cost.  If insurance covers it, great.  If it doesn't, than just DD.  I'd like to do genetic testing for Ehlers-Danlos on her, too.  If we can afford it.

Then today I went to the cardiologist and got my patch.  It's a portable EKG.  They used to have to do a harness thing, but now they can just attach a patch to your chest and it monitors stuff.  It has a button you can push if you feel anxious, arm or neck pain/tingling, chest pain or pressure, dizziness, fainted, light headed, pounded, fluttering or racing, short of breath, skipped or irregular beats, or other.  Then you mark it down in a book with the date, the time, the duration, and what you were doing.  It only gives 13 pages.  Hopefully that is enough or I might have to add some.  Some weeks I have a lot of incidents and others I have none.

It is a two week test.  It was ordered by my neurologist to try to get to the bottom of my fainting spells to see if I was having syncopy.  My regular doctor has been wanting to do one for a while, too, but we have been trying to control my asthma first, which got bad with Original Covid, then Covid II: The Return, then what they call long Covid.  Then the summers with smoke from forest fires have not helped.

The treatment plan I'm on has helped some, but not completely, so he has wanted to look at my heart next, because I have racing heart, and I was born with a heart murmur that may have gotten worse, and sometimes I feel pressure, and shortness of breath when I am sitting still that may or may not be caused by asthma or long Covid.  So this test will satisfy him as well, or at least give him information.  And if there is nothing wrong there, than I think the next step will be an MRI of my lungs.

Honestly, the possibility of heart issues, is what has kicked me into gear with the diet this time.  If that is something I have to fight, I need to get into a healthier body to do that.  I need to anyway.  It is exhausting to be this way.  Losing weight will help with my fibromyalgia and my joint pain, so it will help lesson some of my RA symptoms, too. What I have to do is just stay motivated, even if there is nothing wrong with my heart.  I am sick and tired of always being sick and tired.

I am going to be stopping the shot I've been on for RA.  The side effects have been bad.  They are frequent colds and respiratory infections.  I have had nothing but that since I started this drug.  I wash my hands all the time.  I use sanitizer when I'm out.  I sanitize the steering wheel and door handles if my husband drove last because he brings stuff home from work.

I santize the door knobs.  I wear my mask and vinyl gloves in stores on the rare times I go in one even though we are not required to and I still get sick.  Sure the RA pain has been completely gone, but I can't live like this.  Every time I've stopped it with antibiotic use and gotten better, then taken the shot again, two days later I've caught something else.  So, no more of that.  I can't deal with it.  It has been a miserable summer.  I've barely had a chance to enjoy it.  I want to enjoy what is left of it.

Okay, well, after all that word vomit, it's time to go make dinner and not order it.  Baked chiken thighs, roasted potatoes, and green breans.  The chicken I pulled out of the freezer said 99 cents a pound and was from May 7, 2022.  It was the last time I saw that sale price.  I'll proabably never see that in a store again.  But I've got 8 more pack of it in the freezer, so there's that.

 

 

Payday, Plans for Beef, Plans for Garden, Seeking Fertilizer for Next Year

September 7th, 2022 at 03:40 am

Payday has come and gone and I have re-funded all of my envelopes, funds, and sinking accounts.  I had money left in my grocery envelope, quite a lot actually, so I started my savings for the next beef, hencetofore to be known as "Beef Envelope" because I am fancy like that, with $208.  We just didn't buy that much.  Part of that was bad sales at the grocery stores both weeks, part of that was picking up our hog, part of that was having a lot of produce to go through from the previous pay cycle, some of it long lasting, like cabage, and melons.  There just wasn't too much need.  Based on how much it cost in July of 2021 to buy a whole steer, which was $2,955.64, I need to save up at least $3000.  And since that was 2 years ago, I probably need to build in an additional raise of .50/lb on the farmers side of things and .10/lb for the cut and wrap and $10 added to the kill fee, just to be on the safe side.  That was what it was for the hog.  So I need to set aside $3500 total for the steer.

On top of that I have raised the grocery budget by $100 to $500 a payday with the new raise DH got and with most of our meat taken care of now we had a lot more freedom at the grocery store.  Maybe I didn't need to do that, but it gives me plenty of money to put in the Beef Fund.

The only meat I have to buy now is chicken, turkey, deli meats, and fish, unless he ever gets to go fishing again this summer.  Work has been crazy and the last fishing trip was unsuccessfull for the guys who coud make it because the fish were still too small.  DH couldn't, because we were all down with something so bad he was afraid to leave us alone in case someone needed to go to the hospital (nobody did).

They didn't go out over the holiday weekend because the guy who own's the boat, his mother had hip replaement surgery earlier in the week and was coming hom the friday before.  Those first few days after are a 2 person job/challegne/nightmare.  Then it calms done enough that one person can handle it. And if not than he can work from home for the bad times.  They are very flexible with hours as long as you meat goals on time, show up for meetings even if on Zoom, and do your walk downs at the right time.  So hopefully, next weeked we can still get coho salmon.  It is my favorite.

Anyway, the garden is doing very well.  Last night I harvested 10.4 pounds of tomatoes from the garden bringing the tomato total up to 14.4 pounds for the year.  There were 3 more zuccchini, briging the weight totoal up to 3.8 pounds.  They were nowhere the size of the frst one, more like normal sized.  I weeded the zucchini finally and I'm sure it will appreciate not having to fight for light.  There are lots of healthy litle zuchchini on most of the plants.  I did have to take a couple of dead ones off one plant that had been completely shaded out by weeds, so now maybe it will flower again.  I also transplanted the nasturtiam away from the cucumers, and one day later they are liking it already.  I did pick my first two cucumbers.  They are small, pickling cucumbers, so their weight was .7 pounds.  I was starting to think I'd get nothing off those vines at all.

I think I am going to transplant my pepper plants away from the tomato plants and give them a batch of rabbit manure and see how they do with full sun and not fighting the tomatoes for resources.  I just have to hear back from the rabbit rescue place about rabbit manure.  The other two bunny farmers I've called ghosted me after a couple of days, so trying to find something more reliable now.  If not, I guess I'll just have to go with stinky fish emulsion or try to find a stables that is open this weekend for manure removal.  It was so much easier when cow manure was available in the stores instead of having to hunt sources down on my own.

If worst comes to worst we are off to the beach to harvest as much dead seaweed as will fit in the back of the truck to dry out, break up with our hands, and bury in the garden beds.  The nutrients in that will feed the beds for a couple of years.  That is included in his gathering license for shellfish, and they really don't care if you are just collecting the dead stuff if you have one or not, but safe side so he'll have it on him.  I'll just go to keep him company and to have some time away from the kids.

I really hope the fertilizer industry gets back on its feet soon so they stop taking up all the organic stuff because that is all that is left.  It makes it really hard for us gardners.  And then they have huge crop failures and we can't make up for it the way we might, because we don't have the inputs that were available to us before because big ag took it all.

I'm sorry if this comes off all fragmented.  I think the hamster on my brain fell off his wheel today.  Anyway, I am going to put as much aside as I can within limits to save for the beef to meet that goal, put as much aside as I can to refill the EF, and extend my garden season as long as possible while preparing the beds for next  year.

Harvest Totals Coming In--We are Definitely Saving Money

September 1st, 2022 at 07:35 am

I have my harvest totals for onions and garlic.  I did not lose any garlic to rot and it is now dried.  I have 10.1 pounds of it.  I am setting aside 4 heads of elephant garlic to replant.  I only planted one last year, so I want to have a good amount to plant this year.  That leaves me with 3 to use, one of which I had already used (but recorded the weight of).  The ones I am using soon or did use had split their skins and would not store until planting time.

As for the Music garlic, I will replant half of that, which will be double what I planted last year.  And I won't have to pay for any garlic to plant at all.  I did have a couple head of garlic where the cloves split the skins as well, so those will get used up first.  So anyway, next year I will spend $0 on the garlic I will plant.  I don't remember what I paid this year, but it was far, far too much.  But I figured it was a one time investment.  Music is a hard variety to come by, but it is supposed to be the best, both in flavor and long-term storage.

I will dehydrate some of the garlic for making garlic powder as needed, but most of what I keep will be stored in a bag in a cool, dark cupboard.  It will last quite a while.  I don't fancy paying $1 for a head of garlic.  If anything starts to sprout I will dice what's left up and dehydrate it.

As for the onions I got 50.3 pounds of a yellow keeping onions, 30.6 pounds of a red keeping onions, and 20.1 pounds of Walla Walls sweet onions.  So a grand total of 101 pounds of onions.  I lost one yellow keeping onion to rot, so didn't count it in the total weight.  It was a small one and weighed .4 lb and was trying to grow a baby onion off its root system.

This year I spent $10.89 on 4 4 inch pots of itty bitty onion plants.  Next year I'm going to order seed and grow my own onion plants.  It won't be that much of a savings this year, but the packets will have enough for the following year as well, so that year will be free.  And that way I can get the Candy sweet onions instead of the Walla Wallas.  The Candys are better, even if the Walla Wallas are pretty darn good.

Our onions will take six weeks to dry, with a trim down to about one inch of stem at the 3 week mark and then I can bag up and store the two types of keeping onions and they should store for 6 to 8 months.  As for the Walla Walla, they won't store for very long, maybe 2 or 3 months, so I will mostly cut those up into strips and dices and freeze them.

I will dehydrate some of the yellow keeping onions so that I can grind them up for powder as I need them.  If any of the keeping onions start to sprout it will be time to cut them up and freeze or dehydrate them as well.  I am just not going to pay $1.39/lb for yellow onions, $1.59/lb for red onions, and $1.79/lb for sweet onions, so I will not waste one scrap.  Any sprout can go into broth.

I picked my first two tomatoes yesterday.  Between them they weigh one pound.  I am going to keep a running count.  I will be using them with one of my sweet onions to make some pico de gallo tomorrow.  I think I will have some of those little yellow ones that look like pears ripe tomorrow and maybe a couple of paste ones.  They were pretty close today.  And the green beans are sprouting.  So we will get a crop.  The garden isn't a complete fail this year, even though everything got in so late.

We will still save a lot of money on food.  Especially when the potatoes are ready.  Potato prices are getting outrageous.  I think I may try to sneak in a carrot crop.  It would be cutting it close, but I have coldframes.  With the raised beds they would survive the November freezes.  I'm definitely sowing some radishes.  They'll be grown before the first frost.

This fall, after we harvest the potatoes and pull the dead plants and weeds out, we will rototill lime in and then cover it in black plastic so we don't have weeds growing in there for the rest of the fall and as soon as it warms up in the spring.  I don't know for sure if we will plant potatoes there in the spring again or not, but I want the ground prepared if we do.  If you do grow potatoes in the same place every year and you don't use lime you can get black scab on your potatoes.

I figure we will get at least 120 pounds of potatoes this year since we expanded our potato plot.  That's still not enough potatoes to get us through the year, but I'll buy some extra to can and we'll get there.  Buying direct from a local farmer who charges less than the stores is our saving grace there.

Next spring we will be able to pick up all the black plastic we laid down in late July or early August and everything will be dead under there.  We will be able to rototill everything flat and get started on making a proper fence to keep the deer out of the garden and also build two more raised beds, possibly three, spring weather permitting.

Before summer's over we need to take the deck off the front of the house and clean off the back porch.  Maybe even organize the garage, but that can't be done until the onions are done drying, because the drying racks are in the way of pretty much everything.

You Take the Good, You Take The Bad

August 12th, 2022 at 04:25 am

Just before leaving for my son's eye appointment he came down and handed me an envelope from Regence, our health insurance company.  It was a thin business envelope, not the oddly sized explanation of benefits envelope.  I didn't want to open it.  About a week ago we had gotten one just like it saying they had received the appeal.

I decided not to open it and we headed off to get his eye exam and new glasses picked out.  He's also going to get contacts for the first time, so we will have to make an appointment to have them teach him how to use them and take care of them.  It's going to be interesting.  Insurance did not cover frames this time, just lenses and they won't cover contacts.  The exam, retinal mapping, $10 co-pay, and additional contact lens measuring came to $100.  I think that we pay more at the next appointment.

Anyway, they were having a 20% off sale on glasses, so with our insurance and that, his new glasses came to $210.  So we came out of there pretty good, I thought.  When my daughter and I get glasses our prescriptions are so bad it costs a lot more.  Even with the lower cost frames under $200, and insurance for the lenses, we still pay around $400 to $450 on a year that covers both.

So that was a good thing and we headed home to face that envelope.  I opened it up and I burst into tears.  I hardly ever cry unless I am watching something heartbreaking on youtube or a show.  I've got a real tight control on my emotions, but I just couldn't keep it in.  I had to read it four times to believe it.  She has been approved to stay on our insurance for 5 years!  5 years.  I thought it would only be one, but 5 years!  Then she'll have to go through exams again, but man, 5 years!  You cannot imagine the relief I feel about this.  No COBRA, no $753 monthly payments, just business as normal.

When I told DD, she also burst into tears.  You can't imagine the stress this has lifted off us.  It was like it evaporated away into nothing.  My husband and son are also so relieved and DH felt his stress, at least over this, lift in much the same way.  I don't think we really have to worry about all this in 5 years, either because her diseases are degenerative.  She won't get better, she'll get worse or if she is lucky stay the same, but to not have to worry about medical getting yanked out from under her is just amazing.

After that we went to the chiropractor, I told him about the spondylosis at the L2 and L3 that showed up on the x-rays I had on Monday, so we add that to the L4 and L5 degenerative discs in the treatment program.  Now that I've been cleared to do physical therapy again, I called to try to get scheduled, but they want me to get a new order from the doctor.  *sighs*  More work for me.  Hopefully I can just message him through the portal since I just saw him and get a new order sent without having to go in again.

After that, DS and I put soaker hoses on the green beans.  They have really perked up since putting on the shade cloth.  Some I thought were dead for sure are standing up and putting out new green leaves.  I am so happy.  I am going to poke some seeds into the ones that all the sprouts died in, just to see if they'll be ready in time to pick before the cold seasons, but at least the sun didn't kill them all.

Then DH got home and told me that his Great Aunt had died.  So I cried again, because I loved her a lot.  She's been doing poorly for a while and we knew it was coming, but she's been an instituion in this family.  Her older brother lived until he was 105 years old, so we thought maybe she would, too.  DH couldn't remember if she was 97 or 98, but she almost made it.  Her husband has been gone maybe 10 or 15 years now, so she's been alone for awhile.  One daughter lives in the mid-west and the other is an hour away, so one was near and some of the grandkids and they were taking turns to check on her.  It is for the best with the pain she was in, but I will miss her.

At least I have a nice dress I can wear to the funeral.  It's not exactly subdued, but it isn't a riot of colorful flowers, either, like what I usually buy.  Just a nice summer dress with sleeves and not a sundress.  I don't have any appropriate shoes unless I wear my boots and it has been way too hot to do that.  Funerals aren't exactly a place to wear flip flops and they don't make sandals in 4E width.  DD has a nice dress, too, it came 2 weeks ago.  I am focusing on the minutiae because I really don't want to think about it.  I'm not heartless, just discotiating.

My new wardrobe came and I'm happy it goes well with some of the pieces from my old wardrobe as well.  And everything is true to the colors they showed in the photos.  So I'm happy with that.  I finally have nice clothes again, not washed out, overly worn, incorrectly sized clothes.  It's a silly thing to be happy about on a day that has put me through the emotional wringer.

I need to get my tears out now, so I can be there to support my husband and MIL and my favorite of DH's cousins, her youngest daughter.  I'm not close with the older one, but I'll be there for her, too, if she needs me.

This is bringing up thoughts of my own mother who turns 83 at the end of the month. She is getting frail and more forgetful and I see her mortality every day now.  We need to pay for her to get a will made.  It needs to be done sooner rather than later, while she is still in her right mind.

It was such a good day, until it wasn't, but I am still riding high on the good news and maybe on the increased dosage of the drug that controls my hypomania and depression.  Maybe now I can allow myself to breathe again.

I'm well ahead on my reading goal for 2022.  I finished Child Zero on the tenth and it was a good book.  I'd give it 4.5 out of 5 stars, and the knock down was because incredibly excessive swearing.  Like you would be hard pressed to find a page that didn't have swearing in it if there was dialogue and sometimes when they were just thinking.  It was so bad it kept throwing me out of the story.  But I soldiered through and I really liked it.  Chris Holm is no Michael Crichton, even though they are comparing him to that author.  Not nearly enough medical details to even come close.  Still good though.

I started reading City of Orange, but I couldn't stand it, so turned that back into the library.  It is rare for me to not stick out a book, but yeesh.  Ten pages in and I felt like I was being tortured by bad writing.  Now I'm reading Summer at the Cape, but I'm not sure I'm really in the mood for book four in this series right now.

I have more books on hold, but they are taking forever.  I may have to actually go into the library to find some instead of purusing GoodReads.com and hoping the library carries whatever I am interested in.  I'm in the mood for a YA thriller or vampires or werewolves or something supernatural.  Just kind of fun, mindless things with overwrought teenagers, but well-written.  It's a guilty pleasure.  And they don't tend to have explicit love scenes.

Well, my son just took the pizza out of the oven so I guess it is time to finish this off.  Hope all is well with everyone.  You've all been pretty quiet.

Bits and Pieces

August 9th, 2022 at 06:58 am

I've finally updated my sidebar to reflect where everything is right now.  I subtracted the amount I pulled from the EF, which was $7000 and then added the amount retirement has raised, which was $5033.25.  It was so nice to see both retirement accounts gaining traction, although if Biden signs this new bill, I think they are going to plummet.  Anyway, that was a reduction of $1996.77, but I'm still pretty close to $150K.

I went to get x-rays.  The positions that they had to put me in about had me crying.  Turning my feet pigeon toed is the one that did me in, but none of them were comfortable and I couldn't use my cane because it was metal.  It about killed me to walk back from x-ray to my car.  It is a long walk for a medical facility because it is a sprawling building.  I had to sit in my car for about 5 minutes because I had to wait for the pain to get manageable before I trusted myself to drive.  When I got home my knee buckled badly on me, but I was able to catch myself on the seat of a chair before I fell.  Another fall right now would prove disasterous.  I went to the chiropracter and it helped some, but my hip is burning really badly.

I am not sure my green beans are going to make it.  They are getting sun scorched and some have died.  I am going to try to get a shade cloth over them, but I'm not sure if it is big enough for both arches.  The tomatoes love the weather, however.  I hate anything over 75°, but these 80° and higher days are killing me and most of the garden does not like that type of heat.  DH and I put up a shade cloth tonight and I did a really heavy watering, but I think I am going to have to replant the beans and hope for the best.  I've lost at least half of them to this sun.  I will also put up a drip hose, so I don't have to hand water.  They need daily watering right now.

I am eagerly awaiting next Friday so I will finally know what the new net paycheck and budget amount is going to be.  I hate waiting for things like this.  I'm not terribly good at waiting period, but with money things it is so much worse.

My doctor called in the wrong dosage on my prescription.  It should be 50 mg more.  I sent a message off on the patient portal, so hopefully I will hear from them tomorrow.  It can take a day or two, but it is better than waiting on hold for a half an hour.  I have enough for the time being to get through.

DH is going to go prawning one more time when they reopen for it sometime in the next two weeks.  The state fishers didn't get as much caught so far this year due to some boaters not being able to afford gas.  They plan to do some salmon fishing, too.  I don't know if the season is open yet, but as soon as it is they will go out for that.  Hopefully the two seasons coincide.

I saw that at the cheap gas station it was down to $3.95/gallon, which okay, fine, but it still sucks compared to before Biden started shutting down oil production and leases to try to force everyone to get electric cars, not realizing apparently that they burn fossil fuels to generate electricity for the charging stations.  They may run on solar somewhere, but definitely not where I live.  I mean, all the ones in my town have diesel generators running right there!  Not to mention the harm to the enviroment that mining lithium for the batteries causes.  Plus the supply of electric cars is low because they don't have batteries for them.  People need to be able to afford to drive and for too many people, electric cars are out of reach.

I do want to save up for a solar system, I really do, but they are so expensive and I won't take out debt to do it.  Before that we need to replace one bathtub that is cracked with a walk in shower and replace a half size walk in shower because it has holes in it and there is a leak in the wall.  And then the one bathroom floor needs to have a good section of it replaced before the one shower goes in, because it is kind of squidgey, so I think the leak got into the sub floor.

The mold remediation they did on the bathroom ceiling did not work and the paint is already peeling from the paint job.  They said they would come back and fix it, but they did not.  I kept saying I thought we should just take down the drywall on the ceiling and replace it with the mold resistant drywall, but no one wanted to do that and now it looks like we will have to do it anyway.  At least it isn't black mold, it is orange, but still I want no mold.  I am glad we have 4 bathrooms in this house.  Otherwise all this would be a nightmare and we'd have to drain our EF quickly to fix things.  We've already taken out $7000.  I don't want to deplete it further, but this house will not stop breaking down.

We are trying to figure out where a leak is coming from that is filling one corner of the basement with water.  It doesn't seem to be the piping and it doesn't seem to be the sewer line and we haven't been watering anything above that section of the basement.  It's a real stumper.  That's the corner with the drain in it, too.  Maybe the drain is backing up?  We might need to snake it.

I ordered more clothes.  I don't know if I mentioned it or not, but I got four pairs of jeans and four pairs of long-sleeved shirts.  I tried to make them mix and match with what I bought and the short-sleeved shirts I bought earlier.  I also bought 12 pairs of socks.  It took me forever to find some that don't have the brand name on the cuff.  I don't want neon orange brand names showing when I wear shorts, because they clash badly with what I own.  I just wanted plain white socks or ones that have the brand name hidden by the shoe.  I did finally find some at Fred Meyer.

DS and I have been cleaning out the closet so I can actually get in there and hang up my clothes again.  I am going to pack up a lot of the clothes that are in there and take them to storage, labelled by size, and then get rid of anything I don't want to keep, which is a lot.  I have several outfits I do like, but there are a lot I just don't like and didn't reallly like at the time I bought them, but needed clothes in my size.  This is before I found Woman Within online.  I look good in hot pink, but I had to buy things in pale pinks a lot and I don't like pale pinks and they wash me out.  Any pastels wash me out.

I figure with the new clothes I bought, I can keep a much smaller wardrobe where everything goes with everything else.  After the closet is done, I will be tackling the dresser.  I've got 3 drawers full of things that aren't even clothes.  I'd like to reclaim at least two of those.  The third one has stuff like old diaries of mine, baby books for the kids and me and DH, portrait photos of the kids and one of the whole family, our wedding album and wedding video and some scrapbooks I made back when I was in to scrapbooking.  Those are things I don't want to risk putting into storage.

I've been in a bit of a decluttering mode.  I shredded 4 paper grocery bags worth of paper.  I got behind again.  I said after the last time that that wouldn't happen, but alas it did.  I also need to go through all the cookbook magazines I have and tear out the pages I want to put in my binder and recycle the rest.  They are taking up a whole cubby that I could better use for something else.

I think my brain might be tipping into hypomania this week, but I will take advantage of it to get things done.  DS has promised not to let me bury myself and to make me eat at regular intervals and to not let me rabbit hole on youtube, so hopefully I will be okay until I level out.  Of course it just might be an uptick caused by taking a higher dosage of the medication.  I think I'd like that, because right now I feel motivated, and usually I don't.

All right, well I best get off to bed.  It's already eleven p.m. and staying up too late is getting to be a habit.

 

 

No Good Sales This Week and Things to Do

August 4th, 2022 at 10:58 am

I got my chuck roast canned.  I now have 28 quarts and 2 pints on my pantry shelves and 1 quart in the fridge because of a seal failure.  It's my fault for using a faulty ring.  I knew it was suspect, but didn't want to go find another one.  Anyway, it's a start.

The sales suck for the new ad cycle that started today.  I will be ordering 20 pounds of green beans and 40 pounds of gold potatoes for a Friday pickup from a local farm, if it isn't too soon and I will work on getting those canned.  I will likely not have green beans to pick until September and I don't want to have a bad season and then just not have any to can.  I will order 20 pounds of carrots after I get all that done.

I think our potatoes are doing fine, but what I can grow is never enough to make it through the year.  We added 3 more rows of potatoes this year, but there isn't room for more than that yet until we clear some more space.  That means a lot of weed eater work and then putting down black plastic, something that I am not capable of at the moment and haven't been since my last fall, so that will have to involve my husband and son.

I see the doctor on Friday for a mental health checkup and to see if he is ready to bump me up to 200 mg.  I've still had some hyper mania incidents, though they are getting fewer and further between.  I think another 50 mg is going to help me significantly.  It's like on sort of lingering on the cusp.  While I am there I am going to ask for new x-rays of my back and my other hip to be taken and my tailbone.

Those were not taken at the hosptial because I was feeling everything in my arm where I tore it open and the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and collarbone.  The other pain didn't hit me until the next morning and was still overshadowed by the arm.  Until it wasn't.  And it has gotten worse and worse and after sitting up too long it just kills me, like the bones are rubbing together.  I can stand for 30 seconds only, so I'm back to that.  I can still walk okay, it's just when I stop that the unignorable pain comes back.  After canning it is severe, but that has to get done.

Regardless, of what they x-rays say, I mostly want to know if it is safe for me to go back to physical therapy or if I did some more damage to my spine or broke something in my tailbone.  Honestly, it could just be a lack of physical therapy.

DH's boss's wife and grandmother are having a joint birthday party and they want us to come.  I don't know that I am up for it with all the pain I'm having.  I also don't like being around large gatherings.  But I do like the man and his family.  DH will go even if I don't.  My immune system isn't the greatest so if someone comes there who is sick or doesn't know they are sick, I am likely to catch it.  It is not a lot of fun to be on immune suppressing drugs sometimes.

Tomorrow I will start back on a diet.  I do this so many times, but hopefully this one will take.  It is best for my overall health to get this weight off, especially because it pulls on my discs, but that is often easier said than done.  Plus I need to lose 75 pounds to get the nerve burning surgery done, assuming my insurance will pay for it.  It won't fix the problem, but at least I won't feel the pain there anymore.

 

I'm Finally Going Whole Hog! Plus Medical Expenses, Etc.

July 28th, 2022 at 11:32 pm

It has taken forever, between our first upright freezer breaking down, to having it replaced after many months when no one could repair it, which also took months because they were on backorder, to me ordering the hog, to the butcher dates being pushed back several times, to today, when my hog is actually being butchered.  It will be about 3 weeks before I actually get it, since they have to hang it for a while and then have to cure and smoke hams, bacon, and hocks.  But I will have it before the end of August, so that makes  me very happy.  I wanted it before fall, so this is great.  This saves a lot of money on meat in the long run.  Now I can start saving up for a beef.

I'm still trying to locate a pasture-raised lamb that has never been fed grain, but it is harder than you would think.  I may have to look outside my county.  Hopefully the next one over has some.  Otherwise I will have to give in to those who ate grain early on, but then switched to grass only.  As long as it is organic grain, I can deal.

The garden is doing well.  The onions need to be ringed, but they are growing nicely.  It'll be nice not to buy them at $.1.29 each.  I resent that so much, because before I could get them at 25 cents each.  I planted so many I think I may not have to buy them for 8 or 9 months.  I will probably braid all the yellows and the reds, but the Walla Walla sweets I will chop and freeze.

The garlic is pretty dry, so I think I another week and it'll be done.  Now I have to decide if I want to clip them or keep the stem on and braid them.  I love the way braided looks, but we don't really have a good place to hang them unless DH puts in a hook in the hallway or we hang them on a rod in the laundry room.  Neither place is convenient.  I will cut some up small and dehydrate it.  Then I can grind it for powder as I need it.  If I make it powder and keep it in a jar, it tends to clump badly or go hard.  I think I have enough garlic for a year, but we will see.  It's going for $1 for one head right now when you used to get 4 or 3 heads for $1.  That's outrageous.

The zucchini is quite small, about a dime in circumference for the largest and about 3 inches long.  I've got itty bitty cucumbers starting, but the vines don't want to climb the trellis yet.  I've got several green tomatoes coming on.  The green beans are about 8 inches tall, having been planted so late.  I'm still getting strawerries and the blueberries are starting to blush.

It'll be a while before I get more to harvest, but when I do I won't have to buy produce for some time.  I'm thinking about getting a CSA box in the meanwhile, since that is also cheaper than buying them from the store right now and I can pick out of several boxes of what I want, whether it be just fruit, just veg, or a combo, and there are different sizes at different price points.  They also have meat boxes and milk and egg boxes.  That's pretty neat.

I do want to get a box of nectarines to cut up and freeze, and two boxes of tomatoes for canning as I never have the space to grow enough.  I'll probably get 40 pounds of yellow potatoes and 20 pounds of carrots to can as well.  I'm not sure when, though.  And I will be buying chuck roast this week to can as it is $3.99/lb at Fred Meyer this ad cycle.  I'd like to get at least 14 quarts canned during this sale.  I'll do more if I can get it and my hands can take it.  I am almost out of that.  This sale seems to repeat itself somewhere around every six weeks, so I'll have a chance to do more.  These are still pre-Covid sale prices.  I use canned beef a lot during the winter, because it, canned potatoes, and canned carrots make a great quick stew.

I'm still waiting to see if there will be a good sale on boneless skinless chicken thighs.  I may have to just buy regular thighs, which do go on sale, and skin and debone them myself.  It's more work, but I can then make stock with the skins and bones, so I do get more out of it.  I need to make a lot of stock as I am completely out of canned stock.  It's an economical way to do both.  I can't get pre-Covid sales prices on the chicken, but the new sale is $1.29 per pound if you don't want to get the stuff injected with stuff, which is about what it was not on sale pre-Covid.

When I do go to Winco I will pick up some turkey sausage and turkey chorizo.  It is still pretty cheap at $2.99 a pound.  Way cheaper than pork sausage, which I will have a lot of with the hog, because I didn't get any roasts in my order.  I'm going to buckle down and start making the largest items from the freezer instead of what I feel like.  We've got some beef ribs and soup bones that take up a lot of space, so I need to deal with those.  We have some freezer burned pork that is meant for crab bait, so we need to get that to DH's boss, so he will have it when they go out crabbing.  It can sit in his freezer instead of ours.  And we will eat up the rest of the roasts from our beef.

I'm not sure how much room we will need for the hog.  When she first told me it was about 400 pounds, but that was six weeks ago.  It could easily be 600 pounds by now the way hogs eat, since she wasn't able to butcher on time.  I guess I'll know soon enough.  Funny thing was, I wanted a hog around that size originally, so I guess I get what I wanted.

When I go buy the meat later today, I won't have to buy any produce.  I still have plenty from last week.  2 watermelons, the first good cantaloupe I've seen this summer, 1 and a half bunches of bananas, 2 golden kiwis, WA state red cherries, 4 peaches, and 4 nectarines.  The latter two are still ripening.  I also have a nearly full bag of salad mix, a full bag of spinach, a green cabbage, a purple cabbage, a napa cabbage, 1 parsnip,  2 sweet potatoes, 2 stalks of celery, half a bag of Russet potatoes, a full bag of gold potatoes, 1 cucumber, 2 shallots, 1 yellow onions, 1 walla walla sweet onion, and 4 carrots.  I foresee cabbage rolls in my future as well as a root vegetable dish.  I need to use up the parsnip and the sweet potatoes before they go bad.

I scheduled DD's cavity appointments.  I wish we had been able to do them sooner, before she loses her insurance, but such is life.  I'm pretty sure the COBRA is just medical, not dental and vision.  We have spread it out over 3 appointments about six weeks between them.  The first one will cost $367, the second one will cost $258, and the third will cost $261.  That will allow us to cash flow fixing her teeth.  Then maybe after that we can get her the $400 night guard.  So $1286 all told.  We don't want to do it first because it will effect the shape of the mouthguard by small amounts and it might not fit right.

If we don't cash flow, we should have enough in the Medical Fund to cover it.  I put $500 in it every 2 weeks.  Of course we spend it a lot through the year, but I should have enough by September to pay for the first appointment.

If MIL gives us $10,000 like she did last year, I am going to dump $5k into the Medical Fund and $3K into the Emergency Fund and $2K to start saving for my son's education.  It's not much, but it's a start.  While he finished high school through homeschooling, he doesn't have the piece of paper.  So he needs to get his GED before going to the technical college.  You can also get an actual high school diploma through the technical college, so we might do that.  He'll have to test and see if he has enough knowledge to pass as that was a while ago.  He may have to take some more math to get into the program he wants, but everything else is where it should be except possibly his essay writing.  He always hated that because of his dyslexia.  He doesn't have the problem with numbers, only letters.

Insurance now covers the coating that takes out the blue light on computers and makes it easier to read things on white paper, so he'll be getting that with his new glasses this month.  Another expense, but one that the money is there for already, as are mine, if I decide to get them.  I may just wait until January when I can get both frames and lenses, not just lenses.  Or I might get contacts if the prescription hasn't changed much.

We'll See

July 10th, 2022 at 03:26 am

DH's boss has put in for a sizeable raise for DH.  I know he just got one in December, but his responsibilities have increased by a large margin...a margin that was not required for his job or the last raise.  The last raise was completely swallowed up by inflation.  I had to double, and then raise by another $50, our gas budget.  Electricity, gas, water/sewer, and even garbage have all gone up.

He said that if the raise goes through, DH will probably fall down on the floor.  About the only thing that would make me fall down on the floor would be $150K.  But anything more would be fine, especially if it will cover DD's COBRA (still waiting on the appeal, but who knows?) while we try to get her on disablility or find a cheaper insurance that will still cover her medications.  And maybe let us bump up our retirement contributions.  At least we will be able to claim a significant amount of medical this year and that was before paying for COBRA, which starts in August.

Right now we are at 16% and I would like to be at 20%, maybe even 25% one day.  Even if I can only go up to 17% or 18%, that will help.  I haven't looked at retirement since the freefall started.  I really don't want to, either.  I am hoping in November we will see a sea change and all these people willing to throw our money away on other countries and not take care of us here so we can recover in our own economy and infrastructure, get voted out.  I'll certainly vote against Patty Murray.  She stopped being the Mom in Tennis Shoes she originally campaigned as when I was young and is now just another rich career politician who has strayed so far from what she used to be, I just want her gone.  And I like her opponent.  But I digress.

I've been able to stay within my food budget only because I don't have to buy much in the way of meat, mostly just chicken and the occasional pork.  DH caught the limit on spot prawns and was given more by some of the others again.  They tried to catch Pacific sand dabs, which are in the flounder family, while they were out there but only caught little ones that they threw back.  There is not much meat on the little ones.  Still both prawning trips have been more than enough to cover the gas to go out.  These ones are super expensive to buy.  So we'll get a few meals out of those.  I am really looking forward to crabbing and salmon seasons and we may try to catch some river trout, too, since there are some fishing areas in our local parks.

So mostly I am buying produce right now and it'll be a while yet on when I can replace much of those types of groceries.  Right now I am getting scallions and the first peas are ready to be picked today.  I've got some herbs to harvest from and I am still picking strawberries.  The raspberries are starting to turn color.  So I am able to supplement a little.  Plus I'm pulling the elephant garlic today, now that I've had 7 days in a row with no rain or watering.  That helps them dry out some before being pulled and put on a ventilated drying rack for about 2 weeks and then I can cut off the greens and trim the roots and they can go into a box for dry storage in my coldest cabinet that seldom gets opened.  I think the Music garlic is ready, too, but I'll have to dig down and check.

Once all the garlic is out I can plant carrots, radishes, and 90 day parsnips.  Those are all great things to plant after garlic or onions.  The onions are starting to swell, but they have several weeks to go.  Maybe in another 2 weeks I can ring them and then their growth will take off significantly.  And I'll be able to use the sprinkler and just handwater once this garlic is out.  

I've got baby zucchinis starting and saw my first tomato (small and green) yesterday.  My cucumbers are still really small plants.    My lettuce has bolted and my spinach, too.  My herbs are big enough that I can start to harvest them.  But that's still not a lot of fruit or veggies.  We finally got the green beans planted, but they haven't come up yet.  I will be getting the sweet potatoes in today.  We'll have to do a peusdo greenhouse when the weather starts cooling off in the fall, since it took so long for DH to get the grow bags filled for me.  They are up on pallets to keep them off the ground for when the ground starts getting cold.

I am considering dumping the hog lady since she keeps having her butcher dates pushed back and I haven't heard from her in some time, and going with another beef.  Almost all that is left is hamburger.  Any new hamburger I get I can put through the grinder on a fine grind, mix with some ground chicken, some tallow, and with herbs and spices, run it all through again, and make sausage with it.  I can make mild Italian and I can make breakfast sausage.  And if I ask for the navel cut with the new steer, then I can make beef bacon as well, unless they will make the bacon and the sausage for me at the butchers.  They might not if the equipment for that is dedicated to hogs only, but it doesn't hurt to ask.  It might be, to keep kosher.  I know they will do kosher or halal when asked.

I need to do a stock up on herbs and spices at Costco this weekend, particulary salt, pepper, granulated garlic, paprika, and chili powder.  I also want to get more tomato sauce, some PH water, some TP, Ziplocs, some oil for the fryer, some olive oil, rice, stir-fry veggies, and some golden kiwis.  Maybe one or two more items, but I'll have to check.

I don't need to buy anymore fruit this week, as I still have strawberries to pick, a watermelon, 2/3 of a melon that was not labelled in the store, but tastes like a cross between cantaloupe and honeydew with a yellow rind, 2 small pineapples, some grapes, 3 nectarines, 1 peach, and 4 kiwis.  I might get Rainer cherries, though.  They are my favorite now and only have a short season.  But we don't really need it.  As for produce, we have two zucchini, 1 English cucumber, a head of lettuce, 1 green cabbage, 2 Napa cabbages (for cabbage rolls), 1/4 of a huge bag of frozen stir-fry veggies, 2 packs of frozen broccoli, carrots, potatoes, radishes, 4 yellow onions, 1 red onion, and a head of garlic.  Also, home canned green beans, canned corn, and a can of water chestnuts.   I think we should be fine, so I'll take the opportunity to stock up on some long-term food storage and longer-lasting pantry items, while saving enough money for week two of this grocery budget.

I had raised the grocery budget to $500, but I have popped it back down to $400 every payday, due to the increase in gas prices.  It had to come from somewhere, so I am economizing more and sticking more firmly to meal planning and eliminating take out to more than once a payday and one of those meals MIL pays for.  We have all but eliminated prepared foods and are cooking mostly from scratch, now that I am feeling better.  It took a lot for me to recover from that last fall.  My scab has almost completely fallen off and now I just have to work on keeping the scar tissue from pulling the skin tight, but using cream on it 3 times a day.  I still have some pain from the fall, but I'm down to just using Ibuprofen at bedtime, so it is obviously better.

It was hard to keep a good attitude through the healing process, because it has set me back, but I can still feel the higher dose of the stuff used to control my hypomania and death spirals (as I like to call them, not really death, just dark dives into misery) is doing it's job to keep me on a more even keel.  I still don't have a formal diagnosis other than hypomania and depression.  No one's come out and said bipolar, though.  Which is okay, because let's face it, I don't want to go on lithium.  I will likely be going up another 50 mg on my current drug the next time I see the doctor.  I feel it is the final step, because my outlook on life has improved tremendously over all.

I'm need to call in to physical therapy this week and get myself rescheduled.  I think I will need a new assessment, though, because my range of motion and the flexibility I was getting has now become less and so is the amount of time I can stand or walk with an assistance device and definitely without one and the pain is pretty bad unless I sit rather quickly.  I had been cane free for 8 weeks before this accident.  It's so frustrating, but I will put my head down, muddle through, and get stronger again.  I did it once, I can do it again.  I'll call the doctor, though.  I never got an x-ray of my lower back after I fell and I want to make sure I haven't done further damage, before I do.  I was so concerned with the pain my arm when I went to the hospital, I was completely unaware of other pain.  It wasn't until the next morning that I felt it and kept hoping it would get all the way better on it's own, but maybe it can't.  So we'll see.  We'll see about a lot of things.

It's a Ground Beef Thing

July 1st, 2022 at 08:04 am

So as we have eaten our way through the steer we bought last summer, we are now mostly left with ground beef.  A lot of ground beef.  3 compartments in the chest freezer and 1/2 a bin of it in the upright.  So I spent a good amount of time on youtube the last couple of days trying to find recipes that aren't all about Mexican food.  My daughter is having issues right now with those spices so I've been trying to veer away from them, but the hugest number seems go there.

Taco Mac, chili mac, enchiladas, Taco spaghetti, Taco penne bake, Taco bowl, Taco salad, Chili, Tacos, Taco Mac and Cheese, Taco Chili, Taco Lasagna and on and on and on.  The Italian ones are good, but are basically all variations on a theme, too, pasta or bread, meat, usually sauce, and cheese.  And there is only so much spaghetti, calzones, stromboli, pizza, goulash, meatball sandwiches, baked penne or ziti, macaroni and cheese and Fettuine Alfredo that one can eat in a week without being bogged down by a wheat hangover.

I was on a mission to find some other recipes and it took a lot of weeding through it, but I found some Asian inspired ones and some German ones, and of course there is meatloaf and burgers, cabbage rolls, etc., but I'm still lacking in much else.  I still have to do some recipe searching on google to see what else I can find.

But I have enough for a start and today I went to the grocery store and stocked up on what I needed to do this.  The goal is to have ground beef three times a week, or two if we are having steak.  Which we are just about out of, so probably not much of that will happen.

We've made a recommitment to cooking almost exclusively from scratch and eating healthy and not eating out for the month of July, because we really need to buckle down and stop spending money.  There are a few things in the freezer that are convenience foods, like fish sticks, fries, hot dogs, sausages, and garlic toast, but not a lot of that.  I'll be baking bread, rolls, and buns myself.  Everyone has pledged to help me as much as they are able, so hopefully this time around things will go as planned.  We have a good chance as summer tends to be the season I don't get badly sick in.  So if I can refrain from falling down or hurting my back for the rest of it, we can get this done.

We had a deer in the garden again today. It had big abscesses on its face, poor thing and was bashing it's head against one of our trellises until one of them popped.  It was really gross, but the thing needed to be drained.  We had to spray things down to get the gunk off and the smell was atrocious.  If I see it again, I will call animal control, because that is not a healthy animal.  We will be getting some fencing up tomorrow to hopefully keep the the deer out of the garden, and building some more low tunnels and cages for the thornless blackberries.  One day we will be able to fence everything tall enough to keep them out of the whole back yard, but this year is not that time.

We finally got DD's old doctor to fill out the forms needed for the insurance company and hopefully she will qualify to stay on our insurance.  We also need to have the chiropractor fill out one, because he has been treating her for congenital hip dysplasia since she was 3 months old, and correcting for hypermobile joints since she was 3 years old.  And he has seen first hand what her degenerative disc disease has done to her.

We had an online appointment with her new primary care doctor.  This is her second appointment and it was so nice to be heard.  Really heard.  She put DD on a muscle relaxant that does not interfere with her other meds.  It is actually the one I take, too.  The doctor also brought up this new treatment for obesity.  It is a diabetes drug that had a big side effect of weight loss.  It's called semaglutide and it's a pen injection.  They are very expensive, so I don't see us being able to do this for DD unless she is able to stay on our insurance and then they approve it.  She is hyperinsulinemic, the step before diabetes, so maybe.  If she doesn't we will be paying so much for COBRA or another insurance, we will never be able to afford it.

Prayers that the insurance company accepts from her reports that she is disabled enough to stay on it would be greatly appreciated.

 

A Walking Infinity Sign...but at Least I'm Walking

June 28th, 2022 at 04:36 am

Last Monday night, I had just finished picking strawberries and set them safely on the raised bed.  I went to sit down in my garden chair, but instead of double checking I was lined up properly and sitting on the seat, I sat down on the arm and it broke, collapsing the chair.  The sharp edges of the chair arm cut into my arm as I hit the pavement.  It was horrifically painful.  It cut two large gouges into my arm, which would be one without out the one inch break between them.  Altogether, it is 6.5 inches from the start of one to the tip of the other.

Hitting the concrete was awful.  I jarred everything in my hips and pelvis, the area where the discs are deviated, my upper back and my shoulders.  I had to sit there stunned for few minutes.  I hadn't brought my phone out with me to get help, and my husband was taking a nap, so I knew I had to get up by myself.  Fortunately the raised bed was right there, I just had to figure out how to get onto my knees from my butt with one working arm and crawl three feet, again with only one functioning arm.

Somehow I managed and then forced myself to use both arms to pull my body up.  By the time I was done, the pains in my shoulder, elbow (which hit the concrete) and wrist were excrucitating.  I managed to slowly walk into the house and as far as my daughter's room and asked her to check my arm.  She did and immediately said she needed to get my husband.  I said no, he was sleeping, and she argued with me for a minute before deciding to get him anyway.

DH came in, took one look at it and said I needed to go to the hospital.  I really didn't want to, because my whole body hurt and I was barely able to walk and the wheelchairs at the hospital are not well padded at all.  DH cleaned up my arm, got all the blood off and held a pad on it until it was just seeping and then tried washing it out again, because there was still dirt in it.  It started bleeding again and the dirt was still there.  Finally he took a photo of my arm on his phone and showed it to me and I agreed to go to the hospital.

For a Tuesday night it was packed.  By the time we got there my elbow had gone numb.  Once we got into triage my wrist was numb, and by the time we got called back to the acute care area my fingers were numb and the cut on my arm was bleeding through the bandage and got on my sundress.  I waited quite a while until they brought a little x-ray machine in to do my elbow and wrist.  I had no idea they had those.  It kind of reminded me of the x-rays on an arm my dentist uses, only this had a bottom plate for resting your arm on.

I laid back down on my side with a pillow under my arm and by the time a P.A. came in, I had bled all over the pillow.  He checked out the x-rays and thankfully, there were no aparent breaks.  He asked if anywhere else hurt and I said my shoulder so he poked around up there and rotated it around and found an incredibly painful spot so ordered a shoulder x-ray, too.  Then he inspected the cuts and said they didn't need stitches, but it did need some deeper cleaning out, so ordered some numbing gel put on, which helped a lot.

Then he asked me if I took anything for pain and I said no because if they were going to give me something I didn't want to interfere with that.  So he gave me 800mg of Ibuprofen and 1000mg of Tylenol.  It helped a little, but not much.  I was hoping for something a little stronger that would take me through the night, but at least I had hydrocodone at home.  I just knew it was going to be a long time until we got home.  He then rotated my elbow around until I heard a pop and then the numbness started to fade.  So something had been knocked out of alignment and was pinching on a nerve.

So then we waited for me to be taken to the big x-ray machine.  They took me there on the bed I was on and everytime we went through a door with a raised threshold it hurt so bad.  It just jarred everything.  By then my back was getting really sore and so were my hips.  X-ray took a while and then I was taken back to my room.  By then it was midnight and the nurse came in and washed out my wound.  It wasn't too bad because of the numbing gel.  She managed to get the dirt out.  Then she put on more numbing gel and bandaged it up.

The P.A. came back in shortly and said he didn't see any breaks in my shoulder or collar bone, although I don't know why he would, it was my  elbow and wrist that hit the ground.  But he still wanted us to wait for radiology to do a complete reading and it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes.  Hah!  At that point I was so exhausted I just wanted to go home and I had had a mask on for 4 hours.  While I had used my inhaler before coming into the hospital, it can only do so much when I have a mask on.  So I went to the private bathroom that was for acute care patients only, took off my mask, used my inhaler, and breathed in cool fresh air for about five minutes.  By then the inhaler was working, so I put my mask back on and went back to my room.

When it was about 1:00, we still hadn't heard from radiology.  I wanted to go home and take a real painkiller and go to bed.  DH went out and asked how much longer it would be.  They called down to radiology who said they'd look at it right away.  At 1:30, I finally said I was ready to go, I'd take the P.A.'s word for it that nothing was broken.  I didn't care if I had to sign out against medical advice.

They must have heard that because two minutes later as I'm getting into the wheelchair to leave, the P.A. shows back up again with the news that radiology agreed.  He then asked if I knew when my last tetanus shot was.  I told him I thought it was five years ago, but I'd call my doctor and ask.  Then we got to go home.  By then the bandages they had given me had popped off a few time.  I was later to learn that the location of the injury made it impossible to keep bandages on because if I moved my arm one way they popped off that side and moved it another way it would pop off the other side.

For the first night we used some vet wrap to hold some guaze in place.  I had some unopened ones from when we had animals.  It's the same as what they have for people only cheaper and with more pretty colors.  Even that managed to wad up overnight and leave part of the wound uncovered so I had a pink stain on my blanket. We struggled with that for another day and then I just left it uncovered.  It took a total of 4 days to stop seeping.

The first day I spent in bed on my side with my arm propped up and on hydrocodone.  By the second day I could move around a little and my arm was starting to get some range of motion back, but the cut pulled hard if I moved it too much.  I was able to get through that day on Ibuprofen and Tylenol and just take hydrocodone at night.  Last night was the first night I didn't take any, just Ibuprofen and Tylenol and today I have not taken any, but probably will tonight.  All of my joints still ache, but not like before.

I've been a lot more mobile since Thursday on.  I feel like my arm is almost back to normal with range of motion.  I can't raise it above my head with the scab still pulling so hard.  I've been keeping it moisturized to try to prevent that, but it may take another week or so before I can fully raise my arm up.

Meanwhile I found out on Wednesday that my last tetanus shot was in August of 2012, so I needed one, but they didn't have any openings for a nurse appointment, so I would need to go to urgent care.  At that point I decided, screw that.  I can't sit like that again for 2 more hours to get a shot.  I still had two months left from my last shot and it was plastic and dirt, not rusty metal.  Probably a dumb choice, but I was done.

A couple minutes later the person I talked to called back and said, check some pharmacies, most of them give tetanus shots.  So I called the one in the closest grocery store where I got my Covid vaccines and they had them, so I was able to go down and get one once my husband was done with work.  I couldn't drive yet.  So we got that taken care of.  Then I let the doctor's office know that I'd done it so they could put it in their records.

So where does the walking infinity sign come in, you might ask?  That's the shape of the purple bruising around my wounds.  It's a very pretty purple.  Or looked at another way, it looks like Mr. Peanut got gutted, which is a little closer to how I felt.  At least I can drive now.  Still ache all over, but every day it hurts less and I'm able to garden, just no heavy duty.

Thursday I went out and picked another collander full of strawberries.  Can't say that there wasn't a little bit of a PTSD moment when looking at the remains of the chair, but this time I took both my phone and my husband out with me and all was well.

Friday I was okay enough for DH to go out for spot prawns.  He caught his limit.  There were a total of six other guys on the boat, who all got their limits, but 3 of them were single, so when they got back to the guy's house who owns the boat, they only wanted to take enough for their dinners last night, so gave the extras to DH.  And since the boat guy had been out every day since the season opened, he gave his entire catch to DH.  So he come home with a lot of spot prawns.  If you've never had them they are the sweetest shrimp and they require nothing, no cocktail sauce, no clarified butter, no scampi sauce.  We had some for dinner and cooked up enough to snack on for a couple of days and the rest went into the freezer.

Saturday I was able to pick another round, this time with my phone and my oldest sister who came over.  So I've picked 13 pounds of berries last week and half a pound the week before.  After this massive heat wave, there will probably be some ready tomorrow.  I need my son to go out and water, though, because I still can't lift a hose high enough and those beds haven't had drip hose put in yet.

I also need to cut off the garlic scapes on the Music garlic and process them for the freezer.  I'll freeze them in tbsp size servings and put in a ziploc and then I can use that in place of garlic until the garlic I grew is ready, pulled, and properly dried.

Other items I have harvested so far is a head of lettuce and a bunch of green onions.  The garden went in late, but it is starting to produce.  I am looking forward the first snow pea.  They are about two inches long right now, so a couple more days to go.

I was able to go grocery shopping with my husband today after he got off work.  I used the ride on cart, though.  I was really happy to get out of the store under $250 and that means I have enough money leftover to take advantage of a chuck roast sale.  I need to can some for the winter.  It's $2.99/lb and it didn't list a limit, just that it was a digitial coupon.  Without the coupon it is still $3.99/lb.  So tomorrow DS and I will go to the store that has that.  Tomorrow is supposed to be below 70 after several days in the high 80's, so that would be a good day to can meat, since it takes so long.

Anyway, that was my week.  Hopefully this week will be anticlimactic.  Even without what happened to me, last week was a doozy.

Surfacing

June 9th, 2022 at 02:15 am

I realized I haven't posted since May, so thought I'd surface for a little bit.  My autoimmune stuff has been kicking my butt lately, probably because I have been pushing too hard to get stuff done.  And the spring head cold, which was brutal.  And now I'm going through caffeine withdrawal, day 2, so you can imagine I'm not thrilled with life.  But I am trying to keep a postive attitude.

DH and I got the rest of the seed potatoes in.  I wish we could put in more, but I'll know better for next year to order more seed potatoes and save more, too.  We planted 15 pounds of ordered seed potatoes and 25 pounds of what we saved.  I think that we need a total of 50 pounds for next year.

We still have to plant the sweet potato slips, but we need to get more soil for that.  The area we want to plant them in is horribly uneven. It's still a bit chilly at night, so we will wait until the weekend to get those planted where warmer nights are forecasted.

We bought a new electric weed eater ($159) that even I can manage.  The battery is compatible with all of our other electric tools.  I can do it for 5 minutes and then I have to sit down, but after resting for 5 minutes I can do another session.  Three is my limit, but it is amazing what you can get done in 15 minutes worth of weedeating a few days in a row.  I've got most of the area cleared for green beans, now we just need to even out the ground and put down the black plastic.

We are growing in buckets, but they will be going up a trellis.  The buckets will have a soaker hose running across them held in by landscape staples.  We are using buckets because there has been an explosion of baby rabbits this year and I don't want them nibbled down like some of them were 2 years ago when we had the same issue.

We still need to put up some fencing to go around the green beans, too, and build 3 strawberry cages.  The strawberries have deer netting on them, but we want something better than that going forward.  Pole beans grow up until the first freeze here which is usually Halloween or the next week, so even though they are getting started later than I like they will still produce a long time.  Hopefully we can get that accomplished this weekend.

I just keep pushing my body as it has been able to do more and more.  I usually can go for 2 days and then have to spend a day doing nothing.  But I am getting stuff done so I feel accomplished.  I still can't use a shovel, though.  Different muscles that cause pain after 30 seconds.  I may never be able to, but at least I can do something.  The power of physical therapy is great.

No Spending Today--Garden Talk

May 31st, 2022 at 03:36 am

Last night about two hours before sunset, I got my plants in.  DH grabbed one of the wrong types of tomatoes.  I wanted two Early Girls and a Roma, but he got one Early Beefsteak.  I don't buy beefsteak tomatoes because they always take so long to produce here.  Same reason I don't buy Brandywines.  I've tried them once or twice and they basically start turning red in October, so they take up a lot of garden space with little production.  But I've never seen an early beefsteak before so hopefully it will produce earlier in the season.

I wish I had more space to grow tomatoes, but with the way everything is going so slowly, I'm not even sure we'll get green beans in on time.  I got my peppers in, then planted basil in what will be the understory of the other plants.  I put the blue Veronica and the Red Rock Yarrow in front of the cosmos.  I don't know how big the Veronica will get, but I know the Cosmos will get taller than the yarrow, and if the Veronica gets bigger than that I will have to transplant it elsewhere.  I have enough space for one more flower to fit in, it just has to be one that deer hate, like the others I've done so far.

After that I planted my green and yellow zucchinis.  I planted them at the distance of their mature size.  Too often in the past I've crowded them because the space is so big and it looks naked until the zucchini grows, but crowded plants slows down production and sometimes will block sunlight to the plants that weren't as big as some of the others.  So this year I am giving them room and making sure they are far enough from the cucumbers that they don't block the light to them.  That was a big problem last year.  Even after a lifetime of gardening, I still find myself learning things.

I had to look up when to harvest garlic, since my garlic stalks are so tall.  I found out that each leaf represents the outside paper for the bulb, so if there are ten leaves there will be ten layers of paper to protect all the cloves inside.  I've never had great luck with garlic in the past, but I planted it at the right time in the fall and it has done beautifully, growing like it was in an Alaskan summer with 20 hours of sunlight a day.

My onions are coming along nicely, too.  They are not quite ready to start bulbing, but I see a little swelling near the bottom of the stock, so maybe another week or two.  And I think the bunching onions will be ready to start harvesting pretty soon. 

Oh, and another fun fact I found out.  Elephant garlic isn't true garlic.  It's actually a leek.  Isn't that weird?  Because it bulbs like garlic and tastes like garlic, but it isn't garlic.  I think that is kind of cool.  Just one of those facts you stumble upon when searching for other aspects of garlic.

We didn't get the zucchini cages made yesterday as DH went down hard last night with the head cold.  He's not doing the greatest today, but he slept all night.  He said he will manhandle the fencing wire over to where I need it and he'll help me form the curves, but that may not be until tomorrow.  I am hoping for tonight, but I am not going to push him as I know how bad the first two days of this cold can be.  And even though I am somewhat better, I still fell asleep for 3 hours in the middle of the day, so I am leaving it up to him.

I do have to at least water.  Even though the soil was very moist when I planted, and the plants were wet from being watered at the nursery and store, I would like to get a good drenching on everything.  We've had light sprinkles, but as my grandfather always told my mother, a farmer can't count on the rain to water deep enough.

The drip hoses I ordered arrived in the mail on Saturday, so each bed will now have a 50 foot hose in it, which is enough to go down, cross the back, go back up, and then across the front and then I will attach a hose to it to go to the faucet, which has a four way hose splitter.  That way I can do the three 22 foot long beds and then set up a sprinkler for the strawberries.  We will run a hose from the other side of the house to set up a sprinkler for the potatoes.  The blackberries already have a drip hose on them and uses the hose from the back of the house as well.  So we should be set for watering with as little difficulty as possible.

Yesterday's Spending

May 30th, 2022 at 01:01 am

I spent $142 on garden stuff yesterday.  The welded wire tomato cages were the most expensive items.  I had hoped to make it back there before the turquoise cages were gone.  I would have bought a couple last time I was there, but they were all zip-tied together and they were closing in ten minutes, and it was too much of a hassle.  So I got two yellow ones and two hot pink ones in the smaller size.  I use these on peppers not tomatoes anyway.  It is just so windy here during May and June that the cages help keep the plants from being blown over.  They were pricey.

I was able to find a jalapeño plant, but they were out of bells.  They had cayenne, but I had one of those already along with 1 bell.  They had serrano and poblano, but I'm not growing any other spicy peppers this year.  There were no Anaheims.  I just wasn't able to get over there when I needed to.  But I was able to pick up 4 gold rush zucchini plants and 2 of the regular green ones, 4 cucumbers, 2 Early Girl tomatoes, and 1 Joe's best Roma.  I have 1 million pears already.  I also picked up four big sweet basil plants, decided not to get a Thai basil plant because the three they had looked very stressed.

After that I looked for some flowers.  As much as I wanted to get a couple flats of petunias, I have no place to plant those.  I ended up getting a 1/2 gallon pot of Veronica, which is a deep blue perrenial (unless it goes to 10 degrees, which might happen once every ten years or so, and a deep red yarrow.  Deer don't like either of those flowers so I will plant them with my zucchini.  The prices of starts have gone way up this year.  Next year I really have to start my own.  I have the grow lights and I have the station set up, I just haven't done it.  I have all the seeds and everything.

After that we went over to the grocery store that carries plants from the same nursery and found 3 Better Belles in 1/2 gallon pots. Better Belles are not my favorite type of bell pepper.  I feel like Northstar performs better here, but I waited too long and these are my choices if I want plants from a no-spray source and not a big box store.  I may yet check the food co-op, because they will often have things later than others and they are organic from another source.  I might find an Anaheim that way, but if not it is not a deal breaker.

That about did me in, just going to those two places, since I was still not doing that great, but again, I wore my mask, and DH handled the money and picked up the plants, so I didn't touch anything and I wasn't passing anything along to anybody.  Plus I had a negative Covid home test, so I think I'm okay.  We can't not ever go out with a head cold again, after all.  If I waited any longer there would have been nothing but flowers, herbs, and lettuces left.

I didn't plant anything yesterday, but I sat out in the fresh air and under the lightly overcast sky while DH put in another row of potatoes and then hilled up soil on the other four rows we planted before we left.  Those five rows were all the seed potatoes I purchased.  This morning DH put in two more rows before I got up.  These were the Kennebecs and Russets that I planted last year and saved for seed this year.  He's still got some more of that to do and then I have some grocery store potatoes that have sprouted as well that are golds.  I'll have to check the other potatoes I bought two weeks ago, too.  Everything that can go in the ground, will go in the ground.

After all the potatoes I have get planted, I will plant the sweet potato plants that I've been growing in water for 3 months.  One of the vines goes all the way up to the top of the window, so now that it is warm enough to plant those I want to get them in the ground.

I still have to plant the plants I bought yesterday and the put a wire cover over the zucchini and cucumbers.  I have to make the wire cover, though.  We have the welded wire fencing and the wire cutter, which is one I can operate with my arthritic hands, but the fencing is so heavy DH will have to help with it, since DS has come down with the cold.

I think I'm about at 60%, so I still need to take it easy and get enough sleep, but I definitely turned the corner yesterday and I think tomorrow, if I stay on this projectory will be about 70%.  I have physical therapy on Tuesday.  I won't make the decision on going or not until Monday around 3:00.  If I still feel sick then, I will cancel, because I have to touch too many things that others have to touch.

The cottonwood has started blooming and blowing its fluff balls all over the place, so it's hard to tell how much of the congestion is from my allergy to that and how much is left from the cold.  Either way, it is not helping.

DH is out running around trying to find a pharmacy that has Adderall that doesn't have blue dye.  DS is allergic to blue dye.  Walgreens is out in the whole county, so he was going to try one of the Rite Aids and have them call around to the others and then he'll try the Haggen pharmacies, then Costco, Fred Meyer, and Wal*Mart.  Hopefully he can find them, since DS left it to the last minute to tell us he needed it.

When he gets back I will plant my plants, since they are still in the back of the van.

 

 

I Didn't Think I'd Be Able to Ever Move Again

May 19th, 2022 at 02:06 am

Last night was rough.  I did a lot of new exercises at physical therapy and even though it was in the pool it totally kicked my butt.  45 minutes of non-stop exercise was only possible with the decreased gravity.  By the time I got home everything hurt so bad.  I made it halfway to the house before I had to sit down in the chair at the bottom of the ramp and put the bag down.  It was so heavy with a wet towel and suit in there.  And I forgot my phone so I couldn't call DH to come out and get me.  So I sat there about ten minutes until I could go into the house and send DH out for my bag.  That's how weak I was.

I wasn't able to move my arms enough to make dinner.  They just felt like lead.  It felt like a full on fibro flare with the RA kicking in just for fun.  So we got Mexican.  I had a single tostada de ceviche.  They make it with tiger shrimp and it is really good with lots of tomatoes and onions.  And then I had a rectangle from a chicken quesadilla.  I also got 1 beef enchilada with rice, but I was too exhausted to eat it, so it went in the fridge for today.  I figured I would be able to eat it all since I hadn't eaten all day (yes, bad, I know).  And the rest of the family only ate 1 triangle each of the quesadilla, so there are still two left which I will probably have for lunch tomorrow.  We spent $80 for the four of us.

I took a hot shower after dinner and that helped, but DH had to come wash my hair since I wasn't able to lift my arms above my head.  I still had a good bit of pain going on so I took half a hydrocodone and it knocked me out and when I woke up I felt a lot better.  I can still feel some soreness, but it is just muscle soreness and not fibro.  It hurts to raise my hands above my head, but I can.

The hands still hurt, but they always do after a lot of work.  And not near as much as yesterday as I am typing fairly easily.  I will probably have to avoid that exercise in the future due to how hard it was on my hands.  It was using a mini-kickboard, holding it upright underwater, and pulling it towards me and pushing it away.  It builds the core, but so do a lot of other things, so we'll figure something out.  I have PT again on Friday so we can talk about it then.

I am able to make dinner tonight so we have steaks thawing.  I am going to cook the steaks rare and have green beans, and French fries.  It's a fairly simple dinner.  If my hands were better I'd be making fried potatoes, but French fries will have to do.  I have been making a lot more meals, but yesterday just threw me for a loop.  I will be making a crockpot meal on Friday so that I won't have to worry about making dinner when I get back from PT, it will just be there and ready.  We have beef ribs which work really well with low and slow cooking, so I will just throw them in there with some potatoes and sweet potatoes and then all that will need to be done when I get home is micro-steam a bag of broccoli.

DS and I went out to "shop" the freezer and brought in some steaks and roasts, Canadian bacon, and a pack of hotdogs.  I only had 16 pounds of butter, so I need to do a major stock up.  Last year I bought 60 pounds of butter and 8 of those in there were bought recently, so we went through a pound of butter a week, so I guess I planned pretty well.  I like spring and summer butter when the cows are on green grass and not hay.  I get grass fed butter and there is a world of difference between that and conventional, but also between summer and winter butter.

DS and I need to do an inventory of what is out there and of what is in the mini-chest freezer.  It is easy to see what is in the upright.  I need to see what we need to eat through and how much space we will have in the house and how much we will have in the garage.  I know some of what is in there is crab bait chicken and turkey breast and that will be out of there as soon as the dungeness season starts.  They have freezer burn, so this is a great way of not wasting the meat.  It'll get us through the season and it sure beats buying crab bait, especially at today's prices.

I had regular therapy today and we talked about how I don't like change and how I want to cut my hair and I've wanted to cut it since before the pandemic and things have been open and without masks for quite some time, but I don't do it.  Part of it was my salon went out of business, but something else was affecting me and I knew it.  So she asked if anything from my childhood might be affecting me and I realized that Mom made me get pixie cuts when I was a kid, because she didn't want to deal with the work of longer hair.  I wasn't allowed to choose my own hair cut until I was in the third grade and then I grew it long.

And even though I have had it short at various times in my life it was because I wanted to.  Now it is below my waist and full of damage and i need to get it cut.  And you know what?  My mom keeps saying that I need to get it cut.   Constantly.  And I haven't, because I still resent her very much for forcing me to have a style of hair that I hated for so many years.  Or that one time she made me get a perm.

So, now that I realize the only reason I am not doing it is to spite her, I think I can finally get past this and cut my hair to a couple inches below my shoulders and be done with it.  I've found a salon after much looking, so all I need to do is call tomorrow and schedule an appointment.

It's good for me to be able to realize what this is and get through it.  This is not the only aspect of my life that Mom affects this way, unfortunately.  And all of it relates back to having no bodily auntonomy when I was younger.  So steps were taken today to help me realize this and I feel a lot lighter.

Alright, well I better get to making dinner now that the steaks have sat out for an hour and are at room temp.  Then after dinner I will work in the garden a little.  Instead of getting a whole load of dirt, I've realized that we have a bunch of totes that we were growing in for the last two years that have dirt in them.  I weeded several of them yesterday and I managed to screen all the dirt in one to pull out roots and other things, like the peanuts our crazy squirrel couple bury all over the place.  Two of the peanuts have roots on them, so I put them in a large pot and we will see what becomes of them.

Last year there was one that grew and actually formed some peanuts.  Of course, I didn't know what it was until I'd pulled it out and it didn't take to being replanted and died.  I didn't even know peanuts could grow here, but apparently they can.  And these one's hadn't formed any other nuts on them so they have a better chance.  I'll have to look up their needs to see if they need special care and make sure I planted them at the right depth.

Okay, really going now.

 

 

 

Getting Stuff Done in the Garden

May 16th, 2022 at 12:00 am

We have almost got the third 22 feet long by 3 feet wide by 2 feet high raised bed completed.  We worked on it last night and then this morning in the rain.  It was supposed to be nasty all day, but of course the sun came out a 1/2 an hour ago.  We got the steer manure in and then used up the rest of the garden soil mix from GroSource.  Unfortunately the are not open on Sundays so we will have to wait until tomorrow to pick up another pickup truck load.

DH priced it all out and while a 1/2 a load (about what we'd need) is $30, a whole load is $40.  If we did bagged soil from the garden center, it would cost $60.  So we decided to go with the $40 option.  It will all get used eventually.  So DH will get some on his lunch hour and then we will have it for Tuesday, which is supposed to be the next nice day.

We discoverd a way for me to help with moving soil in the garden.  If I sit next to the wheel barrow, I can use an old feed scoop to move the dirt into the raised bed.  I feel useful again.

On the last nice day, DH and I cut the climbing rose bush down to waist high.  That probably took off half the height of it.  So he did the lopping off of branches and I cut them up into smaller pieces and put them in the wheelbarrow.  Then we used them in the raised bed.  We put about a two inch layer of garden soil down and then spread a bale of old, rotting hay down, and then the rose clippings, and then layered garden soil on top until we were six inches from the top of the bed, and put down a two inch layer of composted steer manure, and then topped it off with more garden soil.  I like doing a lot of biological inputs.

So we got it all the way up to the top for the first 2/3rds of the bed.  I was able to plant the one tomato plant I picked up, which is Million Pears, a yellow grape type tomato.  I've had it in the past and it was prolific plant.  Then I planted my eggplant.  I forget the type but it is one of the long, skinny Asian varieties.  I figured I'd give it a go.  Then I planted the orange blaze bell pepper and the cayenne pepper.  That's all I've bought so far.  I am going to do three more tomato plants, probably Early Girl or Big Boy, maybe a Yellow Boy if they still have them.  I don't know.  I'm only doing four this year, but I will focus on fertilizing on a schedule, so should get better production.  Then I want to get a jalapeño, an Anaheim, and a couple of bell peppers.  Possibly a poblano, but no serranos this year.

The rest of the bed will be zucchini, but I will put some calendula between the tomatoes and zucchini to encourage pollinators to come into the garden.  I will probably tuck basil into the understory of the tomatoes and between the peppers.  We'll see.  It is too cold to plant basil or zucchini yet.  I need the nights to be at least 50 and they've been running in the 40's.  Either that or I'd have to put cloches over the plants or some kind of green house plastic hoop thing.  It is too cold for May.  The rain is pretty normal, it's one of the main reasons we use raised beds, for drainage, but usually we'd be having temps in the low 60's during the day and 50 at night, not low 50's during the day and 40's at night.

Even if I have to build 3 foot to 7 foot (for the tomatoes) tall hoop tunnels for everything in the raised beds, I will.  We need a great harvest this year, not just a good one, what with the state of produce in the stores and food shortages.

The garlic is doing fantastic, the best I've ever had garlic do, and the onions are starting to get bigger.  They were itty bitty when I planted them, thinner than a blade of grass.  But each one has gotten bigger than that and I see a third blade starting to form on some of them.  I have planted enough onions, that I shouldn't have to buy much for the next year.  They are good keeper varieties, except the Walla Walla's which I will freeze.  And if the others get close to sprouting, then I will cut them up at that point and freeze them.

There are lots of flowers on the strawberries, so I think we will have a good year there.  I hope so.  I want to freeze a lot.  I'll go to the berry farm if I have to, though.  They freeze in one or two gallon buckets.  The blackberries are coming up very nicely from the bottom, but we need to get all the weeds away from them.  I can see the start of itty bitty green berries on the blueberry plants.  The raspberries are getting tall.  The apple tree is in full blossom and it is gorgeous.  And the plum trees did flower this year and there wasn't a storm during the days they flowered, so hopefully that means lots of fruit, because there were tons of blossoms.  It would sure makeup for the nothing of last summer.

We are still prepping the potato plot.  We'll be harvesting in October again, but it doesn't usually freeze until Halloween here.  Then we'll move on to the area for green beans.  As long as we get them in before mid-July we will have plenty to can.  I am growing blue coco pole beans.  They are a purple colored green bean that turns green when cooked or canned.  I have found that the beans are a lot easier to find than green on green and I misplaced my Kentucky Wonder pole bean seeds, anyway.

I wish it would just warm up so I can get on with it.  I also want to plant the sweet potato slips I've been growing, but it needs to be much warmer.  One of them is so long that we have it propped on some cup hooks to keep it out of the way.  They are in the window above the kitchen sink and have a tendency to want to go into the sink.  It'll be my first year growing sweet potatoes. I wanted to do it last year then herniated those discs instead.  I did grow my own slips this year for the first time from a sprouted sweet potato so that was interesting.

Not much else going on here.  I did the banking and the bills on Friday and then bought produce and shrimp and that was it.  I'm still not looking at the retirement accounts.  I don't want to know.

 

Bits and Pieces

April 30th, 2022 at 07:22 am

I ordered my hog so that's taken care of.  She's going to give me the original price of $3.50 per pound even though she raised her prices last month to $4.00 per pound to account for higher feed costs.  She just felt so sorry for me with the whole freezer saga.  I've kept her updated as we went along.  She said the hog's butchered weight should be around 170 pounds.  A bit smaller than I've gotten before, usually around 200 pounds, but I don't care.  Cut and wrap is .89/lb, plus extra if we want sausage which we do.  They don't charge extra for bacon.  We don't eat as much pork as we do chicken, beef, or even seafood usually, so a smaller amount is not as big a deal and it means I should have room in the freezer for a fall lamb.

DH's boss if cleaning out his freezer because he is going halibut fishing on Tuesday.  We are getting lots of wild Pacific salmon and possibly some cod as well.  DH didn't say how much, just that his boss said a cooler full.  Depends on the size of the cooler, I guess.  So we should get that on Monday.  I will never turn down free wild Pacific salmon.  I'd turn down farmed Atlantic salmon in a heartbeat, though.  I am a salmon snob, but how can you not be living in the coastal Pacific Northwest?

I spent $49.40 on chicken thighs today at Safeway.  They were .99/lb.  I bought 8 packages with 10 thighs each.  That is 80 pieces of chicken.  That portions up to 10 meals for my family or $4.94 per meal or $1.23 and a 1/2 cents per person per meal.  Can't beat that anymore. It was just nice to see a pre-late 2020 price on chicken again.

Speaking of prices from before then, I haven't made it to Fred Meyer to get the $3.97/lb chuck roast for canning yet.  I will probably go on Monday.  We've eaten almost all of the roasts from our beef that we bought last summer.  There's still plenty of beef left, though.  I have a lot of hamburger, quite a few steaks, and some ribs.  I think there is some brisket, too.  Oh, and soup bones.  I still have soup bones.

I called Virginia Mason today and got an appointment for my daughter with ENT doctor who specializes in Rhinology.  Her nosebleeds have gotten so bad that she is waking up every morning with blood running down her throat and causing so much stomach distress.  Because of the high iron content of blood, if you swallow a lot of it, it can cause nausea, vomitting, and troubles with the other end of things as well.  And the clots she's been passing lately have been frightening.  The ENT here just seems to have no clue about anything, so seeing a specialist seems the right course of action.

We were able to make it on the same day she sees the endocrinologist and the day before she sees the internist who specializes in chronic diseases for the first time.  We are staying in Lynnwood, which is pretty close to Seattle instead of at the Inn at Virginia Mason, because no one wants to sleep on those beds again.  Especially me with my deviated discs.

Mom fell yesterday and then again today.  I honestly don't know how this woman has not broken a hip, given herself a concussion, or died.  I keep telling her to slow down and she just won't.  If you looked up the word stubborn in the dictionary, my mother's face would be right next to it.  One of these days it's going to happen when no one is here.  DS is staying home while we go to Seattle because we don't feel she can be left alone for nearly two days.  He doesn't mind.  He's not much of one for car travel.

I am really hoping it doesn't rain tomorrow so we can get more work done on the garden.  It's just been one thing after the other and I feel like we are never going to get it finished.  I so wish I could just get down on the ground and weed.  It is really hard depending on other people for things.  I guess in that way I am like my mother.

Another Step Towards Food Security in a Time of Shortages

April 4th, 2022 at 04:34 am

It was dry and overcast yesterday, so worked on the garden, filling a 22 foot by 3 foot raised garden bed with rotted manure and soil.  I can't do any weight bearing exercise, so I was in charge of raking the dirt out after DH and DS dumped it in, plus breaking up clumps in the manure.  This stuff has been composted for 3 years, so it wasn't gross or anything and anyway, I wore gloves.

So we now have two beds the same size ready to go, although one of them has 8 feet of garlic in it that I planted in November.  It's come up very well and I can't believe how huge around the stem is on the elephant garlic.  I will be planting onions in the rest of that bed.  The per pound cost of onions has gotten ridiculous and the selection is kind of gross sometimes.  I am planting mostly keeping onions, but I will plant some sweet onions to cut up and freeze.  I want to do some shallots this year and of course some bunching onions.

With the bed we just finished I will be planting carrots, parsnips, turnips, and radishes.  I can can all of these things, but I will just have the radishes for eating, not for canning.  I don't know if I like pickled radishes or not, so I am going to try making one pint and if I do, then I will make more, but I don't think I will.

We have 1 1/4 pallets of cinderblocks left, enough to make one more raised bed of the same length, so on the next sunny or at least dry day we will be weed eating the area down to dirt and then covering it with a tarp until the next time DH can get to it to start making the next bed.  I plan on growing zucchini, kohlrabi, chard, cabbage, cucucmbers, and herbs, in that bed.

I looked at the deck today and all the plastic boards are the same length and they seem to be tongue and groove.  This will be great material for raised beds, plus we can reuse the support beams and posts as well.  I can't see how they were attached to the supports though, there are no nails or screws, so I am wondering if they were attached on the underside.  DS will have to look underneath to determine it when it is time to take the deck apart.  I don't think DH is capable of crawling under there anymore.

So those beds will be built where we had the potatoes last year, which is a 16 by 20 foot area. I am planning to transfer the strawberries into one of those beds, because where they were last year led to a lot of scorching of the plants in mid-July through August when we were having temps in the 90's and when it wasn't it was in the high 80's.  But it didn't kill them.  Which reminds me, I have to get a couple more room air conditioners before summer.

I'd like to also plant asparagus in that bed so it can pull double duty, but I think it will have to wait for next year.  The two grow well together since one has a deep root system and the other has a very shallow root system.  That area gets afternoon shade so will get a break from the sun for about 4 hours before it comes back around the giant cedar tree in the neighbor's yard and gets sun for a couple more hours.

As for the other bed, I am thinking tomatoes and peppers since it will be far less shaded than the first bed.  

We are putting potatoes in next to the yet to be built third cinderblock bed.  It is a 22 foot by 16 foot area, so a bit more space than the other and it will get more sun.  Eventually that area will get three more cinderblcok 22 x 3 foot beds, and we will just plant potatoes in raised beds in the future.  We have plenty of potatoes that we planted last year that have sprouted that we will be planting, but I also got 4 new types of seed potatoes that will ship when it is time to plant, so soon.

I wanted to try some fingerlings, get more Kennebecs, a different red, and German butterballs.  The last ones are supposed to do really well here and are very yellow inside, more so than Yukon golds.  I couldn't get them to try last year as they were sold out.  This year I was smart and ordered in December.  Everything I got is supposed to be long keepers.

I am hoping with better sun placement, we will get a higher yield this year.  And if I like the new varieties, that I will have enough of them to replant with next year, especially the German butterballs, because buying seed potatoes to have them shipped is expensive.  And the ones available locally are not the ones I want to grow and don't even necessarily do well here.

We plan on digging out and giving away some mature raspberry plants.  We have one person that eats them so we will leave a three foot area and get rid of the rest.  We can put up posts and trellis green beans there.  It'll only be the one row but since it is pole beans it will produce and produce.  Some will be green and some will be purple.

Once the deck is torn down, we will be moving the huge climbing rose bush, that used to climb the apple tree before it was cut down, into the front yard where the deck was and dig out a weed tree, then we can build another raised bed row that is 20 x 16 feet.  And if we get a stump grinder to take out the old apple tree stump at least enough so we can level the dirt, and tear down the old chicken coop,  I want to get a 10 x 12 foot plexiglass green house and we can put in two beds inside it for growing sweet potatoes and tomatoes in the future.

That probably won't happen this year, but it is on the agenda, as is tearing down the rabbit shed and planting fruit trees.  I want two more Italian prune plum trees, a Bing cherry tree and a Ranier cherry tree.  I don't know if those ones cross fertilize or not, but there are plenty of flowering cherry trees in the neighborhood.  I also want a good apple tree.  Maybe Opal apples or Tsuguras.  And maybe even a cold hearty nectarine and a pair of male and female cold hardy kiwis.  We won't let anything get huge, we need to be able to pick them easily, so will keep them pruned to a reasonable height.  And I need to get a huckleberry bush from a new supplier.

The dead, rootless sticks Tennessee Wholesale Nursery sent me last year never did anything and they refused to honor their warranty when I told them well before the year mark, and they said to just wait and see, then refused to give me my money back when I did just that.  Never do business with these losers.  I am getting a one gallon plant in a pot shipped to me from a reputable nursery.  I would like two but since one plant is $37, I may have to wait until next year to buy a second one.

So that's the plan.  It may be a three year plan or maybe a five year plan even, but we will do what we can this year, so we can grow and preserve as much food as possible and be far less dependent on the supply chain.  

Gardening, Sick kid, Prepping

February 28th, 2022 at 05:33 am

I got my seed starting kits in the mail, so I can start planting seeds this week.  I only ordered a small amount of seeds this year, because I ordered a lot last year.  I'm trying a few new things, a Korean pepper, a little finger eggplant, and dill.  It always sucks that when the cucumbers are ready, but the dill isn't, or vice versa.  And it seems like you can only buy the fresh dill (not the little packets), the cucumbers are mostly done.  So I will grow my own.  I got the kind with the big bouquets.

Mom wants us to take down the deck in the front of the house.  It's not made of wood, but some kind of imitation decking.  We are going to use it to build a long raised bed, probably 16 feet by 4 feet or 2 8 x 4's.  But I want it 3 feet tall, too, and I want to put my strawberries in it, so I can then easily pick while standing.  The strawberries are also in a place that gets so much sun they get scorched and no amount of water helps them, they barely stay alive.  Plus it hurts my back too much to stay hunched over to pick as many berries as we get, for as many days as we get them. 

I'll have to use a lot of dirt, but in the long run it is better for me to be able to continue gardening.  I'll hugelkultur a bit and add all the trimmings to the bottom, like the roses and the raspberry and blackberry canes that need to be trimmed.  Also the apple tree and blueberry bushes need to be trimmed.  And we still have a bunch of compost in the back that can go in.

I'm not sure if we will have enough deck to build a second raised bed or not.  Maybe a smaller one.  But we can use the balustrades to build the arbor that will make the garden gate.  I think we have enough to do two of them, so one into that main garden and one into the smaller garden, and then fence it up.  I feel good about being able to recycle so much.  There will be some trellises that covered the underside of the deck.  We might use that on the outside of the raised bed, just to pretty it up.  When we can get away with reusing so much of what we already have, and only adding the cost of screws it is a major win.  It might not even take the cost of screws if the deck was put down with screws.  If it was put down with nails, that's another story.

We'll be taking down the rabbit shed sometime this summer.  We should be able to reuse the plywood on the end walls and the roof, but the floor is not useable at all.  We'll have to see on the back wall after a lot of pressure washing.  But the 2 x 4's in the walls and ceilings look good and there will be either 2 x 4's or 2 x 6's, I can't remember which, for the foundation.  With the cost of wood being what it is, every good piece of lumber is a piece worth saving and reusing.

It'll be a lot of work to be frugal, but the work has to be done anyway, so if it can build more beds, then that is the work we will put it to.

When we run out of the huge side yard and back yard, I'll start eyeing the front yard.  There are some narrow places off to the side that we could put a bed or two in.  It would  be hidden from the road going one direction.  and harder to see because of the bushes coming from the other.  But it gets 8 hours of sun.  And even when we planted zucchini and yellow crookneck squash by the road the one year, no one seemed to steal them, or at least not that I noticed.  There was still plenty if they did.  Anyway, that and the skinny side yard can't be planted until we do some French drain work to try to keep the basement from flooding during big storms.

It may take a few more years to do what I want to do fully, but by the end I'll have a fully handicapped acessible garden, so if I need to use my walker, I can, and if I end up in a wheelchair one day, I still can garden.  We might have to take a layer off one of the planned 3 foot tal beds to do it, but that will still be doable.

I had a setback at physical therapy last week.  He tried to put me on a machine I didn't think I was ready for and it ended up hurting my back and hip so badly that I started crying.  I won't be doing that machine again.  I will insist on it.  I had been doing so good up to that week.  I was walking without my cane most days of the week.  Now I've had to use it even for short distances like the bedroom to the bathroom.  It is so frustrating.

I ended up cancelling my next PT appointment on Tuesday, partly because I am still in such pain from the machine, but mostly because DD has bronchpneumonia, which is the worst type of pneumonia you can get and also the most rare, I believe they said.  I got my info secondhand because DH took her to the doctor for a car appointment, because we knew her lungs needed to be listened to..  I was too sick to go, but I don't have pneumonia, the flu, or Covid, I was checked for all, but they gave me antibiotics because of how long I've been sick and they do seem to be working.  DD can't be left alone and DH has a bunch of meetings that day.

I have to call the doctor tomorrow, because they only gave DD a week of antibiotics and she is not any better and tomorrow is her last day.  I worry she'll have to go to the hospital and I won't be able to see her.  She does not do well with withdrawal from the family due to her anxiety and one of her illnesses needs her to stay calm or she'll burn through her cortisol and have to take more prednisone and she already has to take so much just to stay alive.  In normal times we could have someone with her in shifts during the day, but now they won't let you have visitors at all.  Not that I'd be able to go being sick, anyay.  So I'm just really worried about her overall and stressing if she has to go in.

Nothing financial has happened since payday.  DH worked ten hours of OT last week and is due to work OT this week and the next.

I added some items to mid-term food storage this week.  2 cases of tomato sauce, 1 case of pineapple, and 25 pounds of flour.  WE will be freezing that for a bit and putting it into Mylar, sealing it, and into a bucket with a gamma lid.  I can't find whole wheat flour anywhere.   Costco was so low on everything.  No French fries, no frozen broccoli, no pasta.  And limits on meats.

We still have over half a steer, part of a lamb, not nearly enough chicken, a bit of turkey, some frozen salmon and spot prawns, but almost no pork in the freezer.  What we do have is bacon, one bag of pork chops, and a ham or two, so we'll be okay for a while.  Our potatoes are starting to sprout, but we still have about twenty pounds that have not.  Potatoes are getting a bit hard to find and there is a 2 bag limit.  I do still have some canned, but we won't make it until the next crop is ready.  I have some winter squash that we can eat after the potatoes run out, but only four.  And there is always rice.  We have a lot of that.

I'm not happy with what I am seeing at the grocery stores at all.  Prices and quality wise.  Stuff that would never have made it onto the produce shelves a couple years ago are now the norm.  There are bruises and brown spots and even outright mold.  And these are not bargain stores, these are regular stores.

We still haven't had our new freezer come in.  I really hope it does before harvest season.  I want to be able to freeze strawberries, plum prunes, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, hot peppers, onions, and blueberries at the very least.  Corn, if we decide to grow it, since it tastes better frozen than canned.  But I won't give up room from meat for it.

I'm worried, but I am doing everything I can to be prepared.  If things get bad enough they will start limiting food purchases.  They're already limiting on chicken and some canned goods, beans, and rice.  Who knows what will happen if these things in Ukraine and Taiwan escalate?  If we enter into a war, we could see actual rationing again.  I want to be stocked enough that it isn't something I have to worry about.  I'm generally not this much of a worrywart, but these times they are a changing.

 

A Frozen Future?

February 4th, 2022 at 12:23 am

Not very likely.  DH decided to check up on the freezer we ordered that was supposed to arrive this month, and surprise, surprise, it has been delayed until May now.  I am losing all hope of ever actually seeing this thing.  DH asked if the employee thought it would really come in March and he said nobody really knows.  Supposedly they are supposed to be getting in some brand I never heard of "soon," whatever soon means.  It's called Midea.  From what I've seen the 21 cubic foot upright has good reviews, but again, it may also never actually arrive.

I am done with this pandemic and how it is affecting the supply chain, shipping, and trucking.  We really, seriously, need to go back to building our own stuff in our own country.  It would have curtailed a lot of this having to wait months to a year for new appliances if we'd never moved our manufacturing bases to other countries.

My goal for now is to eat down everything that is in our mini-chest freezer, so we can at least get half a hog.  While I could fit a whole hog in the mini-chest freezer, we do need to have some room for fish, crab, and prawns once the different seasons start up.  Meanwhile I am keeping an eye out for used upright freezers.

We are still working through our chicken freezer stash, but I can't imagine that's going to last more than two more months.   I don't like what I'm seeing on chicken availability.  Or pricing.  I don't think I have the ability to raise meat birds anymore, either.  I know it is only an 8 week committment, but they are a lot of work if you don't have room to put them out in tractors.  Since most of our land is going towards garden space, we really don't have the space to give up to chickens.

Since my January pantry challenge crashed and burned due to the flu, I am doing a no eating out challenge for February.  I want to keep a handle on that, because it is my greatest financial weakeness.  It is just too easy to let money fritter through our hands when we get takeout as much as we do.

DH gave me the amount of tomorrow's paycheck so I was able to finalize the numbers for the budget for this payday.  There was a lot of OT on it.  There will be some on next time's paycheck, too, but doubtful it will be to this extent.  Internet went up again, so I changed that on February and March's spreadsheets, which were as far ahead as I've worked, and then changed it on the 2022 Budget Template as well.  I will also be adding line items to the budget for sinking funds for our yearly portions of property taxes and home owner's insurance, $25 and $34 per month respectively.

We have also finally convinced my mother to put out weekly trash cans instead of every two weeks and then having to call for an extra can at least once a month, so that will go up a bit, too.  Since there will be a lot of stuff to throw away for the next several weeks as we clean up the back porch and clean out the garage and then tear down the rabbit shed we will be filling the cans with a lot of stuff.

Some stuff  we will save, though.  All of the studs out of the rabbit shed will be saved and pressure washed down.  The roof's 4 x 8 plywood sheets look salvageable and possibly the side walls, but not the back and front walls, I don't think, or the floors.  Depends on whether there are weak spots or spots with too much moisture damage.  The window framing is also made from 2 x 4's, so those may give some salvageable wood as well.  The cost of lumber is too expensive not to conserve what we have available to us.  And we have always been ones to reuse as much as possible.

We may be able to build some garden beds with it.  Any raised beds built out of it won't be in the main part of the garden, though, as we want all that to look uniform with the cinderblocks, so long as the cost of cinderblocks doesn't go up to high.  We shall see.

I don't know if I mentioned before, but we are going to get grass-looking astroturf to go between garden rows as we can afford to do it.  I am done with fighting weeds all the time.

I just hope after putting all this time into the garden this year, I'll actually have space to store frozen vegetables.  I will can a lot of root vegetables, but some things are either not cannable or are just better frozen.  My goal has always been to freeze enough zucchini, cauliflower, and broccoli for a year, but I still do not have the freezer capacity to do such a thing, so zucchini is my priority this year.  I don't want to be beholden to grocery stores anymore than possible.  The shortages are getting a little scary here and the produce is not best quality.  Growing and preserving as much as I can is the biggest thing on our agenda.

 

EF, Retirement, and Net Worth Updates plus an Aside for Gardners

February 2nd, 2022 at 07:12 am

Interest hit today and it was $4.59 at the online bank, and .07 at CU#2.  CU#1 only pays out quarterly.  So a total of $4.66 in interest, so that goes to the Emergency Fund, bringing the new total there to $20,212.21.  That leaves $310.49 to go to hit 6 month's expenses.

Retirement is starting to creep up again to where it was, but is still $342.72 short of that, putting it at $70,634.30.

That means the NW has gone up by $4.66, but down by $342.72, so the new net worth is $128,759.49.  Still nothing to sneeze at, but still depressing to see it going down and eating any money you put in every payday.  I know I am getting more stock, but I want more stock and good prices.

Let's hope that fire at that fertilizer plant in North Carolina does not make the markets implode in the morning.  I feel really bad for those that lost loved ones and probably their primary bread winner.  Plus, losing a fertilizer plant when there is already a fertilizer shortage, is going to mess with the farmer's and the food supply, which is already pretty screwed in many places.

If you're growing a garden this spring for your own family's food, go get your fertilizer now, because once the chemical stuff goes, they'll be swooping in for all the organic fertilizers like bone meal, blood meal, and fish emulsion and you won't be able to get it.  And no one wants to go haul rotted horse manure from the local stables, even if it is free.  Not that we won't.

The More Things Change, the More Things are Changed

January 25th, 2022 at 07:28 am

I got a notification from Costco's Citi card today saying that the amount I earned this year was $566.68 and that it will be available in February, so expect an email soon.  They also said that this year you can direct deposit the amount into your checking account instead of having to go to Costco in person to cash it out.  This is so much better.  I hate having to go to Costco to do this, mostly because they seem to change the rules everywhere of where you cash it out and asking doesn't help, because no one really knows until you try then they tell you, oh, we can't do that here, you have to go over there, and then they say somewhere different and so on.  This will save worlds' of frustration.

The plan will be using that towards the garden.  We never got around to building our third garden bed last year, and we have the supplies for that, but we will need supplies for a couple more garden beds, plus I want to buy some astroturf that looks like grass, not that artificial bright green stuff, to go down on the rows between the raised beds.  I don't want to deal with weeds in the pathways.  It'll take somewhere between $80 to $90 per row.  Which seems like a lot, but will be many years worth of weed control.

Mom wants help on the property taxes and the home owner's insurance.  She'd like us to pay half.  Since it is senior rate for the property taxes that is only $300.  Half of the home owner's insurance is $400.  That's for the whole year.  DH is making book on overtime right now and will be for a while yet, so it won't ruffle the budget.  We feel it's fair as it does cover our things as well.  And also we don't pay rent to live here.  We take care of Mom, take care of the house, take care of the property, and pay the utilities.  It's still way less than we would be paying out in the real world.

We are looking for an elder law lawyer so that we can set things up for my mother.  I have been her medical power of attorney for several years now, but she also wants to make me her financial power of attorney.  And she wants to figure out how to pass the house to us in the best way possible so neither of my sisters can make a claim on it after she has died.

We have agreed to take in my eldest sister when the time becomes necessary, which is when she decides to stop working, but she plans to keep on as long as possible.  She's 11 years older than I am and her hip is giving her problems so who knows?  We get along with her, even though Mom doesn't, and there will be room once Mom passes.  Mom might leave a little money to her if she has something left.  If we were to ever sell the house, we would give her some of the proceeds.

And my middle sister is already set in a home with plenty of money, with life insurance set up, and Mom doesn't want her to get a dime because she never visits or helps after surgeries, uses Mom for what Mom can do for her, expecting Mom to drive great distances (they moved further away two years ago) for an 82-year-old, instead of her coming here.  It's been so disgusting, the way my middle sister behaves.  Mom made the choice not to go see her anymore or do anything to help her due to her selfish, using behavior.  Which honestly, she's had her whole adult life so I guess it has just taken my mother this long to see it.  It has always infuriated me.  It has just hurt my mother so badly.

I do not get how you can just abandon your elderly mother like that.  She doesn't call, doesn't send cards on her birthday or at Christmas.  Just ignores her.  And Mom has done so much for her, to be dismissed like this is just horrible.  But middle sis is a narcissist.  My mother can be difficult and she can drive me crazy sometimes, but I could never abandon her and not care like that.  I can never understand why she turned out so differently having been raised the exact same way.  Oh, well.  I can't see ever doing such a thing to my mother, or to my eldest sister.

And even though middle sis has chosen not to be in our lives, either, if her husband dies and none of her four boys would take her in, and she ran out of life insurance money, I'd still figure out something, though it wouldn't be living here, because I have seen her true colors for years and don't want to be around her either.  But family takes care of family.  That's just what you do.  Or maybe that's just what I and my husband do.  Maybe we really just are that different.

I've set up my budget for February and started on March and want to get one set up for April.  April will be a three payheck month, and I want a plan going into it.  And because one of the payday's is on the first it will mean that the last paycheck in March won't need to pay some things it would usually be scheduled for, because the stuff comes out of checking on the 1st or the 2nd.  Sometimes as late as the 7nth if someone drops the ball somewhere.

We are thinking about switching life insurance to AAA, because we can get an additional $50K $8 a month more, than with Allstate.  Allstate is also selling our policies to somewhere else.  The reason we had them was we wanted a local office, so I don't like this.  And who knows what they might raise it to.  We also have some life insurance through his work, but that goes away after he quits working.  I also want to look at the life insurance offered through our credit unions.  It's like $2000 for $1 a month, you just have to fill out the paper work.

I also want to look into getting car insurance with AAA and see if it is cheaper.  Our Allstate office is changing hands and I don't really like it.  Especially the selling off of the life insurance policies.  If we have to deal with non-local people, we might as well do that elsewhere.  I hate change.

Well, maybe not all change.  We started DD on edibles a couple of weeks ago and the change has been amazing.  She is much more able to deal with the pain because it takes the edge off and she is also able to focus, so she is able to read and paint again, and her mood has been quite lifted.  The one she is taking derives its THC from the hemp plant and not the marijuana plant.  I even tried it a couple of times when my nerve pain was off the charts and it really helped.  I mean, you definitely couldn't operate heavy machinery, nor should you, for 12 hours, but it has definitely made a difference.  The dose is quite small, but wow on the pain management.  I never would have believed we would ever be doing this a few years ago, but when pain is so vicious and violent, you change your mind on a lot of things.  Plus, you know, back then it wouldn't have been legal.

Woman Within cancelled my winter coat order after mutliple delays.  I guess they can't get what was supposedly in stock when I ordered it.  And that is the problem with having your manufacturing in China instead of the USA.  But that's whole 'nother bucket of worms.

I am so anxious for my freezer to get here.  I know it won't be until February and we still don't know when in February, and something could go wrong with shipping just like it did with the coat, although I think GE is made here.  It used to be, anyway, just not sure if it still is.  I just feel this need to get more meat in the freezer.  I'll feel alot more food secure with a whole hog and about 3/4 of a steer still in the chest freezer.  Then I can work on chicken and then start saving up all over again for a steer.  And in the summer, we will go fishing/shrimping/crabbing for our seafood.  And also in the summer we harvest and can and freeze as much produce as we possibly can.  These food shortages are getting scary and I don't want to deal with sky high prices on the stuff that is left.

I don't have anything on the schedule tomorrow.  Maybe I can get those spot prawn shells made into bone broth in the pressure cooker and get it canned.  That'll clear out some space in the below fridge freezer.  I might even do onion skins with beef bone broth as well.  We have lots of bones and soup bones and onions skins in the freezer for that and I really want beef and onion broth for making French onion chicken and French onion pork chops.

I can always get out the huge All American canner as it can do 3 levels of pints if I decide to make both.  But I'm not sure I want to tie up both my Instant Pots making broth.  It depends on how early I get up in the morning.  Broth does not take that long to can compared to most things.

Well, this has gotten super long, so I'll sign off for tonight.

 

 

Blathering On

November 10th, 2021 at 11:35 pm

On Saturday there was a break in the weather and DH and I went out and cleared out the dead plants from the two new raised beds.  I had to sit down a lot due to my back and my leg weakness, but I was able to sit there and pick up all the windfallen tomatoes without it hurting too much.  We filled half a bucket with them, most of them cherry tomatoes.  They were all split and rotting due to the two weeks of unrelenting rain, so there was no salvaging anything for green tomato salsa, but I hadn't figured there would be.

After cleaning out the beds, I planted garlic.  There were seven cloves in my elephant garlic bulb, so I may end up getting one more.  And then there were six bulbs of music garlic that I planted as well.  They had 8 to 12 cloves per bulb.  On two of the cloves the skin came off so I used them in making my spaghetti sauce on Monday.  They smelled really good and when I ran into a couple of the minced pieces in the sauce, they tasted really good as well.

We have 8 frost free nights on the forecast including tonight and it happens to be clear today, so I am hoping to get the perrennial herbs transplanted and the huckleberries out of their pots.  We have a rosemary tree which is about 3 feet tall, a big thyme, a big sage, and a dwarf marjoram that will go into the same bed as the garlic, but the opposite end.  I will put the huckleberries in the middle of the bed so that they can be surrounded by the annual herbs I plant next spring.  DH will be doing the work with the most I do being holding up the plants while he shovels dirt around them.

I dont know if the huckleberries are even alive.  They never leafed out, but the company says to give them the full year as it can take that long with berry plants.  If they dont leaf out they will give me my money back or replace them.  I felt when I got them that they were just sticks.  Only one had an actual root on the bottom and not even that one leeafed out.  So I need to keep track and contact them two weeks before the warranty runs out if they still show no signs of life.  I don't think I want replacements from them.  I'd rather go with Stark nursery.  The berry plants I got from them leafed out the same summer I planted them.

On Sunday I flared up big time due to all the garden work and was pretty useless through Monday, though I did cook.  Yesterday I had my physical therapy assessment and the guy agreed with me that it would not be a good idea for me to do pool therapy right now, due to the fact that I can't lift my left leg high enough to go up and down stairs.  They do have a lift, but it is not working right now.  So I will do 8 land therapy sessions and then we will see if I am able to lift that leg enough to go in the pool and continue from there.

He gave me 3 simple exercises to do.  I feel like they are manageable.  I was pretty wiped out afterwards so we grabbed Fiamma Burger for dinner.  They have gluten free options so you can get a burger with a gluten free bun and fries or sweet potato fries cooked in oil that has not been used for breaded products.  I am trying to eat out as little as possible, but it doesn't always happen when pain and exhaustion are involved.

Tonight I am making beef stew for dinner from my home canned carrots, potatoes, and beef.  I wanted to make it last night, but just did not have that kind of energy.  And it's simple because you just take the juice from the jar of meat, and the water from the potatoes to make gravy (maybe add milk if not enough potato water), ditch the juice from the carrots (makes it too sweet) and then combine everything and heat until everything is warmed through.  But even the idea of it last night was too much.  I have good days and bad days and today, at least, is a good day.  Good enough that my fingers are working enough to type and I can open and close my hands.

I found some sweaters I want to order for Christmas, so need to let MIL know since she wants to know what to get me.  I have a hard time regulating my body temperature these days.  I've always had extremely cold hands and feet due to Reynaud's, but now it seems to be moving into my arms and legs, so sweaters and leggings for under my pants are becoming a must once the weather changes like this.  I have cardigans, but I want three pullovers.  And maybe some long sleeved shirts.  MIL gives $200 so I should be able to swing both with that budget.

Tomorrow I need to go in and have blood work done.  My physical is next week.  I've had great blood work for the past few years, but I haven't been eating as well the last three months as before and I think it is probably going to show up in my cholesterol.  I hope not.  It's bad enough I gained weight since my last visit.  At least that is going down again, but I don't think I'll be back to where I was the last time I was weighed there by my appointment time.

I also see the rheumatologist next week and start therapy so I can get medicated again and possibly get a new diagnosis.  I need to talk to someone about never just getting to be the one who can be hurt or sick because I always have to put my stuff on the back burner for my kids or my mother and function regardless.  It's building and building and really affecting my mental health.  My husband does a lot and he is the best, but it doesn't mitigate the others and I've definitely gone into a depression over it and I'm at the point where I need to be medicated again.  Or go on a vacation with just my husband again.  Or possibly just myself.  Three days completley alone with only me to take care of sound like heaven right now.  Although I'd rather have DH with me and go for a week.

Anyway, next week will be very busy.  At least I am sleeping fairly well.  I don't need insomnia with all this pressure building because then I'll spiral and I don't need that right now.

Covid 2.0 Recovery Continues, Growing Music in the Garden, and General Whining

October 15th, 2021 at 06:33 am

I had hoped I wasn't going to have a long, lingering recovery after Covid 2.0, but I am having the same kind of exhaustion and breathing issues I had after Covid 1.0.  Last time it took 10 months to feel like I was normal again.  I really hope that is not what I have to look forward to this time.  I am not eligible for a booster since I took Moderna and it was only in the summer.  I am a little hesitant about the idea, having had it twice and having had such reactions to the vaccine, where I ended up in bed for 10 days after the first one and 11 days after the second one.  I do need to get a flu shot, though, when I feel up to it.

My doctors are also hesitant about the idea of me ever getting boosters at this point, thinking it will do more harm than good.  I don't go anywhere, really, anymore, since it hurts to walk.  Basically just to all the doctors and I send DH to the grocery store.  So it probably doesn't matter if I don't, unless they mandate you can't see medical personel unless you are boostered.

But enough talk about that.  My garden is still producing tomatoes, patty pan squash, zucchini, and cucumbers.  With no sign of frost, I'll just keep going.  I don't think I mentioned, but we got 85 pounds of potatoes using the Ruth Stout method of gardening.  It would have been 90 but there was some rodent damage and slug damage.  Last year I think we got 90, but we planted twice as many potatoes as this year.

I managed to track down some Music, which is a hard-necked garlic that stores exceptionally well.  I've been trying to get it for the last two years and it has always been sold out.  I had to settle for conventionally grown, because organic was sold out, but I will grow it under organic conditions so when I harvest it next year I can save some for planting the following year, and after three years of that it is considered to be fully organic.  I don't buy organic garlic at the store anyway, so that's not a deal breaker.  It isn't generally sprayed since everything stays away from garlic and onions.  With shipping it cost $26 for a pound, which is ouchy, but I'll never have to buy it again, so it is worth the investment for garlic that will store for a year and allow me to grow it in perpetuity.

I also want to plant some elephant garlic this fall, but I will just buy that from the grocery store since I don't want a pound of it.  All I need is four bulbs and that should give me enough cloves to grow so that next year I can eat a couple and still have enough to replant.  They are larger so there is typically around 6 cloves per bulb, so I should get 24 plants.  And so on and so on, until they are fully organic.  I plan on using the elephant garlic to make garlic powder or if I can figure out how, granulated garlic, since the latter tends not to stick.

I have not done much in the past couple of weeks.  Mostly feeling miserable, so it was a good time to plan next year's garden.  I did manage to get off the soda again.  What an addiction that is to me.  I keep going back to it, but sugar makes it take longer for you to get well when you are sick and honestly I just don't feel good when I eat or drink junk.  I am fine with honey, but not even raw cane sugar.  I have already lost weight being 4 days off.

I did make a great stir-fry the other day with soy free, gluten free oyster sauce and hoisin sauce, coconut aminos, honey, water, and corn starch for the sauce.  It was the first time it felt like actual Chinese food again since we quit soy.  The oyster sauce is actually made with real oysters.  That's actually a rarity.  But the saltiness that soy usually provides is replaced by oysters and it is amazing.  And the soy free hoisin sauce was even more savory than regular.  Stir-fries are definitely back on the menu.  As long as I have the energy to cook them.

I had to cancel my physical therapy assessment because I woke up with a fever.  It seems to have passed, but I really don't feel like doing pool therapy in bad weather either.  They say it is an old wive's tail that going out in cold weather with wet hair makes you sick, but it happens every time I do it, so there you go.

Tomorrow is payday, so hopefully I will get a report up.  I have to go to the bank, which I really don't want to do, but I'll have either DH or DS drive me, so I don't have to.  I'm not in any shape to drive with what my back and hips are doing right now.  The chiropractor was back this week after being gone for a week.  The week he was gone was awful, as I subluxed pretty badly.

Even after three adjustments I am not doing so well.  My tailbone turned pretty bad while he was gone and he's having a hard time getting back to where it should be.  It's better, but it will probably take a couple more weeks to undo what one week without adjustments did to me.  I wish he would stop taking these week long vacations.  It's almost to the point of once a month now.  That's when it's not two week long vacations.  No one needs to go away ten times a year.  Oh, well, at least I have a walker, because right now I can't even make it out to the car without it.

Payday Report for 9/20/2021

September 23rd, 2021 at 07:57 pm

$281.04 Tithe

_325.00 Groceries Envelope

_500.00 Medical Fund

__75.00 Household Envelope

1181.34 Citi

_100.00 Gas Money

__78.82 Life Insurance DH

__60.46 Life Insurance Me

__48.71 Long Term Care Insurance

__50.00 DH Spending Money

__50.00 Me Spending Money

__30.00 DD Allowance

__30.00 DS Allowance

------------------

2810.37 Total Money Out

I run a zero based budget, so that brings the paycheck down to $0.00 left.

Additional Bills that were paid out of short term sinking funds, were the 6 month car insurance bill at $965.00 and the 2 month garbage bill at $86.79.  I set money aside monthly for these things in savings and then pay them when they come due.  It allows me to easily pay for bills that are irregular instead of monthly without having to worry about it at all.

I will be glad when the garden season is over and the last of the yard waste can go to the green dump for composting, as we've had that on top of regular carbage can fees each month as well.  It's $12 for a dump load of green waste, which isn't bad if you fill the whole truck, which we do.  I usually compost most things, but not tree trimmings, rose bush trimmings, or tomato and potato plants, which can carry blight.  So while I haven't budgeted monthly for green waste, I did drop some money into a sinking fund early last spring to deal with it.  We can probably do two more dump loads and then it will be gone.  So I may or may not have to budget more.

I did have to raise the amount I was setting aside for car insurance in the budget template.  I had saved $900 and their was an additional $65.  I had guesstimated how much more it would cost with DS as a licensed driver and was a little short because he is not getting the student discount this time as he is not a student right now.  Once he buys his car, he will pay for his own insurance (or the difference in ours) and we can go back to only paying $600 every six months.  Anyway, I am now saving $167 a month instead of 150 going forward.

Grocery Spending Tracking, Garden Purchase, and the Sweetest Stray Cat

August 6th, 2021 at 09:19 am

I finally made it to the grocery store for a decent sized shop.  DS and I went to Whole Foods since today was his day off.  It really isn't as expensive as some people think.  Like all stores it depends on what you buy.  For organic, it can beat some of the other stores and some of their prices were lower than for regular produce or gluten free items in regular stores.  I never find moldy produce there which is beginning to be more and more of a problem at one store I shop at.  And it has more selection than say Trader Joe's, which I haven't been in in at least 9 months, because they were so draconian in their Covid practices.

I mean, the employees at TJ's were always rude, like shoving their way in front of you to stock something instead of waiting until you moved out of the way or rolling their eyes when the store layout had changed and you asked them were something was now, or when they discontinued an item that you bought a month before but they would lie and say that was discontinued months ago or a year ago.  I've had a couple of them knock me off balance because they just run into you.

But their Covid practices were what really pushed it over they line.  They were like 8 steps beyond what every other grocery store was doing.  I swear I expected to end up in the disinfection scene from New Earth on Doctor Who or something.

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htkUa_fVwCA and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htkUa_fVwCA  But they were inconsistent on enforcing it between registers.  And I got one too many rude cashiers when I asked why the other cashiers allowed you to stand in front of the plexiglass instead of making you wait 8 feet from the place where you could watch your prices ring up or start bagging your food, I was done.  They were just snarling and one even swore at me and I swear I was polite.  I've worked in the service industry, so I don't ever talk disrespectfully to employees even if they are being donkey hats as it gets you nowhere (and I never talked to customers that way either, no matter how exhausted I was).  If you have rules, everyone should follow them, not just one sole cashier.    There is nothing they have that I cannot get elsewhere anymore.  Plus their parking is, pardon my English, utter crap.  I was willing to put up with it when they were the only game in town, but they haven't been that for a long time.

Anyway, here is what I bought at Whole Foods:

2 uncured sliced meat selections (think chorizo, cappicola, etc.)

1 organic watermelon

2 jars of soy free Hoison sauce (first time I've found this)

2 whole organic rotisserie chickens

5 organic nectarines

1 2 lb bag organic French fries

1 box Lundberg's organic Spanish rice

4 boxes Jovial gluten free brown rice penne pasta

1 box almond flour crackers (gluten free)

1 jar organic dill pickle spears

1 box Vital Farms pasture raised butter (cheaper than Kerrygold)

1 box gluten free pancake mix

1 box gluten free organic cereal Cheetah Chomps (like Fruit Loops in concept, but healthy)

1 box of strawberry applesauce (4 shelf stable pouches)

1 small box organic baby spinach

8 Siggi's skyr yogurt (various flavors)

1 pint organic grape jelly

10 pouches organic baby food

1 box Annie's gluten free white cheddar and shells pasta

1 box Annie's gluten free cheddar and rice pasta

1 half gallon bottle of organic lemonade and iced tea (mixed)

1 pineapple

1 bag with 7 colored bell peppers

1 head of cauliflower 

1 lb sugar snap peas (which they rang up as a serrano, I see, which is a lot cheaper)

1 bunch green onions

1 6 inch piece daikon

2 heads of broccoli

1 large bok choy

3 lbs of dark red cherries

I spent $211.95 and that grocery cart was full.  I didn't buy much meat because we have a ton in the freezer.  I will have to go to one more store to buy milk, bread, gluten and soy free bread, uncured hot dogs, and then Whole Foods was sold out of ginger and black plums so I'd like to get those, too.  I shouldn't have to buy much else during the next two weeks, depending on how the fruit lasts.  It seems to not last as long with days in the 80's and 90's like right now.  The garden is producing lettuce, raspberries, zucchini, patty pan squash, and cucumbers now and it looks like I will have a lot ready by next week.

Oh, and the organic baby food pouches are because my daughter's gastropaeresis is acting up again, which makes it very hard for her to digest fiber.  This allows her to have some fruits and vegetables in a pureed form.  And since it is all organic, it really isn't that much cheaper to do it myself.  The convenience factor is worth it, though I will still puree any food I cook for her that can be pureed.  Right now having a soft food diet gives her digestive system a chance to rest without sacrificing nutrition.  It is very easy for her to become malnourished and I don't always have the stamina or freedom from pain to do it all myself anymore.  That particular yogurt was also for her.

I did order a shade cloth from Amazon last night for the strawberries.  It cost $30.46.  It's 10 x 13 and the two beds together are 12 x 4.  They are hooped so while I probably only needed 8 feet instead of 10 for the sides, this was what was available.  The strawberries are really struggling in this unrelenting heat and they are in the garden bed that gets the most sun during the day.  Watering well just has not been enough and I don't want to lose them.  I will move them next spring to a bed that gets shade during the hottest part of the day, assuming those beds do get built in late August and September as planned.  I know at least one will, but I don't know if all four will.  The potatoes and tomatoes are thriving, but I don't know what is going on with my peppers this year.  They are stunted.  I need to fertilize with fish emulsion.

There is the sweetest  young cat coming by.  I think she is descended from Mrs. Norris, a stray cat that was pregnant a couple of years ago, because it looks just like her.  This is the most beautiful tabby in the traditional grey and black stripes.  I think it is about five or six months old.  It is just shy of the lanky teenage cat stage.  It looks healthy and like it is eating, and I saw it with a mouse once, but there is no collar and when you pet the friendly little thing it has a lot of flea poop that comes off its fur, so it is infested.

It is what I call friendly/wary, which makes me think it has been recently dumped or got loose, but was raised among humans until then.  I am putting out fresh water for it, but mostly the neighbor is looking out for it.  It'll wind around my legs and loves to be pet, but it will not let me pick it up.  I do wash with soap anywhere it touches me, though, as soon as I go in.  I'm not getting flea bites or taking fleas into the house.  Any clothes it touches go straight into the washer.

I wish I wasn't allergic to cats and DS wasn't.  I haven't had one since the cat I got when I was ten died when I was 26 and I do like my ability to breathe.  But this cat just makes me want to adopt it.  It is beautiful and sweet and has such lovely eyes.  I'm afraid I might fall in love with it.  It is hard to be the cat person you are when it makes you miserable to have one in your home.  The neighbor is looking out for it and will probably adopt it or at least bring it in for the worst part of the winter.  She's a soft touch and all of her cats for the last 3 decades have found her, not the other way around.  I might buy a flea comb if it gets really comfy with me and see if I can't help it.  And maybe a flea collar.  Do they make break away flea collars these days?


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