Wednesday, June 30, 2010


How's that for an original title? Things have been busy. Things have been great and not-so great. First the great:
The weather has been absolutely gorgeous. Highs around 80 during the day and NO RAIN!! I desperately need to get out and weed in the garden but we've been busy with other stuff. Such as:
J16 wields a broom in her newly dry-walled room!
It's amazing the things that can make a 16 year old happy.
She now has drywall on all the walls of her room and the ceiling. Let me tell you- I HATE doing ceilings! V is down there now, hanging the rod in her closet. Of course, it all still needs taped and mudded but that will happen when we get the next room done and can do it all at once. But she can actually start putting things away in her closet... that's GOOD.
But, on to the not-so good... Work has been hectic since we're extra short staffed this week. That and there have been some really stressful situations to deal with. First, there was no hot water in our clinic kitchen and I did lunch with 10 patients on Tuesday and we couldn't wash the dishes. UGH. And, I really dislike having to do evaluations to determine if a new mother is functioning well enough to be allowed to take her baby home with her. At least I've never had to go to court about one (as have several other therapists) but I did a particularly difficult one this afternoon and they just wear me out emotionally.
And I'm already tired. Coming on the heels of our trip to Minneapolis neither V or I slept much Monday or last night. When V picked Tick up from the kennel, he noticed that he was shaking his head and scratching at his face a lot. The boys had noticed on Friday morning that he was scratching but couldn't find anything. But, over the weekend, whatever was bugging him turned into a staph infection on his cheeks.
Poor puppy- shaved cheeks!
The vet figures that he got into a plant of some sort (anyone want to guess nettles by the barn while on vole patrol?) and started scratching. The scratching, coupled with the stress of being kenneled all weekend, made him susceptible and the infection was spreading quickly. Poor guy got sedated, shaved, a dose of IV antibiotics and will be on oral antibiotics and steroids for the next 3-4 weeks. It had also traveled into his ears and eyes so he's got drops for all of those as well. He was so miserable on Monday night (we didn't get him to the vet until Tuesday morning) that he paced all night and kept rubbing his face along the edge of our bed (can you say GROSS!!!). That's also why he smelled SO bad! He is now starting to act more like himself so hopefully we will all sleep better tonight.
You know what they say- there's no such thing as a free puppy! We spent more on the dog at the vet than we spent for our entire trip to MN! But, he's family and we love him.
Now, I'm off to check on closet progress.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A weary Independence Day update

I'm tired.
Work is extra hectic this week since for all but half a day, we only have two therapists on. If we were fully staffed, we would have three full time, one 80% and one 50%. Our new therapist doesn't start until next week and the other full time person is on vacation this week. Due to our 50% person working the weekend, she is out for a day and a half for her comp hours. Ugh. Extra work combined with being tired from our weekend trip makes me cranky.
But still, after dinner this evening I went out to the garden and weeded for a while. I was disappointed to find that the excessive rain and heat did in our last chinese cabbage. It is now a stinky mound of decomposing smush. Ick. And, I discovered the first japanese beetles of the year. There were quite a few of them so they must have emerged sometime when it was too wet to get out there or over the weekend. There are still parts of the garden where it is too wet to walk in but it was a sunny, breezy day in the upper 70s. Absolutely fabulous! And it's supposed to be this way all week. Finally a break. I'll have to spend a few hours out in the garden each evening after dinner.
V and the children worked on J16's room some more today, finishing all the sheetrock on the walls. Now all that remains is to hang half of her ceiling and it will be done. Well, it will still need mudded and taped and painted and finish carpentry and.... But next the "rumpus room" will be constructed and the finish work done all at once on those two rooms.
But, it's Monday and that generally means an Independence Day update. Here goes.
1. Plant something- nope, but I need to figure out when I need to plant my fall broccoli and cabbage seeds. Soon, I think.
2. Harvest something- Hmm, not much this last week- it was just too wet! A few peas and carrots and some herbs. I tried to get back to the raspberries but started sinking since the ground back there is still so wet. Hopefully tomorrow. But we have LOTS of tomatoes set on and some are starting to get big. I've got a paprika and a hungarian wax pepper that look eating size so maybe hot peppers will appear in something this week. Mmmmm...
3. Preserve something- froze a few sugar snap peas but not much else. I STILL need to get some herbs picked to dry. The marjoram is going absolutely crazy out there, as are the oregano and the summer savory.
4. Waste not- hmm, not much unusual. in fact, there was some food waste last week. Without J16 here, the leftovers caught up with us and a few things got lost in the back of the fridge- oops.
5. Want not- While we were at the Mall of America, I went to the Williams- Sonoma store. My MIL gave me a $50 gift card from there for my birthday and we don't have a store anywhere near here. Oh, I know, I could order online, but then I have to pay shipping. Anyway...I got a really nifty colander with extendable handles so it will rest either way across the sink. I also got some food safe wood wax/preservative for some of my wooden bowls and my hand carved salad tongs that my oldest sister brought back from Kenya for me. They are looking a bit worse for wear and need some attention. My final purchase (besides a set of penguin coasters) was a cookbook (yeah, I know, I need another cookbook like I need a hole in my head! LOL). This one is called The Produce Bible and has loads of information for fruits, vegetables, herbs and nuts- all kinds of produce. It gives recipes for some of those veggies that you may see or grow that you're going: Hm, what do I do with this? It looks like it could be useful. Another reference cookbook plus loads of information. Both the book and colander were things that I probably wouldn't have normally gotten for myself but, I had the gift card and they were both on sale at 1/3 off. You can't beat that!
6. Build Community- not a thing. Although we did try to get together with V's cousins in Minneapolis (it didn't work out :( But there will probably be more trips North.
7. Eat the food- Nothing really stands out this week. We ate out on our trip so didn't eat at home for 3 days. We're kind of in the in between stage of the garden- the early stuff is done and the summer stuff hasn't kicked in yet. But we're still eating out of the freezer. But, I desperately need to sit down and menu plan for the week.
Now, I'm off to bed, I'm beat. But, first, maybe I'll bathe the dog- he really smells bad after coming home from the kennel this morning. Or maybe not...that's a LOT of dog to bathe.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

There and back... AGAIN!

It's been a busy, busy few days! First, at the end of the week, we were working on J16's room. She now has a closet, and overhead lights!
Doesn't look like much - but it's a closet!
Then we took another trip to Minneapolis to pick up J16 up from her class. We arrived in Minneapolis on Friday night just as the tornado sirens were going off. Hmm, just like home! There were terrible storms both Friday and Saturday night. Fortunately, we were spared the worst of them.
My parents weren't available to watch the boys so we ended up taking them along. It turned out to be a wonderful weekend. On Saturday, V, the boys and I made a trip to the Science Museum of Minnesota, taking a tour of the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit (which everyone but K10 enjoyed). Then we explored the rest of the museum.
K10 puts his entire weight behind trying to close the jaws of a T rex.
My favorite dinosaur!
V and K10 work together to make a mini tornado in the weather experiments.
Then we went to pick up J16 from her class. We arrived just as they were finishing their final group event- it involved many, many water balloons:
Many wet students!
After dinner, we saw their final projects. They did an impressive amount of work.
On Sunday, we picked up J16 from her dorm and then went to the Mall of America for a bit before heading home.
Awww, we're NOT doing the rides.
But we did visit LEGO land!
Boys with a life sized bionicle made from little legos.
J16 hams it up with a mercenary!!!
And finally, on the way home.....
I hope it's not a sign of the times!

More later this week. It's been a bit wild.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Independence Days- Solstice edition

Ok, so I'm a day behind on wishing everyone a happy Summer Solstice. But I can wish you all a happy Summer! I just hope the weather stops being weird for everyone- myself included! We only got a half an inch of rain today! But it made up for the "lack" of rain with the heat. It was near 90 with high humidity. Yuck! This heat isn't doing anything for my peas- I think I'm going to have to pull them. They didn't do very well this year anyway- it just got too hot too soon. sigh. But, here is my IDC update for the past week.
1. Plant something- planted a new rosebush in the flower bed, that's about it. It's been too wet to do much else! I did manage to pull a few weeds without sinking but over half the garden is too wet to even step into. I hope it stops raining soon for long enough that I can find my tiny beans that are up. And my little basil plants.
Tonight's harvest.
2. Harvest something- Hmm, LOTS of broccoli- probably close to 20 lbs of it! Including 10 lbs this evening, that's another thing that the hot weather hasn't been kind to. Also some cauliflower, peas (shell and sugar snap), carrots, onions, a beet, chinese cabbage, strawberries, raspberries and red currants. Oh, and a few fresh herbs.
3. Preserve something- froze 14 quart bags of broccoli and have some sugar snap peas that I need to blanch and freeze as well. Made some red currant syrup (Ok, it was supposed to be jelly but didn't set right- but it's GOOD!) Drying some catnip for the kitties for this coming winter. I want to dry some oregano and summer savory since they are doing really well in the garden.
4. Waste not- Um, not much that unusual. In fact, I probably used more water this weekend than typical. I ended up doing LOTS of laundry- more than usual- since we got water in the basement Saturday morning and lots of J16's piles of dirty laundry that she hadn't washed yet got wet. Ugh. I'm not sure how long she had let her laundry go but I'm STILL working on it. At least I got the wet stuff washed. I've done the typical using cloth bags at the store, recycling and composting
5. Want not- Not much prep work or stocking up going on- it's been too wet. I didn't even have time to do my usual shopping this weekend. We had hoped to get to drywalling J16's ceiling but we ended up mopping water instead. It appears that 6 inches of rain in less than a week is our "pain threshold" for having water in the basement. I'm just glad it trickles in rather than pooling. In other "big project" house prep stuff. We're supposedly the next job on our contractor's list for the septic installation- IF it ever stops raining. The ground is too wet for them to bring in heavy earthmoving equipment. They would sink up to their axles!
6. Build community- I was really disappointed that we didn't make it to the Cultivating Community potluck on Saturday evening. We had been so busy cleaning up water and the wet mess in the basement that I lost track of time and at 4:55, finally looked at the time it was to start to find that it was from 5 to 7 and I hadn't made what I was going to take. sigh... there is next month- they want to have one every month.
7. Eat the food- I think our ultimate for the week was our fresh harvest stir fry! Broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots and onion fresh from the garden. Mmmmmm. I made blueberry pancakes on Saturday morning and they were really good with red currant syrup. I've got some shelled peas in the fridge that we'll have tomorrow night. Things are picking up. Soon I'm going to be up to my ears in red cabbage!
Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Home grown dinner

Good things from the garden!
Made a tasty stir fry for dinner. Mmmmm. Ok, I didn't harvest the rice, ginger or the chicken or make the soy sauce. But it was good!

My Favorite Dads

V and my Dad
Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Another round anyone?

No, Thanks. I've had plenty!

We had yet another round of storms come through late this afternoon. Yup, another 1.3 inches of rain the last I looked and it's still raining. Another flash flood, carrying Sleepytime Bridge downstream further. Fortunately, it got hung up in the fence and didn't go under the highway.
Here are a few photo highlights of the afternoon. The clouds were amazing.

A shelf cloud closing in fast from the North.
The clouds were almost boiling.
Floody Floody- AGAIN.
I want my pot of gold!
But, the sun came out briefly before round 3!

Justine- I thought you could use this one rather than the old photo off my phone. Let me know.

Harvest and more rain

Since I have the day off today (comp for working last Saturday) I was able to take advantage of the sunny morning to get out into the garden. We had another .4 inches of rain overnight but after two days of sun, parts of the garden were navigable. It was a productive morning.
Now THAT's a strawberry! And it tasted as good as it looks!
Strawberries and red currants.
I had to get the big basket!!
I harvested 5 lbs of broccoli and that chinese cabbage weighed in at almost 7 lbs!! I also got the first of the carrots (two red, an orange and a yellow) and a single beet. Mmm, I see tastiness for dinner.
Look at the size of that broccoli.
But the rain and wind came soon after I came in.
Another .6 inches of rain along with pea sized hail and wind. I was worried that we may lose a few trees considering how saturated the soil is. But so far, they look good.
Now, it's laundry, dentist and freezing some broccoli. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Operation Damp Pants

Otherwise known as the retrieval of Twaddlebottom Bridge, was a success. We ended up taking the southern route. V contacted one of the residents of the trailer park on the south side of the creek and got permission to go thorough the property. The hill is steeper but it was a much shorter distance (maybe 50 yards up hill rather than 400 over a gentler slope). V ended up knocking off the planking and he and the boys carried the planking up the hill while I brought the van around. V and I carried the frame up the hill. For all that I13 is taller than I am, he still isn't as strong.
So, the bridge is back, but still in pieces in the shop. We all need showers after walking through thigh high poison ivy. Then, we're going out for dinner. I'm not cooking tonight so we're going to try our closest restaurant for pizza.
I'm off tomorrow since I worked last weekend so it's going to be busy! J16 wants a closet by the time she gets home!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Washed away

The sky opened today right around lunchtime. We had two inches of rain in less than an hour. I was at work but heard reports of flash flooding. Then V called me to report on the flooding at our house. Coming on top of the 3+ inches of rain we've had in the past few days and on already saturated ground, the flooding was amazing!
The water was STILL over the highway on my way home- 5 hours later!
I'm glad I still had my camera in my bag from the weekend.
V took this shot from the back door with his camera during the flood.
At its widest, our little creek was probably 40 feet wide and several feet deep.
Both bridges are washed away.
V points to where Sleepytime Bridge used to be.
This stream is usually a tiny trickle.
Here's where it ended up- 100+ feet downstream, wedged against some trees.
It's going to be a pain to move back into position. It's 10x4 feet and solidly built. And there is NO WAY the tractor is getting down in that area for quite a while.
The other bridge- Twaddlebottom- was completely swept away- through the tunnel, under the highway and down stream.
Here go the guys, on an expedition to find the lost bridge.
Look at all that flattened grass! That's how wide the stream was!
They finally located the lost bridge over a quarter of a mile away but weren't able to retrieve it. It will have to be carried out of the stream valley, over a barbed wire fence, through 200 yards of waist high weeds, over another fence, through a cornfield and finally to Fox Lane, the road across from our house, then home. That's a long way. I'm just wondering how it managed to fit through that tunnel. That bridge is 7 x 4 feet. What a raft ride that would have been!
Tomorrow is supposed to be dry but then there is a chance for more rain for the rest of the week. Ugh! I would gladly send some rain elsewhere if I had that power! My garden is sodden and I sink when I even walk across the yard! I'll need to wade in tomorrow to pick peas.
V did find a wild turkey nest but several of the eggs were broken. We're not sure if they had hatched already or if something had raided the nest. Mama bird was no where to be seen and what was left of the eggs had been so washed by water I couldn't see how they looked inside. It looked more to me like something had raided the nest. Hopefully mama turkey will return and hatch the remaining eggs. It's funny because I had recently remarked that I'm surprised we haven't seen any turkeys out here. Hm, they're evidently just hiding.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Independence Days - Rain, rain, go away

Oh my, it has been raining and raining and raining here. We've had almost 3.5 inches of rain in the last 4 days. An inch here, an inch there, half an inch the next time around. And they're forecasting more rain for the rest of the week. Ugh. The garden is so muddy I can't get in. At least I've got some straw down in a few of the rows since I'm going to have peas to pick very soon. I just hope that the beans I finally got planted will sprout and not rot in the ground.
But, it's Monday and that means it's time for my usual Independence Days update.
1. Plant something- Three types of beans (green, purple and yellow wax) and a few more sunflowers. Got the supports around the tomatoes and got half of them mulched with newspapers and grass clippings. I hope the other half will be OK. I'm worried about blight again this year and am hoping that the mulch will keep the soil from splashing up onto the plants in the rain.
2. Harvest something- Hmm, our HUGE chinese cabbage, broccoli, greens, some herbs, a few early peas eaten out in the garden, a couple of green onions, red currants and STRAWBERRIES! We're getting no more than half a dozen at a time but they are so tasty!!
3. Preserve something- Nope.
4. Waste not- Working to eat through all the produce starting to come in. The usual four R's. One area where we had a downfall this week was on driving. Our trip to Minneapolis and back used more gas than we usually do in three weeks. It is kind of funny. We drove up, stayed for an hour and drove back. Sheesh. Next time we will stay longer though.
5. Want not- Hmm, picked up a barrel at the cheese factory and stopped at the Amish bulk store to stock up on whole wheat flour, couscous, chickpeas and a few other items. Even though I hate to buy packaged food, we have picked up several 12 packs of ramen noodles when they had them on a really good sale this week ($2 for 12 pks). I13 likes to cook ramens and veggies for lunch and it is something that he can and will cook unsupervised. I also used a pack to make a crunchy mix-in for an oriental slaw with my chinese cabbage. V really loved it so I'm sure it will find it's way back to our table soon. I've still got half a cabbage in the fridge and two more in the garden!
6. Build Community- not much this week other than stopping at the cheese factory for local cheese and cheese curds and the Amish bulk store. I'm kind of excited though, there is a potluck dinner coming up on Saturday sponsored by Backyard Abundance- they're calling it "Cultivating Community". It's being hosted by one of the women from my permaculture class. It will be nice to get back with that group of people.
7. Eat the food- Let's see- a fabulous oriental inspired cabbage slaw (shredded chinese cabbage, sesame oil, soy sauce, cider vinegar with a topping of toasted crushed ramens, slivered almonds and sesame seeds), local beef from the freezer, Spanish rice with our own tomatoes, Mmm.
Now, I'm feeling the need to call my baby girl to see how her first day of school went far away from home.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

There and back again

To Minneapolis and home, that is. V and I were on the road for a long time today (about 10 hours total) taking J16 to Minnesota for her 2 week class. It POURED on us most of the way there. But, she is all checked into her dorm/apartment and met the two girls who will be her roommates for the next two weeks.
We left the boys home alone for the day (with nearby adult back-up available) and they did fine. We are hoping to be able to have my parents stay with the boys and have a weekend for 2 in Minneapolis when we have to pick her up again. The Dead Sea Scrolls are in St Paul until October and even though we got to see an exhibit of them years ago in Washington, DC when we lived in VA, it would be cool to see them again- and have two evenings in a hotel without children!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kindergardens- A teen's eye view

The challenge this week in the Kindergardens project was to turn the camera over to the kids. So, I turned my camera over to J16 for a while.
Ah, the flowerpot hat is very fetching!
It's interesting to see what she photographed. Of course, you turn a 16 year old, artistic teen loose with a camera and we ended up with 80+ photos. Here are some highlights:
Flowers from the Black Magic Geranium reach to the sun.
A potted miniature rose.
The view from the front door....
Pansies in the Goth Garden.
Litchi tomato blossoms. Awesome.
Little apples are on the tree.
The apple mint is blooming... is the Corsican Mint ground cover.
Mom and daughter feet.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A happy day garden update

It was such a beautiful day today. I'm amazed at how exhausted I feel after the good news we had this morning. I did get to spend a few hours working outside. The boys and I raked grass and mulched more of the garden. And we had some firsts:
The first red currants. Not many but TASTY!
The Galeux d'Eysines pumpkins are up.
A few peas but not ready yet...
These are the weirdest peas I've ever seen- LOTS of tendrils, not many leaves.
There are tiny tomatoes hiding in there!
Alma Paprika is the first pepper.
Yeah, I know, I was supposed to pick them off this year....
Our first chinese cabbage- it's HUGE
J16 camps it up with the cabbage.
It's bigger than her head!

Now for a celebration dinner. Local brats from the farmer's market... and I think, maybe some cabbage!

A great day!!!

Good news! We met with the neurosurgeon today. While not a totally clean bill of health, we got good news. It is still uncertain if there is something there but it looks good. It there is something there it is so small that they can't be sure without a biopsy (which is difficult to do in the middle of your head!) V will have a repeat MRI in 4 months to see if there are any changes but they think that what they are seeing may be just a normal variation of the bone/brain structure.
Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and prayers. They paid off! We are just thrilled and SOOOOOOO relieved.
The weather is beautiful, the sun is shining and I have today and tomorrow off. We will celebrate V's good news today and my birthday tomorrow. This is the best birthday present I could get.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Independence Days Update- A new month

Oh My, how the year is flying by. I can hardly believe that it is June. The year is almost half over already. It's been a long busy week here. Stressful in some ways, rewarding in others.
Mmm... broccoli
Here is my usual Independence Days challenge update- the early June edition.
1. Plant something. Hmm, some basil plants I picked up at the farmer's market on Saturday morning. Something ate off every single seedling that I had planted. I did replant but I'm impatient and I wanted some fresh basil to go with the first local tomatoes and cheese curds I also purchased at the farmer's market. Mmm, heaven! Other than that, I mostly did weeding this weekend rather than any more planting. We did rig taller fences around the apples after a deer was browsing on one. Grrrr... of course it is hard to be too mad at her. We have seen her every morning this week- she has been hanging out in the meadow and we think we have seen a fawn with her on occasion. But, she could leave the apple trees alone!
2. Harvest something- broccoli (2+ meals of it!) greens and some fresh herbs. There are little peas on the plants but not quite ready yet- but soon.... Oh, and we had the first few red currants for a snack. Yum! And one other thing- not that has been harvested but that is exciting news! I found the first tiny tomatoes set on in the garden!!! And at least one pepper! Woot!!
3. Preserve something- once again, only my sanity. I need to clip some catnip to dry for the kitties over the winter.
4. Waste not- used saved newspapers and grass clippings to mulch the garden paths to keep down weeds. The grass was so long when it was finally mowed it's kind of like hay! And the usual waste reduction/recycling.
5. Want not- stocked up on pasta for summer salads when they had a good sale last week. I'm starting to think of quick, easy meals for the future, maybe that I can make ahead of time, depending on what we find out this week.
6. Build Community- Not that I am in any way an expert, but I was giving gardening advice to a woman at church on Sunday morning (yes, she asked for it- I didn't offer). She is has a daughter that just graduated high school and one in 8th grade but is a rather new gardener and was asking about mulch to keep down weeds.
7. Eat the food- I did have a chance to go to the farmer's market on Saturday morning. So, on Sunday evening- we had grilled steaks (local, grass fed, from the freezer) a salad of local cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and local cheese curds (Acoustic Farms, just north of here), broccoli from the garden and a bottle of local wine (Wide River from Clinton). Heaven!

I don't know if I'll have time to post on Tuesday but I'll be sure to let you all know what we find out on Wednesday morning. It will definitely be an interesting week. I just hope I get some sleep. For some odd reason, my sleep hasn't been very good recently.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The waiting game

V had his MRI this morning. Now we begin the long wait until we get the results on Wednesday.
The children are waiting for the end of school. They have one more day. I'm not sure what they will accomplish on Monday besides put in their hours to meet requirements.
J16 is waiting to go to Minneapolis on the 13th for two weeks for her summer college credit art session.
We're waiting for the next round of rain to come through tonight- putting a damper on our deck project and on Arts Fest downtown.
I'm waiting for my newly planted seeds to emerge and for more broccoli to be ready to harvest.
The dog is rather impatiently waiting for his usual evening treat.
It seems like we're all waiting for something this weekend.
My plan is to be quite busy this weekend so I don't have too much time to think. Against V's wishes, I informed my parents of what is going on in our lives. Just in case we need to call on them for help at short notice.