Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Why Do I Blog Less?

You would think that now that I'm retired, I'd be blogging left, right and sideways. Instead, the blogging has dried to barely a trickle.  I've been pondering this. Why? What is different?

Well, EVERYTHING is different. My life doesn't have the routines that it had when I was working. There is very little sitting down after supper and surfing the Net. Now I have Internet on the cell phone; on the tablet; on the laptop. I can check e-mail everywhere. Anywhere. Because it is so easy, I use the laptop less and zip in and out on the Android things.

If I am not on the laptop, there is no inclination to pop open the blog and post an entry. For the blog I want a REAL keyboard. And time. And access to my photos.

The real culprit, however, is that big time waster: Facebook. If you drop a sentence to your friends that you spent the day in the garden, it has been said. The Inner Writer has expressed herself. Why sit down and compose a few paragraphs on the topic?

Now that I know this, I hope I will skip Facebook and post more often. There are interesting things going on around the Old Home Place. I should record them.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Iris Knits has new web address

If you came here hoping that the link still works with my knitting blog, alas, it may not. HOWEVER, the new address is  http://irisireneknits.blogspot.com/



Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Goodbye, Mr. Cluck



I found Mr. Cluck dead in his pen today. I was surprised last night that he didn’t run out to greet me when I got home. I checked on him and found him nesting in the new hay in his box. His eyes were bright and he cocked his head to study me.

There was no happy crow to wake me today. When I went out to feed him, no friendly rooster running to the gate. His food from yesterday was untouched. And he was dead in the hay of his box. :(

There was no damage on him. I can only assume he got overheated.

He was a joy to have around. I’ll miss him.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Where Did the Pictures Go?

It appears that about 90% of my blog photos have gone MIA. I deleted my Picasa account because I was tired of every stupid thing I might snap with my phone camera (the steering wheel and one foot; that poster I was going to remember to tell my daughter about; the one where my finger was over the lens, EVERYTHING!) was being posted to Picasa. This was in spite of me turning off all of automatic settings I could find. I had visions of all sorts of things I didn't want to see the light of day winging through the ether for Tom, Dick, and Harry to enjoy. So, I deleted my Picasa account. All of it.

What I did not realize was that my blog photos lived in Picasa. Now they too are gone forever.

Not exactly forever. Most of those files are stored elsewhere on my computer or a CD archive disc. Slowly I am reconstructing the evidence. This will not be an overnight restore because I have multiple blogs and some of them have many, many posts.

In the meantime, dear reader, please accept my apologies.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Meet the Chicken

We have added a chicken to the homestead. Gee. I didn't even know I had a homestead. I just have a small town home a garden, some grape vines and blackberries. And a bunch of herbs. And a penchant for canning. And a hobby of learning to use herbs for more than cooking. Not to mention the knitting and sewing. And... And... When did this become a homestead?

Now, about the chicken?" you ask. She is a rescue that my daughter-in-law brought home.  Lisa, the daughter-in-law, drives a semi. She found the chicken running loose in the parking lot at a Tyson slaughter house. Since no one claimed the feathered refugee, Lisa popped her into the cab of her truck and brought her home. I have no idea what breed of chicken she might be, but we've been calling her Lucky Leghorn.  We are pretty sure she was a caged bird, but I am very pleased she never had her beak trimmed.  It took her a week to become accustomed to walking and exploring a small cage at my son's house. Today Lucky was introduced to her new home: the 10x20' former dog pen in my back yard.

As soon as Lucky was released into the pen, my black cat Loki found his way inside. He went to sniff the chicken and Lucky pecked him on the nose. Ouch! He retreated to the water dish to check out the beverage on tap. Lucky spotted a long, black, fuzzy wormlike thing and pinched it. Ouch, again! If you look closely at the photo, you will see Loki on the right side of the pen, staying as far away from that Evil Chicken as he can get. Shortly after the photo was taken, Loki made his escape and got far, far away.
My first priority was to get the top of the pen enclosed so neither my cats nor any visiting hawks or raccoons could get inside. Son Joe, granddaughter Lala, and I strung netting across the top of the pen.  It was hardly finished before another of my cats, Lonesome, jumped up to check out the handy work. He must have been talking to Loki, because he didn't even try to get closer to Lucky.

Now Joe is building Lucky a small hen house where she can get out of the weather. I have a bit of straw I can tuck inside later for nesting material.

Dad built the dog pen in 1961 for his hunting dogs. I bet both he and Mom are in Heaven laughing about this latest use of his 53 year old dog pen.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Scheduling Growing Families and Holiday Meals

I have been baking today. I made dinner rolls and two King Cakes. Granddaughter Lala was here and accused me of torturing her. All that food -- and we can't eat it until SATURDAY. Oh, Grandma!!

This year my children and I hit the wall every family meets eventually. I couldn't schedule Thanksgiving or Christmas celebrations at my house because the kids were busy doing their own things at their houses. So at Thanksgiving, I went with my beau, Leon, to his sister's for the holiday. Jen, Steve and Lala had a meal at their house. Joe and Lisa and Aunt Roseanna did something else at their places.

I thought we might be able to manage a Christmas meal, but the same problems came up. So, I stole a page from Leon's family. I am not trying to have a family holiday meal at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I'm celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas and inviting everyone for an Epiphany Meal (that's Kings Day or 12th Night, depending on how you count it.)

This is the second time I've made a King Cake (which is really a sweet bread with a cinnamon/raisin/nut filling.)  I made one for Mardi Gras one year when I worked at Grand Prairie Memorial Library. The recipe makes 2 cakes, so I took one to work. Everyone had fun with that, especially Mel, who was from New Orleans.  That was when I learned King Cakes were originally made for Epiphany in honor of the Three Kings coming to visit the Baby Jesus. What would be better then, than to make a King Cake for this Epiphany Celebration?

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. I'm going to Topeka to see my friend Marsha. It's her birthday. When we were kids, we always spent her birthday together. We have tried to get together several times since I returned to Kansas, but tomorrow we are going to make it! I will present her with a newly printed copy of my cookbook and wish her Happy Birthday and Joyous New Year.

And Thursday I'll be back to cooking for our dinner on Saturday. Hm... wonder what pies go well with King Cake?


Monday, December 29, 2014

Mea Culpa

I haven't blogged much in the past year. There are photos waiting in a folder. Stories yet to tell. Good intentions say I'll still write those blogs and pre-date them so they show up in the right spots. Hey, it's winter now? That's a good time to do inside jobs, right?

Well, 2014 was a busy year. In January I had foot surgery. That sat me back for a goodly time. During the 6-8 weeks of recovery time, I did a lot of knitting and watching TV. YEA! An excuse to knit. The main thing I worked on was the Lion Brand Flattering Jacket. I got everything but the sleeves done while I was not walking. In November I finished it. The sweater is made from a llama/wool blend and is quite warm. I love it.

By the time I was walking again, it was time to start the seeds for my garden. I never have success growing my plants from seeds. I use a grow light. I use good soil. I use fresh seeds. They don't grow. Viola! A nursery man I was complaining to this summer told me what I was doing wrong. He said it didn't matter how early I planted my seeds. If the soil isn't warm, the seeds won't grow. My seed starts are kept in the sunniest, however, the coolest room of the house. It sounds like I need to find one of those mats that folks put in terrariums for lizards -- something to keep the floor warm (or at least an electric heating pad). I could put that under the trays of seedlings. I'll search my seed catalogs and see what they offer. Guerney's Seed and Nursery Co., formerly of Yankton, S.D., now in Greendale, Indiana, always has neat goodies. It just so happens my new Guerney's catalog came in last week... Dream time!!

Yard Long Beans growing on a trellis
Perhaps I'll find something interesting. Otherwise, I will not even try seedlings in 2015.  I'll just haunt all my favorite nurseries. There are two in Topeka, One south of town, one in Burlington and one in LeRoy. I love nurseries. There is a lot of instant gratification in bringing home plants 3", 6" or taller and putting them right in the ground where I want them. No worrying with watering and waiting. No wondering if they will come up and survive. They are right there! I can see them. I can plan around them. Unfortunately, I'm limited to the varieties that the nurseries stock. Seeds can come from anywhere. You can have any kind of seed that will grow in your climate if you start your own. (Sigh) Stick within your capabilities, Iris.

First Yard Long Beans picked
The garden did get in. As usual, I tried some things I hadn't grown before. My best experiment was Yard Long Beans. My 4'x12" raised bed grew enough beans for me to put up  the 75 1/2-pints I wanted for the year. If I were feeding more than one person, I could probably plant the plot more densely and get 75 full pints from that space. I will definitely grow these beans next year.

This was not a good year for tomatoes. I don't know if it was the new bed where I planted them, or if there was something else wrong. I had a terrible time with blossom end rot, particularly on the paste tomatoes. Nearly all of them had to be discarded. The beefsteak tomatoes fared the best. I canned and juiced all I wanted, but supplemented a lot with tomatoes from Pome on the Range in Homewood, Ks. I hear calcium helps prevent blossom end rot. Next time I plant tomatoes, I'll be certain to put ground up egg shells in each hole at the time of planting. I will also research the problem this winter to see what else I can do to prevent it next year.

Root crops don't grow well here. My onions are a bit bigger than pearl onions. The potatoes and sweet potatoes are hardly big enough to peel. I don't think I will mess with potatoes next year. My soil has a large clay content. I need more humus and what? sand?  Wouldn't that turn clay to concrete? Need more research. I truly would like to grow big onions and healthy carrots. Forget about potatoes. Give me carrots!!

It is now December. The New Year will be here before the week is out. It's time to knit, study seed catalogs, and plan for next year.  The Wheel of the Year turns even when we aren't ready. We might as well keep jogging and stay with it. It's certain I'm 66 and ready to slow down in some areas, but I enjoy playing in the dirt too much to quit gardening. There is such a joy to see the plants come up, bloom and give their fruit or seeds. I find myself out there talking to them and telling them how pretty they are.

If you're going to be a Crazy Cat Lady and Eccentric Gardener, you might as well start with talking to to plants. :)  Wouldn't you tell these flowers how beautiful they are?