Archive for July 2016

07-31-2016 Journal – The Garden Jungle!   Leave a comment

It’s the last of July already. It’s a little hard to believe that summer is more than half over.  This dry spell we’ve been having for the last month is a minor annoyance but without nightly watering the garden will be burnt out.  That little bit of water accomplishes miracles as you will see in the following pictures.

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These Mammoth sunflowers will eventually reach 8 or 9 feet tall.

The sunflowers will be absolutely shredded by the hundreds of birds we feed regularly.  They wait all summer for the sunflowers to go to seed and then it’s a bird free-for-all.   This large bushy clump of plants in the next photo is, believe it or not, asparagus. The plants must be left alone for three years until they are firmly established before we can start harvesting the spears. Next Spring we’ll finally get to eat some delicious home-grown asparagus.

 

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Sautéed in butter . . . there’s nothing better.

These last three photo are just  general photos of the entire garden in three sections.  As you can see in this first one the herbs are plentiful and I’ll be drying them steadily starting in about four weeks.

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This next photo is one of the large frames. This will be the last year we grow veggies here. Starting next Spring it will be converted to nothing but herbs.

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This final photo is a large frame filled with cherry tomatoes, green beans, rhubarb, asparagus, and a selection of hot peppers.  The jalapeños are thriving this year.

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That’s the update for the month of July. Here’s one last photo in my continuing war with the yellow-jackets, This nest was found under our deck after both of us had been stung as we walked by.  I won this battle but the war will continue.

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There you have it. Another month gone so quickly.  I can almost smell Winter and the snow that will follow.

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07-29-2016 Journal – Sleeping Naked?!   Leave a comment

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I mentioned in a previous post that I was looking forward to a few days vacation while my better-half was babysitting at her daughter’s home.  It’s coming to an end today and while I’ve missed her terribly my sleep has been much improved.  I actually slept for a full eight hours last night for the first time in months.  Add that together with a large bed, a beautiful ceiling fan, and my naked butt . . . it was glorious.

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This is sleeping OMFG naked.

I take a look of heat from my better-half because I insist on sleeping naked. Since leaving home at age eighteen and except for two years in the Army this is my preferred method of sleeping.  I’m confused as to why so many people roll their eyes when I tell them that.  Are they prudes?  Are they religiously offended? Who knows.  One thing for sure I will defended myself vigorously if someone decides to ridicule me.

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I first have to determine exactly where they’re coming from before I retaliate.  Do they object to the word NAKED or the fact that I’m really bare assed naked in bed. I like for critics to be specific to avoid confusing me because there is a term that’s overused in some areas of the country that is similar but has a totally different meaning. That word is NEKID!  Sleeping nekid means something very different than sleeping naked.  Being nekid means there won’t be much sleeping going on and the nekid person is there to take care of business (if you get my drift).

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Who knew Harry and Draco slept nekid?

Upon her return to our bed tonight I will greet her very, very naked with serious thoughts of becoming nekid at some point.  For you critics out there don’t be afraid to think outside-the-box (no pun intended) for a change. You won’t regret it.

WELCOME HOME BABY!

07-27-2016 Journal – Unexpected Vacation Days!   Leave a comment

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I’m still on my first cup of coffee this morning. I’ve been awake for an hour and only left my bed once. I’m relaxing and preparing for my day which I hope will remain calm and restful.  I’m trying to decide what I’ll be doing with my unexpected few days of  vacation I’m on. Anyone who is in a lengthy relationship knows that any day your spouse or partner is away doing something is a free vacation (mental health) day. We certainly never tell them that’s how we feel but facts are facts.

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My better-half has once again volunteered to help out her daughter and son-in-law by babysitting their children for three days while they’re on vacation in Los Angeles. I volunteered to stay at our home while she travels to their residence to be with the kids.  She’ll be staying there until the weekend and it’s my job to arrive in a timely fashion with takeout meals and moral support.  That’s the kind of job I really like.  For a change I’m able to avoid a total commitment of my time and energy to others and to enjoy my alone time   Hooray for me.

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I get to spend my day working on a painting I started a few days ago for which I need real peace and quiet to do.  I hope to make serious progress over the next three days while listening to music that soothes me instead of hurting my ears.  It could be as close to heaven as I can get these days  and I intend to make the most of it.  It will end soon enough.

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My biggest chore for today is to decide what food I need to buy for their dinner and  when to deliver it to her and the kids.  I suspect she’ll be damn glad to see me after chasing the two toddlers, two dogs, and two cats around the house for half a day.  I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy but she seems to love it. I’d better remember to throw a couple of cold beers into the food bag as well.  It’ll be just like tossing a life vest to a drowning man.

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Well, I’d like to keep writing but my stomach is rumbling and wants to be fed. I’ll make us a delicious breakfast, drink another cup of excellent coffee, and count my blessings once again. I can picture in my head my better-half, the two little boys, two dogs, and two cats all snuggled together in bed for the next two nights. I can’t help but smile a little and when no ones around to hear I can laugh my ass off.

Special Note to Self: Be sure to give her a thorough flea and tick inspection upon her return. We don’t need any tiny livestock catching a ride to our house.

WHO DOESN’T LOVE VACATION DAYS

07-25-2016 Journal – Summer Gardening!   Leave a comment

We’re in the heat of the summer and the garden is flourishing.  Even though the amount of rain has been a little less than expected the nightly watering is paying off.  We don’t water too much each day, just enough to keep the plants from wilting.  It seems to be paying off big-time.

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The sunflowers are already 4 feet tall.

As you can see the garden looks healthy and green.  Even the pepper plants I was so worried about a few weeks ago have recovered and are producing what appears to be a record number of peppers.  These hot days and night are exactly what they needed.

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These jalapenos will help make some delicious salsa.

My better-half has already made a number of loaves of zucchini bread and I’m anticipating a lot more in our future.  The zucchini plants as of this morning have an additional fifteen zucchini’s ready for use in breads and stir-fry’s.

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This big fat one will be on the dinner table tonight.

If the rest of the summer goes as planned we’ll be celebrating one of the best gardens in recent years.  In another week or so I’ll get really serious about drying and storing many of the herbs we’ve grown.  We should easily be able to have enough on-hand for the entire winter and then some.

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It’s time for me to get to work in the garden for an hour or so.  Even with fabric laid down to eliminate weeds they still manage to grow in every little crack and crevice.  It’s annoying but they must be removed as quickly as possible because they steal a lot of the nutrients needed by the vegetables and herbs.

WE JUST CAN’T ALLOW THAT

 

07-23-2016 Bread & Butter Pickle Day!   Leave a comment

Today begins my summer chore of making the first batch of Hot Bread & Butter Pickles.  Over the course of each Summer I normally can at least four batches of pickles. Each batch is usually 14-15 pints and I make both Dill and B&B versions.  All of my pickles are Hot which means slices of jalapeno and red pepper in each jar as well as a shot of ground habanero for good luck. Today I’ll walk you through the process but without giving up my secret pickling mix recipe.

The first thing this morning I prepared the jars and canning supplies by sanitizing them with boiling water.

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Once the jars, lids, and rims are boiled I then wash the cucumbers thoroughly.

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They are then sliced along with the red pepper and jalapenos. All are set aside until I’m ready to fill the jars.

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I  return to the stove to prepare the B&B syrup. It consists of my secret spice mix, 7 cups of sugar, and 7 cups of distilled white vinegar.

 

Packing the jars is my least favorite part of the process but still very important.  The jars are carefully packed, the syrup added, and the lids and rims tightened down. The jars then take a boiling hot water bath for a full fifteen minutes.

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Getting the first batch of the season completed is always a good feeling. Here’s the finished product . . . 15 pints of very hot and sweet pickles. They’ll be ready for eating after they sit for a few months to absorb all of the flavors.

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MORE TO FOLLOW

07-21-2016 Garden Issues!   Leave a comment

The garden is once again fast becoming my top priority. As usual at this time of the season the herbs are out of control. I spent some time this week pruning the oregano and catnip for later drying.  I did a general cleanup of the dehydrator in anticipation of a heavy work load this summer.

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It holds a great deal of material as you can see.  This week I filled it with diced jalapeños, cayenne’s, and two pounds of habaneros.  After six hours the peppers were ready for grinding. Unfortunately my reliable old grinder failed to work and I was forced to make a quick trip to Walmart to purchase another.  The peppers were ground into a fine powder and stored for future uses.

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Hot, Hotter, and Hottest

Then it was back to trimming and photographing some of the newly blooming day lilies.  These pictures are of the early bloomers with more colors and variants expected within a few weeks. I love these colors.

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It was a garden and yard work day all around.  I spent some time paying attention to my compost area. I needed to wet down the piles and add a compost accelerator. I’ll be needing as much of it as I can get to add to the garden this Fall.

The better-half and I also began the process of redesigning the garden for next Spring. We’ve decided to discontinue growing vegetables in one of the large frames and to devote it entirely to growing culinary herbs.  It’ll be something of challenge placing the correct herbs near others that are compatible. We’ll also be placing herbs in the vegetable frames to keep out assorted pests and varmints that the herbs do naturally. Hopefully we’ll be able to agree on the final design of the garden before Spring arrives and the purchasing and planting our selection of herbs begins.

IT SHOULD BE GREAT FUN

 

 

 

 

07-19-2016 Journal – An Amusing Park!   Leave a comment

In my last post I took you on a tour of Old Orchard Beach, Maine. You got to see the beaches full of people, a friendly bar to hangout in, and a cute bikini clad girl buried in sand.  I hope you didn’t think that covered our entire visit because there was much more to it.  Today I’ll take you along on our continuing tour that includes my better-half’s favorite spot.  Welcome to the Amusement Park.

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Doesn’t look like much from the outside but . . .

The Arcade while not my favorite place is always interesting.  Tourists from just about anywhere flock to this place to throw their money away or to just drop off their kids for a few hours.  Where else can you win tickets for doing just about anything and at the end of your day you’d  have spent forty bucks to win enough tickets to buy a pack of gum.  My better-half is for some reason a Skee Ball addict. She insists on throwing her money away, winning a fistful of tickets, that she ends up giving to some kid who happens to be standing around picking his nose. It’s always puzzled me and I fear it will continue to do so.

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Who can resist all of this fine looking merchandise?

Never let it be said that I’m immune to the attractions of this park.  I was once again drawn to a booth where I was permitted to spend five bucks to throw two tiny bean bags at some under inflated balloons. Being a former Little League baseball player I was stunned when I actually broke two of those stupid balloons and won my honey this glorious and somewhat ridiculous prize.

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Who doesn’t love a cuddly little frog?

Once again I became a willing victim of all the hype that’s constantly spewed by this park. It seems to happen every time I visit here and stranger still, I don’t mind at all.

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I’m so excited by all the hubbub in an amusement park I actually feel kind of bad that I’m not permitted to ride these stupid rides.  As a young kid I was too short to ride them and now all these years later I’m too tall and plump to fit in them. There’s just no justice in this world.

FORTUNATELY . . . IT’S ALL GOOD FUN!

OUR SUMMER CONTINUES!

07-17-2016 Journal – Beach Day!   Leave a comment

My better-half was able to sneak away from work a little early yesterday making it possible for us to make our first visit this summer to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, the ultimate tourist trap.  The weather was sweltering at our house but when we arrived at OOB there was a beautiful ocean breeze that was grand. The beach looked beautiful and it was loaded with visiting tourists.

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The only place to stay cool for a few hours.

I love just walking around and people watching when I stumbled on this young lady wearing the required bikini I always look for. It was too bad she decided to stay buried in the sand.

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What’s a trip to the beach without our mandatory visit to the Surf 6 bar. It’s located directly adjacent to the beach just a hop, skip, and jump from the water. I should also mention the excellent mojitos and margaritas that are available.  As always laced with some excellent Patron tequila. OLE!

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We took a nice walk along the beach just as the sun was setting. The cool water felt damn good our poor overheated and sweaty feet.  It was heaven.

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All in all it was a lot of fun and we are planning more of these outings over the next month. The food was delicious, the water was cool, the drinks were icy cold, and the people watching was the best.

SUMMER WILL CONTINUE

 

 

 

 

 

 

07-15-2016 Journal – Garden Production!   Leave a comment

I breathed a huge sigh of relief this week when we finally began harvesting a few items from the garden.  By far the plants that seem to be doing the best are the zucchini’s.  They are weeks ahead of the hot peppers of so it seems. Here are the first two we removed and they’ve already been made into a number of loaves of chocolate zucchini bread.

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The cake was delicious as usual.

We also have five or six cucumbers ready for the table.  This meal consisted of chicken tenders grilled in a tequila & lime sauce and a cucumber, tomato, and onion salad drizzled with oil and vinegar.  Add to that vegetarian spring rolls and a cold glass of Chardonnay and your in heaven. It tasted way better than it sounds or looks.

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One of the hazards of eating a meal on our deck are the hundreds of birds that consistently visit our feeders. Over the last few years we’ve been adopted by three generations of woodpeckers.  Imagine trying to eat your meal as they zoom into the feeder just a foot or two above your head.  They seem to have lost all fear of us.

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I guess it’s nice to have visitors of a sort when dining but these guys are a pain at times.

WE ARE LOVING SUMMER

07-13-2016 Journal – Garden Flowers!   Leave a comment

I just took a quick stroll around the property this morning to take a few snaps of some of the more colorful bloomers.  The recent weeks of rain and warm weather have the garden growing as fast as possible. Just a few short weeks ago most of these flowers were only 6 inches high. Look at them now.

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Day lilies are my favorites to photograph.

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These are the first of many different colored lilies my better-half has planted in the gardens.  They are beautiful, colorful, and make for some interesting screensavers I can enjoy through those long winter months.

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I’m not exactly sure what this plant is but I love the look of it.

As you can see the gardens are green and lush. A great place to sit on a bench and relax. There’s nothing more calming than that.  These last two photo’s are of flowers in full bloom. The white daisies are my better-half’s favorite flower. Once again I have no idea what the red ones might be but I like them regardless.

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Today will be more garden work for me. Although I use garden fabric to keep the weeds to a minimum it still requires spending some time on my hands and knees to get those few that always seem to show up in every little crack and crevice.

WE’LL SHOULD BEGIN HARVESTING SOON