Saturday, April 18, 2015

Quick Bread

What does one do with a big can of pumpkin that's nearing its death date?  Why one mixes up a double batch of pumpkin bread with raisins and chopped nuts, of course.  Some to eat, some to freeze, and some to share--because we're nice like that.  Our house smells so good I almost don't want to cook anything else today so the aroma of pumpkin and spices isn't overshadowed.  Almost.  There're some leftovers that are teetering on the brink so we'll "pick $hit with the chickens" as Mom used to say, for supper tonight.  Tomorrow Durwood's got big plans for a new recipe for crockpot chicken he wants to make.  (I went to the grocery for the ingredients today so he'll have everything at hand so I can loll around tomorrow because I sure didn't loll yesterday or today.)  I'm really anxious to try it, it looks deeeelicious.

I made good progress on the sleeves of the Red Marl sweater last night, got the cuffs to 4" and then shifted into stockinette while at the same time increasing every 4 rows--and I only forgot to drop one ball of yarn and pick up the other when I shifted sleeves ONCE.  I was finishing the first stitch on the next cuff with the previous cuff's working yarn when I realized that I was beginning to knit yarn handcuffs and fixed that stitch right away.  Whew.  That was a close one.  Too much talking and laughing plays hell with my concentration.  I even shushed everyone for a minute or two while I read and reread a line of instruction.  I've been knitting on this darned sweater for so many years and I'm so determined to finish it this year I don't want to make mistakes, at least not big ones that are hard or time-consuming to fix.

I was talking about my little squills blooming and the gardeners at the table were unfamiliar with them so I searched them on the web on my Kindle and found that they're also called scilla.  I know that these all blue ones were from GramMary's backyard but I think the white-with-blue-stripes ones were bonus bulbs with a big bulb order from Michigan Bulb Co. or someone like that.  They're so tiny, so short-lived, but so pretty and delicate.  I love 'em.

April 18--Jack McConnell, Executive Kisses Pig.

Pucker up, Porky,
time to kiss the boss.
Kiss your way up the ladder.
Kiss for a raise.
Kiss because you like kissing...
ham.
In the 70's cops were pigs,
nobody loved them--
except their moms.
I thought executives were
fat cats,
when did they get promoted
to pigs?
~~~~~

It was a definite challenge to write a poem about a man in a suit puckering up to kiss a great big ol' boar, but I think I managed admirably.  I think I'll swap my winter socks for my summer socks today.  Don't want to rush into anything, besides it's supposed to get downright chilly later in the week.  I will be covering my tender herbs at bedtime, yes I will.
--Barbara

Friday, April 17, 2015

Yard Work

I had made up my mind that I'd use today to clean up the yard and garden for spring.  I went out at 10:30 and except for a half-hour jaunt to Home Depot for more herb plants (only $2 each! nice big healthy plants!) I worked steady until about 2:15.  No wonder my back hurt.  Now I have 2 nice piles of trimmings and dead things for the stick truck to pick up next time they're in the neighborhood.  I also have 3 pots of herbs on the patio and I put the bay leaf bush out until it gets frosty again.  Look!  Pots of tasty, green leaves.  Cross my heart I'll let them grow a bit before I start pinching leaves off.

Since we save peels and veggie trimmings for the chickens, every once in a while I get to stop to collect a few eggs.  See what I got on my way home from work yesterday?  A blue-green one from General Tso or Kiev, a white one from Henny, and the light brown one from Princess Cuckoo.  I know it seems pretty nuts but I absolutely love having eggs from chickens I know.

Before I got dressed in my playing-in-the-dirt clothes I finished the last few rows of the Red Marl sweater front.  Woohoo!  I'm taking the front and back to show off at Friday Night Knitting tonight and then tomorrow they get to have a little soak in wool wash and then I'll block them into shape so I can sew them together when I get the sleeves done.  I've got a couple inches of cuffs knitted already and am certain I have enough yarn to finish them (since I bought the yarn when a shop went out of business in 2009 and the yarn's discontinued so I'm guessing I wouldn't be able to find more if I needed it anyway).

April 17--Aiupy Photographs, Corn.

What is now uniform
once was random,
yellow kernels in tidy rows
evolved from snaggles,
big and small in a jumble,
colored from white through
yellow and orange
all the way to red.
A cob of red corn
was good for a kiss
at a shucking bee.
To me uniformity isn't
an improvement.
~~~~~

I've showered off the dust, little pieces of plants, and a gallon of sweat.  I think I'll go make myself a ham sandwich and heat up my share of the remaining roasted cauliflower from the other night.  I'm getting hungry and it's getting on toward time to go to knitting.  Byeee!
--Barbara

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mmm, Baking Bread

There's nothing like the smell of bread baking, is there?  I realized this morning that the dough in the fridge was at the end of its endurance for sitting around waiting to be baked (2 weeks) so I formed a couple loaves, let them rise while the oven heated, and popped them in.  Look how pretty they turned out!  I intended them to be round but the dough is so moist and evidently I didn't use quite enough cornmeal on the pizza peel so they didn't slide off easily and got oval-ed on the way onto the (still broken) baking stone.  (Does anyone know of a food-safe glue I could use to turn the three pieces back into one?) (btw, the wet on the peel is from the cornstarch wash I brush on to make the sesame seeds stick, not moisture leaching out of the dough)

After supper I got the fronts of the Red Marl sweater up to (and, I confess, a bit over) 2" so I get to start the neck and shoulder decreases.  Maybe today at work, maybe tonight on the couch.  I did manage to get the snow blower and lawn mower traded while the cauliflower/chickpeas/green olives with garlic roasted.  (Oh my, it was so good, even Durwood liked it and he's not such a fan of cooked olives as I am.)  Then I broiled a Sesame & Lime marinated tuna steak for us to share, and we split a big, sweet, navel orange after our meal.  The poor people ate rich last night, I'm telling you.  We love all the fish on sale during Lent so we try to stock up since we're determined to eat fish at least once a week.  I'm hoping to campaign for Durwood to make another crab pie next week.  No only is it To. Die. For. but then we get fish twice that week.

This morning there was a smear of cloud posed behind the still-leafless maple tree out back.  I thought it looked dramatic and interesting.  The rhubarb leaves get visibly bigger every day.  Maybe 10 more days before PIE.  

April 16--Steve Uzzell, Log Yard.

Cords and cords lay
under autumn skies
tinted orange by the setting sun--
firewood for winter nights,
boards for building houses,
pulp for reams of paper,
all potential hidden
in a pile
of logs.
~~~~~

It's so nice and sunny today, supposed to warm into the 60s, so I'm wearing a skirt to work, baring my fish-belly white legs to the air for the first time since, oh, October.  If you come to the dive shop bring your sunglasses, the glare should be blinding.  Time to Cheerio and scram.
--Barbara

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bad Microchip, Bad!

Last night around 10 o'clock when no TV was turned on, when we were both reading and it was quiet in the house, I realized that the furnace fan was turning on, revving a couple times, and then turning off.  I mentioned it to Durwood, he listened too, and we decided that we needed a service call.  I called the fixit people's answering service, the service guy called back, had me turn it off at the thermostat, and when it didn't stop surging, he came over to fix it.  The problem was that same %$#& microchip that gave us such fits last summer when they replaced our air conditioner.  Thank goodness he had one in his truck but I could have lived without needing to stay up until after midnight.  The good news is that we won't have to pay for any of it because it was a faulty part not something broken, but arrrrrgh.  I'm tired today.

When I took my bleary eyes out to get the newspaper this morning shortly before 6:30 (ugh, too early) I saw that some of the daffodils have bloomed and more of the tiny white-with-blue-stripes squills are blooming too.  I want to have flowers year-round that take as little care and bring as much joy as my spring bulbs do.  I'm keeping my eyes on the rhubarb leaves too, I feel a great need for a rhubarb pie or rhubarb cake or rhubarb bread, which was Durwood's idea.  Any of those would be fine.  Maybe I'll make some rhubarb or rhubarb-strawberry jam this year too.  What a great idea, Barbara!

I poked around downstairs Monday night and resurrected the Red Marl Sweater parts and pattern to see what's left to make.  (F.Y.I.--I started it in August of 2010 *sigh*)  When I left off last time, last year during the Olympics, I was at the point of splitting the front for the neck opening, so I did that yesterday and have an inch to go before starting the neck decreases.  Then I'll make the sleeves, which I see I planned to make 2-at-once so they have a fighting chance of being the same length.  I'm sticking with my original Boye interchangeable needles with the stiff cables so that maybe my knitting will match.  I don't have a lot of hope for that after all these long years but I'd like to wear the sweater, just once, before I die.

By the time I got into bed last night I was too darned sleepy to write a poem so I didn't.  That is all.
--Barbara

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Birds on Tuesday

It's back to sunny today and the birds at the feeders and birdbath this morning all say Spring to me.  This Goldfinch has got his summer feathers on and Robin Red-breast looks all spiffed up too.  So far Durwood hasn't seen any birds checking out the new fountain but that'll come soon enough.  It takes a little while for them to figure it out.


I finished the Play Day hat at work yesterday.  It's quite a bit bigger than I thought it'd be but since slouchy hats are in style, I'm not fussed.  I decided to drop the solid red when I started the decreases and I like the way it looks.  Next I plan to resurrect a sweater I started in 2010 (!!!) and see about finishing it before I start anything else (anything else BIG, anyway, I need those short, fast projects in between to keep me going)

April 14--Jim Barber, Globes.

In a dim corner
of the classroom
the world sits ready
for imagining.
Dusty orbs with obsolete names,
shifted borders,
irrational colors--
geography lessons in the round.
Is Kenya really pink?
Could Norway be purple?
I find my hometown,
dream of visiting
orange islands strewn
across beige seas.
~~~~~

I've always loved maps, seeing not flat pieces of paper but dynamic lands filled with interesting people.  In fact, my first career goal was to be a cartographer.  I wonder if that's still a job.

There's a pair of squirrels chasing around the backyard, must be spring out there.

--Barbara

Monday, April 13, 2015

Too Good to Last

As gorgeous and sunny as it was yesterday--it's not today.  Gray and cloudy, and when I (reluctantly) woke up this morning raindrops were pecking at the window over my head.  I guess it was a good thing I didn't tear off the plastic and open it a crack.  I'm not a fan of being awakened by rain in my face.  It's supposed to clear up and warm up later but right now it looks pretty crappy out there.

I did get a fountain at Fleet Farm and we did get it together with only minor hitches.  The first one was missing a vital piece, the support for the water wheel, so I repacked it all (and almost exactly the way we got it), returned it, and got another one that I would only take out of the warehouse after I'd opened the box to make sure the part was there.  It was, so home I came so we could get it put together and working.  Everything went according to directions until we came to screwing on the last water dish.  The tiny screw that holds it to the bracket didn't have its screwdriver slit cut deeply enough so after trying a couple tiny screws that were laying around Durwood suggested that we put on a couple washers and use a needle-nose pliers to turn the screw.  It worked!  This is not a high end fountain, it was only $25 on sale, but it's got a solar light, a fish spout at the top and a waterwheel at the bottom.  It's pretty cool looking and if it attracts nesting wrens all the frustration will be worth it.

My ribs did pretty well on the smoker.  After a few hours the temperature hadn't climbed very high and it didn't look like the extra charcoal I'd put on had lit so I put the ribs on a big piece of foil, drizzled on some Sweet Baby Ray's, sealed them up in the foil, and put them into the oven for a couple hours on low.  It's pork and I didn't feel comfortable with them out there in the smoker since I was half-convinced that most of the heat registering on the gauge came from the sun.  They tasted smoky and were fall-off-the-bone tender.  I take it as a win.

On Saturday I whipped up a batch of Ham & Spinach Lentil Soup for this week's lunches.  I'm a big fan of lentil soup so I cobbled together the parts I liked of three different recipes and put it to cook in the crockpot.  The house smelled fantastic all day.  It's a kind of torture to be in the house while it's cooking, it's easier when you plug it in and go to work for the day, then come home to a great smelling house.  It was very hard for both of us to resist opening the lid to peek or stir but we managed.  Mmm, lentil soup on a rainy day.  What could be better?

April 13--US Flag.

Waving colors
snap in the fresh spring breeze
blow freedom over the land
from sea to shining sea.
Ring liberty and justice
from the mountains to the prairies.
White stars
shine for everyone,
Red stripes for the blood
of patriots,
Blue field
for the sky that arcs overhead.
~~~~~~

Meh.  It's Monday.  It's Payday!  Time to flee.  Have a... day.
--Barbara

Sunday, April 12, 2015

What I Learned at the Mall...

First, don't go to the mall on Saturday.  Everyone in the hemisphere goes to the mall on Saturday.

Second, take a list.  I had a tiny list of the things I wanted to learn how to do on my phone.  Even though a couple I couldn't do because my Windows phone won't load iPhone apps or I'd have to pay $10/month to do them, the list did help remind me what to ask about because my brain has turned from Velcro to Teflon over the years so if I don't snatch at thoughts and put them on paper as they whiz by they're lost forever.


Third, the young woman at the AT&T store showed me the Maps app that comes free with my phone so now I can find out how to go to DD & SIL1's house, or anyplace else, without using Robert the GPS.  It'll even talk to me while I drive!

Fourth, I also learned how to Instagram.  I learned that I can't use camera pix, only phone pix, and I learned that it's uber-public so no pix with persons' faces is my first Instagram rule.  Now I can hashtag just like the big kids!







In knitting news (knitting knews? nitting news? either way is a temptation.) I got to the decreases on the Play Day hat last night but look how the variegated red stripe matched up with the solid red.  It was a trick to keep the yarns separate but I can kind of see the difference in the colors in that picture.  And it's pretty much too warm for the hat now anyway.  See what the temp was outside at 9:32 this morning?  61.2 degrees, and only going up.










I knew it was going to be sunny and warm today so I thawed out the last slab of spareribs in the freezer yesterday and got them on the smoker this morning.  This is my first time using the smoker, I hope I do it right, but I'm confident they'll taste great despite my inexperience.




April 12--Scott Van Sicklin, Business Woman.

Confident
Clear-eyed
Clear-headed
Take charge
Take no guff
Decisive
Determined
Rising rising
through the glass ceiling
and beyond,
Woman.
~~~~~

Fleet Farm has a couple of fountains half-price in their ad this week (while supplies last!) and I read that the wrens will only nest near running water which explains why we didn't have any last season (didn't put out the fountain), so I'm on a mission to go get one.  We want wren nests again.  Plus it's time to check on my ribs.  Tootles!
--Barbara