Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

Just Saying

William sent me a text from his bedroom (because that's communication in modern parent-child relationships) asking me about "that horrid smell"  and several animations of people offended by or dying of a bad smell. I was cooking, but not just any old thing. I was making dog treats. Liver to be exact.

He thundered down the stairs, gagging. Really, it wasn't that bad. "It smells like a mixture between burnt brownies and meatloaf," he whined. Well, brownies are good. Meatloaf is good. I don't like liver, but this was not an offensive smell to me.

The dogs go through a lot of treats to train and I don't want fatty treats with sugar added. Some treats have loads of chemical preservatives and ingredients or cost more than steak per pound. Chicken liver is very cheap. In case you want to offend your own children, here is how I make them.

Pre-soak some of your dogs kibble in water until all the water is absorbed and the kibble is soft. Using a food processor, blend two cartons of chicken livers until liquid. Add in the kibble to give it more body. I also added in some gluten-free flour to make it nice and pasty. I added a small amount of flax seeds. I spread this goo over silicone baking sheets on a cookie sheet and baked at 350 for half an hour. This cooks the mixture but doesn't completely dry it out so after cooling it, I cut it into squares and dry them on a cheap Rival dehydrator. Then, dogs will love you forever for the crispy treats that can be broken into small pieces. The treats, once dry, have little to no smell and it makes a lot of treats. Even the cats like them. In fact, Luna, William's cat, tore open the plastic bag on the counter to get to them.

There was the one time that I decided to clean by boiling the opossum skull I found out by the road for our natural history collection. Now, that, that was a smell I don't even intend to repeat. (Next time, clean bones by burying them for a while in the backyard.)

I'll take the smell of baking liver treats any day over a teenager's room. Just saying.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Throw Back Thursday

One day, ten years ago, my children and I helped a mama miniature horse birth her baby. She still lives here with her brother miniature horse born the year before. The mama and daddy returned to their original owner and were later sold. You can read about it here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Don't Blink

"I am going to be homeschooling my kindergartner. What curriculum should I use?"

If only I had one day to have my little ones little again. Just one day. Blink and they are graduated from high school. Blink again and they finished college and are starting careers, getting married, moving away. Looking back, I have no regrets because I know we made memories. We played in the dirt. We were present in our days.

What curriculum? My advice is no curriculum. Go to the library and get out all the books you can carry and that the library will let you. In our county at the time, that was 99 books per person in the household, so I brought crates on wheels and filled them. It was like bringing my kids to the candy store and telling them everything was free. We read and read and read. I read aloud so much my throat would hurt and I would have to quit.

Go to the zoo. Go to the woods. Play in a creek. Dig a hole as deep as you can. Collect and identify leaves. Turn over rocks. Look at bugs under a good stereoscope (dissection) microscope. Go out into the world on field trips. Go to concerts and theater. Have a picnic under a tree. Paint. Play the piano. Blow on pieces of grass and dandelions. Raise chickens and hatch eggs. Find all the wildflowers you can. Use lots of paper and markers and paint. Make cookies and measure things. Count marbles and pennies. Play classical music all day as background. Sing. Dance. Go out in the rain. Get dirty. Get really dirty. Make forts out of blankets. Have lots of play time. Make ice cream. Laugh. Do messy science experiments like dropping eggs out of windows. Roll balls down an incline. Make a pyramid out of sugar cubes. Grow a garden. Go to a bird blind or put out bird feeders. Lay in the fresh spring grass. And above all, watch the joy of learning in your babies eyes.

I know you are anxious to get started, to not let them get behind, to make sure they keep up with their peers, but I'm telling you, your time with them will be very, very short or so it will seem when you are old like me. There is no curriculum that can instill in them the joy of learning like exploring the world with you. You will have years to nag them about their homework but the time will come, if you don't make those memories now and cherish every minute when you'll be wishing you had just one more day....

Thursday, March 16, 2017

"A smile is a curve that sets everything straight."

In typical Kentucky style, it is cold again after unseasonably warm weather but it is sunny. Driving home from the gym, I relished the sunbeams coming in through the car window and heating my black leather GAP jacket I got for $12 at the resale store.

"Oh," I remarked to William, "this feels so good I ought to wear a suit of only black leather."

"That," he responded, "makes me cringe. I mean, (sputter sputter sputter), not cringe because of you in black leather.....well, yeah, maybe, but....(sputter), I mean it would be hot and sweaty! (sputter) Just forget I said anything."

Not known for my fashion sense, my kids do have opinions and always warned me that if EVER I wore anything animal print, they would swear they didn't know me. My careless fashion sense would have made Phyllis Diller proud. And if you don't know who she is, you should.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tasty!

I was careful to warn the guys, "Don't eat what is is the dehydrator." Daughter #2 has not forgotten the day she came into the kitchen, reached out and popped what she thought was a small square of brownie into her mouth. She claims I watched her do this without stopping her, though perhaps my lack of memory on this detail is in my own self-defense. That batch of dog treats had been made with calf liver so it was darker. It is not the first time that I've cooked for the dogs and it was mistaken for people food.

This batch looks like blonde brownies as I used chicken livers pulverized with dog kibble and a few eggs. First baking the mixture for thirty minutes in the oven to brownie consistency, I then put the squares on a dehydrator to completely dry. I broke them into small bits and refrigerated in plastic bags in case any moisture remains. The dogs are wild for this treat. People, not so much. It did, in my opinion, smell pretty good baking and not unlike a brownie. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

1984

A lifetime ago, I remember my grandmother telling me that on the 700 Club, it was reported that the government was watching us through our televisions. Puzzled, I asked her how they could do that? (Remember this was in the 1980s, pre-Internet.) She pointed to a round circle on the front of her television. This was the light sensor that automatically adjusted the brightness of the screen. I assured her that it was not a camera. Silly me.  Little did I know that she was right!

If the government is watching through my microwave, I can only say that the person assigned to our household must have the most boring job on the planet. Surely, they have better things to do? Now, I need to go work on my aluminum foil hat.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Different Times

Many thanks to my mom who always
was generous with my book order
Memories came flooding back as I pulled to a stop at a traffic light. The Scholastic Book Truck was in the parking lot across the street! My son, always homeschooled, puzzled over my exclamation. What are Scholastic Books?? Well, when I was growing up, one of my happiest moments was when my Scholastic Book order arrived. Four or five brand new paperback chapter books with that new book smell! I couldn't wait to get home and devour them. (Yes, I was a nerd.) I read many books from the library, so I can't really tell you why the order appealed so much to me.

The flimsy paper order form would come weeks ahead. We lived in a time when Amazon didn't bring things the next day. You had to think hard on what you wanted, wait a good amount of time for it, and the anticipation was part of the joy when it finally arrived.  Don't get me wrong - I LOVE my Amazon Prime, but I think in exchange for the convenience, we've lost a little of the magic.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Bosch Posh Revisited

Husband always says if you have a problem, someone, somewhere, has already had that same problem and put it on YouTube. He is right. I found a "work around" on my dishwasher and can run it now, though it is not fixed. It involves starting it, waiting for two particular pauses, turning it off, turning it back on, all while saying the "Hail Mary". It worked.

The true fix is replacing the turbidity sensor, which is like taking the engine out of a foreign car to change the oil filter: it isn't easy. I can do it, though, and have ordered the part. William gagged as I explained that turbidity meant it was sensing soil or gunk in the dishwasher. The sensor wasn't necessarily sensing turbid water; the sensor isn't working. 

Still, I wouldn't be surprised. For many years, I have instructed that great chunks of food and slathered sauces must be scraped or rinsed before putting in the dishwasher. Not washed, but at least scraped. And here we are: turbid. 

My dad instilled in me the belief that most anything could be fixed and that I was capable myself of fixing it. I remember he finally had to replace our dryer, not because it wouldn't run, but because we'd worn all the porcelain off the tub and it had begun to rust, getting on the clothing. This dishwasher is almost 8 years old, so we still have a few good years together.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Twilight Zone

By way of group email, my family chatted how weird it was that middle daughter spoke her desire of one day owning a dishwasher and as soon as she left to go home, mine didn't work. My husband has watched too many sci-fi movies and said, "I think this is the part where the machines start to think independently before they rise up and kill us all.  She has inadvertently stepped into a strand of unfinished consciousness." 

In our family, we have long marveled at these coincidences, how I'd picked up the phone to dial my mom and she was on the other end without it having rung because she was calling me. This has happened with my daughters as well, sometimes getting a call from them just as I was typing a text.


Middle daughter sent me a SnapChat of the gluten free brownies she had made. I'd just pulled the first batch I'd ever made out of the oven. It's just spooky. We are all more connected than just by blood. 




Monday, February 27, 2017

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It's raining. In the physical sense, yes, very wet outside but also in the metaphorical sense. "When it rains, it pours." My visiting daughter last night said she'd know she "made it" when someday she has a washer/dryer and dishwasher in her residence. Shortly after she left for her place, the dishwasher quit working right after a big meal. The Keurig coffee pot also refused to put out. I had a nice low-carb pie for dessert that begged for a cup of hot, black coffee. Nope.

The Keurig is now fixed with a paper-clip. Grounds were caught up inside the dispensing mechanism. I used vinegar to also descale it. Thank goodness for Google. I am thinking of buying myself a percolator for Mother's Day. I remember the comforting sound and smell from childhood. This Keurig is old and its days are numbered. And though it makes better coffee than a drip, I feel a bit guilty about all those plastic k-cups.

According to YouTube, the dishwasher either has a plugged water inlet valve or plugged hose filter. I'll have to look at those later today. But - priorities. William's iPhone is on the blink and needs to be replaced. Used primarily as a medical device, we get to spend the afternoon at the AT&T store. At least it's raining and I won't miss a nice afternoon outside.

Oh, and I just remembered, the washer is leaking. If you don't get the clothes out immediately, they are sodden wet. Leaking valve. I may leave this though as it encourages me to not leave the wet clothes in there all day until they smell like a dishrag.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Throw Back Sunday

Throw-back Thursday is a thing on the blogosphere, but I'm going to hijack it to Throw Back Sunday, because Sunday is a day of rest. Each week, I'll repost a blog that I found my self re-visiting this week. Here's this weeks selection:  Letting Go

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Rural Sprawl


The episode of "Lost", my guilty indulgence before bed, was not complete without Veggie Straws and refreshment. Walking back to the couch, my foot somehow caught the metal curved foot of Murphy's "place" (raised bed that she likes very much) and I sprawled face first, catching my shoulder on the metal pole edge. Veggie Straws went everywhere. I lay there, contemplating whether they were still good to eat. My drink, luckily, was in a capped plastic bottle. I yelled at the dogs to get back - the Veggie Straws should still be good. (At least, they weren't Cheetos.)

I realized my right shoulder hurt, but only if I move it. Previously having torn a tendon or muscle, it will heal itself as it has several times. Lifting moderate weights helps a lot. But falling? Really? I guess this is what my future old self has in store. I have always had great balance, and losing it is unfamiliar. Guess I need to step up my exercising routine. (Or at least have one.)


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Losing My Senses

Trying to pick up un poco de Español myself, my good Spanish teacher friend graciously allows me to sit in the back of William's class. It is also a perfect opportunity to socialize William Murphy. At the beginning of the class, she was a bit loco, whined a particular whine that I've learned to not ignore. After potty, I decided to walk the hallway just a bit to settle her back down.

The church building in which we have classes had a leak, making the carpet below wet. A carpet fan was running, and Murphy shied away from it. Unfamiliarity was my diagnosis, so I told her to sit and I crouched down, assuring her that the the fan was harmless and would not hurt her. It looked somewhat like this fan:
(Carpet fan, maybe not same brand)
That's when the fan began to short circuit, lighting up inside with electrical sparks and making that scary buzzing sound like an episode of "Stranger Things". Now, I could smell the distinct odor of something electrical burning. Likely, Murphy could already smell it. Probably she thinks I'm not too bright.

She spent the rest of the class absorbing mucho Español.


It seems my ability to listen to what animals are clearly saying has not improved over the years. Probably more than a decade ago, I was taking a short ride on my horse, JoJo. She had a tendency to be a little nervous (or was picking up on my less than relaxed state). We were passing by a pond which harbored Canadian geese. She stepped sideways. Reaching down to pat her neck, I reassured her that the geese would not harm her. Almost immediately, one took wing and dive-bombed us, passing only inches over my head. Somehow, I stayed on. You think I'd learn to listen to animals by now.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

For the Want of a Toilet

In my late twenties, I was the foreman of a synthetic detergent manufacturing plant, the first female to work in the building much less supervise. This presented a number of challenges, the least of which was that there was but one single, utterly filthy (in a truck stop bathroom sort of way) toilet with no doors just past a very small break room where sat those crusty men that I supervised. 

Now, I say the "least of which" because of course I was not enfolded with welcoming arms into this male kingdom. There was a good reason to believe the operations were sabotaged on more than one occasion on my shift. Over time, somehow, I gained a measure of respect and acceptance because of my work and willingness to get dirty, and because of the foul chemicals, "breathe through my asshole" as one of the other foremen would say.

I have many stories from these days of the challenges of being a woman engineer in a man's world. But while watching Hidden Figures this past weekend, Catherine had to run half a mile to the coloreds only bathroom which reminded me of my young self. In the middle of the night, on third shift, I would time "running the traps" (translation: checking the steam siphons on all of the chemical tank dikes) with finding a bathroom in another building that actually had a door, no Playboy magazines, and no men just around the corner listening. If the plant was experiencing a problem such that I could not leave but nature was calling, I had to kick all the men out of the tiny break room, and gagging, use that excuse for a bathroom.

The women in Hidden Figures faced even more discrimination because of their skin. What a fantastic movie! We were gifted with sitting on the edge of a large group of black women who had all come as a group after church. I loved hearing their laughter and their comments, but the movie resonated with the entire (full) audience based on the applause at the end. The movie documented the shameful way we humans sometimes treat each other, and for no reason other than ignorance and power. 

This movies should be required viewing of all, but especially children and teens. It contains history, science, math, diversity training, and humanity - which is something that seems to be lacking in the news these days. The one down side is that I left feeling that I've not accomplished so much. I've not put a man on the moon or become somehow important. I have, however, put three good people on this earth, and I hope their accomplishments will mitigate the lack of my own.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Keep It 100

Slang words change so quickly these days that I often have to consult the urban dictionary to make sure I don't make a major gaffe. While playing Words With Friends with my daughter online, I was looking up word that begin with "qu" to use up some of my unfortunate letter tiles. There are words I've never heard in everyday conversation but evidently, some people, somewhere, use these words. As I envisioned using such a word and my daughter looking it up for the meaning, I had nose milk. I'd better not use those words.

With the rapidity of change of technology and culture, I'm not sure how to keep up. My parents only had to know "groovy" and "dig it", but I have a whole urban dictionary of words. Today, for example, my son and I were shopping for a "dirty Santa" ugly sock gift exchange. I found this pair:


Although I've seen this phrase about webpages, maybe Facebook, I had no idea what it means. So, I looked it up. (Thank goodness for Google.) It means "to keep yourself real and true, to be honest and stick to the way you are, no matter what any one else thinks." -Urban Dictionary

For someone dealing daily with Type 1 Diabetes, this was a treasured find. Testing your blood glucose and getting a reading of 100 mg/dL is called a "unicorn" or getting the perfect number. For us, it isn't really - we prefer numbers in the 90s or 80s. (My favorite number is 87. I don't know why.) But since diagnosis, if William tested 100 exactly, I gave him a dollar. It was and is just a silly game, trying to exact a little surprise and fun from gouging yourself with a needle, squeezing for blood and waiting for a darn number.

It goes a little deeper for me (and perhaps I've had too much coffee and it is late,waiting to make sure his BG stabilizes before I nod off) that when he is in range - or 100 - he is his true self. When he is out of range, he is not. That is why I work so hard to normalize his blood glucose, so that he might live the life he was meant to live. 

Now, enough serious stuff. I know you are just sitting there wondering about the "qu" words anyway.

Note: The amaryllis plant has begun to flower, but it opens much more slowly than I thought it would after the stem grew so quickly.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Chickened Out

I'm done with chickens. It was a great phase of my life and I felt very Pinterest-y.  About a year ago, I was overheard by a friend who has chickens, "Do you have eggs laid in your barn?"  Why yes, I do. An elderly man in our neighborhood raises chickens as a hobby and for $4, he lays two dozen in my tack room once a week.  I don't have to do a thing.  No cleaning out coops, no feeding, no freezing water in the winter.  No expensive feed!  Wow, has the price risen on corn!  No finding that your favorite hen was murdered.  After several "Chicken Lickin's" got picked off, we decided the name was cursed and no longer named them that.

Well, time has passed and sadly, my chicken man retired. I now have the inconvenience of having to actually go to a store to buy eggs. We go through two to three dozen a week (they are low carb). I do miss the chickens, but not the work. And now, I have my new puppy project to keep me busy, although chickens don't have to be potty trained. There is that.

If you search this blog on the word "chicken", you will have enough posts to read for a week or two.

Friday, January 06, 2017

"Feed Me"


This amaryllis is growing so quickly that it needs a live webcam so people can check its progress. It grew a half inch last night. This morning, finally, the flower has begun to open. I'm hoping it doesn't require human blood to survive.

From "Little Shop of Horrors"





Notes; Today is Epiphany. Everything turns to drab as I remove the Christmas tree and lights. 





Wednesday, January 04, 2017

A Little Jelly on Your Toast?

Today's search for food on my property turned up brown jelly fungus. I guess if the apocalypse occurs, I'm going to starve to death. There is no way.


Wikipedia says that although not poisonous (usually), the taste is similar to soil. Yum! The texture isn't all that appealing either. So many interesting things to find in the yard.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Green Thumbs

Once gardening was a treasured past time for me. When I found out that our garden site was over our previous house owner's old septic system, it kind of spoiled it for me. That, and having so many weeds my husband would mow over what in the spring was an optimistic planting of "this year, I'll do better". 

Inside the house, I like growing plants, but I prefer the growing to be a bit more scientific. There is the plant from my father-in-law's funeral that receives only leftover coffee for watering. It is doing quite well! I have my father's orchid that is still blooming, but maybe not as nice as when dad grew it - he had better light.

Around this time of year, amaryllis are sold and remind me of my dad (he liked them), so I bought a bulb. I'm a bit shocked at the rapid growth and double impending bloom. This thing is like the plant from the Little Shop of Horrors movie. It is currently over 24 inches tall and a bit suggestive.

Amaryllis

Avocados are one of my favorite foods, so I was encouraged by an article about growing your own. I'd tried many Haas avocado pits without success, so I tried a Hall avocado from Florida. Using a bulb vase, it quickly grew roots and eventually sprouted. They are hearty to 20 degrees F, I read, so it can go outside in the summer on the porch. (I doubt it would survive a freeze.)

Avocado
And finally, my little oak tree. I got it from our yard this past spring with it's acorn still attached. It seems to not have noticed that autumn has come and gone this year.

Oak tree
I don't know anything about bonsai trees and really don't need one more thing to learn right now. I take good care of it, but wonder about the ethics of confining it so now that the news is full of how trees communicate and even take care of stumps of trees cut down. And...they do this using fungus, which connects back to the mushrooms in my yard. Huh, there I go learning again.



Sunday, January 01, 2017

Doing Mushrooms

On a small walk back by the creek, I found some mushrooms.  Now, I've always been a little leery about eating mushrooms from the yard, knowing that a mistake could be fatal. Yet, these are well documented:

Turkey Tail Mushrooms

Oyster Mushroom
I'm wondering if I'm daring enough to make this tea which promises an immunity boost?

At dinner, I was telling my family of my find.

Daughter: It's well documented that people DIE of eating backyard mushrooms.
Husband: Are those the kind that have you seeing dead relatives?

I guess I'll have to experiment on my own. 

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