Winter Fresh

Though the past week hasn’t felt much like winter, the garden is gone with the exception of a couple of spinach plants and a few komatso plants. The komasto in the salad hydroponic and some of the lettuce there have suddenly decided to issue forth with greens. The herbs are thriving. This week the menu has included several harvests from both.

The night that hubby got a steak and fries, I made another bowl of Asian inspired soup with quinoa for my protein. The chives, oregano, and komatsu adding the greens, red carrot, garlic, fresh ginger, Szechuan pepper corns, and gochunjang in broth to make it soup. There was enough komatsu that some was sauteed as hubby’s green vegetable.

Post komatsu harvest.

Tonight, the lettuce and herbs were harvested for a salad. I think as the 6 young lettuces that are just getting a start begin to mature, there will be greens and salads for the winter when other fresh food is scarce. These two units take up little counter space on a part of the counter that I rarely use and having fresh herbs and greens is a bonus.

As we enjoy the fresh produce, the seed catalogs have started filling the mailbox and they can provide a wish list for the spring garden. I need to get the soil tested this winter and supplement the beds for the spring. The garlic never got planted this past autumn and some of the crops grown last year, won’t be repeated while others will be added. In the meantime, I really need to cook down several 2 gallon sacks of frozen paste tomatoes.

An Old Guy

This fella turns 10 today. Now 10 doesn’t sound very old, but he is an English Mastiff.

This past summer he reached the point where he could no longer manage the stairs and in the past couple of months it has gotten to where he needs help getting to his feet. We use a beach towel folded lengthwise to make a sling slipped under his belly to provide him some lift. It hurts our souls when he moves around after he is down as he pulls his back end around with his front legs. It doesn’t matter whether he is on the wood floor or the carpet, he just doesn’t have the strength in his hind quarters to get himself up. Each year, the pups get new beds for Christmas and we got this thick orthopaedic one for him this year. He will put his front half on it, but even if you get him to walk up on it and lie down, he will end up working his back legs off. You would think it would be so much more comfortable than the hard floor. He is still a very loveable old curmudgeon, demanding of attention if you sit down in the living room where he now lives.

We laugh at some of his quirky ways. For his entire life, he and the German Shepherd have been fed in the utility room with the tile floor. As he grew, we raised his food and water on a feeder stand and this year, bought a taller one so he doesn’t have to bend down as far. The German Shepherd inherited the shorter one as she too is approaching 10 years old this spring, but is still fairly spry though with much less energy than she used to have. When Ranger goes in to eat, he has plenty of room to turn around to walk back out, but has always backed out of the room until he is in the much narrower doorway then turns around. Of course, we provide the “beep, beep” sound of a backing truck when he does it.

When a Mastiff wants your attention, they will paw you. His paws are as large as my hands. As a young pup, we were told to do everything a child might do to him to aclimate him to pokes and prods. You can mess with his paws, ears, pull his tail, check his teeth, step over him and he patiently accepts it. He isn’t a fan of nail trims, but even that can generally be done without too much reaction. As a young dog, you would often find a grandchild laying on the floor with him with their head on his side. He travelled to Florida with us one year with his head in grandson’s lap most of the way. He considers the grands as his kids.

The March we picked him up from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, hubby was instantly in love. I was a bit more cautious, especially when the owner of the parents called up to his welding shop and told them they could let the dogs come down the hill to us. I saw two freight trains with flapping jowls barrelling down the hill and wondered what on earth we had just done. We couldn’t have asked for a better dog.

Happy Birthday, Ranger, old man.

The week before, the week between

Son 1 arrived a few days before Christmas and we enjoyed his company until the morning of the 26th. We enjoyed Christmas eve dinner at daughter’s house along with the traditional reading of “The Night Before Christmas” by the family patriarch for the kids, including the two adult ones.

Christmas morning was low key with Huevos Rancheros for breakfast and the exchange of gifts between the three of us. Daughter and her two kiddos arrived for a late lunch/early dinner with the fancy trimmings and gift exchange with them.

Yesterday I went over to pick up the grands to take them to a friend’s house to see a couple new lambs and daughter was waiting to go too. She had already taken her decorations down as her tree was getting too dry and her cats were threatening her Santa collections. Since we purchased our tree the same day, even though it was in a deep basin that holds more than a gallon of water, I realized that our tree was no longer drinking up the water and it too was getting dry and droopy. I unplugged it for safety reasons, and though the rest of our decorations are still up, the tree has been taken down, moved to the woods, and the rug vacuumed of needles. The rocking chair that has to be relocated when the tree is up is back in the living room.

Yesterday’s mail brought a letter that caused me to check my retirement online and found a very significant error that the retirement system had made. A phone call was made, a return call later, and another this morning, their error has been corrected, but my monthly deposit is way off and the balance won’t be received for a few more days later. That caused a bit of stress as we have several monthly expenses that come directly out of our account. It is resolved fortunately, but we wonder if other members of this retirement system had the same occur to them.

The weather has been so warm that the pussy willows are blooming. I hope it doesn’t trigger the fruit trees. It will remain spring like with rain until next Monday.

To use up the left over bits of yarn from my breed blanket, I started knitting bulky weight hats, holding several strands together on large needles. The first one went home with Son 1, the second one, I must have blinked when counting stitches and realized last night that it wouldn’t fit an infant, so this morning I ripped out the 5″ I had knit, wound a ball and restarted it.

I love the marled look of holding 4 different strands together and the bulky weight makes the hat go quickly.

Right before Christmas, I purchased myself a box/tape loom and it arrived on Christmas eve’s eve. Beginning with a very simple ribbon pattern I have been working to learn to keep my edges even.

Several years ago, I purchased a kit to make one of the looms but it was made of plywood, laser cut, so it couldn’t be used at historical events. This one can. This first tape won’t be pretty, but hopefully will improve my skills so the next one will be more consistent. I deliberately used strongly contrasting colors so I can see where I need practice.

The New Year will be celebrated here at home again. Maybe one year soon, it will be safe to return to Mountain Lake Lodge for their party with dinner, room, and breakfast.

Hope you have a safe Happy New Year.