Oh Fun!

As we were finishing lunch and tonight’s chili was being prepped, I spotted the hens charging across the yard from their free ranging. Once the chili was in the slow cooker, I went out to see what was going on. A Red Tailed Hawk, smaller than any of the hens was sitting in the Forsythia, 9 hens huddled under the thick foliage. The hawk flew off, the hens were too frightened to follow me back to the secure run and coop. It took lures, long poles to poke around under the shrubs, the hose on full jet being sprayed under to get them out. They were finally herded into security. Have you ever herded chickens, like herding cats, but they are secure again.

While doing that, I realized that the temperature is dropping rapidly and it is raining lightly so I hauled the plastic sheeting, the mylar sheet, and stakes out to the garden. The wind made putting plastic over the surviving plants like wrestling an octopus, very challenging. The fig was closed in, the peppers, except for the two branches I broke off one of the Serranos, the peas, and the ground cherries were all covered.

Again, planning ahead for next year would allow me to make a tunnel over a long 3 or 4 foot wide bed with the wide sheet of plastic. I think I will note this in my gardening journal and put the plants that might still be producing in October in one bed.

That basket filled and the green ones were pickled in a half gallon jar for hubby to enjoy over the winter. There are 3 half gallon jars and 1 quart jar of them in the refrigerator and that won’t get him through the winter until next season.

The sunflower heads that were dried in the garage, need to be contained. I have found two of them on the floor mostly eaten, so there must be a very fat mouse in the garage or able to get in the garage.

Routines

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The past 7 months have significantly altered our routines. It is so difficult to adjust. We used to go out for lunch several times a week and out to dinner about twice a month. We would grocery shop once a week, go to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. I would go to my spinning group on Thursday afternoon, thought nothing of going to the yarn shop, went to a couple of fiber retreats each year and at least one fiber festival. My shop wasn’t just online, there were half a dozen in person craft or holiday markets where I would set up and sell my wares. I would participate in many living history events, dressing in period costume and demonstrating fiber preparation and spinning while talking about how different fiber and fabric preparation were and how they were utilized. We would visit our kids or our kids would visit us, I would babysit grands sometimes for a week at a time.

Now, there are no retreats, no festivals, no craft markets. We haven’t been in a restaurant in 7 months. Lunches “out” are drive thru, eaten in the car. Any shopping is done on line and delivered or picked up curbside. To go to the Farmer’s Market, which is outdoors, I have to pre order so that I can be in the first hour, dash through picking up pre selected, pre paid items while masked. I have not participated in a living history event since last Christmas. We haven’t seen Son 1 and his family since Christmas, Son 2 in a parking lot in May to meet our already by then 5 month old grandson as they headed to a family wedding. We see our daughter and her kids distantly in their yard or ours for brief visits all masked. We will not be able to host the annual family Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

I know we are not alone, but we are trying to do our part to help end this disaster our world is facing, our country is not taking seriously. I see pictures and posts of folks I know traveling, on vacation, possibly safely, but are they bringing back more virus.

Usually this time of year, we go to the pharmacy and get our flu shots. This year, we have made an appointment with our family physician where we will wait in the car until time to go in masked, get our shot and leave quickly, and hopefully safely.

It hurts me that so many are brushing this deadly virus off as “just the flu,” “why are you wearing a mask outdoors,” “I don’t need a mask, I’m not sick,” “I don’t need to wear my mask over my nose, I don’t breathe through my nose.”

For only the second time since I was old enough to vote, and then it was 21 years old, I didn’t go to the polls on election day. The first time I was in college and then you voted by absentee ballot that had to be witnessed and not just by a family member or friend. This time we did early in person voting because we didn’t want our ballot to be delayed in the mail, marked unable to scan for some arbitrary reason or to be counted late.

I don’t like these times. I fear for our country’s health and it’s democracy.

Old things, Newer things

Not antiques, but old none the less. We have two, by today’s standards, ancient cars. Mine is 16, hubby’s is 13 and both have well over 200,000 miles on them. His has been showing signs of it’s demise. It is losing oil, the check engine light stays on because of a bad catalytic converter, the car has several, the low tire pressure light stays on because all of the sensors were removed with a tire replacement several years ago. We keep the oil changed, get yearly inspections, make sure the brakes and tires are good.

Yesterday we drove two towns over, only about 20 miles to get drive thru Chick-fil-A for lunch. During the pandemic with the dining room closed, they have quite a system set up at busy times, with two drive thru lanes merging into one then separating again into two pick up lines. A path to get around to the queue to get into a drive thru line, sections set aside for app ordered pre orders and another for third party pick ups. After we got our food, we drove over to the shopping center parking lot to eat, put down our windows for air and had lunch. After we were finished, the car would not start. Daughter lives within shouting distance, but she is working from home with two kids getting virtual education, so we didn’t want to call her unless necessary. We have AAA and called them. We were told it would be about 64 minutes, that we would get three text messages, the first letting us know that the service order had been entered, the second that it had been assigned, and the third that the service was in route. Soon after the first text, a couple near our age in a pickup offered to jump us, but we declined. About 45 minutes into the wait, another car offered help and at this point, we figured we had waited that long, we would just wait. The hour came and went, no second text. A third person offered a jump and we took her up on it, got the car started, thanked her, called AAA back to let them know that we got tired of waiting and got help. The car though running, in neutral was racing then almost stalling. When driving it would surge and resume normal speed. Instead of going straight to get a new battery, we elected to get home, pick up my car and take the ailing one directly to our local repair place. If the dead battery just messed with the computer and it can be reset, if a battery is all it needs, we will have it fixed. If there are bigger issues, it is difficult to justify the money to repair a 13 year old car with 243,000 miles on it. We have been anticipating this, dreading the thought that at our ages and during a pandemic, we might have to purchase a new car and have car payments. For now, we will continue to drive the older one and hope it gets us through to spring.

Maybe, just maybe, this will be a less expensive repair and we can continue to get a bit more use out of it. As Son 1 says, “they are both in the bonus round.”

On a brighter note, since I don’t have an electric dehydrator to dry herbs and peppers, this is my solar dehydrator.

It works quite well for herbs and peppers, but I can’t do tomatoes. Maybe next year I will try the oven method with some of the Amish paste tomatoes, or if I can get a few pounds at the Farmers’ Market this weekend, maybe I will try it this year.

I think the salad mix needs thinning. Tonight, we will enjoy truly fresh salad and a few of the healthier plants will go in a window garden to harvest from until they get tall and bitter.

I moved into our home 14 years ago last month, while hubby was still working toward his retirement across the state. I had been here for 15 months in various rentals during the construction. Some of the later temporary housing was sharing space with Son 1 and his family, who moved in here with me as they finished the inside of the house. One of the shared spaces was a sublet from friends of theirs who had purchased a home with about a month left on their lease. When they left, they abandoned a very large Jade plant that ended up here. Each winter it came in to sit out the cold indoors and each summer it lived on the west end of the north facing front porch. The pot it was in was 18-20″ in diameter and the plant so large it didn’t fit through the front door without breaking off a few smaller branches and so heavy it had to be on a roller for me to move it in and out. With daughter and her family living with us for a couple of years, toddler and young elementary school age, their dog and our two, there just wasn’t enough room for the additional activity, so I advertised the plant on Craigslist and a young man wanted it. In the process of moving it out for him to pick up, a thumb sized branch broke off and I told him I was keeping the branch. It was potted up and survived. Though it is no where near as large as the parent plant, here it is today, again getting too big for the convenient sunny winter spots in the house, especially since the doors in these photos are where the big pup, our aging Mastiff spends most of his days in “his sunny spot.”