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.”

Sunday communing with nature

Sundays are stay safe at home days, days to enjoy the outdoors while hubby watches football, days to get some outdoor tasks done, then prepare homemade Mexican dinner. Yet, Sundays are difficult for me as they have been at other times in the past. Sundays are family day, but for 4 years in college, it was a day to be homesick, no classes or other activities to distract me. As a young single woman, weekends were often backpacking trips with friends, and Sunday was the day we walked out and drove home to face another work week. As an older adult, a few weekends a year were spent with friends at fiber retreats, and Sunday was the day we packed up, hugged goodbye for months and drove home. I miss my kids and my grandkids. I miss my friends. I miss hugs and socialization.

To try to thwart the low feelings, I spend Sunday outdoors as much as possible. After pups and breakfast come taking care of the hens. They are a motley looking crew right now in the midst of molt so the coop, run, and surrounding yard are dusted with feathers, black ones, red ones, brown ones, feathers everywhere. Normally, it is just letting them out, making sure they have food and water. But yesterday, the coop was cleaned for the start of cold weather. When weather gets cold enough to freeze the water outside the coop, it is important they have water inside the coop, usually a bucket that will be dumped and refilled daily, eventually having to break the ice out of it each day. Because of the molt, there are very few eggs, only 1 in the past 4 days.

After the games began at 1, I brought out the riding the mower out set a notch lower than last week and mowed the front, sides, and back of the house. The orchard, pine trees, and well head areas are still growing, mostly too high to mow with the riding mower at this point.

The Dogwood near house is not a native variety, the native ones have small red berries this time of year. The one near the house has a larger knobby berry that looks like a big firm raspberry.

The deer have stripped the new leaves from the grape vine again. Now that they have found it, it really is vital to put a hot wire around it next year if there are to be any grapes to harvest. A task to be done on another day.

Night before last night I finished spinning the second color of the Shenandoah braid and yesterday morning finished the sample that came with the new spindle. I have already spun 56 2/3 grams of fiber this month and my first update photo shown below was posted. I should put it aside and work on the knits if they are going to get done. Soon being outdoors will be less enticing and fewer outdoor jobs to do and more knitting will be done, I did get several inches done on the sweater after dark.

Since it was a nice day, I attempted to burn the asparagus tops, the pulled tomato plants, and the dead sunflowers. Though it started nicely, it quickly went out, I guess it is still too green. Another attempt will be made after they have had a couple more weeks to dry or we get a real frost. This rids the asparagus patch of beetles and reduces the weeds as well as getting rid of the garden waste that doesn’t break down into compost for years unless shredded and we have no shredder.

A lady bug on the pepper plant, but almost no spots.

More peppers, more tomatillos brought in, but the tomatillo plants really seem to have taken the worst hit with the frost. There are no new blossoms and only a couple dozen small fruits. The forecast shows no chance of frost again for at least 10 days. The garden will continue to grow and produce.

We ended a beautiful, busy weekend with an evening walk around the pond a couple of times. A flock of geese noisily circled the pond a few times and two landed for the night. Three ducks were perched on a log out in the water.

It was near dark by the time we got out. It is amazing how quickly it gets dark this time of year. In spite of all the day’s activities, I am sad that it couldn’t be spent with family, a visit to one our sons and their families, or a meal or hike with our daughter and hers.

Stay safe out there. Be responsible, I want family time again.

The Fog Cleared, the Garden Mostly Survived

The fog finally cleared yesterday and after the run to the natural foods store for supplies, a garden venture was braved. There is evidence we received a light frost, about a week to 10 days before average, the tops of the Tomatillos are burned and the edges of the western most Thai pepper show some damage, but for the most part, I think we have a little more time. Peppers were picked as well as Tomatillos. The stink bugs seem to love the Tomatillos and many are damaged when I pick them, some so damaged they never fully develop. If the damage is light, I just cut it out before blanching them. If it is heavy, the fruit goes to the hens and as I toss them from 2/3 across the garden some miss. They will be next year’s volunteers. I probably won’t have to plant or buy Tomatillo plants next year. The three dill plants that didn’t come up forever were tucked under and between the Ground Cherries and the bush beans and they survived last night. Not wanting to risk losing them, they were cut and are drying in three small vented brown bags.

The mail brought next year’s seed garlic. The garlic I ordered and some I purchased from a vendor at the Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago will be planted in early November and covered with straw to become next year’s garlic crop.

It also brought the spindle I purchased at the Yarn Tools shop update early this week. This one appealed to me because it is Honduran Rosewood and one of my favorite excursions from our 40th Anniversary cruise was in the Honduras, where we rode horses on the beach and into the ocean around a small island and ate soft tacos in a beachside hut before returning to the ship.

Though the spindle on the left and the new one in the center are both Jenkin’s Finches, the weights are significantly different. The Rosewood one is more than 5 grams heavier and only less than half a gram lighter than it’s much larger cousin, the Aegean on the right. I was unfortunate or fortunate on how you look at it with the lottery. My name wasn’t drawn, so another spindle purchase this week didn’t happen. The fortunate is that I didn’t really need another, nor did it warrant spending the money.

The lack of a Farmer’s Market run and the cooler day inspired me to return to bread baking. It took a break during the hot weather and I would just buy a loaf of sour dough bread at the Farmer’s Market. Since I had pizza on the menu for the night and had to let the flours come to room temperature anyway, I mixed up a batch of yeast raised herb and onion bread and one of plain sandwich bread along with the pizza dough. It looks great and smells wonderful, but I was too full from pizza when it came out of the oven to even think about trying it.

We haven’t seen any Hummingbirds in over a week. They usually stick around until mid October, but not this year. The feeders were brought in and washed. Once thoroughly dry they will be stored away until mid to late April next spring.

All in all, it was a delightful, busy fall day. The hunters apparently were successful in the fog from their text as they left late in the morning. No hunting is allowed on Sundays unless it is on your own land and we neither hunt nor eat game meat, so the deer are safe today.

Last evening after the hunters were gone.