Tuesday, March 30

Entertainment

The issue of entertainment has been on my mind a lot lately. Movies, television, internet, books, yard activities and baby.

We have definitely been seeing less movies since Connor was born so that is all I can say about that.

The television has been off a lot more lately too. I hardly ever have it on during the day unless he is napping but honestly, there really isn't anything on during the day that I have a pressing need to watch. I used to turn on Little House on the Prairie in the afternoons and lounge on the living room floor with Connor until he fell asleep but they have taken that off the air for the time being. So, a lot less tv here too.

Internet - that is my weakness. I use it constantly. If I did not have internet, I think I would go insane. I do not know how people survived without it, even though it was not even around until I was in college. I get a lot of gardening, homesteading, and animal information as well as info on just about anything else that comes up. What is a broiler pan and how do I use it? My rubber plant is losing leaves, what’s the matter with it? What is a feline urinary tract infection and what are the symptoms? How do I make bread from scratch? What is the right age to start brushing baby teeth? The list is endless. It is my go-to for anything and everything. But i do have to admit, I farm. On Farmville. On Facebook. Facebook is a time-suck. But I love it. I fully admit that I know it is bad. I think about all the time I waste "harvesting" and sending "free gifts" and i know there are more productive things I could be doing with my time. But I can't help myself. I love it. Please don't judge me.

Books - my other weakness. I will never be an e-book person. I love the feel, the smell, the overall wonderful-ness that holding a new book or an old book, in my hands is like. I love the idea of having a personal library. Reference books, novels, fun stuff and just about everything else. Right now I am reading The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton. So far, it is wonderful, just as I thought it would be. How could I not want to read about Wyoming living with a coyote!

Yard activities have also provided a lot of entertainment around here lately. Mostly in the planning and list-making stages thanks to the crummy wet weather lately. But this coming week promises to be nice so I am hoping to provide myself with hours of "entertainment" in the form of taking out the beat up shade garden fence, raking all the winter yard junk and tilling the vegetable garden. There are some other yard activities that more entertaining such as watching the birds at the feeder, hunting for new flowers emerging in the gardens and watching the grass go from dull green and brown to a little bit brighter of a spring green. Yes, that passes for entertainment here but I wouldn’t have it any other way. it's goanna get busy here really soon folks!

Finally, we have Connor. He is the most entertaining. He figured out how to walk last week and things have been crazy-interesting ever since. I have been watching him discover how to balance on his feet, his numerous ways of hauling himself up onto those feet, and his discovery of his knees and that they actually bend and aid the walking process.

He gets so excited that he cannot keep his balance and both feet go flying out from under him and he lands on his butt. That’s pretty much his day - up and down, up and down. He gets pretty tired out which leads to good naps.

Not only does he provide me with loads of entertainment, he also entertains himself very easily. So far today he has managed to fill up an entire morning with the following: staring at a smiley face helium balloon, pulling all the wet clothes of the lower levels of the drying rack, hugging the cat (gently), and removing half the baby wipes from the box and rubbing them all over his head (?). Add this to all his walking, eating and attempts at running and he should be collapsing into a nap very shortly.

It is a wonder I even have a television at all.

Monday, March 29

Book Report



We Took to the Woods
By: Louise Dickinson Rich

What a wonderful book! I love stories like this - about ditching civilization and heading out into nature. It is interesting from beginning to end. It is set in the remote backcountry settlement of Middle Dam, in the Rangeley area of Maine. Rapid River country.

A favorite quote about their dog, Kyak, “There is no use trying to do anything with him, except love him.” And they had a pet skunk named Rollo, who never sprayed them and eventually went back to the wild.

She talks a lot about how they have to plan for supplies like food and household necessities - it is hard to get in and out of the area, nearly impossible in the winter. So they have to plan and "put up against winter". I picture shelves lined with can goods, preserves, jerky and all, but unless you also have a store of 50lb bags of wheat, rice and supplies of yeast and other baking supplies, you still need to depend in part on the Outside. “This is supposed to be the Independent Life, but as far as getting supplies goes, we’re dependent on quiet a number of things…”she writes. And I get shoved back to reality and realize that it's just the same here. We are dependent, no matter how hard we try to be self sufficient, on others. We do not have a cow. We depend on Wegmans and, when there is a little extra in the paycheck, Pittsford Dairy. We do not have chickens, yet (but they will be here soon!), so we go to Wegmans for the cage free organic ones. Little examples, but it shows that everyone is dependent on someone or something. Is there a thing as being totally self sufficient? Even if it is just the need for human interaction?

A funny realization about 'Smitches and Dabs' – “a smitch of this and a dab of that. In other words, that’s the meal that cleans up the icebox. You dump some odds and ends of meat, any stray vegetables…”. My Mom used to do this every couple of weeks. I would see a pot on the stove and she would be dumping things into it from tupperware she had fished out of the back of the fridge. Meat, potatoes, veggies, rice, beans, and I would see her squeezing ketchup from the bottle in there too "for texture." This was for Dad. It was his dinner. We would be having something like sandwiches that night. I used to think she was punishing him for something.

The book is written in the time frame of the late 30s and early 40s. She bounces back and forth a lot which makes it hard to try and figure out what the year is but eventually it does not really matter. It could take place at any time, really. She mentions the War (World War II) very infrequently. One instance when she did mention it was one of my favorite parts of the book. She is discussing how they get their information - the radio - and how they have to be picky about how often and to what they listen because it is battery powered. They listened to a few programs and a little news and that was it.

“If it would help humanity or the course of the War by so much as one iota, I would gladly sit all day all day long and listen to eye witness accounts of air raids and hour by hour reports on the progress made or not made along the numerous fronts. But it would not help anything and it would keep me in a constant state of turmoil and indigestion. So we have our fifteen minute dose of every-thing’s-going-to-hell each evening, and the rest of the day we try to forget about it."

Perfect. Absolutely perfect. If only we could all be that smart. Even before Connor was born, there was only so much CNN I could take. I can almost pin point the time that my brain flipped and I wanted to know no more. September 11th. We watch the news constantly. For days. For weeks. It was total overload and I decided I really did not want to know any more. I cannot stand politics, local or national. I do not care what golfers do when they are not golfing, or when they are golfing for that matter. I cannot stand to watch or listen to those weekend morning political shows where a bunch of people sit around a table and yell at each other.

After I had Connor, it was more than clear that I wanted to opt-out. I watch the local evening news and the national news while I am making dinner. That’s just about it. I listen to Bob Lonsberry on WHAM almost every day. That’s my radio program. I just don't want to deal with it. I don’t even want to go out to run errands half of the time. Too much traffic, too much distraction. Too much noise. (I am not totally anti-social or strange or anything like that, I just like quiet. And not to have to worry about everything going on in all corners of the world all the time.)

The final Chapter – is it worth-while? – is the best in the book, even though the whole book is wonderful. "I am more at home in this world that we have created than even I was in that vast and confusing maelstrom that we call civilization. Here I dare to be myself.” She goes on to discuss what is and is not now important – all very interesting and quotable.

And, the best quote in the whole book, "If you’ve got sense, you can keep out of trouble. If you haven’t got sense, you’ll get into trouble, here or anywhere else."

If we could all live with this in mind, we would all be a lot better off. Then maybe we would not be stressed out over CNN and the commute to the grocery store.

Sunday, March 28

Geo Thermal Installation Day



The outdoor geo thermal equipment was installed the other day at my parent’s house. It was a full day of dirt and construction and muck boots.




The work was done by ACES (Alternative Carbon Energy Systems), a company out of Depew, NY. They arrived early and began digging the trench (about 6 feet deep) for the loop coil system. The coils were rolled out in the trench and covered half way. A blue marking tape was placed and then buried to alert future excavations and then the rest of the trench was filled in and the ground was leveled out.

There are two valves going into the house which will connect to the tank.

I am not going to pretend to understand exactly how this all works. That’s Roy's job.

I can say that it was a fun day. All that rich, dark, lovely dirt piled up in the back yard smelled wonderful. I was dying to get my hands in it and plant something. We all got to wear our much boots out and about and even the little guy got his boots dirty for the first time. He is not walking yet but he stands pretty well and he got the ceremonial mud caked in the treds. I was so proud.

We amounted to not much more than bystanders and supervisors and photographers for most of the day.

I would post more picture’s but for some reason Blogger is being a jerk about uploading right now.
Here is a LINK to more photos.

Thursday, March 25

You Don't See That Anymore

Didn't I already have a post with that title? Anyway, it's true. I was shocked and happy.

I got a set of three cast iron cooking pans the other day. My other pans were just not cutting the mustard and I had recently gotten rid of any that were flaking little chips of things into whatever I was cooking. So I decided to invest in some quality cast iron.

I had Roy order them for me and when they came, I looked at the box and I was instantly pleased.




Made in the USA.

Lifetime Guarantee.

Seriously, how often do you see that??? I'll bet I could get a tour of the factory and if, for some reason one of the pans ever broke, I could totally call them on that guarantee thing with no problems. Not that I could ever break one of these things. They weigh a ton and I don't think that I could ever break one, even if I had to use it for home defense. (it looks like I could do some damage with just the little one!)

I seasoned them all according to the directions and I used Mr. Medium Pan tonight to make chicken. Nothing fancy, just plain chicken. It didn't stick, it cooked fast and thoroughly and it was easy clean up.

I'm sold.

Wednesday, March 24

I Need Recipes!

I am looking for recipes for my new cast iron pans - I want to use them!!!!!
No red meat dishes, please. But we love chicken, fish, turkey and veggie dishes!

I also am looking for suggestions for my small slow-cooker. We are sick of chicken stew. :)

Tuesday, March 23

Yum.



Rice and chicken enchiladas with sauce and cheese. Plenty of cheese.

One of our favorites.

Yum.

Oranges, Dehydration and the 4 Step Process

In keeping with one of my New Year's Resolutions, I have tried a new food.

Oranges.

Yes, I know, you are thinking "How can someone never have tried an orange?"

Well, I'm picky. And I am not a fan of citrus in general.

I drink orange juice, reluctantly, when I am sick.

But the other day, I tried two bites. It was ok. Not as slimy as I had imagined and not as "citrus-y" either. So, all in all, it was ok. If I was starving and only had an orange to eat, I would take it.

Why did I have an orange in the house if I don’t eat them, you ask? Well, it is because of Roy's new obsession. He bought a book entitled "How To Survive the End of the World as we Know It." And now, he is very concerned about the "golden horde" coming to pillage our small stock of emergency candles and heirloom seeds.

When Roy does something, he does it big. He gets obsessed. I do not know what has sparked this vast interest in surviving an apocalypse but it is homesteading at its finest so I will take it. Unfortunately, this means more work for me. All of Roy's ideas mean more work for me. No matter how you look at it, it is always the same 4 step process:

1. Roy has an idea
2. Roy buys things and plans things and starts things.
3. Roy gets bored and/or busy.
4. I get stuck doing the work, taking care of the unfinished things.

He does not even argue that this is not true.

I like that he is finally showing an interest in the more classic elements of homesteading - canning, "putting things up against winter", preparedness, gardening, and the like. He has always been very much into the tech part - solar panels, wind energy, geo-thermal - but now he is taking it to ordering survival water from Amazon. We now have in our supply cabinet, in addition to candles, oil lamps, and extra food and practical things, a supply of water in pouches, two respirators, and a food dehydrator.

And that is why I have an orange in the house. Roy has been dehydrating everything he can get his hands on since that thing came by UPS. We now have a supply of dried apples, dried oranges, and some not so great looking dried banana chips. He is going to make jerky next. He got a special gun for it. You shove a bunch of smushed up meat in it and use it like a cookie press. Only this shoots out a flat, thin strip of meat resembling something from the play dough fun factory.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for food preservation and i like that we are doing it. I would like to eat an actual apple rather than a dry one but when the chips are down, I'll eat a dried up piece of fruit. It is just the way he goes about things that interests me.

And guess who had to slice the apples and wash all the dehydrator parts.

Friday, March 19

Spring.....

The weather around here has been absolutely wonderful for the past week and I have spent every available minute outside doing something. Anything. I don't care if I am just standing in the yard with the baby just standing there.

Wednesday I did a yard inventory and there is a lot to be done. Yard clean up, fence repair, finishing off the solar (mostly yard cleanup and filling in holes), and garden planning. We are putting in two new vegetables gardens this year - one for additional tomato and pumpkin space and the other for a small lot of wheat. Roy has invested in a wheat/flour grinder and wants to put it to the test. I have to admit that this sounds interesting, but, as with most of Roy's ideas, it means fun for him and more work for me.

I am also planning on some flower garden re-do's. My shade garden fence has sadly seen its last days. It came with the house and has been there for quite some time. I tried to save it but it is just beyond repair. So, I am taking this opportunity of removal to reduce the size of the shade garden. I have always had trouble with it - trying to find a variety of shade plans to grow there and the chipmunks have taken it upon themselves to snack on roots, killing many plants. So that it being shrunk to a more manageable size which I am very happy with.

Yesterday, we ventured outside, one of us in a stroller, and hacked the heck out of the lilac bush. We have a huge lilac bush that grows right by the driveway and it has been in desperate need of a good trimming and thinning. I know, I know, you should wait until a specific time to trim and I am sure that I took off things that should have been left and left some that should have been taken. But it is my lilac bush and I am tired of getting hit with branches. I don't think there is a lilac jail and no one is going to come and take me away.

Regardless, Connor tried to help hide the evidence by eating it.



I also have the tell tale signs of spring in the yard:





These guys mean business and they say SPRING to me every year and I know that garden tilling is just around the corner. Excited does not even begin to describe my mood this week.

Wednesday, March 17

Smelling Like a Farmer

OK, before you go thinking , "Wow, she is stinky!", let me say that it is not what it sounds like.

Right around this time every year I start to get really, really anxious for spring. And with the warm weather we have been having lately, it is not hard to get into the spirit. I am done with winter - no more slush in my shoes and scraping ice off the windshield. I am done with that. What I am ready for is the smell of fresh tilled plots, daffodils poking through the leftover dead leaves, and that scent that is just in the air right now. Spring.

I want robins and tulips and garden plans.

As far as smelling like a farmer, I guess I should explain that. My Grandparents have a farm in Stuben County, NY and when we were kids, the had chickens and veggies and we would love to go to "the farm." They do not have chickens anymore and but they still grow food and relay on their wood burning stove for heat. But when we went there, there was a cool "farm" smell - kind of a combination of hard work, grass, spring, dirt road, solitaire and Hershey kisses for breakfast.

I know that farms really smell like cows and pigs and all things that come from both of 'em but to me, Grandma and Grandpa's place has that farm smell.

And today I had it. Here. At our just-starting-out homestead.

We went to Tractor Supply. If you want to feel like a farmer or a homesteader, go to tractor supply. If you really want to feel like a farmer, buy something. Anything. Even if you done need it, don't know what it is for, or don’t even know what it is. If you need help taking it to the car, that is even better.

Fortunately, we knew what we were buying. Happy St. Patrick's Day to me - Roy bought me a big black plastic turning compost bin. Thank you! And we go our first chicken supplies. Two feeders and two water dispensers.

When we got home and I took them out of the trunk, I got the farmer smell and it was fantastic.

I have a farm. I am going to have chickens - the essential farm animal. I am a "lite" homesteader. I can say it and really believe it. Not like I am saying it, trying to convince myself or others.

And, even better than knowing that I am going to actually have chickens in my yard, if is the fact that I know I am responsible enough to care for them.

Today it stunk to high hell around here and I loved every minute of it.

Tuesday, March 16

You Say Tomato.....



I started 'em early and here they are. And I am excited.

i am excited because, dare I say it, I might have a great tomato crop this year. No defeated trips to the garden center for tomato plants, no blank stares at the puny plants yielding no fruit, and the smell of ripe tomatoes that i can smell from the back door before I even get near the garden.

Since all my other attempts to grow the perfect tomato plant from seed have failed miserably in one form or another, I am asking for your help. How do I preserve these budding little plants and make sure that come planting time, they will be tall and robust and healthy, shining examples of the nightshade family.

I know that i should move each plant to its own small pot when it has two good sets of true leaves and that I should plant it deep - almost up to the bottom leaves (?). Do they need to be re-potted again before the move to the cold frames for hardening off? Any advice would be appreciated since I am more nervous with these guys than I was the first month I had the actual baby at home.

To produce a viable tomato plant from seed, by myself, organically, and have tomatoes that Roy will eat and make my garden look like a productive little system is kind of like my validation. It will say to me that I am gardener. That I am capable of growing food. I will be able to truly and confidently call myself a "lite" homesteader.

Monday, March 15

Those Were The Days

Steps and Choices





The state of my meat eating has been weighing on my mind lately. There was a time when I thought nothing of heading to the local KFC for a heavenly twister wrap – the dressing alone was worth the trip. I would buy the inexpensive chicken breast, turkey dogs and prepackaged lunch meat for Roy’s sandwiches.

Thinking back on it, the chicken was fatty and the lunch meat was kind of slimy. And don’t get me started on the hotdogs. What I know now…… the first step towards being better.

I have always known about factory farms and where meat comes from but I slowly tried to forget as I made the purchases – trying to save money and all.

Money is still very much a concern but I have learned quite a few things. I have been reading a ton lately, mostly about homesteading skills and being more self sufficient, but also about my food and where it comes from.

I rented Food, Inc. and thought it was going to be a shot after shot of factory farms. Something I knew I couldn’t stand, but I also knew that I had to do something to give myself a kick in the butt to get going on a new path. This could be just the thing to make me put down the discount chicken once and for all.

It was and it wasn’t. What it wasn’t was exactly what I thought it was going to be – a horrible slideshow of poor animals – something I would have to shield my eyes from. I was grateful for that. What is was, however, was a wonderful film that gave my just the kick I was looking for. I got all sorts of information about how to do things the right way. Another step towards making better choices.

The next time I went to the grocery store, I looked. I looked at the chicken I usually buy. Very nicely trimmed and packaged in styrofoam under plastic wrap. It cost $4.98 and it would feed Roy and myself for about 3 meals. Pretty good deal. Then I looked at the much smaller organic meats section. Smaller section, higher prices. Over double the other chicken. But I knew why and I chose the organic. I paid more but I can go without the extra 6-pack of Diet Pepsi if it means that I can actually stomach my chicken pot pie. (Diet Pepsi is my vice, I know, it’s not great for you…)

The more I learn, the harder it is but the better I feel about our choices.

Saturday, March 13

Expansion

I am one of those people who think it is bad luck to count on something.

Here is what I mean. We live on just under 2 acres with a house, barn and chicken shed. Our neighbor was going to sell us another 2 acres directly behind us with another barn and a workshop. This all hinged on other factors that were beyond our control but we still hoped that it would all work out and that we could still buy the 2 acres.

When I reluctantly mentioned this to my friends, who also love to garden, they were so excited with landscaping plans and ideas for what we could do with the barn. I told them that I did not want to think about it simply because I thought it would be putting a hex on the entire operation.

But I allowed myself to daydream about a second clothes line and a row of butterfly bushes and a small field for possible wheat growing.

And now it looks like things might not go through. No fault of ours or the owners, but I still feel like it is my fault for getting my hopes up.

Just talking about it now makes me feel like I should be hiding while typing this.

So my hopes of expansion and putting just a little more space between us and any possible neighbor/development/anything.... might have fallen through. Still waiting to hear the final word and I am keeping my fingers crossed but for now, I am raining in my plans and concentrating on what we have.

I read a blog called Cold Antler Farm. Today she posted something that really struck a cord with me - "I am so wrapped up in the possibilities I forget the probabilities." What a perfect summation of our expansion situation.

More on our spring plans soon......

Friday, March 12

Another Morning Surprise



WARNING: This post contains words of a, well, I talk about cats pooping and peeing.

Yesterday, I was surprised to find an opossum in my garbage can.

If only I was so "lucky" this morning.

Last night the cat(s) went on a litter box strike.

I say cat(s) because i do not know which cat, or cats, took part in this little party.

It started last night with what I thought was an isolated incident. I was sitting in the living room and I noticed Buffin frantically trying to cover something up in the room with the pellet stove. I went over to investigate and someone had pooped on the area rug. First, I had just used the carpet cleaner not two hours previous on all the rugs. So I was kind of annoyed by that. And secondly, it smelled. Big time. Big poop, and not completely solid if you catch my drift.

Result - area rug on front porch.

Buffin, who I assumed to be the culprit, looked up at me with this expression of complete innocence on his face. I could not decide if he had done it, felt bad, and tried to cover it up, or if he was covering, literally, for someone else. Hence the innocent look. I have never known him to have "accidents" so I chalked it up to just that - an accident, whether it be by him or one of the others.

Turns out, this was not an isolated accident.

And, I have my suspect in my sights.

Prince has been acting up big time lately. He is old and crabby and likes to have his own way. His lap time has been significantly cut since the baby came and he is resentful. All the cat treats in the world do not make up for an hour or two of uninterrupted lounging on my lap.

This morning, I came downstairs and noticed a nice little river of dog pee running through the kitchen. this is not a surprise. Snowy is old and she has the occasional accident. I accept this and forgive her and clean it up. It is linoleum so it is easy and it happens infrequently.

But what was that smell coming from the dining room?

Poop. On another area rug. That I had just cleaned the day before.

Result: area rug on the front porch.

Now that my porch is looking like the flooring section at Home Depot, I was worried that someone might be having a medical problem. I checked each cat - you do not want to know the details on this - and everything was ok.

I sat down in a kitchen chair to eat breakfast.

Why is the seat of my pants wet?

That’s it. Last straw. Someone had peed all over the pile of magazines I had yet to read that were on the KITCHEN TABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Very luckily, there was a quite absorbent placemat underneath and I was able to clean the table thoroughly. The magazines were a total loss.

Now that none of you will ever want to come over to my house for dinner....

The most likely culprit is Mr. Prince. This has happened before but strangely, it was Buffin and the box of tax information. But I really think this time it is Prince. Besides from being pissed off at me, I am trying to figure out why he would do this. The litter boxes are always kept clean and scooped so he has a very nice place to go, by cat standards.

Reasons Why:
1. Pissed Off Cat
2. Some Water in the Basement so he might get his feet a little wet while heading to the box (I hate to think I have a prissy cat, especially since he is a boy)
3. ???????

I really can't think of another reason.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, March 11

A Wapathemwa in My Can



This morning I had a surprise in my garbage can.

This morning I walked out to the barn with Snowy in tow to 1) deposit the garbage in the can and 2) to let Snowy do her business. Nothing unusual about this. What was unusual however, was that when I opened the top of the garbage can/tote, it hissed at me.

I looked in and noticed a ball of grayish fur curled up next to the only bag of garbage currently in the can and further looking revealed a nasty looking, pointy face with pretty sharp looking teeth. He was flashing me a toothy grin that seemed to say "Hey, this is my garbage. Go find your own."

Well, I hate to break it to you, Mr. Opossum, but this WAS my garbage and my can and unless you want to meet an unfortunate end in the back of a Waste Management compactor truck come Friday, you will get your furry little butt out of there.

He didn't seem to understand my ultimatum.

Here is what happened: I have always told Roy to make sure we close the tops on the totes because we have a ton of bird nesting in the barn in the warmer months and sometimes the babies, in first attempts at flight, end up in the bottom of a tote and they cannot get out. Yesterday I noticed that the top was open and I closed it.

He must have been in there, snacking, and I didn't discover him until this morning.

He was not a happy camper.

I put Snowy in her pen, grabbed my camera and snapped a few quick pics. Then I closed the lid and gently tipped the tote over and placed it on its side. Then I opened the top a ran up the driveway fearing the revenge of a very pissed off opossum.

But he was happy to stay in the tipped over tote and I went in the house. Tonight, it is still tipped over and I am not going out there to deposit the evenings cat little scoopings. That little bag can sit by the back door and Roy can inspect the tote to make sure it is vacant before I take out any more garbage.



In looking around online (trying to figure out if it was 'possum' or 'opossum') I found quite a few sites devoted to all things opossum. Everything from rising them as pets to trapping them and eating them.

Turns out, the American species is called 'opossum', where as the Australian clan is just plain 'possum.' One of the more positive opossum pages is HERE. This will probably be the first, only, and last time I ever link to an opossum page.

The word opossum comes from the Algonquian "wapathemwa" meaning "white dog". Ironic, since I have a white dog. When threatened or harmed, they will "play possum", mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. The lips are drawn back, teeth are bared, saliva foams around the mouth, and a foul-smelling fluid is secreted from the anal glands. Well, that explains the nasty little grin he gave me, and as far as the gland thing goes, I am just glad he was already in the garbage can.

Opossums have a remarkably robust immune system, and show partial or total immunity to the venom of rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and other pit vipers. Opossums are about eight times less likely to carry rabies than wild dogs, and about one in eight hundred opossums are infected with this virus. That’s good to know, I guess.

I have learned more about opossums today that I ever thought I would. Most of it is contained in this post and here ends my journey of opossum studies.

Unless he has decided to camp out in the tote in which case he will be meeting Roy and the snow shovel tomorrow. (Not to hurt him, just to hurry him along).

Wednesday, March 10

Odds and Ends

A few things happening here that are very mundane but, well, it's all I've got.



Roy decided to make tea. He poured boiling hot water into one of my 1000 Islands mugs and CRACK. Hot tea all over the counter and the floor. I managed to save the mug to use for holding some of my colored pencils but no longer will it hold hot cocoa or tea or any other liquid.

The matching mug is very lonely.






I had a nice surprise when I went outside to do a little yard clean up today. Spring is finally coming and I cannot wait to leave this winter weather behind. I am so tired of the heavy snow weighting down the branches on the hedges that simply refuses to melt. The yard is half snow and half muddy brown, dead mess. It is almost sad to look at. So, that’s why I was so happy to see these little light green and white shoots coming up.

Tuesday, March 9

This Picture Always Makes Me Smile

Genealogy in the Air




Lots of genealogy in the air here lately as that new show, Who Do You Think You Are? Has gotten me inspired to get back into digging around for my past. Such an important thing the past is, and I am glad that I been able to find little bits of time to get back into something I enjoy so much. I love searching for info about my ancestors – absolutely love it. If I could get a job doing this, I would be the happiest person in the world.

Unfortunately, I have not always been the history loving, family story listening to person that I am today. I have always liked history and it was not until high school that I took an interest in the family tree. I wrote an article for a class assignment on my Grandfathers service in World War II. I was interested in his stories and I learned about his service in Italy and I wrote the article. And then I moved on to the next assignment and other things in a 17 year olds life.

Not until I went to college and happened to tape up a picture of my Uncle in my dorm room did I start to get interested in the family history. It was a photo of him in Vietnam during the war and I had always been told he was in the finance department. But here he was, standing in front of what looked like barracks, holding a rifle and drinking a beer. There was a story there and I asked about it, learned about him and I was hooked.

First, I have to say that the bottom line is that I should have paid more attention.

To the stories and the little mentions of people and places.

I have since learned that my grandfather would hardly talk to anyone about the war or his experiences in it. He would not even watch a war movie or show on tv. Ever.

I was lucky in that he was willing to share with me and there is not a day that goes by, even to this day, that I do not regret realizing that and learning as much as I could. He has since passed away before I could learn more and my sources now are my father, who he also discussed things with on a few occasions, and a book written about his unit in Italy during the war.

Recently, Mom gave me a tape of video from the Locust Lawn fire that had a news clip of Grandpa being interviewed. It was just a short little clip but the minute I heard his voice I just started crying immediately. I had forgotten when he sounded like until then and I had no idea how much I missed his voice and seeing him in those worn out baseball style caps and big, brownish tinted sunglasses.

My other inspiration came from my wonderful, talented and intelligent Aunt Sandy. (She was the one who made the Locust Lawn tape – always looking out for opportunities to preserve history and memories). She was a genealogy and history fanatic (in a good way) and she taught me so much and shared so much. She was one of the most wonderful people I have ever known and, sadly and tragically, she passed away this past May from cancer. It was sudden and no one in the family can believe that she will not be at another family party, sharing bits of information she discovered about the family.

She most concentrated on my mothers side of the family, however, she considered everything historical of value and saved it for the people it pertained to. She was the historian for the Town of West Bloomfield until she died and she has written many books. My two favorites are one about my mom’s side of the family which details the family tree all the way back to the 4 families on the Mayflower that we are descended from. The other book is a history of the Town Of Ionia, where I grew up. It is the best, and only, book about our town and she put so much effort into that book along with the other authors.
It is interesting how things that make us so happy can also make us so sad. When I am searching around for a date or place and I find an bit of information, about what I am looking for or about something totally unrelated, the first thing that comes into my mind more often than not is “I can’t wait to share this with Aunt Sandy.” I have to consciously remind myself that she is gone because I still cannot believe it.

Sandy was an extremely talented artist. I have posted some photos of her gourd and craft painting here. Here is a link to an article that appeared in the Daily Messenger.

Monday, March 8

The TV Psychic Likes Me




I am operating on a high – a history filled, WWII, genealogy high.

The Pacific is starting this weekend (refer to previous post about non-interruption), and I am totally infatuated with this new show “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Is there some psychic in tv land that his read my mind and put on the magic tube just the things I want to see? If not, then someone up there really, really likes me this week.

This past episode was about Sarah Jessica Parker jetting around the country in search of gold digging (49-er’s, not desperate/enterprising women), wrongly accused witch ancestors. I loved it and I can’t wait for next week.

I liked how they made it accessible to everyone – even if you know nothing about genealogy, you can watch this show and totally get it and follow it. But I wish it was that easy – they “found” all the info in a hour, minus commercial time, which we all know is not possible but still really fun to watch regardless. Like on CSI when they find the murderer and solve the case of the dented mailbox or something all within 50 minutes time.

I was so inspired that I stayed up way too late on Ancestry digging around, looking for new leads on my oldest question - where did Timothy O’Brien come from? He is my Great, Great, Great Grandfather, b. 1838-ish, d. 1918. He was from somewhere in Ireland, most likey Tipperary. I have been trying to find a Parish or Townland or something that will lead me to exactly where he was from, but I have had no luck. I want to be able to visit his home town someday.

His son, John, my Great, Great Grandfather, married Delia. She was from a tiny town in North Tipperary County called Silvermines. We went there on our last trip to Europe and I saw the grave markers of relatives and visited the town the she lived in before her Irish Wake. It was an incredible and wonderful experience that I will never forget and I want to be able to visit Timothy’s home as well.

In my effort to live more sustainably and self sufficiently, I have tried to, among many things, limit the amount of time I spend watching television. I like watching but I also think it can be a time waster and that I can be doing other things that will be more rewarding. Celebrity Apprentice is out, along with Fraiser re-runs and the Autrailian version of The Biggest Loser. However, this show is a keeper for me because not only is it interesting, it gets me thinking and doing. I have not seriously worked on my genealogy – something that I love – since the baby came. Mostly due to time and that babies do not like to sit in carriers in the library looking at microfilm. (I think it makes them dizzy. I know that’s what it does to me if I scroll too fast). But after watching, I could not help myself.

I know it sounds all sentimental but I really think that if I am going to spend an hour watching something or doing something, it is going to have to provide me with more than just blank staring and lounging on the couch. This show made me think and make time to get back into something that I love and miss.

Sunday, March 7

Tom Hanks, Upgrades and the Devil




After weeks of procrastination, I finally bit the bullet this past Saturday and disconnected and packed up the cable boxes. They were both in need of an upgrade, as well as the remotes, which were in a state of total decomp. The buttons were almost unreadable and the battery cover was being held on with duct tape.

Thanks to the folks at Time Warner Cable, we qualified for free box upgrades, complete with new remotes. But to get them, we had to take the old boxes to the Time Warner place on South Ave. I had not been there in a long time and I really do not like going to what I consider to be "the city." But I really wanted to upgrade so to the city I went and upgrade I did and it was not as horrible of an experience as I thought it was going to be.

There was also a hidden agenda in this for me - I ordered HBO. I know, it is the devil. But I HAD to. The wonderful Mr. Tom Hanks and Co. has made another absolutely fantastic World War II series. If Band of Brothers could actually be surpassed, which I don't think it can be, The Pacific could be the second-best WWII documentary ever. I can not wait for March 14th, 9pm, HBO. No one call my house at that time. Do not email me, do not text me, do not ring my doorbell. I will be in front of the tv with provisions of Diet Pepsi and Baked Lays and the baby will be in bed and the husband will be sworn to silence.

A WWII fanatic like myself simply can not miss this event.

However, this is a downfall to this. HBO is the devil. It is a time sucking, enticing little devil that will waste your whole day if you are not careful. It lures you in with new movies and risky, gritty shows that the "in" people watch. I have to admit that when I got home with the new boxes, the tv was on for the rest of the afternoon and Roy and I were glued to the tube. Connor was napping for most of this time, and when he was awake, we did turn it off since we really don't want him to have his parents television addiction.

So, we have a compromise. HBO will be here, quietly calling to us to watch it more than we should, through the end of May. By then The Pacific will be over (sigh), and HBO will go away, canceled, and we will revert to "standard" cable.

In order to prepare myself for this, I have found a rather interesting Civil War documentary on PBS to watch that reminds me there are suitable shows to watch in a world without HBO. I begin my countdown to Saturday - a big day - the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Rochester (yes, I will go into the ACTUAL big city for this) and The Pacific.

My favorite holiday (even though I am the only Irish person I know that does not drink a drop of alcohol) and The Pacific. Can Saturday get any better?

Thursday, March 4

A Day of Accomplishment

Once in a while I have a day where everything seems to chick into place and I get a ton of things done and it just feels great.

Those days have been very few and far between since the baby came but I had one today and it was very productive. The little guy took an extra long morning nap and was a perfect angel the rest of the day, so no complaints there.

Laundry = done
Dishes = done
Errands = done
Massive Amounts of Recycling Hauled to the Curb = done
MISC little things around the house = done
4 flats of seeds started = done
Shower = done (trust me, this is an accomplishment when you have a 1 year old)

The seed starting was my favorite, followed closely by recycling and shower.

I stared a flat of squash and gourds because I love to be able to save money in the fall by growing my own decor. I am also trying birdhouse gourds this year and I will hopefully be able to dry them properly and actually make birdhouses out of them. More on this in another post. The seeds were interesting - I have never planted birdhouse gourd seeds before so I really didn't know what they looked like. Kind of like little light brown rectangles.

My tomatoes are almost ready for thinning - maybe this weekend I will get up the nerve to become a murderer. I hate thinning. It makes me feel horrible. I nurtured these seeds and they trusted me and grew into plants and now I am playing God and taking some of them out for nothing more than the crime of growing too close to another.

This is also the mentality that leads my husband to forbid me entry into any animal shelter and pet stores, and chaperoned only trips to County Max when the baby chicks arrive.

I know, I know, it's still a little early for seed starting. but if there is anything that can kick me out of the winter blues, its seed starter mix and peat trays.

Wednesday, March 3

A Night Out



It is hard to get out sometimes, and mostly I am very happy to spend my evenings at home, but tonight my sister-in-law and I went to see Riverdance at the Rochester Auditorium Theatre.

It was great - not only did we see a wonderful show, I actually got to go out, put on lipstick and mascara and wear boots with a heel.

The entire show was absolutely fantastic - the dancers and the singers and the musicians were all top notch - and they had the best bodhrán player I have ever seen.

Now I am home, no makeup or boots, and I am enjoying a warm blanket, two sleeping cats and a pellet stove cranking out the heat. It is making this little squeeking noise which kind of sounds like the baby crying and I have to remind myself that he is sound asleep, given that it is 11:46 pm. I should probably be in bed too but this is another thing that I hardly ever get - time to myself. Quiet time when I can do what I want - watch all my DVR-ed tv shows, read gardening blogs, or write in one. I still have a pile of magazines and books waiting for me, but that can be for tomorrow night.

Time to call it a day.

Snow and Sprouts

We are still cleaning up after the snowstorm came through. Luckily, we did not lose power but we had a lot of tree damage and it took awhile to dig out. We got a little over two feet here due to the lake effect but it has been a little warmer lately so it is all heavy and melting.

I am very much ready for spring. Winter has never been my friend. I hate the bulky, cumbersom things that it brings and the overheated stores and bad drivers. Yes, I do think that a snowfall is pretty, but only is I don;t have to go anywhere and I can enjoy it from the warmth of my livingroom.

My tomatoes have sprouted in the basement under the grow lights and the peppers are probably not far behind. I am trying to keep the lights as low as possible to avoid weak stems but they are streching for the light. The snapdragons are also sprouting but no sign of the bells of ireland yet. I will be starting the rest of my indoor seeds this coming weekend - my furnace room will be a little nursery and winter will be just a little bit farther away.