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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Today's Harvest

Yesterday, you saw the peppers Hubby harvested from the smaller of his Tabasco chili pepper plants. Today he pulled up the larger plant to harvest its peppers. I think we now have a lifetime supply, plus plenty to give away!
Of course, he couldn't have done it without help from Sadie...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some Like It HOT!

Hubby is one of those people. He enjoys the sensation of having his tongue set afire. I like spicy, but I'm not into pain.

Hubby decided to plant some hot peppers this year. He only bought two plants. The weather is cooling off fast, so he decided to harvest them now. These are Tabasco Chili Peppers. This is what he got from one plant...
I'm flavoring olive oil with some, and he's drying a bunch of them. I haven't tasted them because I'm not crazy. He says they have a really nice Tabasco flavor. If I use them, it will be one in a pot of something. Hubby and FIL like these chopped up on pizza. If you're interested in growing some for yourself, these rare peppers can be found at WalMart.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm Boiling!

I won't mention any names, but there's a certain famous person making news today. He pleaded guilty to raping and sodomizing a thirteen-year-old girl. (Actually, he did plead guilty to lesser charges in hopes of not doing prison time.) Then, before he was sentenced, he skipped. Luckily they found him. So he should go to prison right? I mean, doesn't that seem rational to you? Well, after he FINALLY gets his sentence...

OK, so what if I said he escaped and it took days to find him... Should he still face the judge? What if it were weeks? Years? What if, while this young girl was dealing with being victimized, he was living the good life? What if he painted a beautiful work of art? Or wrote an award winning song? Should we then forget about the rape of this young girl? Is the rape secondary to what he achieved while on the lamb?

Let's suppose the perp just hid out somewhere, living a decent life. A working stiff. Clocked in, did his job, went home to a wife and kids. Then, 30 years later they find him... Isn't he still guilty?

Is Hollywood society telling us that, as long as you're famous, do what you want? If you get caught, move somewhere else? In a few years, we'll demand you are too good to go to jail?

Is anyone else disgusted? They claim he was justified in running. The judge was going to... Was going to? You mean, their defense is based on a prediction of his sentence? Oh, never mind then... That's a good reason. Besides, the kid probably asked for it, right?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Grass is Always Greener...

We've had some type of wild grass take over most of the back pasture. Since it wasn't so great for grass anymore, we let the horses out on it sometimes when we shouldn't have. It was pretty tore up, but we planned to redo it this fall...

On the fifteenth, I posted about Hubby and Mark preparing and planting our new pasture. It had been drier than usually. We prayed for rain. It was dry for the first couple of days, but it's rained almost every day since.

Here's what the pasture looked like about four days ago...
Then, after some more rain...
And today...I think this project was a success! Hopefully, with good weather next year, it will be ready for four-foot traffic by mid-summer.

Oh Yes It's Ladies' Night...

I've mentioned before that I am a season ticket holder for LaComedia Dinner Theater. The calendar again rolled around to my scheduled night. I had three tickets for this show, and since my BF couldn't make it and Hubby was out of town, I decided to make it a three-generation ladies' night. This is a horrible photo, but here I am with my daughter and oldest granddaughter, waiting to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.I've wanted to see this show for quite a while. It has played there many times in the past. I recently found out it was a comedy. I kinda crinkled my nose at that, but thought, "Well, everyone seems to enjoy it." Yes, it was a comedy, though it did tell the story of Joseph... just in a different way. Here's my granddaughter with Elvis.
If you want to know why Elvis was in a play about Joseph, I guess you'll just have to pay the admission and go! It is definitely worth seeing... extremely entertaining. We all enjoyed it, very much.

Here's Dani again, with the stars of the show: Joseph and the narrator.
Do you remember the picture of granddaughter number two being kissed on the cheek by the handsome host? Well, here is her older sister, trying to look serious while they gaze deep into each others eyes.
...and she's supposed to be an actress?
Oh well, Mommy can't flirt with a straight face either.
But, she comes by it naturally!
All in all, 'twas another good night to remember...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

September Farmer's Market Challenge

Judy, a.k.a. Squirrel Queen over at The Road to Here is the gracious hostess for the Farmer's Market Challenge.

SQ states, "The purpose of this challenge is to raise awareness for purchasing locally produced foods. Be it fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, or any related items we want to know what's available where you live."

I finally took my camera with me down the road to a neighbor's farm stand. They have an awesome garden! They grow peaches, strawberries, melons, tomatoes, corn, peppers, sweet potatoes, and other veggies. Their stand operates on the honor system. On the main table is a set of scales and a chart to help you calculate the price of your purchase. There is also a box for your money. She says they have great luck with it, people pay for what they take.

Here is a load of melons
just brought up from the field...

This is my oldest grand, Dani, trying to decide
which tomatoes she wants to buy...

Sweet potatoes! Yum! We'll be digging ours this week.
They just brought these up while I was there...

The tomatoes are so colorful. They really stand out
between the neutrals of the melons and potatoes...

Here is some squash given to us by Hubby's boss. It was delicious. A family chef told us how to best cook it. Using a long nail, punch a hole to the center from top and bottom to release steam pressure, then bake it. No hard cutting! Scrape out the seeds after it is cooked.

He also gave us these banana peppers from his garden.

These are Hubby's Tobasco Chili Peppers!!! Tiny... but they pack a big punch!

Recently I posted about our first green egg.
We have fifty hens.
Here is a photo of our farm fresh eggs...

Here is a pear that came from one of our fruit trees. We have several apple trees, too. One of these days I'll add peach trees to the mix, and replace the plum trees we lost.

Here's a peek at our zucchini earlier this year...
Guess how much you'll pay to
send 3 loaves of zucchini bread
from Ohio to Florida, next day?
$42! ...but my dad and brother loved it!

Here is a shot of our sweet potatoes early in the season. Hubby planted two different varieties. I recently posted about the four-and-a-quarter pound potato. You'll have to visit my earlier posts to see pics of them.

We have a freezer full of green beans and corn on the cob from the garden, along with some shredded zucchini for making bread during the winter. (It does quite well, as long as you use it as soon as it thaws.) We also grew tomatoes, cucumbers, muskmelon, green onions, and chives. The shelves in the basement are now full of enough sweet potatoes to get us through the winter.

Visit Judy's blog and add your link to Mister Linky and participate in this worthwhile challenge!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hubby's record breaker!

Hubby's still talking about that 4 1/4 lb sweet potato. Tonight he got curious... "I wonder what the biggest sweet potato on record is?" He had a glint in his eye. I could even read his mind: "It's gotta be close. Wouldn't that be great if I got in THE record book! If it's not big enough, maybe net year."

So I asked him, "You want me to look it up?"

"Can you do that?"

I'm sitting here, with my laptop at the ends of my fingers... So, in a few seconds, I found this:

Heaviest sweet potato

The world's heaviest sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) weighed 37 kg (81 lb 9 oz) on 8 March 2004 and was grown by Manuel Pérez Pérez (Spain) in Güime, Lanzarote, Spain.

Yeah, maybe next year...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Who's Insane?

I can't get this story out of my head. I saw it on the news yesterday. A murderer that was declared insane escaped! How? He disappeared at the county fair. Does that sound crazy to you, too?

Yes, it seems there were eleven guards for thirty-one patients. (We don't call them criminals. That would be rude.) The patients were on a field trip to the fair. I guess it's not nice to keep them isolated. They have rights you know! I'm not sure, (they didn't say), but I'm thinking they were not handcuffed.

Have you ever tried to keep track of one person at a fair? I've looked away for a split second, only to spend 15 minutes trying to find the person I was just standing next to. After all, isn't there an old saying 'lost in the crowd'? There's a reason!

Maybe they assumed that, since they had all these fun-filled field trips, no one would ever want to leave.

The news report said it appeared to have been planned. Apparently, he had been ordering packaged foods. They think he probably loaded them up in his backpack that he wore to the fair. (He doesn't sound so crazy to me.) I suppose he would have felt violated if they had searched the backpack before leaving for the fair. It's normal to pack luggage for a trip to the fair... right?

I've resisted the impulse to investigate his case. I don't know whether it was an 'in the heat of passion' crime, or if he stalked someone and hacked them up with an ax. It doesn't matter. Call me narrow minded if you want; but I don't want someone that murdered someone, and then was found insane, to be riding the Scrambler with my grandkids.

So, since he had the mental ability to plan this escape, does that mean insanity can't be an excuse for it? Will he now, finally, go to prison? That is, if he's captured... hopefully before he strikes again.

So tell me... who's insane here?

A bit of this, a bit of that...

Hmm... Is it bigger than a toaster?

These potatoes grew so large they burst open!
OK, this is the last you'll hear about the sweet potatoes... (that is, until my Farmer's Market Challenge post.) I wanted to show you the storage rack Hubby built for them, using wood from skids. You know we love to re-purpose. This room in the basement is behind the stairway. It is dark and cool. We will have to expand the rack next year, as Hubby is already talking about 3 rows instead of 1.

Speaking of re-purposing... notice the Christmas candy bag? Makes a nice way to keep garlic.
Being confined to the AC put me way behind on the stairway garden project. Hubby finally took over for me and stained the new steps the other day. Don't they look great? Since the red crushed brick flows down from above to the stone steps below, the wood color adds to the continuity. (Note the chives I planted next to the wall.)
I wasn't out there to harvest the chives when they were small. Better late than never!
This bad boy is huge!
It reaches all the way across the sink!
They still taste great. I'll be chopping and freezing some for use over the winter. They don't keep their flavor when dried. These are onion chives. I will add garlic chives next spring to the other side of the steps. I'm thinking about putting some in a flower pot to see how they do inside over winter.

My dining room table is really wide.
This shows better how huge this thing is...
Of course, I couldn't resist posting a picture of Sadie.
Here is her happy face...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Harvest Smiles

Hubby was born to be a farmer. He loves growing things, and takes such pride in his harvest. This year, I suggested he grow sweet potatoes. They are so expensive at the stores, and my MIL and I eat them often throughout the winter.

It seems that as he digs up the mounds, the potatoes keep getting bigger and bigger! Here are two that he brought in today...

The one on the right weighs about three pounds.
The one on the left weighs over four and a quarter!
I not much of a potato eater in the summer,
but I might have to make an exception...


I love sweet potatoes! This is the first year we've grown
them in the garden. According to the seed catalog, you can
leave them in the ground much later than this, but my FIL
was anxious to dig a mound and see what they had.They got quite a lot out of each mound!
Some were long and skinny, some short and fat.
Some got so big they broke open!

When you look at this one, keep in mind that Hubby is 6'5" and wears a size 14 ring! Yep, it's a big potato!

Of course, anytime something's going on, Nekoda is nearby watching... and Buddy's never far from her.

The garden looks like a jungle now. The morning glory vines have staked their territory. There are a few tomatoes struggling to turn red. FIL has turnips left to harvest, too.
The rest will have to wait until tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Tale of Two Tractors

I hope my horses are happy. I gave up my new front yard for them. We've lived in the middle of this old corn field for six years. Each of those years Hubby promised me a new front lawn. That lawn always gets knocked down a notch on the to-do list when those other random farm projects pop up.

This is it. This is the week that I was supposed to definitely get my new lawn. Guess what? Not gonna happen. But that's OK with me. We were going to do the lawn and the back pasture. Then some things happened that made us rethink the investment. We decided we should only do one or the other. I picked the pasture. Yep, me. My horses rank pretty high on my priority list. 'nuff said.

Hubby had already sprayed the pasture, killing all the grass and weeds that were growing there.

Here is Hubby on our tractor tilling all the dead stuff under and loosening the soil.

Hubby has a part-time job in the summer working for Mark's landscaping company in exchange for grass seed and fertilizer. It's nice to have friends with heavy equipment! This is Mark's harrow rake. He uses it to smooth the tilled ground.

Mark has a really nice tractor. I'd love to have an enclosed cab! When I sell my book, a bigger tractor is on my list. (I know... I dream big.) This is Mark using the harrow rake to smooth the pasture, getting it ready to plant.

Hubby took the tiller off and installed Mark's seeder. This is Mark on our tractor, spreading the grass seed and then the fertilizer.

The best time saver of all... This is Mark's straw blower. Hubby is just getting over a bug, so he gets to drive Mark's truck. A friend volunteered to cut open the bales and heave the straw to the blower. Now that's a real friend! The boss is operating the blower.

I am a safe distance from the mess, using my zoom while standing on the bedroom deck. It makes me want to gasp for air just looking at this picture!

So now the field is ready, but the weatherman said it will be dry for several more days... Come on rain!

The Stranger I Mourn Part II

Sometimes life's ironies and coincidences stun me...

I wrote about this stranger, and how his death impacted me. I think about him on September 12th of every year. Odd that he doesn't always come to mind on the 11th. The 12th was the day all the pictures hit the doorsteps. That image was the most dramatic to me. The planes striking the towers, the towers burning, the collapse, the injured... Those pictures were all horrendous, but this one particular image - it was personal. It was a man seconds away from certain death. Watching someone die.

A facebook friend posted a link last night. Incredibly, it was an hour-long documentary about the falling man, and the quest to identify him - to tell his story. I looked at the clock. It was late. I started to close my browser.

I didn't analyze the photo in the paper that day. One glance was enough then; but now my emotions have been tempered by eight years. Did I want to know more? Did I want to revisit that image that had such a profound effect on me? Most importantly, would I regret it?

I clicked. "I'll just watch a minute or two."

It wasn't mere curiosity. This man was a part of my life experience that defines who I am - what I believe. Even though his role in my life was brief and distant, it was significant. I wanted to know more about him.

The film documented not only the events unfolding that day, but the thoughts in the mind of the photographer of that picture and the others involved in this quest. Society had determined to file away the pictures. The coroner's office had said there were no jumpers - only people that were blown out or fell. This group was determined to let the jumper's stories be told - to remove the shame we attach to such an unspeakable act.

Call me naive, but I disagree with this group on that note. I never thought of it as shameful and I don't think any of the people I know did either. It wasn't suicide. It was a choice of how to die, if, in fact, they did choose. After re-watching the footage of the people filling the windows, I believe a lot of these people simply fell. There were so many crammed together, trying to reach the fresh air.

A man that had lost his wife that day was featured in the film. He felt certain that she had jumped. The man had talked to her on the phone during the fire. He had identified his wife as a person in a photograph that had fallen from the tower. The person was dressed in the same colors of clothing and had the same hair and build. He said he gained closure from the picture. He said it had troubled him... the not knowing. He was at peace now that he had an answer.

It turns out that what I thought was a dress shirt and suit pants, was actually a restaurant jacket and dark jeans. In the beginning, they believed the man to be a pastry chef working in Windows on the World, a restaurant in the World Trade Center. An article appeared in a newspaper, identifying him. This man had a wife and three daughters, the youngest was thirteen. I will not print his name here. The family did not want it to be him. Their religion told them that, had he made this choice, his soul was doomed to hell. Through the quest of this group, it was proven that the man in the photo was not this chef. The family was relieved. They felt as though his name had been cleared of any wrong-doing in the eyes of God.

A group of workers from the restaurant agreed to look at the enhanced photos. They ruled out all but a handful. Finally, the owner of the restaurant agreed to view them. At first, he had been adamantly opposed. He had stopped somewhere before work that day. These people were his family. His grief was deep. The interviewers ran through the remaining names while he examined the photos. When they said Jonathan's name, he was silent. He believed the man to be Jonathan, but could not say for certain.

Jonathan was a sound engineer for Windows on the World. His expertise was used for conferences and other functions. His sister described him as a happy man - the kind that makes others happy. He enjoyed life.

John Doe or Jonathan Eric Briley? It was a desperate moment. We will never know for sure if the man in the photo was Jonathan. We will never know for sure who made the choice and who didn't. Does it matter? Would it matter to you?

I suppose if it was my husband, I would want to know how he died... But would I need to know the details, or would the fact that he died there, on that day, from that act be enough?

John or Jonathan - may you rest in peace.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

An Eerie Coincidence

The strangest thing happened last night, September eleventh. I drove to Middletown to pick up my oldest granddaughter. She is babysitting me this weekend while Hubby is gone. (Collecting the eggs, feeding the chickens.) Between her home and mine, there is a man-made lake with a beach. When Dani was very young, I used to take her there to ride my Seadoos. She was probably only four or five the last time we went. She doesn't remember much about the lake, so we decided to take the long way home. We made a quick stop at the beach, planning to drive the back roads and count deer.

Thank goodness she remembered my gas gauge! I forgot to stop in town and there wouldn't be any stations on our way home. Waynesville is just a few minutes back toward the west, so I headed there to get fill up at the BP station right across the highway at the edge of town. Dani was playing with the Garmin, (I love those kinds of back road trips!) checking to see all the gas stations within the area. She said there was a Marathon station up main street. I have a Marathon card, so decided to go a tad further and get the discount.

When I realized where I was headed, it sent chills up my spine. This was the very same station that Hubby and I stopped at on THE September eleventh! This would be only the second time in my life that I have been to that station! I stopped at an intersection as I was sharing this with Dani. I looked to my left, and there on the corner was a little shop called 'Lily's Corner'.

Now, if I was one to believe that such things happened for a reason and meant something, I would have been up all night.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nine Eleven

I would like you all to read my post remembering 9-11 on my essay's blog. There will be a special post tomorrow too. And if you write a special post honoring this sober occasion, please leave me a note in the comments so that I may read it. Thank you.

The Stranger I Mourn

I don't know the man. Never met him. But his death impacted me deeply, and I will never forget him. I first saw him on September 12, 2001, the day after he died. Every year at this time, when I am reminded of him, I cry. Tears fill my eyes now as I remember. His picture was in the paper. He was split seconds away from heaven. He chose not to burn.

It was a peculiar picture. If held inverted, it looked as though he was walking to work. One knee bent, as though strolling down the sidewalk. He was wearing a nice suit. So out of place in the photograph... like someone had taken his image and pasted it upside down, in the air, beside the burning tower. He chose not to burn; but his image is burned into my memory and shall remain there forever. May he rest in peace.

I Remember

I was sitting at the computer, entering dimensions from a blue print. The clerk hollered across the room that my daughter was on the phone. I picked up the receiver to hear an excited voice...

"A passenger jet just crashed into the World Trade Center!" What a strange and horrible accident. I shared the news with my co-workers. We all thought it was terrible. We talked a minute about how devastating it is outside of a city, but to crash in New York? There would certainly be a large death toll.

We went back to work, a bit more somber.

A few minutes later, "It's Jenny again." I picked up. "What? Another one? That's so bizarre!" What was happening? "They think what? You're kidding? Oh, my God!"

My co-workers huddled around the radio for news. We didn't have an internet connection in that room. Besides the clerk, I was the only woman. Most of the men were veterans. I can't say for sure, but I think it was harder for them.

Jenny called yet again. Washington, D.C.? Other planes missing? Airports were shut down.

We felt trapped. The world as we knew it was coming to an end, and we were there, stuck in this office space inside a factory, sealed off from the real world. I walked to the restroom by the break area. The monitors were tuned to an outside news station. Very strange. Workers were standing in front of them, their necks stretched back, staring silently at the screens. No one at the vending machines. No one talking. The noise from the machinery drowned out whatever was being said on the TV. All we had were the pictures. Chaos. Surreal. Not here. Overseas maybe, but not here!

I went to my husband's department and told them what had happened. My step-son was in the military. Returning to my area, I learned another plane had gone down.

Finally, in the afternoon, we were free. We went home and turned on the news. Every channel - those same images. The towers crashing down. New York city looking like a war zone.

I couldn't not look. I had to watch. I clung to every word, every theory. They were saying that the last plane may have been brought down by the passengers, to prevent the plane from reaching its planned target. My husband couldn't bear to hear it anymore. What did this mean for his son?

We had just bought seventeen acres in the county, a little over a half-hour away. He wanted to go there and cut wood. He needed the serene setting to make everything all right again. It would never be all right again.

I'll never forget the beautiful and strange sky that day. There were no jet trails. Nothing but blue sky and clouds. It was like being on another planet. We were glad to be at the farm. I took the camera, but discovered the batteries were dead. I decided to run into Xenia to KMart.

I was at the electronics counter paying for my batteries. Some guy was talking to the guy at the register. Word was that they were running out of gas everywhere and stations were raising their prices to $2/gallon! It had been $1.40 that morning. I thought about our near empty tank. I hope it's not true.

I left the store and drove through the parking lot to the street. I could see the long lines of cars waiting at the corner for their turn to get into the station. The world had gone crazy!

We spent a few hours in the fields, trying not to think about what was going on here and there. We then headed home, down the back roads. The gas gauge was low. We turned into Waynesville to find a station. Just like it had been earlier that day in Xenia, cars were lined up in both directions, waiting. We got in line and when it was our turn, paid the $2/gallon just before the pump ran dry, and then headed home.

We came into Springboro to find police cars at the main intersection of town, where two gas stations sat across from one another. There were orange cones and yellow police tape blocking and guiding the traffic through the lots. All the tranquility of the farm was wasted. The little release we had felt, melted quickly away. At home, I watched the news in one room, my husband did not watch in another room.

Although many heroes were born that day, sleep did not come easy. And we will never forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's all good!

I have mostly good days anyway, but today was especially good!

I often complain about my camera... the third or fourth refurbished warranty replacement.I like the camera for over ten months. A minor defect was covered under the warranty. Wish I had the broken one back. I bought it because my old one had a broken battery door that I was holding shut with a C-clamp and it was kinda big. (HP 850) Well, big or not, it was a great camera, and today I fixed it! Now a piece of strapping tape will hold the door closed. (long story) You all were so kind to say that my pictures looked great, even if they didn't. These first two pictures will show you what I meant. They are both pictures of the same pear, both with flash. The first was taken with the refurbished camera; the second was taken with my antique huge monster camera. Tell me if you can see the difference.

Which brings me to the second great thing today... my first pear of the season! Yes, this is from our pear tree. They are yummy. We don't get much fruit because we don't spray our trees. We savor the ones we get!

The third fantastic thing... Hubby couldn't wait for me to get home so he could share his news. His first green egg! They are so much richer than brown eggs. My favorite! The yolks are orange. I'll try to remember to take a picture of one cracked into a bowl. Half of the baby chicks were Araucacas or 'Easter egg' chickens. They lay colored eggs - a beautiful bluish green.
Check out the egg carton. It's what prompted me to fix the old camera. The other one wouldn't take a good picture with the writing in focus. We saved our old 'store-bought' cartons. I never noticed this before. It has a favorite scripture inside the lid! Let's just call that the fourth thing!

The fifth? I saved this for last. If you don't have arthritis or carpal tunnel, you won't appreciate this. At my two previous homes I had my favorite can opener. I was certain that I had taken it off the cabinet and brought it with me, but never found it. I've missed it for six years! I could no longer buy one locally. My FIL had one of those Pampered Chef openers that cuts the side so there's no sharp edges. It is difficult for me to use, plus you have to often crank it around twice to get it to cut.

I don't use a lot of canned stuff, so I never got around to replacing it until now. I found out that Ace Hardware had it online and would ship it to my local hardware store. Today, I used it for the second time! I love this can opener. There is nothing better on planet earth! I had the other one for many years. It stays sharp, cuts first time around, is easy on your hands and wrists, pops off and into the dishwasher, and it's 'green' for energy consumption!
My Swing-away wall-mount can opener. Hehe... I just noticed in the picture... I never put the magnet thing in place. It's still stuck there on the back end where it was in the package! It hooks in and catches the lid. Oh well, think I'll go do that now...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

God was multi-tasking!

See the bright sunshine?See the pouring rain?

See the bright sunshine & the pouring rain?
I did not correct the exposure on these; the sun was blindingly bright! It poured rain so hard that we had standing water all over the yard and pasture. I just knew there had to be a beautiful rainbow to the east.

To see in that direction I have to go through the garage or look out my in-laws bedroom windows. I did neither. I waited for the rain to let up to a light sprinkle before I took these next shots.

See the double rainbow? It's faint, but it's there.

I just love it when I can see both ends and the double bow! The other end was other the barn and not very picturesque. Someday I'll have a new camera and be able to capture those moments much better!