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 (I was thinking about this song)

Blue Lake pole beans are prodigiously productive. 

So far I have made (some of them multiple times):

Turkish green beans in olive oil with tomatoes

stir fried green beans with fermented black beans sauce

stir fried green beans with oyster sauce and rice noodles

salad of blanched green beans with mustard vinaigrette, hardboiled egg and potato

green bean stew with chicken and turmeric and other vegetables

sauteed zucchini with green beans, red pepper and basil

fried rice with green beans

pasta with green beans and asiago cheese

and one day I just flipped out and mainlined a kilo of them raw while I was distracted, reading the internet

how do you eat green beans? Of course I do know about making them with mushroom sauce and a topping of fried onions and I will probably eventually do that.
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The satsuma plum tree is, the woman at the nursery said, an old man plum tree now, and lacks resilience to fight disease. I didn't ask her to tell me why an old man instead of an old woman--after all, it has babies--I think I know. I think it is an old man because of drunken old classical Chinese poets, who write about plum trees frequently. I think the plums trees are Chinese poets.

Anyway, she says I should be preparing for its demise a few years from now (by buying a baby plum tree next winter so it will be bearing when my old man gives up the ghost), and coddling it fiercely in the meantime. That will mean pruning it generously to bring a lot of sun and warmth into the center of the tree and also to keep the whole thing in close reach I can practice more focused cleanliness next year and after.

The background: suddenly, four years ago, my plums started rotting instead of ripening. I tried various lesser measures, and I suspected a parasite, but having nearly eliminated the signs of that cherry fly, the rot was even worse than before.

I did manage to harvest a lot of plums though. I made nine jars of plum jam, three jars of plum butter (which is more concentrated and uses less sugar--it took the same quantity of plums to make the three jars of butter as the nine jars of jam), thirteen racks of dehydrated slices, three bags of frozen slices for cobbler, a fresh cobbler, and some stewed plums I ate with cottage cheese because in some ways I am an old-fashioned old lady. I did this wrapped around chemo day, too. That's misleading. Chemo day itself is not a low-energy day, because I get dexamethasone the day before and the day of. It's a steroid and makes me a busy girl, at least for some hours at a time until I crash.

I also had strawberries from Grey Bears and a handful of alpine strawberries from the garden so I also made four jars of strawberry jam, bringing that to eight with the strawberry jam from May. I think I am done with jam for the year unless we get a couple-few quarts of blackberries. These are eight-ounce jars and I think it may be a bit of a haul to get through a couple dozen of them.

The woman at the nursery said in general plants are having a hard time this year even though the drought is over. She believes the plants and the soil are just so stressed by the long drought that they can't just grow on their own the way they used to. She says she's coddling everything, feeding things more than in the past, watering them more than in the past, and that it's been harder to get things started. I must say that sounds a lot like what I've been experiencing--losing that Italian prune (which I'm going to try again with this winter too), my vegies just poking along, and my parsley! Which usually by this time of year is rampant, I've had to restart several times and it's barely poking along. This is unacceptable. A person needs plenty of parsley at hand. I've had so little this year, and now that I finally have enough to pick a little it just cuts right through all the weird tastes in my mouth and makes me feel much better.

I suppose the apple tree, which is also nearly forty years old, is probably also marked for senescence and death. I'll ask about that this winter and see what I want to do about it.

Today I trimmed the front yard roses and things. Advice to the young: roses are nice but they are overrated. You do not need their thorns and their overenthusiastic growth habits. There are many flowering shrubs which do not snag your clothes and make you bleed. You could consider growing salvias, passionflowers, abutilons, fuschias, or even hydrangeas if you don't mind hideousness or snails.

Other than that, I considered writing, and worked out what a sentence ought to be, and messed around online and snored a little. Monday I'm having a consultation with the sleep doctor but I wonder if that's premature? Because whatever my sleep problems are, they are surely different in some significant ways while I am undergoing chemotherapy.

Zluta is put out by not having had her morning walk, but it's honestly too hot for her, so she's not campaigning very vigorously. In an hour or so I'll take her to the dog park and that will satisfy her.

Oh, and an irreproducible (not really) recipe, just because I haven't done one for a while. It's potentially a kind of luxury dish, though it's also a leftovers-and-oddments dish.

I took five skinny little green onions and a scant scant handful of giant parsley from the yard, and I sauteed them in probably too much olive oil along with a handful of sliced mushrooms, some diced leftover lamb, some chopped Costco marinated artichoke hearts, a few canned garbanzos, and some frozen peas. When the green things were wilted, the mushrooms lightly browned, and everything else heated, I said it was done and I ate it up yum. It was nice and the parsley made me feel better.

I was getting all geared up to try to force more potassium in my diet because last week's blood test showed me a bit Low, but checking up on the significance of it reveals that low potassium and low serum protein pretty much just indicate that I've being taking steroids. I'm still going to gobble up a couple potatoes and bananas and things but I'm not stressing it any more.
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I probably don't have to explain why I've posted less about this surgery than the last one. Nevertheless, here it is, day 10, and I feel I'd benefit from logging my observations.

I had the feeling that rehab would go a little faster this time than last, and it appears to be true. I got "graduated" from walker to cane by the physical therapist on day 7 largely because I confessed that I kept wandering off from the walker. I take the walker when I'm really, really sleepy and I don't trust my balance, but that's happened maybe twice. Nowadays I keep losing the cane because I forget I haqve it and I wander around for several minutes before I remember it.  But my stamina's still pretty low.  I can water the yard but then I want to sit down, for example.

Pain is a bit more severe some of the time (possibly because healing is faster) than last time though it is still pretty mild most of the time. However, pain management is simpler because I knew going it I was going to use tramadol instead of the big guns. Dr. Spiegel also prescribed promethazine for nausea and to enhance pain relief, but I didn't get till yesterday which was also coincidentally the first time I experienced mild nausea. I took one. No more, unless I'm gibbering and I can't sleep. It put me in a stupor for hours, which made coping with a desperately bored puppy very difficult.

I just really don't do well with sedatives, I guess.

The physical therapist (cute, young Quinn from Louisiana) also toiok me up the stairs to my bedroom. I could move in any time, but I'm waiting a couple days so it will be easier to haul things up and down before I do. I'll be wanting to pee in a bucket for a few weeks, for example (do not want to do those stairs three-four times at night when I'm taking tramadol and I'm not steady on my toes yet), which is a wee bit of a hassle every morning.

I got the staples out yesterday (yes, it hurts, but not horribly, considering) and now the incision site feels much better (though it was kind of sensitive last night during the times I was conscious).  I feel like it's easier to bend my knee, though it's not nearly all the way there. It's about ninety degrees or maybe a bit more, which I think was the same at this point as last time. I believe this knee was more damaged to begin with: we did the left one first because its function had deteriorated so much that it was my current limitation. If surgery time had come a couple-few weeks earlier or later, the right one would have been first, I think. Anyway, I saw the xray and the leg looks beautiful and straight now. And I feel it when I'm standing up. Also, on the other side, I find myself spontaneously bedning my knees to attend to things on the ground now, whereas before surgery I had to consciously tell my knees to bend. So I have to say that some improvement has been immediate.

I don't know when my left knee stopped feeling like it was encased in hard elastic a size too small, or when the numb part of the skin on the left leg shrank to two spots about the size of a silver dollar. But comparing the left and right legs reveal that those changes have taken place.

I'm finding it a little harder to focus on exercises than last time, which is probably mostly due to the distractions of other aspects of my life.  But the weight gain and loss took a similar route, starting about four pounds light than last time. Eleven pounds on in three days ion the hospital, thirteen pounds off in six days at home. This morning I was briefly four pounds lighter than I was the day of surgery: but I think that's a spurious reading.

On another front, I made a cup and a half of fig-apple jam this morning, and started both quince paste and apple butter. I'll continue those in the oven later when I roast the game hens on beds of vegetables for soup, and bake banana bread with those overly-sweet aplets cut into them to serve the function of raisins. 
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We are heavily into Windfall Apple season here. My yard is normally some weeks behind the usual harvest of this region, and also I hae a Newton Pippin tree, which is a later apple. Ripeish apples drop from late August on, though they continue to get better and better into October.

Still, September is when I have to contend with a mess of windfall apples. This year the codling moth is finally a bit better, which is not to say that a majority of the windfalls don't have it, but the extent of each apple's involvement is less and the various infections that seem to follow the moth tunnels are almost nonexistant this year. Meaning most of the apples that fall and are of the normal size are usable. I've been attending more to cleanliness since I've apparently been coming out of mourning (I guess that's what's happening, anyway: though later when I have the will to do it I'll tell you about the qualification on that), and maybe the dry year is helping too, though the apple tree may have paradoxically been getting more water indirectly because of the expansion of the garden.

Anyway. What I've been doing this year with the apples:

Apple pie
Apple cobbler X2
Apple crisp
Apple walnut cookies X2 (more on that later)
Apple sauce
3 quarts of apple slices frozen for pies later in the year
Aplets (more on that later)
Apples in red cabbage
Dried apple slices (I'll probably do a bit more of this)

I'm planning on making apple butter at some point too, and I'll be cutting up apple into the rose hip jam when I make that. I'm going to freeze the rose hips first because all sources say freezing improves them.

More on the apple walnut cookies. I followed an old recipe for canned apples, just cooking mine beforehand. The first batch was kind of bland. The second batch is made from half and half whole wheat and white flour because apparently white flour tastes like paper to me now: also I added raisins. Now it is not quite unrecognizable, but it is a better cookie. Next time, spices, because it's still less flavorful than I want.

This is what I am calling "Cup and a Half Conglomerate Cookies"

1-1/2 c. tiny chopped apples in a  minimum of water with lemon juice or ascorbic acid crystals* and 1 c raisins, cooked together till the apples are quite tender and the raisins have expanded to equal the apples. Set this aside

3/4 c. butter and 3/4 c. sugar, creamed

3 eggs, mixed in smoothly

1-1/2 c. mixed flour and 1-1/2 c. oatmeal, mixed in smoothly

The apples and raisins, and 1-1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts, mixed into the batter

Dropped as 1-1/2" balls onto buttered paper on cookie sheets, baked at 365 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. They don't spread, so you can get a couple dozen onto a sheet. Makes about eight dozen if you don't eat much of the batter.

Aplets, well, you might recall I wanted to make Turkish Delight (Loukoum) because it's difficult to get here and I love it. Well, that's too complex for me, I decided after much research. I saw recipes for aplets this year, though, which are pretty close to loukoum and I love them too. Some recipes were for juice which is more trouble than it's worth especially with my stupid little juicer. But others were for smooth applesauce which is a little trouble (because I have no blender and I have to put the apples through a sieve if I want them smooth).

The recipe I followed made me uncomfortable on too counts: one was that it called for four!! envelopes of gelatin and the other was that it called for four!!!! cups of sugar for two cups of applesauce. I decided to follow it as is. The gelatin was not too much but oh my the sugar is, especially considering you have to coat the little buggers in confectioner's sugar when they're done...next time, three cups. These are not inedible but they are miles too sweet.

Here's the recipe I followed, except I didn't grind the walnuts because that's dumb, normal aplets have walnut chunks in them.  Also I didn't add lemon juice because I made the applesauce with ascorbic acid.  Also, this recipe makes too much for an 8X8 pan and not enough for a 9X17 pan. I ended up putting it into a non-standard pan that was a wee bit bigger than the 8X8 pan (not bigger enough, in my oipinion: the stuff was still too deep). Eliminating that extra cup of sugar might make it fit better into my pan. Another problem was that the method of dissolving the gelatine was difficult.

So next time:

2 cups ultra smooth applesauce: heat this lightly. Sprinkle 4 envelopes of gelatine slowly onto the applesauce, stirring constantly until it is all uniform. Stir 3 cups of sugar in gradually the same way. Let it simmer 15 minutes or so. Add flavorings (I used almond extract and rose water: next time, even though there's ascorbic acid in there the way I make the applesauce, I will add lemon juice and possibly lemon rind: also, maybe, cinnamon and/or allspice or nutmeg), stir as you turn off the heat, pour into buttered pan (maybe 9X9 would be better?), chill overnight.

I wanted to turn the thing out onto a cloth coffered in cornstarch but it wouldn't come out whole even after having its bottom warmed in water, so I cut it in quarters and got it out that way. Consequently the pieces are uneven, but they probably would be anyway. I made them about 1 inch by 1 inch by 3/4 inch and got about seventy of them. I was trying for more like 3/4X3/4X1, because they are so sweet. Much sweeter than "real" applets.

I have a tremendous sweet tooth, and I like to eat sweets very often, but I prefer sweets that are mildly sweet to ones that are very sweet for their type. Also I tend to prefer rustic sweets with a lot of texture and recognizable fruits and nuts in them. And here lately I'm just not drawn to chocolate at all. I don't dislike it but I never really want it.
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My left hand has been gradually becoming more insistant about the fact that it has a nerve entrapment. I want to say carpal tunnel syndrome because I had it before, and indeed had a release done on my right hand 37 years ago, but honestly it could easily be due to the mess in my neck vertebrae. This morning when I was sewing and I had to keep stopping and shaking out my hand and opening up my joints I decided it's gotten bad enough that I must address it this year if I can. So when I was doing my Week 5 checkup with the surgeon's PA, I mentioned it in passing as something I was going to need to deal with and he said "we do those too," which is a relief because I like these people and now I don't have to meet a new doctor. He was pretty sure we could get it done before the end of the year, which will mean that it will be free, because I'll hit my limit for the year on the first surgery.

Of course we need to have tests done to determine where the entrapment is. I'm hoping it's in the wrist because that is a simple, easy surgery with a great record. I know it's not the elbow because ulnar entrapments cause numbness on the little finger side instead of the thumb side. Andrew said neck entrapments cause numbness on the thumb side. I don't know what that surgery is like. Oh, and I haven't considered the shoulder joint: that can be the location of entrapments too. I hope not. Shoulders are complicated.

We didn't schedule the second knee today because the person who does that was out of the office, but when I told Andrew about my right leg buckling he agreed that it should be scheduled as fast as protocols and logistics allow. He thinks September, and maybe November for the other one. Then in January I'll be all fixed.

I also saw the physical therapist today and he had me do the stationary bike and a couple of resistance exercises with machines that have weights on them and also some stretches. At first I thought I couldn't do the bike--thought I had had a setback-but a minute and a half of pistoning back and forth as I warmed up and I was good to go for eight more minutes and my right leg didn't even complain, so I guess I'm closer to riding a real bike than I thought. I was thinking of going to dance class tonight just to say hello but I was too tired at the time. But my friend called from class and I got to touch base with her.

I also got prescriptions and groceries and I also had a bagel and also went to the fabric store where they were having a sale on rayons so I got a bunch of little pieces to make undershirts because I really love these little lightweight undershirts and I have given up on bras completely since the last time I wore one my breast swelled up and ached for days. And I finished my blue and white bandana border dress I made for my stepbrother's wedding. It's a wee bit dorky but I'm structurally a grandma and I get to wear wee-bit dorky clothes.  And then I was exhausted and I couldn't make jam even though I had a huge pot of plums picked from yesterday so I just cut them up and put them in the freezer so they won't rot between now and Sunday when I will have my first chance at doing it.

But tomorrow is the wedding and my hands are purple because while I bought gloves I forgot to wear them. So I have to soak and scrub them a lot beforehand.
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So I bought peaches at Costco. K likes great big juicy peaches and is not impressed with the wonderful little ones from the farmer's market. So I thought, these are big and beautiful, and surely if you're selling produce to restaurants, you'll have good produce, right?

The peaches were "organic." But I believe they have been bred to have that sweetcorn sugar in them, because they are sweet and grassy flavored when they are crisp, but once they get tender they are neither sweet nor flavorful. At no time--with an exception I'll explain in a moment--do they taste much like a peach.

So I was desperate. And I experimented, as I always do when my food is problematic. Well, a lot of the time, anyway. First I microwave the peaches in batches of four for nine minutes (I had eight). Then I poured the beautiful but not very intensely flavored pink juice into a pot, and peeled the roasty peaches and cut them up into the juice and cooked them until everything was much darker and thicker and tasted more like peaches. Also I added lemon rind and lemon juice because that's what you always do with everything, and also a tiny drop of vanilla and almond extract and a sprinkle of cinnamon and there you have it the four spices of my baking most of the time. Then I made a regular sugar cookie dough which I flavored similarly and I lined the bottom of a glass baking dish with that and set it and the leftover crumbly bits (maybe a third to a half of the dough, actually) aside till I was ready to bake and while I was waiting I mixed a pint of ricotta with an egg and the usual suspects only a grated orange this time. Did I forget to mention I used sugar in these various parts? A wee bit more than I might have if K did not live here, actually. Then when I had the chicken and potatoes I was going to roast and the beets ready to go I turned on the oven to 380, don't ask why that number, and put the dough and the chicken adn the beets into the oven in their separate dishes and let them cook until the dough had integrity but was not brown. And then I put the ricotta in a layer over the dough and then the  cooked-down peaches (leaving most of the juice behind in the pot--there wasn't a huge amount anymore, but more than I wanted in this dish) and last the crumbly stuff and finally a sprinkle of more sugar because K. And then I baked it until it looked right. The cookie dough had turned brown top and bottom but had not burned, and the ricotta had cooked into a thing and the whole thing was pretty successful.

Meanwhile there was a scraping of ricotta stuff in the bowl yet, and the rest of the peach juice and a few pieces of peach, and I put the peach juice and pieces into the ricotta bowl with a handful of walnuts and that was my snack--"peach and walnut soup"--sounds very old country, doesn't it? Not telling whose old country it sounds like.

This, and watering the back yard, and the laundry, took me I swear to all that listens all dogdamned day. And I still haven't brought in all the laundry or cleaned the kitchen (tomorrow is another day). I did put all the finished food away in their separate containers. Tomorrow's lunch will be a soup made of the stuff from under the chicken (potatoes and onions) and some elderly broccoli and some of the chicken. Yesterday's lunch was semolina cooked like polenta with asiago cheese and then topped with sauteed yellow beans,parsley, and red bunching onions from the yard.

I did some snooping around online and it is apparently normal to be insomniac and exhausted for some weeks after knee surgery. The frustrating thing is that I am doing really well and I'm mentally ready to forge ahead into my new life with a long straight left leg but my tether is too short to have much in the way of adventures. And I thought I was low-energy before! Also, my readings indicate that the reason I am desperately hungry all the time is that I need a tremendous amount of food during this period. Well, all right. I'll eat piles of food if I have to, I guess.
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So my physical therapist walked me up my stairs to my bedroom and declared me fit to move back up in a few days, whenever. He said the stairs were a bit steep and narrow and to be respected, and we agreed that maybe early next week.

You know where this is going. Last night I decided I had had enough of sleeping on the futon couch in the library. It's narrower than the bed, it's not flat, it creaks, and I'm tired of the wee bit of a room it's in too. So I moved my pillows and my bedside light and my night-time surgical socks and a bottle of water (a steel bottle I refill, not a bought plastic thing) and I climbed into my beautiful beautiful bed. Which totally smells funny because of the mattress being made of some kind of unrefined cotton. By the way, I loaded up a box with those things and shifted them up the stairs a few at a time, so I could still use both hands to climb the stairs.In terms of stair use, I am exactly at pre-surgery functionality. You realize what this means: that going forward that particular function can only be getting better than before surgery. From now.

Anyway, I wish I could report that my first night in my own bed was a wonderful relief, that I slept two nice big lengths and only had to get up and go downstairs once to pee. Instead, I was awake all night. My two longest sleeps were an hour each. I was not in pain, though I may have been slightly undermedicated--that's always a possibility because of my bizarre pain threshold. I did have some digestive thingy, not severe, and the bright bright moon was shining right through the skylight like it had some kind of dorky message to deliver. Mabe that was it. Or maybe I was just too excited. Or I've reached a new status where I need more exercise to sleep.

It wasn't terrible, terrible. I spent hours doing leg exercises--little mild ones that go right to the edge of the rangfe of motion and no farther, which is wussy but I do a lot of those and only a little of the pushy ones anyway. Also I read two more books and now I have no library books. One was Bird of the River by Kage Baker, and the other was After the Fall, During the Fall, Before the Fall by Nancy Kress. The former was a lot of fun, and the latter was well-crafted, poetic and earnest.

I think someone recommended the Baker to me years ago, but I grabbed it on a whim because I was powering through my library visit so as to not delay K too much. I liked a lot about it. I liked that she posited a society which has gendered division of labor, but really different division of labor from what we're used to. It feels as if she took inspiration from real-life traditional women divers and then said "Well, what if there was more of this kind of thing? Which changes make sense?" And there's some unevenness to the implications of this, in a natural way, and there are also some occupations that are gendered more like we have experienced them, and some which are more permeable. I was a little less satisfied with the Noble Savage-not-Savage cultural essentialism going on with the greenis forest people and completely unsatisfied with the demons, but I gather that this is one of several books in the same world, and I expect some of my discontents will be addressed in other books.

She did really well in laying breadcrumbs for the adventure plot which was backgrounded for a lot of the novel, which makes me happy because that story would not have been as compelling to me for the foreground as the one that was, which was the protagonist making a home on the big river boat. The characters were interesting and mostly likeable. I did have two quibbles with the protagonist's characterization. I missed the place where Baker told us exactly how old Eliss is when she arrives on the boat, if she ever did, and the clues in the text were confusing. I know her brother is ten when they arrive. Eliss has been taking care of him for years because their mother, when she is not working as a diver, is a drug addict and also prone to getting into scrapes with the wrong men. She doesn't seem to consider herself old enough to work herself, so I was thinking she was under fourteen, maybe twelve, given the kind of economy the place seemed to have. But people are reacting to her as if she was at least fifteen, leading to my next problem...she's the very best, of course. She becomes the very best person to work in the crow's-nest, noticing all the snags and all the times the bandits are hiding in the bushes. There's a hint almost at the end of the book that there's a good reason for this, but it's not tied up in a nice bow ever. But also she's the prettiest. The person who tells her this in so many words is a boy who has a crush on her, so maybe it's not really The Prettiest Princess, but he's explaining why she's getting perved on all the time. (of course, anybody who's been a teenaged girl can tell you, you don't have to be the prettiest to be getting perved on all the goddamned time in all the rudest ways possible goddamn it). So those are marginal, and not that bad. I did like the book a lot.

The Kress--well, I'm not sure what to think about it. It's sort of like something you'd read in like 1979. But it was published in 2012. So I just don't know. It's a slim book, in which a small group of humans have been kept in a sealed environment for twenty years by entities that may be aliens, after the world has been pretty much destroyed by a combination of environmental disaster (some of which is possibly deliberately induced by spoiler spoiler spoiler), nuclear war, and stuff. Recently they have been equipped with a time machine that allows them to go into the past and pick up children and supplies. If you just read it as a story or maybe an epic poem, it's pretty successful--characters are interesting, you want to know what's going to happen next, and so on. It also works if you read it as an emotional response to the news. But even though the details of the science are nicely woven in, if you try to read it as an intellectual meditation on the scientific principles it references, you'll get annoyed. Well, I did.

Now I need to go to the library again, I guess. For that I will need to organize a ride, because I do not have the stamina to walk that far yet, and I'm not allowed to drive, and my physical therapist said I'm not ready to ride a bike anywhere yet thoguh if I can work out a way to safely get on and off a bike on a stand that is sturdy, I can do stationary biking. Though he said that at first I won't be able to puch the pedal all the way around, I'll have to piston it back and forth till I have more range of motion.

Sign of summer: breakfast was zuchinni and eggs, and dinner will be lasagne of sliced zuchinni and oh dear probably tomorrow UI have to pick the damn things again why did I plant two of them?
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notes for the future because this worked.

I believe I started with a pound and a half of berries that I froze because Andrew Marvell thought it would be a nice serene joke to pelt me with Way Too Many Strawberries In Winter. I decided they must be used right now because it's about to be Crazy Fruit Season. So this is what I did.

First I researched strawberry cake online. Oh dear. I never saw so many recipes for cake mix and jello. There's even a school of recipes that are variously called "cake" or "salad" which involve a crust of crushed pretzels, followed by a layer of cream cheese and "whipped topping" and then a layer of frozen strawberries in strawberry jello. My brain  broke to see it called "salad."

So then I found a series of pages where the recipe was based on an adaptation of Hummingbird Cake which involves a mountain of sugar and self-rising flour. I do not understand the point of self-rising flour, and I do know this can be substituted for, but I didn't care to do it. After seeing many other recipes involving mountains of sugar I figured that these people must be using the sugar to sop up the juice of the strawberries and to hell with them. I thought about adapting applesauce cake, but in the event I couldn't find an applesauce cake recipe that wasn't meant to be heavy and spicy and filled with nuts (made me think how much I like applesauce cake, though).

I was about to do it anyway and then I had a flash and searched "berry cake" and found this "purple cupcake" recipe. I didn't make that though. I let it convince me that just using my base knowledge of how cakes are made would work.

I did read on a blog of a person who is apparently a guru of fancy-dancy pro-style baking that adding fruit puree to a cake disastrously alters the pH and ruins the cake, and that made me think "aha! that's why banana cake and many applesauce cakes have baking soda and baking powder in them."

This is what I ended up doing:

Put that pound and a half of unsweetened whole frozen strawberries into a pot and let them thaw. They will look terrible. Cook them gently in their own juices until they are completely mushy. Rub them through a sieve and get as much pulp as you can before you get annoyed and toss the rest. Cook it down at low heat for a bit until it is almost as thick as runny jam. Do not add anything to it at this point. You will have about one and three-quarters cup of puree. It will be a muted dark rose color, kind of quietly pretty, not brilliant like jam.

Cream 1/2-pound butter and 1 cup sugar, mix in 2 eggs.

Mix two and a half cups of flour (I accidentally bought that stupid white whole-wheat flour and I forgot to make it half and half almond, but it's pretty nice anyway) with a half tablespoon of baking powder and a half tablespoon of baking soda.

Add a teaspoon of vanilla and a teaspoon of almond extract to the strawberry puree. You could add a bit of lemon or orange juice or orange flower water too, but I didn't. Other common cake spices like cinnamon or cardamom might be nice too.

Alternate adding the flour and puree to the batter.

It fit into a buttered 9 inch by 12 inch pan and I cooked it at 350 degrees for about an hour, It tastes very nice, not too sweet: and it really tastes like berries. And smells like berries too! It is just barely pink. Also, I used half the sugar that most of the recipes called for.

I have whipping cream and fresh strawberries. So I am going to  macerate a few berries in sugar and use the resulting red goo to tint some whipped cream. Then I will make plate piles of pink cake, pink cream, and strawberries.

So there, people who think "strawberry cake" means box mix and jello, or people who think that strawberries are too acid to bake with.

I think it would be amusing to make this cake in batches: a strawberry batch, a blueberry batch, and an apricot batch. And make them in thinnish layers, and put different colors of jam or cream between them and pile mixed fruit on the plate with them.
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Today Google Drive's spellcheck attempted to correct "much" to "much." I thought that was amusing, until I let it, and discovered that it had actually corrected it to "muchh." Now, that was hilarious.

On another front, the day before yesterday I made a batch of 8 tiny fruitcakes and 6 tiny pumpkin breads. Today I am soaking the rest of the suitable dried fruit to make another batch because I was compelled to sacrifice 2 of the tiny fruitcakes due to puppy dog eyes and so I only have 6 fruitcakes and 4 pumpkin breads.

I also succeeded in getting four-ounce jars (good old Orchard Supply, which is in this and a few other matters true to its roots) which I have washed and I am air drying before packing with olive oil and dried tomatoes. No, there is no reasonable danger of botulism if you do it right. Right means: no basil or garlic in the oil: no water droplets: dip the tomatoes in strong vinegar before packing them, to raise the acidity on the surface of the tomatoes.

I should have done these things a week or two ago, but there you have it.

I also found my stash of new year cards, so if you want one, send me your address. I was thinking of printing out a World War Two Militant Soviet Santa card but having these ready-made ones from the Seymour Center (Long Marine Lab) is better as it has several fewer points of possible failure.

also, Google apparently thinks a spelling error means you have no idea what you want, so instead of offering a correction to the spelling, they highjack your whole search and give you something sort of vaguely similar instead of what you wanted. Of course I complained.
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Well, Andrew Marvell is out there in the neighborhood, raining figs on people and threatening them with persimmons. Did I tell you about Truffle's guilty dog number with the neighbor's fig? She sneaked away from me while I was talking to a different neighbor and eventually sidled out with her head turned to attempt to hide the fig in her mouth and only gave it up reluctantly and efter I figured out what it was and returned it to her she swallowed it whole.

Anyway my neighbor brought me a bag of figs so I could run them through the dehydrator and split them with him. I was dissatisfied with the method I used last year from rthe dehydrator's cookbook, which resulted in iron-hard little shreds of fig, so I followed the one in "Putting Things By" except that I was sure that they were obviuously insane to tell me to cut the figs in half and steam them for twenty minutes so I decided to put them in the steam whole for fifteen.

Most tasteless dried figs you'll ever meet. All the flavor went into the steaming liquid, which is now designated at "fig tea." They did dry quickly, though.

Fortunately this is only the first of many batches. Next batch I will pass through the steam for five minutes with the flame off as soon as they go in the pot. The batch after that, no steam at all. And then I'll compare.

Why don't I dry them whole like you buy them in the store? Because I haven't the confidence to do that in our damper climate.

Wine notes

Sep. 1st, 2013 09:47 am
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Last year's wine was made from slightly underripe plums and it will have to age for a couple-few years before it can really be drunk.

This year's wine is two very small batches because I picked a bucket of plums and let it sit for a couple of days before I picked the other bucket and I meant to process them together -- but the first bucket had decided to go ahead and start fermenting with wild yeasts and it tasted pretty good for that particular stage (that is to say, it did not taste good in the sense that you would actually drink it, it just tasted promising). So I have them in separate primary fermenters (foodgrade plastic buckets), with montrachet yeast in the other bucket. If the wild bucket stops fermenting, I can either buy another packet of yeast or combine the two buckets, depending on what seems right at the time. At the moment I wouldn't combine them as they taste quite different (both pretty good). The montrachet bucket has a lighter, oranger color, and the wild bucket has a deeper, more maroon color. They taste and smell different, but they both taste very sweet and full at this stage (where not much alcohol has developed).

I bought a hydrometer -- I don't know why I didn't before, it was only six dollars! I thought they were more like thirty, so I was dragging my feet. The way it works is that you measure the specific gravity before you start, and then when you finish, and by doing some easy math, you calculate the alcohol by volume. Otherwise, you don't know how strong your wine is without a laboratory.

Speaking of which, yesterday I opened a bottle of my 2007 "good effort" wine. That's the wine we took to River Run the last summer the nice fellow was alive and the winemaker said it was a good effort, which pleased me as being real praise from a winemaker -- not the elaborate praise you might shower on a person who you have no expectations for. Anyway, I thought it might have gone off because I didn';t store it well, but it was actually a bit better than I remembered, which is a point in the school of thought that says plum wine needs a lot of aging in general (I have seen opposing opinions online: I am now firmly in the pro-aging school). And it was pretty strong, too. We drank little sips, but I drank a few little sips, enough to account for a small glassful, and I was totally useless the rest of the day. I don't drink much, obviously, and I have always been a bit of a lightweight, but not to the point of going to bead at three in the afternoon and not really getting up till morning. Not having measured the specific gravity of that wine when it was on the must, I can't tell you how strong it really is, but it tastes like brandy.

And that leads me to another point. I have long wanted to make brandy. Ted had made a still at one point, but I don't know what happened to the pieces of it and I would be a bit scared of it now as the chamber was one of those bulbous glass laboratory vells. The Chinese and the Italians both make small pot stills (stainless steel and copper respectively) for less than two hundred dollars, but considering I'd make at the maximum a quart of brandy a year, this is definitely not a cost-cutting measure. So I don't know. Making one myself from odds and ends the way that people on the homebrew forums do looks equally expensive, especially since it entails welding!

edit: this year's plums are a bit overripe. I think that's a good thing in a plum wine.

Finally, apparently rhubarb wine is a thing. And apparently a potentially good thing, though you have to deal with excess acidity (not difficult, you use chalk). This is an interesting proposition to me because I have an ambitious little rhubarb patch which would like to remind us that the Triffids also were plants and were capable of taking over the world in a day or two. "Not that we're threatening you all, or anything," they say. "But look at our magnificent leaves, are they not big enough to clothe small children? And our mighty green stalks! We laugh at your cutting knife! We will have more and more of our shining green cohort every day!"

Yes, they are green, not red. Because I knew nothing nothing about rhubarb when I planted it for the nice fellow. If you care aboujt the color of your rhubarb, do your research and get a variety that is the color you are after, is all I can say about that.
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This last year the jam supplies have just about come out even. Once again I have tackled the lemons late, and once again I swear I will make lemon marmalade earlier next year. This year there is added force to the vow because I have come to understand that there is less pectin and more bitter in the lemons in May than there is in March.  The marmalade works fine though.

This year I am making very small batches more often. It sounds like it would be more work, but I think it is less nerve-wracking and does less bad things to the kitchen and my life. Also it means I can use the smaller amounts of fruit that drop into my lap for no reason. Like: the Grey Bears bag usually has one of those enormous boxes of strawberries which disappear in seconds if you have childen but are more challenging if you are a single old lady who doesn't eat cereal or ice cream. This is four cups of uncut berries or three of cut. Meanwhile, my rhubarb -- which I planted for the nice fellow as I don't care for it much (or mind it, really) is producing a small and steady amount of stalks which I dutifully pull, trim, and stick in the feezer bag I have dedicated to them. So today I made a small batch of jam: three cups of strawberries, one of rhubarb, and most of a lemon (for pectin, mainly). Most of my jam is running just over three quarters of a cup of sugar to a cup of fruit, but the rhubarb and the lemon are something to contend with, so I did it with four cups. And it came out very nice, with four half-pint jars and a bit less than a cup to put into a bowl for immediate snacking.

So the tally so far: 4 jars meyer lemon peel and blood orange marmalade, and four jars of strawberry-rhubarb-lemon jam. I'll make another two or three different batches of lemon marmalade, and probably more berry jam next week, depending on what the Grey Bears bag has in it. Since I liked the rhubarb with the berries, I may also do a batch of rhubarb by itself (or rather with candied orange peel I have from Christmas time). And I may also stick a box of berries in the freezer to wait for the next batch and make an all-berry jam.

I like feeling free to experiment with combinations with these small batches. If you're only going to lose four jars at most, it's a lot less intimidating than losing a flat's worth of fruit. Not buying flats anyway. My rule for a while has been: jam is made with fruit I grow, forage, or get as a gift. On that note, I'm tantalized by the pruple leaf plum around the corner. It's dropping its fruit, but the tree has gotten large and the plums smash on the pavement. I suppose I could go after it with the pole picker, but that entails geting over my shyness to ask the neighbors if I can go in their yard, and I don't know how many I'll get anyway, as it's not a heavy bearer and it is freakishly tall.

Also around the corner, at the house that used to be the high water house, there's a low fence with two kinds of passion vine on it: and one of them is l;oaded with fruit. When it comes close to being ripe, if it does that while I am not in Prague, I'll try to ask if I can pick some and give them jam in return.

Other forageables in the neighborhood are, of course, the yellow plums around the other corner, crabapples on Emma's old corner (I made very nice crabapple-jalapeno jelly out of them last year), manzanitas up the block from the yellow plums (but somebody else got them last year), a thing like a crabapple whose name I can never remember at the base of the Laurel Street hill, another wild plum tree on the steep path from the high school main campus to the gym, and another frustrating plum tree towards the top of Laurel Street Hill which has I believe prune plums and some of them reach the ground whole. Another neighbor has a quince tree, and the folks across the street have a fig tree. Nobody around here grows apricots because the climate is just barely okay and the ground water kills them. The same is true for peaches. But the plums from Woodstove and Sun produce a jam that is very like apricot. Also there are more manzanitas, which bear a little later, up on bay Street where the weird narrow park is that's dedicated to old-time Italian fishermen. Also, there are blackberries in various odd corners, naturally, and more plums at University Terrace Park, and I have the Satsuma plum tree and the apple tree.

So jam should not be difficult. Even being gone during the biggest jam month (JUly). My plums and apples come later than anybody else's.
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My thermostat says 66 degrees, which is traditionally really quite warm enough for me, but I'm here in two sweaters and fingerless gloves (and thank you, Emma, for the large stash of fingerless gloves you have made and given to me over the years! I have dry ones tonight because of that!)

My friend Bonnie's staying the night again.  She's wandering off to Asia next week, but today we walked to the wharf and back and watched the seals and sea gulls being adorable.  It's like I'm on vacation, because there are no jobs to apply for.  The last summer's baby gulls are pretty much grown, now, though they still have juenilve feathers and behavior.  The nice fellow used to call animals like that "Archies" after the Archie of the teen comics world. So these Archie seagulls are going up to their parents -- who are no bigger than they are, and making cute little baby-bird sounds and bobbing their heads in the general direction of the red spot on daddy's beak, and the mommy or daddy gull makes a parenting chuckle noise and then goes "what? No! You're old enough to get your own fish!" and flies off and the grown-up baby seagull goes "tweet! I am a baby bird! Don't leave me!" and follows.  This was going on all over the wharf.  I never noticed it before.

The seals, meanwhile, were all sacked out on the lower rungs of the pilings, of course, but there were a few that were barking and barking.  I told Truffle, "Look, they're just like you -- they sleep and they bark.  If they're not sleeping, they're barking.  If they're not barking, they're sleeping." She was underimpressed, but mildly curious.  She did eat something objectionable on the wharf and spend fifteen minutes after we got home trying to upchuck it, but I don't know what it was, I only became aware of it after it was too late.

My neighbor across the street begged us to try to get some of his figs because there are a lot of them and he is busy at work and doesn't have time to get them all, so Bonnie and I tried.  There is an art to picking figs with a pole harvester, expecially if the fig tree hasn't been properly started off in life by a little old Italian man with a ready pruining knife and the fig tree has grown as big as a mighty oak, which is what they do if you leave them alone.  The stem of the fig gets sturdier as the fig gets riper, which is just plain stupid, but you can't expect trees to go out of their way to be convenient. And of course the fig is very soft and vulnerable to the tines of the pole harvester, so if you're not in control of your technique you rip the little thing to shreds. Nevertheless we did succeed in collecting a few figs. 

I am not really nanoing.  I am writing.  But I have to take days off to digest what I am learning about the work of a soldier during battle of this kind, and I keep having to discard chunks of work that I messed up.  So it's more like normal writing, rather than intensive writing.

I went and spent a couple hours with the nice fellow's military history buff friends and learned a lot. They got what I was asking, too, and didn't insist on telling me history buff things.

One thing I keep asking myself over and over every time I learn something new about the way war was actually conducted on the ground is, why weren't there a lot more mass desertions?

Actually, I don't really want you to try to answer that question, okay?  Because there's a direction that discussion leads that I don't want to go to.  But if you have anything to offer me about latrines, trenches, the maintenance of weapons, supply trains, water supply, or whatall, I'm happy to read it.

I'm not, actually, writing a book that is about anti-war. It's about Yanek's experiences and evolution, how after fighting all through childhood to be a man that is respected and included, he succeeds in becoming something else, not quite human, but respectable and essential in his own right, in a new place he couldn't have imagined as a child. So war is in it, and of course war is horrible, and war is bigger than anything, but the story is bigger than the war, for Yanek.

on another front: I can sit cross-legged on the floor again.

and another thing: I have the loan modification papers, and unlike the unemployment website, they are written in normal language and laid out comprehensibly.  They're still intimidating.
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The last two weeks I've gotten several units of lettuce and some broccoli and carrots and some other stuff from the Grey Bears bag. So this week I got tired of eating lettuce and broccoli and I went out to the farmers' market yesterday and got a head of cabbage and a head of cajuliflower and some garlic and a parsnip and a couple of quinces (they smell gorgeous, what can I do? I have to buy them once a year).

Guess what was in the Grey Bears bag this morning? Cauliflower and cabbage.

The distribution guy doesn't like me.  I thought it was because he doesn't like my dog, but I am not sure.  He doesn't do anything wrong -- he just doesn't like me.  It's not a crime not to like someone, but it's disconcerting when you know that someone doesn't like you.
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My friend Hummah is here for New Year's and at the moment I am neglecting her to do my morning writing. I just finished the draft of chapter 12 -- which means that I am done with our fellow's actual childhood, and I have shuffled off the old tutors to go be a gay version of Bartok or maybe Dvorak and of I don't know who, respectively, which lays the groundwork for the fateful entrance of the new tutor who will be the catalyst for the destruction of our guy's delicate relationship with the young Duke his foster brother, and therefore for his being pressed into the Grand Army of the Empire Federation et cetera and plot will happen. I had to do a bit of research into wax cylinder recording this morning, and I am really glad I took the ten minutes to do it, as I discovered things I didn't know about the physicality of the recorder, and also discovered that that wavery sound that the cylinders put out is not due to the ravages of age but is inherent in the technology. So the music sounds a bit thin and eerie even when it is new.

So for New Year's Eve we went to the parade. Now raging grannies singing embarrassingly written parodies -- in fact I saw none of my WILPF friends (where were they? And shouldn't I just join WILPF and be active anyway?) and the parade was more Burning Man and less political demonstration this year. Except there was an "Occupy the New Year" contingent dressed in white (why?) carrying a white pup tent inscribed with the names of people who have died from homelessness and demanding legalization of the use of blankets and tents for street sleeping. Which I believe is the wrong direction, even though laws against sheltering yourself are brutal -- what we really need is a movement to demand cheap and free housing on a massive scale. We have a couple of really nice programs, and a couple of desperately awful ones, but there's just not enough cheap housing stock and too much empty office space.

Then we went to two friends' houses in sequence to say Happy New Year and eat too many rich treats. I drank a little champagne, not much, but apparently any amount of champagne is too much for me as I ended the night with a headache.

New Years' Day we filled in the last of the trenches Zac dug for his utilities, and we saw Hugo in 3D which I wasn't expecting (short review:3D is lot better than it used to be, the movie is heart-stoppingly beautiful to look at and great fun mostly but it has too many cheap tricks for ratcheting up the suspense and showcasing the 3D, and if you know anything about the earliest history of movies you will have a bunch of extra treats as you say aha! a lot. And also, the role of fantasy is nicely nuanced here). And after that we had a old-fashioned caifornio mexican dinner at the Acapulco, and came home to play scrabble. All of this is remrkable because I never do stuff like that. Today we intend to ride bikes downtown and to go to the beach. Tomorrow Hummah goes home to Lake County and I go back to work. Wednesday I see my physical therapist, and I better be more conscientious about my exercises because that's the whole reason I'm seeing him. I haven't been slacking off completely except the last two days. And I have been a lot better.

I have also decided to take out some older small trees and bushes (notably the moribund apricot and the never-satisfactory tree ceanothus -- in spite of its beautiful flowers -- and the mightily invasive flowering quince) and replace them with other things that are more manageable. Probably a new apricot in a different spot, a prune plum for Zac, and also move the fig and the tangerine into sunnier ground where they might prosper better, and possibly get a real quince. All of these will be true dwarfs and we will prune them till they have no ambitions to overtake the world.

Also, I am looking forward to riding my bike to work. Not including the Laurel Hill! I will walk my bike both ways forever, because I do not trust it.
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The young person staying with me asks as we discuss what to do with the mysterious gift of asparagus brought by --- I don't know who, while I was at work -- just what family asparagus is in anyway.

Too quickly, it turns out, I answer: liliaceae. So are the onions. But then I want to explain how they are related, and off I go to wikipedia and I discover that the monocots have been turned uptheblossomingside down and over again into some other dimension from the last time I looked at them which couldn't have been that long ago, could it?

Anyway, asparagus has been removed from the liliaceae, and so have the onions. Now it's asparagus all the way down.

Oh, why not, let's do the whole routine:

kingdom plantae
clade angiosperms
clade monocots
order asparagales
family asparagaceae
subfamily asparagoideae
genus asparagus

Onions are now in the family Amarallydaceae, subfamily allioidaceae -- oh yes, order asparagales. And orchids are in asparagales, too. And brodiaeas and aloes and hyacinths and yucca trees and irises and day lilies and ixiolirions and a whole bunch of things from Australia.

What does liliaceae have left? Lilies: calochortus (pariposa lilies, or pussy ears),fritillaries, and tulips. And some other stuff I don't recognize. Liliales apparently has subdivisions labeled "tribes."

And I am sorry to say I got distracted and burned the asparagus soup. But the stir-fried asparagus is ready to be eaten tomorrow. It is sealed up and waiting to cool enough to be put into the fridge.

I also have a gift of too much broccoli and too much red cabbage but I swear I will fix it all up nice and eatable tomorrow so we can just eat off it for the week.

I cleaned up the sign of rat that was hiding behind the blender but now there is a javelin-poking party going on all over my face and scalp, so the young person will have to clean out behind the stove tomorrow.

edit: there is also a site called nudi-pixel which is primarily devoted to pictures of nudibranchs. I will not tell you why I need these, but rest assured it is a very trivial reason.
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Probably boring. Just daily stuff. )

Anybody local-ish have any use for thirty to forty year old stereo equipment in okayish condition (dusty and neglected but they worked okay last I paid any attention to them)?  There's a couple of newer pieces also.
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I collected about two liters of blackberries along the Arroyo Seco path by University Terrace Park today, and came home to make jam.  I almost lost it from spacing out.  But the jam, while too thick, is not burnt.  There's burnt jam on the bottom of the pot, but the rest of the jam tastes good (not amazing).  I think I should make another batch with the berries from Emma's house.  Also, since I am not scheduled at work this week, I think I should get strawberries and make strawberry jam for Emma.  And that will be pretty much it for jam.  Well, and lemon marmalade.  I'm not making apricot jam this year, because except for the strawberries I have a policy of not buying fruit for jam this year.  I've used wild plums and blackberries, and I can use my own lemons.  I decided that jam is not the best use for the Satsuma plums.  I have plenty of other projects for those.  And for the apples.  I used to think home canned applesauce was kind of a waste, but I ate all my applesauce last year and wished I had made more, so I suppose I will make more this year.  If the apples and pears at Emma's house are any good this year -- last year they weren't, and I don't know why -- I can do something with them too. 

I also have figs coming along, but Zack will account for all of them in desserts he makes for the Wednesday night game meeting at Connie's house. I have been dropping by there for a half-hour or so after I walk the dogs at Ocean View park, which has a little hillside path leading out of the dog area.  It overlooks the river and the Boardwalk on the other side, which is quaint and nostalgic for me because Ted and I used to live near there for a few years and when we worked at the Boardwalk we used to go there by crossing the railroad trestle near there.  You're not supposed to take your dogs offleash on the little hilly path but I had gone there several times and met several other offleash dogs there before I even saw the sign.  So I ignore it.

We spent two hours at the berrying today.  The dogs actually got bored after a while and came and stood around me with eager expressions -- like, Can we go do something else now? But when other dogs came along the path they were happy.  I think that's the only place in Santa Cruz city where you can take your dog offleash and get in a mile-long walk.

I'm killing time because I'm getting Emma at about one o'clock in the morning and I didn't put myself to bed earlier and now there's no point.    She's essentially working a double shift this week, and by double I mean double. I did that once -- I worked spinach season at the freezer plant and ten hour days at the small leather goods factory.  I did it because it seemed romantic and I thought it would only be for three weeks because spinach season was really short.  But it went on for more like two months and I was really wiped.  And then one year when I didn't get a teaching job and I was subbing half-heartedly and we were pretty strapped Ted worked as a manager at a fast food joint at the same tinme as he was a cook at the University.  He did it for a few months and then I put my foot down, because while he was doing that I couldn't get a real job because there were the kids and all the stuff around the house to take care of and he was exhausted all the time and I had to take care of him, too.  Most people who moonlight for a long time take on a part-time job for their second job, not a full-time one.  But Emma's only doing this for a week, fortunately. 

I always think in ":we" instead of "I" when I think about doing things or going places, even though "we" has to mean me and the dog(s) nowadays.  Sometimes I remind myself of that Star Trek Next Generation episode where they captured a single Borg soldier and he was completely freaked out about being separated from his pod or whatever it was called. 

I'm all sticky from handling the blackberries. 

Another project I want to do is to take cuttings from the prune tree in Emma's yard, because those are very nice and you don't see that variety around here.  Most of the fruit in Emma's yard is suffering horribly.  I suppose it's from neglect but I have seen neglected fruit trees that had better and more abundant fruit.  I don't see any sign of disease: just mostly empty branches, and last year most of them except for the plums and blackberries did not develop much flavor.

She's ready!  I'm going to get her now.


Sep. 5th, 2010 05:59 pm
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"Retention" is the word we use when we talk about keeping people in a program (school, and Even Start, in this case). It's hard.  You have to be there every time the person gets cold feet: every time the person gets overwhelmed: every time the person gets hit with a crisis: and every time the person just gets tired.

We have a couple of tired recent graduates right now.  They're ambitious, in the long run, but they want some time off.  They actually kind of deserve time off: they both worked very hard to get where they are. But they have to be in school a minimum of 15 hours a week to qualify for the program, and the program is what pays for their childcare and gets them extra free medical screenings and holds their hands when they go to get birth control or financial aid.  The program is where they meet other mothers and their babies meet other babies.  The program is where they get parenting classes and free diapers and back to school supplies and countless other things.  If they take a break from school, they take a break from the program.  If they take a break from the program they take a risk that they will lose their place.  Because if someone leaves the program for whatever reason someone else must be enrolled right away or we lose the funding, which means, among other things, we can't pay me.  Which would mean no program.

So we're all relentless about it.  "Find some classes you can stand to take."  "Don't give up."  "Remember your goals."  "We don't want to lose you."  We don't.  As easy as it is for me to attach to the new mother and her baby, it's a wrench to lose the old ones to anything but a successful completion.  Which is not just a high school graduation but an A A or a vocational certficate and a job in hand.
On another front, I made both garlic dill pickles and bread and butter pickles today.  I forgot to buy more lids, so I haven't put up the tomatoes I bought yesterday. Also, I'm redoing the dandied habaneros because the method I chose did not work out right.  After gthose, and after I figure out what to do with the apples, I'll be done with the required stuff for the year.  I'm considering asking the neighbor round the corner for some of the quinces I don't think she knows what to do with, and I mean to carry off a small number of Emma's Japanese pears and Gravenstein apples, if I can figure out what to do with them.  And then it will be lemon season and I'll havew to make a bit of marmalade.  And Emma may have more pomegranates than she knows what to do with.  Or not.  And there's the persimmons at her house.  I'm not generally fond of them, but my father used to make a persimmon pudding that I loved, and dried persimmons are wonderful also.

I picked blackberries at Meder Street Park today, bt just enough to eat with cottage cheese.  I was originally planning on making berry jam, but honestly, the satsuma plum jam came out with the same dark rich type of flavor as blackberries this year so there's no need.

And now I need a nap.
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Tomorrow I get my students back, and their babies.  Rumor has it I will have two new babies -- possibly more later?  I looked at the class list with the teacher of recford but she has an ELD (English language development, pullout support for second-language learners, what we have instead of bilingual education nowadays thanks to the Texan influence on education)  class on the same roster and she didn't know who was who, and she was told she had six teenaged mothers out of the lot.  I recognized two returnees, of whom one has her child in preschool.  I also know I have three babies who aren't in her class, so four babies and also one girl I think is supposed to be on that list but I don't recall seeing her name (hmm.  She ought to be on the list).  She was sort of frantic because she also has two thirty+ -student classes in the same room and it was currently set up with one big horseshoe table which could fit maybe twelve students.  It's big enough for the desks she needs but as of Friday it needed a lot of work to get there.

So Saturday Frank and I stripped the plum tree.  I decided against making wine this year because the plums didn't get all that sweet or flavorful.  But when I started processing the plums for jam, cans, and drying, I noticed they were pretty good.  Just as well about the wine though because by the time I did strip them there were not enough good ones to make a whole batch of wine.  But now I have eight jars of tremendously wonderful almost black satsuma plum jam -- tastes more like blackberry, really: six pints of canned plums to eat with cottage cheese: and five trays of dried plums.  Also a plum clafoutis (kind of.  Sliced plums, a tad of thinned plum jam as a kind of gklaze, topped with a thin layer of custard that turned totally magenta in the cooking and a sprinkle of almond meal and a tiny bit of sugar)and a jar of plum syrup and another bowl of plums.  Also I made banana bread with three of my frozen bananas and a bunch of last year's dried fruit and mostly almond meal and a but of that weird "white" whole wheat flour (not very good flour, but it's okay in banana bread where you don't notice the flour anyway).

This year I have also canned eight jars (mostly 24 ounce jars) of tomatoes and three pints of tomato juice and five jars of escabeche (chiles and carrots in vinegar --mostly carrots because that's the part of the escabeche I actually like) and eight jars of peaches and ten jars of pears, and I have dried several batches of other sorts of plums and four trays of pears. And I made eight little jars of "wild" plum jam (the tiny yellow round ones from around the corner) I want to do another six jars of tomatoes and probably half a dozen each of bread-and-butter pickles and garlic dill pickles.  Then I think I'll put up a dozen or so jars of applesauce and maybe apple juice as well.  I'm munching on the dried apples I made a few years ago: they have softened some and now they're suddenly delicious, so maybe I'll dry some of the apples too, just not make them as crispy as I did before when I decided I didn't like them.

Also.  Got my friend Paul over and we pruned the apricot tree to a faretheewell because it hadn't gotten pruned properly in a while and it only fruits on new wood.  Hopefully we did it soon enough and there will be a lot of apricots next year.  Mostly pruned the plum tree too.  Have to bite the bullet and spray everything really well this winter.


I got the loan on the house restarted and it looks very good indeed.

And interest rates dropped again since January so even though I think I'm tacking on Frank's tuition for this year the whole thing will still cost less, and will result in lower monthly payments especially after I immediately pay off every last debt I have.  And Zack will start building as soon as we have the money for materials, and will move in during the spring, and that will be a load off my mind.

And -- as usual -- the loan officer's daughter was a classmate of Frank's.

Today I am officially off work but I am finishing putting my room together for tomorrow!  Also getting my whooping cough booster and mailing that damned Clue game to Glen.

September 2017

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