Archive for August, 2016

If you’re on Facebook you may have seen a viral post back in June.  It was from a lady who was attempting to revitalize her small town school library (actually two schools sharing the building).  I don’t have a link to the original Facebook post, but you can go here and see the text.  Go read, I’ll wait.

If you follow up on the newer posts (and I recommend it) the internet responded in style.  They found themselves inundated with more books than they ever hoped to get.  So many infact that they have been able to send off duplicates to neighboring schools.

Two days ago the most recent update was posted.

The public school board wants to censor the library.  They want only “approved” books to be available to kids.

Never mind that telling a child that she’s “not allowed” to read X or Y book is the best way to ENSURE that she reads it.

Never mind that these children are very likely already exposed to those “forbidden” concepts on the TV, in the news, in music, in movies.

Never mind that its far better to teach children how to handle things than it is to try to shelter them.

And to top it off, the public school’s board wants to quadruple the rent of the charter school who’s renting the unused portion of the building.

The original post went viral and the internet responded in style.  Lets make this one go viral too, and maybe we can encourage the school board to forget this stupidity.

Canning tomato sauce, research and frustration

Posted August 12, 2016 By Ruth

Ever since I started making our own tomato sauce I’ve wanted to can it instead of freezing it (like I do).  And yes, technically you can, safely, can tomato puree.  But the approved as safe recipes all tell you to add extra acid to the mix for safety.  Since part of why we like our homemade sauce is the low acid this didn’t appeal to me.  What I’ve never quite understood is why they tell you to add acid to the pressure canned version too.  After all the whole point of the pressure canner is to do LOW acid stuff.

So this week I emailed the National Center for Home Food Preservation to find out WHY they tell you to add acid to the pressure canned version.  The response was that the listed pressure canner version is just the equivalent of the water bath method (for folks who prefer to pressure can), not a low acid, safe from botulism, method.  Personally if I can safely water bath can it I’m going to do that rather than haul out the pressure canner, but ok, I can see that.

But there’s an approved spaghetti sauce recipe, with very similar proportions, for pressure canning with no added acid.  Is there any reason why I can’t just use those times to pressure can a low acid tomato puree?

The response had two parts, the first stated that since that hadn’t been tested with pure tomato puree she couldn’t say that was safe (which I can understand, after all, if she agrees with me that it’s safe and I do something stupid with it and get sick, or die, from botulism, she doesn’t want to get sued).  But she should have just left it there.  The next part stated that most likely the tomato puree is going to be thicker than the spaghetti sauce so THATS why its not safe, cause the thicker the sauce the harder it is to get the heat to the center of the jar right.

Look, the tomato sauce (which is pure tomato puree if you follow the instructions) recipe calls for 28 pounds of tomatoes to make 9 pints of sauce.  That’s just about 3.11 pounds of tomatoes per pint of finished sauce.

The spaghetti sauce recipe calls for 30 pounds of tomatoes, plus other stuff, to make 9 pints of sauce.  That’s 3.33 pounds of tomatoes, plus other things, per pint of finished sauce.

I highly doubt that the tomato puree is going to end up thicker than the spaghetti sauce……

I haven’t decided if I’m going to try canning my sauce or not this year (though I’m highly tempted).  But I really dislike being given stupid reasons for why I shouldn’t do something…….

Pools and hot tubs and choices

Posted August 9, 2016 By Ruth

When we bought our house Husband was delighted that it came with an (above ground) pool.  He used to love swimming as a kid and was delighted at the prospect of being able to do so at home.  Personally I’ve never been much of a swimmer.  I can keep my head above water and work my way from point A to B, but thats about all I can claim.  And I’ve never been much for floating around on a pool floaty either.

Reality of course quickly turned into him swimming a few times in the summer and that was it.  Its not a heated pool so its not useable once winter sets in.

Lack of maintenance on our part has resulted in the pool not being useable these last couple years.  The pool needs a new liner (the old one is so far beyond repairable its not funny), Husband says he’s not sure the filter’s 100%, and with us not getting the liner repaired right, the more I look at the whole thing the more I think its going to take more work just to get the new liner in than he thinks.

Course, getting everything fixed is likely to be several hundred $.  And money, while not tight, hasn’t been plentiful either.  What we have had to spare has been going to far more important projects (like the whole deck problem last fall).

This past year (as I’ve griped on more than a few occasions) has seen an increase in my joint problems.  Heat application helps with quite a bit of the pain and stiffness.

Enter my Inlaws.  Several years ago they got lucky in a lottery draw done by a local pool & spa place and won a 6 person hot tub.  It was installed in their front porch, used several times by the entire family during that first year.  And is now just gathering dust and piles of stuff without having been used since.

I’ve been trying to convince Husband that what we really need to do is pull down the remains of the pool, pour a slab, and convince his parents to give us the hot tub (not likely to be an issue, when taken into consideration with some other things).

Course, getting it from there to here, and then properly installed here, might be a bit interesting.  But I don’t see how it could be THAT much more costly than fixing the pool.  We could toss a tent of some kind over it for the first winter, and next  year I could build my ideal greenhouse on the slab, surrounding the hot tub, to make it better for winter use AND a place to grow my seedlings in the spring.  Perfect!

Husband, of course, isn’t quite convinced……..

Caught in the act

Posted August 7, 2016 By Ruth

Garden update

Posted August 3, 2016 By Ruth

I finally got a cantaloupe for myself today.  No pictures, I ate it already.

I’m still waiting for the Sugar Baby watermelons to ripen, they’re huge, but apparently not ripe yet since the tendril at each hasn’t even started to die back yet.

For anyone else trying to figure out when Golden Crispy Melons are ripe, part of the answer is that once the skin starts cracking PICK THEM NOW BEFORE THE INSECTS FIND THEM.  I can also confirm that they don’t slip off the vines like cantaloupe.  Other than that I can’t help you. Maybe I’ll do better next year……

Once the real tomato rush hits I’m going to be overwhelmed.  There are SO MANY tomatoes on all those HUGE plants this year.  Wow.  And unlike last year, this year my little home-made 3′ tall cages are NOT cutting it.  The Black Icicles are pushing 8ft tall, and everything else is taller than my eye-level.  Well, the ones that haven’t fallen over from lack of support are anyway.  You can’t even SEE the cages anymore.

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Since most of the tomatoes are going for sauce (or maybe ketchup if I have enough and time to play) anyway I’m going to try just stuffing them into gallon ziplocks and freezing them till I have time to actually make something out of them.  Its supposed to work fine with fruit for jelly, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t for tomatoes for sauce.

They do look pretty all together in the bowl though:

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Not sure if its the heat or what, but I’m also having a horrid time with blossom end rot this year too.  I’ve already added calcium to the tires, both when planting the plants and again a few weeks ago.  I don’t normally have to pitch more than a couple tomatoes for BER, but this year I’ve already pitched several Icicle tomatoes and a bunch of the Black Plums.  Rapid growth is supposed to be one of the triggers, so thats what I’m blaming it on.  Cause yah, we’ve had some rapid growth this year!

I had to treat all the pepper plants for caterpillars this week.  They’d found my paprika peppers (which looked AWESOME till I looked closer), and I ended up picking and pitching more than half the peppers due to the damage.  Hopefully I caught it in time to save at least some of them.

Ripening Hungarian Hot Wax peppers:

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I’ve got two more baseball bats er, zucchini out there to pick and process, and god knows when I’m going to have time to do that.  Maybe tomorrow.

Melon Pear fruit:

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Size wise they’re a bit bigger and fatter than the biggest grapes I’ve seen, but not by much.

Some flower pictures, just cause:

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Just a couple links

Posted August 3, 2016 By Ruth

Ok, three.

Turns out that pushing yourself to the limits for fitness might be just as bad as not exercising at all.  I have a Facebook friend, who I actually knew in college, who’s a HUGE Crossfit dude.  He and his wife participate in Crossfit regularly, and he has dreams of making it to the major competitions that make it onto TV.  He regularly posts memes that show two 80+ adults, one in a wheelchair and one muscle bound, insisting that the only difference between them is that one exercised.  Well he used to.  If he still does he does it so that I can’t see them, apparently he got tired of arguing with me over whether that muscle bound 80-something woman is actually “average”.  It was all I could do to not specifically wave this study in his face.  Nor did it surprise me.

Hillary is not the first.  Though certinally if she wins she can claim that.  On the subject of politics, I expect NY state to go to Hillary thanks to NYC and the capital area.  If Upstate NY was a separate voting group I’d expect it to go to Trump, as the number of Trump signs and flags has grown exponentially in the last several weeks.

Speaking of politics and Trump, another article looking at why Trump is so popular.

In my new life, as an uncomfortable member of what folks back home pejoratively call the elite, my friends blame racism for this perception of the president. There is, undoubtedly, some truth to that theory. But most of the people I know dislike Obama for reasons that have nothing to do with skin color. They think of him as an alien because, compared to them, he is.

Regardless of what I think of Trump (and my thoughts are pretty darn negative on the subject), I do have to agree that I get really sick of the “you hate Obama cause of his skin color!” memes that go around.  Cause yah, his skin color’s got nothing to do with it, other than the fact that I get really tired of having it waved in my face!  I didn’t not vote for Obama cause of his skin color any more than I’m not going to vote for Hillary cause of her genitals!

Coyote

Posted August 1, 2016 By Ruth

Husband commented that he’d not heard all that many coyotes this year, and I have to admit that neither have I.  Usually we hear them several nights a week by summer time.  Certainly we’ve had a bunny population explosion this year.  Not sure if someone did a big hunt, or if the pack has just moved around for some reason.

Although I’ve been seeing one on the trail cameras occasionally, I’m pretty sure it’s only one, and it appears to be a youngster.  I caught a daylight look at him not to long ago, apparently hunting bunnies in my neighbor’s back yard.  Pretty sure he’s (or she, can’t tell from a distance) not mature, got a skinny gangly look to him, like you see in not yet mature dogs.  Course, I didn’t have my camera on me at the time, dammit.

 

I’m thinking this is the cantaloupe thief, as I got a very blurry shot of a coyote checking out the garden the night after someone stole the cantaloupe, and, other than the bunnies munching around the edges, nothing else has even approached the garden.

A note for everyone who says that “Well, I have a big dog, so X wildlife don’t come into my yard!”.  I got news for you.  Chances are good Apollo is quite a bit bigger than your dog, AND he’s an intact male.  And he pees all around the yard, and around the garden in particular.  We actually encourage him to pee around (around, not IN) the garden in hopes of driving off some of the munchers.  Not only has it not appeared to make any difference in the quantity of wildlife we see, he and a couple foxes ended up in a “My Tree! Peeing Contest” last winter!