Thursday, July 27, 2006

First Ripe Tomato Of The Season

 It's an Early Girl variety that is getting redder everyday. I'm planning on a tomato sandwich for lunch tomorrow. I like to eat them when they are still warm from being on the plant. Yum. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sweet Pickle Recipe...By Request


5 quarts (20 cups) thinly sliced unpeeled cucumbers (you can use zucchini or crook neck squash)
6 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 medium green peppers, thinly sliced (I use red peppers instead; the green are too bitter)
3 cloves of garlic or 1/4 tsp instand minced garlic
1/3 cup pickling salt (this preserves the color of the vegetable)
Ice Cubes

5 cups sugar (I used the splenda/sugarcombo to reduce calories and carbs)
2 cups cider vinegar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1-1/2 teaspoons celery seed
1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric

In large container, combine cucumber, onion, green pepper and garlick. Sprinkle with pickling salt and cover with layer of ice cubes; mix lightly. Let stand 3 hours. Drain well; remove garlic. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds and turmeric. Heat until mixture forms a liquid. Fill jars with pickle slices and syrup to within 1/2 inch of top. Clean top of jar and top with sterilized vacuum-seal lids and screw bands. Place in boiling water and process five minutes. Makes 10 pints. I just put mine in the refrigerator rather than doing the boiling water thing. In the refrigerator they will last for a year safely. Usually they are gone long before the year is up. I shake the jars before I open them to evenly distribute the ingredients. I also leave a couple of slices of red pepper in the jar for color.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Canning Pickles From Crook Neck Squash

 As we all know, zucchini and crook neck squash are crops you have to control or else they get out of hand. Well I was gone five days last week on business; the crook neck squash and Japanese eggplant definitely got out of control. Last year I found a recipe in a very old Pillsbury cookbook. It said you could substitute zucchini for cucumbers when making sweet pickles. I figured that the crook neck squash was in the zucchini family so I substituted it for zucchini. They turned out great; I developed a following for my pickles. Today I made another batch, which is pictured here. The special ingredient is tumeric. They are yummy. This year I made them with the Splenda/Sugar combo so they would be lower in carbs and calories. It was 109 today in the shade. A good day to stay indoors. It won't go below 100 until next Friday. Yuck. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cloud Race

 I spotted these clouds at sunset last night from our back deck. To me they look like racers heading to earth. Just a nice image to share. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 14, 2006

One Year Ago Today She Crossed Over The Rainbow Bridge

  It's been a year since I said goodbye to one of the best dogs in the world, Emily. She was nearly 13, we think. Her owners dumped her in the night box at the pound. They probably thought she would be euthanized, but they were wrong. With tender loving care and some help from the vet she turned into a golden girl of great charm and beauty. I think of her everywhere I go on the property. Golden Retrievers are such special dogs. So for all you pet owners, regardless of whether it's an iguana, a dog, a bird, a cat, or something else that you love, give them a hug and whisper your love to them. They are faithful to the end. And think of all those pets who are no longer with you. I like to think of them all lined up in a row: Mike (border collie), cats Panda Bear (sweet but dumb), Zonker (she lived to 19), Mr. Gray (he chose us), and Golden Retrievers Molly and Emily. All I have left is Comet, a 15-year old alley cat who loves to cuddle. Don't know who we will invite into our home next. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Is Someone Still An Asshole Even Though He's Dead...YES!

I finally had to write about Enron and Ken Lay. I worked as a consultant for the people in Enron's San Francisco office for nearly four years. We licensed power plants in a state that needed them. No these were not the traders in Portland scamming the system. They were great people. They never stole, cheated or lied. They got the work done, but still they got screwed like all the other employees of the Big E. Now the man responsible for it has died and the eulogies at his memorial services have likened this man to "Jesus". They paint him as a good Christian who was a great philanthropist. Do these people have no shame? There are thousands of people in this country who will never be able to retire because of what this man and Jeff Skilling did. There has only been one former Enron employee quoted in the stories I've read since his Lay's death. She lost 90% of her retirement when the company collapsed. I lost $13,000. Not a huge amount by any means, but when you are self employed, it can wreak havoc with paying your bills. Last year I was paid 18 cents on the dollar by the bankruptcy court. That was a real surprise. Ken Lay is not a saint. In some way he took the easy way out by dying of a heart attack. If he had so damn much money why didn't he see a doctor so his coronary problems could be diagnosed. He belongs in jail for the rest of his life. This is the one time in my somewhat scattered religious life that I hope there is a hell. If there isn't one, someone should create one for him. I had to get that off my chest. Jeez I hate it when they turn assholes into saints. When people die they are who they are. Period.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Chard Anyone?

 Went to the farmers' market this morning in Lincoln and bought some beautiful chard, which is pictured here. I used to grow it, but the finches loved to sit on the leaves and eat tiny holes in them. I know everyone needs iron but they seriously put a crimp in our chard eating. I'm using a new recipe. Chard cooks in a nano-second. A bushel of the stuff is just enough for two. It's a lot like spinach. This recipe calls for olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, plumped up raisins and toasted pine nuts. I didn't have raisins so decided to plump up Bing cherries. Barbecued marinated flank steak goes with the chard. Yum. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 07, 2006

Duckling Update

  I finally got a picture of her on the roof. This is Dame Olivia. Her partner is Sir Lawrence. Early this spring, as many of you know she laid her eggs on top of our roof, hatched out about ten ducklings and within about two weeks all had been gobbled up by critters. She's been back on the roof for a couple of weeks at least. The difference between the first and second set of eggs is the heat. It gets to be probably 110 on the roof when it's in the sun, which is most of the day. When she's not there I would bet that the eggs are cooking not growing baby ducklings. She's off the nest a lot because she gets so hot. I'll keep you posted. Posted by Picasa

Being Found...More Photos

 Cathy just e-mailed these photos to me. The bottom two photos on the left side were taken at my 11th birthday. Isn't that wallpaper terrible. The top photo on the left is a gathering of the neighborhood girls. I'm the one on the floor on the right. Susan Beam is on the left. I'm going to try to figure the others out. The top right hand photo is me at about the same age standing in front of Cathy's Christmas tree. I think her dad said, "go stand in front of the tree and I'll take your picture." He didn't include the words, smile and relax. I look like a wooden soldier. The bottom picture on the right is Cathy at the Sister Kenny Institute where she spent 10 long months. Part of that time in an iron lung. She received the Last Rites of the church so she was one very sick little girl. She's probably 8 going on 9 in the photo. Posted by Picasa

My Brother's New Adventure: A Cochlear Implant

  My brother and sister have both had severe hearing losses since infancy. Nothing genetic; just things went wrong when they were very little. Both wear hearing aids. My brother's hearing, however, has suddenly worsened to the point where he qualifies for a cochlear implant, which is pictured here. On August 16th he will have outpatient surgery to have it implanted in a little niche that will be carved out of his skull. One is the electrode array, which is threaded very carefully into the inner ear (he will have 20 electrodes so he can be upgraded when improvements are made). Two is the receiver for the electrode array which will be placed in the niche carved out in his skull. It's the thickness of a quarter and about one square inch in size. Three is the processor, a small electronics package that can be worn on a belt or placed in a pocket. Four is the transmitting coil. Five is the microphone. The last two are worn behind the ear. The transmitting coil magnetically attaches to the implanted receiver. He also just got a new phone at home and at the office. It has captioning so he can read what the caller says if he doesn't understand what's being said. He called me on it the other day and it worked like a charm. The only time he didn't understand me was when he looked away from the screen. Pretty cool. Posted by Picasa

Our Address: Foxtail Farm

  We've lived in rural Lincoln for three years and still had not come up with a name for the property. At least for now, we are calling our home "Foxtail Farm." People are always asking what we grow on the land; I reply "weeds and foxtails." I mentioned this to Kerry one day and he came up with "Foxtail Farms." So for now that's the name. Included in the blog is a picture of foxtails stuck to fabric. They are insidious. Vets get rich in the summer months in California removing them from various parts of cats and dogs. My first golden retriever, Molly, got one in her ass which required surgery. She also had them in her ears. Emily got them between her toes where they would form abscesses. Even though we like "Foxtail Farms" we are open to other suggestions. Posted by Picasa

All Aboard For Tibet

In my brief, but wonderful travels in China I have learned two things about the country and its people. One, I don't respect its human rights policies. Two, I respect their ability to get things done like the Three Gorges Dam (although I don't like the damage to the environment; you'd think they would learn from other big engineering feats which have ended up destroying land,property, and lives). The latest feat is the train from Beijing to Tibet. If you have your Atlas handy take it out and look at what a long distance this is and the type of terrain the train crosses. The highest point during the trip is 16,640 feet. It is the world's highest railway having surpassed one in the Andes in South America. At that altitude pens spit ink and packaged foods burst due to low air pressure. The windows protect passengers from the harsh UV rays at that altitude. The whole thing cost $4.2 billion and took four years to build. Tibetans said it was all part of the grand plan by China to crush Tibetan culture. The Dali Lama says it's neither good nor bad; it remains to be seen what the outcome will be. Spoken like a true buddhist. Oxygen masks are available at each seat for those who experience shortness of breath. With my asthmatic lungs, I would be sucking on the oxygen the entire way. The least expensive ticket is $43 one way. Not a bad price. Here are some photos from the Internet.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My Weekend Of Being Found

 Well, here we are. Cathy is on the left and I'm the Kathy on the right. She zips around her house and other places in her little red scooter. I tried to just back it up to winch it into the truck and got terribly discombobulated. I was better going forward than backward. It was pretty warm, but we spent most of our time in her air conditioned house, her air conditioned truck or an air conditioned restaurant or grocery store. But mainly we just talked for hours on end. For people who had not spoken to each other in 40 years, we picked up right where we left off. We comparied memories of the old neighborhood, and I got to hear first hand about the day she was diagnosed with polio at the age of 8. As a kid I just knew that she was gone from the neighborhood for a long time. Turns out it was 10 months, which for a kid is a lifetime. She was able to walk with crutches for most of her adult life. She worked as an occupation therapist in the state hospital in Phoenix. Four years ago her arms gave out so she can't stand, which also means she isn't working anymore. Now she has the scooter to get around. For all the things that have happened to her, she is good-hearted, warm and loving. And she has a great husband, Ray. Next year they will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary. More later. Posted by Picasa