Tuesday, May 29, 2012


After the things that happened in my marriage, I find that I have one almost instantaneous reaction to cuts in our budget.  I find ways to make sure that we will have the food we need, especially food that is safe for my son to eat.  I had already started multiple garden beds before we got the horrible news a couple of months ago.  Now I've started more and added fruit.

Right now we are up to 6 1/2 garden beds, all fully planted.  One is about to be emptied and replanted with new crops.  I'm learning about what works here and what doesn't.  Sometime today I will be going to Lowe's to get connectors so that I can put up the trellising for the tomatoes and cucumbers which are growing very quickly.  I'm debating putting up a simple low arch trellis over the sweet potatoes to give the plants more room to spread leaves.  I'm hoping the crops will help with redirecting food money to things that I can't grow or raise - yet.

This weekend I went to a local flea/farmer's market that has a big crowd of vendors on Memorial Day weekend.  There are always vendors with fruit trees and bushes.  The only problem is that you can't be sure that the tree you are getting is actually what it is marked.  Oh, a peach tree will be a peach tree but it might not be the cultivar that it is marked.  But the budget is severely limited and I felt a very, very urgent need to try to get most of my "orchard" in the ground.  Trees from these vendors run $8 - $10.  So I took the gamble.

If the labels are correct.  I now have two Damson plums, one Methley plum, one Redskin peach, one Elberta Peach, two Climax blueberries, one Tifblue blueberry, and one Premier blueberry.  I spent Sunday putting in the plums.  Then I spent yesterday putting in the blueberries.  Yes it took all day because I have clay for soil.  So I had to dig big, deep holes.  Then the holes were half filled with compost.  Then I added sulfur to acidify.  Then I mixed the original dirt into this mix.  At the end of the day all four were planted.  Today I will be putting down weed cover and mulch.

There is room for three more blueberries but I will be waiting until next spring to fill those spots.  I want to make sure that the current plants can cross pollinate one another.  If they can't I will pay the extra to grab three that I know the cultivar.  I already know that three of the plants are early crop blueberries.  They already had berries on them that were turning blue. 

Sometime this week I will do the peaches.  That is another all day project because I will have to cut down and remove a large Pampas grass before I can plant the peaches.  The grass is at least 5 feet round and will be a pain to remove.  But then the peaches go in.  And then I'll also be able to put up the bed for the muscadines, although that will probably wait for a few weeks.

All of this is added to my two pears, two cherries, one fig, three grapes, and full bed of strawberries.  And I'll most likely add more blackberries and raspberries.

I'm not a great gardener by any means.  If the plants are indoors they are almost guaranteed to die.  But I try.  And I learn from my failings.  So hopefully, the so-so garden things this year will be much much better next year.  I'm already applying some past lessons to some crops.  For example, last year my sweet potatoes got overrun by weeds.  The plants never really grew any.  So this year I put landscape cloth down until the plants really got going.  Then I gently pulled the landscape cloth up and let the plants take over.  The bed is doing fabulous now.  I'm also put landscape cloth down for the cucumbers and tomatoes.  It's worth the expense to avoid the extra weeding since I am the only person working on it.  But I reused the cloth from the sweet potatoes for the cucumbers.  No point in wasting it.

Anyways, it all comes back to food.  My yard is slowly being planted with things that are edible, which is my preference.  Yet those edible plants also serve the same purpose as the non edible.  The blueberries are a protective hedge around my front porch.  The blackberries and raspberries will become the "fence" between my yard and my neighbor's yard, replacing forsythia and spirea plants.  I will most likely be putting mints down to serve as ground cover.  And it all looks like normal landscaping.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New Counter

The yard sale was a complete dud.  Total was $4.  Ah well, the thrift store will probably have better luck.

I couldn't sit and do nothing during the yard sale so I got two things done.  The first was to cut a piece of counter top to go into the mudroom where the freezer used to be.  Despite my brother's dire warnings that counter tops could not be cut at home without making a mess of them, I successful cut a nice neat section and sanded the edges.  Tomorrow I work out adding an extension to the underside so that the grain mill isn't getting caught on the lip.  Most likely I'll put a 1/2 x 4" piece of wood on the underside along the length.  That will let the grain mill grip well without using a major chunk of plywood.  Then I'll work out mounting it to the wall and the floor so it doesn't shift while using the mill.  BTW, the trick to cutting them and not having the laminate shred is to tape on both sides of where you are cutting.  My Dad shared it with me.  It worked wonderfully.  He said use masking tape but I didn't have any so I used Gorilla tape.  That worked very well.  The tape didn't budge even when I accidentally cut into it.

The second thing done was that I got a large chunk of the hedge clipped back.  It gets cut back every year but for some reason it's gone explosive this year.  It's over 4 foot outside of my limits for it.  And it had completely buried the bottom 8 feet of the utility pole.  Between the hedge clippers, loppers, and a tree saw I got about 8 foot of it cleared out before the heat got to be too much.  Lots and lots of dead wood on the underside.  And I'm cutting back further this year in an effort to prevent quite the level of overgrowth.  I think the pruning is part of why it exploded so much this spring.  I've got another 12 feet or so to go that needs to be done soon.  Then another 30 feet that just needs to be done sometime this summer.  That 30 feet runs alongside the shady side of the garage so it's not overgrowing anywhere near as badly.  But it is sending up new shoots.  This hedge is mainly privet but there's a lot of random stuff mixed in.  I would truly love to take the whole thing down - it's over 12 feet tall now - but I don't have the tools to do that effectively.  Especially since there are some nasty big tree stumps hidden in the mess.

It is Memorial Day weekend and I'd like to say Thank You to all who have served in the armed forces acting as defenders for the rest of us.  You do a hard job and don't get anywhere near enough respect, or gratitude, for what you do.  Thank you and may you be protected in your duties. And while Memorial Day is a reminder for those of us who are not part of the armed forces, my gratitude is there every day.

For those who have died defending us - there are no words to convey - not the gratitude for your sacrifice or the sorrow that such a sacrifice had to occur.  Only the prayer that you may be happy and protected in the next life.  And the prayer that maybe, one day, the human race will evolve enough that another will not need to make that sacrifice.


Friday, May 25, 2012

We Are Still Here

It's just been very hectic.  And with the hard drive on the laptop crashing, I've had to spend a lot of time doing backups and reinstalls.

The freezer finally sold.  So I'm using the money to buy the lumber for my son's swing set.  I'm going to do a couple of pieces at a time.  That way I can cut them and treat them with Thompson's Water Seal.  Then move on to the next set.  And I may have a lead on getting the 4 x 4s from someone who is taking down their swing set.  We weren't going to do the slide because I couldn't afford one (not part of the kit).  Then someone posted one on Freecycle and we got it.  So kiddo gets a wave slide.  And after measuring I realized that we could safely put his tire swing on the set.  So he'll have a fort, slide, tire swing, and regular swing.  He'll be in heaven, or as close to it as he can get on Earth.  Although any angels watching over him may want to shoot me when I'm done.

Two more garden beds completely in.  Tomatoes and cucumbers are planted.  "Pampered" plants (citrus and delicate herbs) have been moved outside.  More lumber for other beds to come soon hopefully.  I have enough for one more full size bed.  I want to do two more full size beds and three half size beds.  And then the fruit plants.  Oh, and I filled a new level on the potato bin.

Yard sale this weekend.  Hopefully I will sell enough to be able to get the last of the fruit trees and bushes.  Fingers crossed.

Last batch of jellies dudded.  Two didn't set.  So they have to be redone.  The wine jelly came out fabulous though, even after I made a mistake.  That's probably going to be a keeper recipe.  Although it was a very soft set which I hope to firm up a little bit in future batches.  I'm hoping to get the other two redone Sunday.  Then I'll get the last of several batches done.  Then I'll experiment with a mulled wine jelly.

Dried onions, all varieties, are done.  Hoping to get the last of them flaked sometime this week.  Finishing dried spinach now as well as dried lemon peels.  Both came out good.  The dehydrator will probably appreciate the break since it's been going non stop for a couple of weeks now.

I replaced the screen on the kitchen window.  When I had to "break in" I discovered that the screen that was there didn't cover it completely.  Instead of using screening, I used a thin, almost paper like white fabric.  I really like the effect and I'm thinking of doing it for other windows in private areas.  Today I did it for the screen door that enters the garage.  It totally blocks my son's view into the garage and as a result he is less likely to get upset over not being allowed in to the garage.

I forget what else has been done.  It's been a hectic period and I've been going non stop.  I hope things are going well for you.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


If you haven't figured it out by now, my son is severely disabled.  He has severe autism.  And yet while the doctors say severe, I say moderate because the child I have now is drastically different from the child who they originally diagnosed.  He still can't use many words, and what words he does have are sporadic.  His senses overload from things that we normal folks take for granted.  His behaviors are on the level of a 4 years old.  In a preteen body.

So holidays are a mixed bag for us.  He doesn't understand most holidays or their reasons.  And some holidays are severe overload triggers.  And so I've made adaptions.  He has a very generous and loving extended family.  So gift giving holidays are typically more than loaded with enough gifts.  In order to not make the overload worse, I give him gifts year round rather than just on his birthday or Christmas.  At least one a month, sometimes big, sometimes small.  Always just because I love him.  As a result of this he is better able to focus on other gift items on those holidays.  And I am able to help him focus on the most important part - that he is loved and the reason for the celebration.  I think sometimes the reasons become lost behind the gifts.

For me, his birthday is a celebration of his entrance into my life and all that he has taught me since then.  I love my son dearly, even when he is driving me up the walls.  And I try to make sure that he knows that love, feels it, comprehends it in his heart/soul even when his mind cannot understand.

Lately, he has been responding with impromptu displays of love to me.  And the look in his eyes lets me know that while his mind may not understand, his heart/soul do.  And these little things are treasures for me.

But holidays like Mother's Day are not even on the radar for him.  And I accept this, mind/body/soul.  My "mother's day" occurs frequently throughout the year - in his smiles, his cuddle attacks, his attempts to tickle, his kisses, his love.  It occurs when he calms and accepts something new because I am there for him.  When he looks to me for reassurance that he's ok.  When he looks to me to be sure he's safe.  All of these things are gifts to me.  They are gifts because so many other kids with his disability cannot do them - do not understand them.  And some of those things his regular peers no longer do with their moms.

So, please enjoy your Mother's Day activities today.  But please, also remember all the little precious things that show that love so much more than the gifts.

And my surprise Mother's Day gift this year was that when munchkin woke up, he curled into the other side of my bed and went back to sleep.  He didn't turn off my CPAP, he didn't put his feet in my spine, he just curled up and went back to sleep.  And he let me sleep until I woke up naturally.  Which, since I stayed up very late last night, was almost 9 am.  (really, really late for us.)  Then he cuddled in for a slow lazy wake up morning.  This was a great thing all around.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

In Threes

Ok, in my life things always happen in threes.  And generally the good balances the bad.  It's really time for some major good things please.  Really, really major good things!

Yup, I'm grumpy today.

While I still have to laugh about yesterday, I'm still not enjoying the bruises I have down one leg from it.  It seems my leg and the sill didn't like each other, so the front half of one thigh has 9 bruises from the sill.  They go from the top of my thigh to just at the bottom of my knee.  They probably wouldn't bother me so much except it's That Day of the month.  So I'm pretty much sore from just below my shoulder blades down.  By tomorrow morning most of it will be gone and I'll feel much better.  And then I'll be in a much better mood.

And then we had to go look for the glasses that munchkin lost while running yesterday.  And no we didn't find them.  My girlfriend is going to look again.  Sometimes different eyes see things mine miss.

Yesterday, while visiting my girlfriend, munchkin got out and ran away.  We weren't far behind him so he wasn't going to get far.  But about 20 feet from her driveway we observed a new behavior.  He stopped.  Then he looked around like he was confused/lost.  Then he got scared.  He started crying and ran back down her driveway trying to find where he had been.  We directed him back into her yard where he promptly went to one section and closed the gate with himself on the inside!  And he didn't try to get out again!  In fact, he didn't want to get out when it was time to go.  And when she and I spent some time talking at the car, he tried to go back!

When I discussed it with another girlfriend, we came to the conclusion that he had realized that he didn't know where he was, which was the source of the fear.  And as a result, he tried to get back to somewhere familiar, which was the rest of the behavior.  But now I'm not so sure.  Today we followed the path he ran in order to look for his glasses.  Even with me at his side, he got only as far as he did yesterday before he started getting really upset.  When we turned around he pulled me along to get back to my girlfriend's house.  He got upset every time he thought we were going back down the street that direction!  Even when he could hear kids laughing and playing in one of the yards, which would normally attract him.

Now munchkin has some things that trigger fears or upset.  Buildings that look like schools or doctor's offices are his normal ones.  During really bad periods this translates to any brick type building that he hasn't been in regularly - like the Hancock Fabrics I use.  But there is not anything on that street that even vaguely resembles something that would trigger him.  And random unknown areas don't trigger fears/upset if I'm with him.  He'll get cautious and walk closer to me but he won't get this upset.

And even when a building triggers him, my presence normally abates the fear some.  This time it didn't.  He spazzed in the car when I decided to drive that way to see if I could figure it out.

So now I'm left wondering what it is that he is hearing/smelling/whatever that is setting him off.  What it is that I am missing.  I'm going to call my girlfriend on Monday and see if she might have a thought or two.  It's probably something that hasn't triggered in so long that I've forgotten about it.  If talking to her doesn't help me figure it out, I may go walk the area by myself.  When I'm not having to focus on his fear I'm better able to focus on what's around that may be a trigger.  Then I can work with him to narrow it down, and hopefully, eliminate it.

I would prefer that he not run, and that he would realize the danger and come back willingly any time it does happen.  And that has slowly, oh so slowly, occurring.  But I don't want him terrified of things.  So I have to find and help him deal with the trigger, if possible.  But maybe he's also realized that random running way isn't such a good idea!

Well, here's hoping that you are having a better day than I am.  And here's hoping that I will be having Much better days in immediate, and further out, future.  (with bad things gone away, please!)

Friday, May 11, 2012

You Laugh, Otherwise You Might Scream

ok, this moment of hilarity brought to you by me.

While reading a text from someone who was supposed to already be at my house, I walked out my back door to go to the storage shed.  Goliath was following me and I didn't want him outside so I pulled the door closed behind me.  I promptly replied to the text, then went to the storage shed to get what the empty box for canning jars.  Upon returning to the back door I found it locked.  Oops, I instinctively locked it upon exiting......and I didn't have keys.

Okay, deep breath, I decide to go in through the bathroom window.  My son tends to open it during his showers and doesn't always get it completely back down and relocked when he's done.  Ooops again, he actually got it fully down and locked this time!

Okay, a few more deep breaths.  Oh yeah, I've got the kitchen window open!  So around to the kitchen.  Okay, back to the garage for the ladder.  I don't see the extension ladder so I grab the 4 footer.  Back to the kitchen window.  Ok, the screen is steel and I can't get it out.  Over to the neighbors for a screwdriver.  Screen out, screwdriver returned, I reach in and start cleaning off the sill.

I look at the window and realize that I will have to go in head first.  Oh joy!  So I try it.  Part of the way in, I realize that it's not going to happen with this ladder.  I also realize that my son has taken this opportunity to grab my dish soap for smearing.  I promptly tell him to put the soap back.  He does.  Bug-eyed doesn't come even close to the look on his face when he sees me half out the window!  I hope I haven't given him ideas.

Anyways, soap back in the kitchen, I exit once again and go looking for the extension ladder.  One phone call to Dad later, to confirm that he didn't take it to his place, I find it right in front of my face.  Yup, I'm snake bit.

Back to the window.  I'm hoping that with the taller ladder I can go in feet first but no such luck!  So in face first I go.  Hmmm.....I'm glad I've lost a lot of weight, the window isn't very big. 

Oh, I haven't mentioned that this window is directly over my kitchen sink!  And one half is full of clean dishes!  After a few stretches and modified splits later, I'm on the counter on all four.  Footing and hand grips were a little mobile because I had just finished dishes and the area was still damp.  Please, use your imagination here because Murphy was definitely at play during this. 

Finally, I got two feet on the floor.  And I managed to do it with only one scrape and no broken items.

So back out the door, with keys this time, to clean everything up.  Who knew that getting an empty canning box into the house could be so difficult.  And I was planning on cleaning of the sill of random objects, just not quite this way.

I've got to find a way to hide a house key outside the house.  This is the second time this year I've had to "break" in.  It's great exercise but it's a little tiring!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

And We Keep Going

Even when the hits keep coming.  But these hits aren't as bad as the ones last month.  And I am very grateful for that.

Hopefully the old small freezer will be sold by this weekend.  The money from that is supposed to build a wooden playset for my son.  His old metal one was crushed by a tree and desperately needs replacing.  My Dad gave me the parts kit for this years and years ago.  All that you have to do is add the wood.  And the wood may be less expensive for two reasons.  First, my Dad and I have some lumber left over from other projects.  Not much, mind you, but enough to spare having to buy a few boards brand new.  And second, because I may be able to pick up some new lumber cheaply from someone who bought too much for building his deck.  Both things would be helpful.

My laptop crashed again.  This is bad since it is the only computer I have at the moment.  My brother decided to do a massive overhaul on my desktop but didn't calculate in the cost of a new power supply to fit the changes.  And he didn't tell me he was doing this drastic an overhaul!

Anyways, it took two tries to get Windows to reinstall and the hard drive now has 6 bad sectors.  Yup, that would be the hard drive crashing.  So Dad is looking to see if he has a spare.  I'm not diverting my son's playset money to this.  His playset has been too long in the waiting.  So, please fates be kind and keep my hard drive going.  I just got most things reinstalled today and will spend tomorrow doing backups of things that I don't want to lose.  And then I just pray things keep going until a solution I can use comes along.

My laptop is old.  My desktop is older.  My girlfriend's SO told me to just dump them and get new ones.  It was one of those hand to forehead moments.  My hand, his forehead.  I tried to explain to him, in little words, that my budget didn't allow for me to buy new computers, even used ones.  And even I can put in a new hard drive, although my preference would be for Dad to do it since he has the anti-static equipment.

I've got 15 pallets near the garage to break down.  I spent today cleaning inside, as well as working on the computer.  I'm hoping to get most of the inside cleaning done today.  Tomorrow I will start the lawn and get at least one new garden bed in.  Hopefully legal aid will call me back today or early tomorrow so I can get paperwork completed.  Oh, and I still have to figure out how to word a letter to the school district.  The joys of leftovers from last month!

Today is normally swim day for my son.  But he didn't want to go!  This is so amazing!  He's addicted to pools and would live in them if he could, or so it seems.  But he didn't want to go, so we didn't go.  I did get his hair cut, which is very difficult.  He hates hair cuts.  And I had to do it with scissors first, then with the shaver.  His hair had gotten too long and would have bogged the shaver down.  I think what got us through it was that I didn't make him sit down.  If he needed to run for a few seconds before the next cut, I let him.  He came back willingly each time.  And toward the end, with the scissors, he was directing my hands to cut when he came back and staying longer each time.  The hardest part was that he wouldn't turn around while I was using the shaver.  He wanted me to do it while he was facing me.  Fortunately I got him to turn long enough to get the back done well.  So now he has peach fuzz again.  And he's running around rubbing his head, or getting me to rub his head.  As much as he hates the cut, he loves the feeling of the very short hair.

The weather here has been weird.  It was supposed to be sunny this week but it was cloudy with random rainstorms.  It made planning things really crazy.

And my potatoes aren't doing well, despite all the rain.  They're wilting.  I'm going to have to research online and see if I can figure it out.  The beans are ok.  They're short and spindly.  I think it's a need for fertilizer, so when I finish the harvest on them, I will dig them into the bed and then add a thick layer of compost again.  Part of it may be that the season change started early and we are already hitting summer temperatures that we normally wouldn't have for another month.  I think I may do a second planting of them in August.

The pear trees are loaded!  I'm going to have to string some of the branches up because they aren't holding up to the load.  That's going to be good for canning come fall.

The grapes have exploded this year.  And some muscadines that I thought were dead - aren't.  I'm going to have to go out and collect grape leaves in about a month to save for pickling.  I have to get them before the japanese beetles and june bugs do.

I haven't heard from Dad but last time I looked his plum trees were as loaded as my pear trees.  So I'm really looking forward to fresh plums.  I don't like them canned, but I can devour them fresh.  And homegrown are so, so, so much better than store bought.

Anyways, that's the update.  Praying for good things.  I hope you are getting good things.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Running seems to be most of what I'm doing lately.  It's good running but it gets tiring after a while.

I spent Friday running between stores to get the groceries.  Lots of good sales so lots of things to repackage.  Which meant I spent Saturday in the kitchen repacking meats.  Along with a side trip down to pick up catfish, which then joined into the repacking marathon.

After I got all the meats repacked I had to run to get a load of pallets.  These are in good shape.  And to get them, I got the back of the caravan cleaned out again.  This was the first time I used it to haul pallets, and it does a good job with the extra seats out.

Then somewhere between Saturday and Sunday, I made powdered onion.  (Which is a major pain to do and takes forever!)  And I got the strawberries prepped for jam.  And I got laundry done.  Oh, and don't forget lessons.  And another trip to pick up pallets.

Then this morning I had to go into town to the Dollar Tree.  There was a need for a few items that they carry.  And the gas was almost $.10/gallon cheaper there so I got half a tank.  Then to get another load of pallets.

So I think we are home for the rest of today.  I have to get at least two jams/jellies made for taste testing tomorrow.  Along with finishing the laundry because my son added more this morning.  And more onions to caramelize so that they can be processed.  Along with waiver forms to fill out (uck! legalese) and a letter to the school district.  And that doesn't even touch the need to put in the new garden beds, weed and mulch one of the existing beds, take the sawzall to the pallets, fill the potato bed again, pick more honeysuckle, mow the lawn, pick the strawberries, tie up the grapes, mow the lawn, start several new jars of vinegar and clean out the herb garden bed.  Oh, and make a new cover for the yard swing and experiment with several projects made from the tree deadfall in my yard.

It's gonna be a busy week.  Here's hoping I get it all done!  I hope you are having a productive week as well.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wild Jellies

Today was taste testing day!  I took two of my new jellies, made from flowers, to co-op for other moms to try.  The all around opinion was that they were good!  Not to sweet and not to "un-sweet".  The flavors blend well.

Unfortunately, my roses are done with their early spring bloom.  I got just enough roses off the bushes today to do one more batch.  So I'm planning on pulling honeysuckle this week and making extract.  Then I'll freeze the extract until the rose bushes give their midsummer blooms.  Well, I'll freeze part of the extract for that.  The rest will make the batches of honeysuckle jelly.

And Mom has a batch of honeysuckle & rose mead going.  She decided to throw it all in together rather than do two separate batches.  So I may have to fight her for my flowers next year! 

Now off to make some wine jellies for taste testing next week!  As well as strawberry jam.  It's going to be an interesting week.

I hope you all are having success with your endeavors today.