Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rhubarb Fool

The sun is actually shining as I wander through my morning routine. Open the patio door to let the dogs out noticing a definite nip in the air. This is August still, and it should be hot, with temperatures in the high 20's during the day...NOT single digits overnight - that's November/December weather here. Yes, I'm grumbly this morning. Wanna make somethin' of it?!! Time for cappuccino and the news.

New Orleans under mandatory evacuation. God don't screw this one up people. Still more recalls and illness from the Listeriosis outbreak. Liberal campaign ready to go...oh yawn. Canada sends one of it's Boeing C-17 Globemasters to the Louisiana Gulf region to assist with medical evacuations . Good on ya Canada. Now, if Homeland Security will ACTUALLY let you help this time...

Time to go outside and roll up the beach ma...Hey, Richard already did it for me before he left for work. Well bless his pea-pickin' heart! The dogs and I meander in the yard. I peruse my much ignored mini pea patch, noticing that yup, the Mole People have been back, moving one of the red clay pots. I move it back. Harrumph. The Scarlet Runner beans are busy running up the stucco wire on the shed, and the tomato plants are actually looking quite good. My 3 sage plants are doing well and so is the thyme.

I pull some weeds, then move on to check my little Rhubarb plant that Dad sent to me in the mail. I LOVE Rhubarb and have wanted a piece of his plant for years. He finally sent me some July. I soaked it in water for a week, then planted it. It took off and never looked back, having 7 leaves now. I can already taste all those delicious Rhubarb treats!

On to the potting table and then out to the garden boat. It's still cool, so I only stay long enough to start thinking about plants that will over-winter in the boat and plants that will have to be dug up and potted to over-winter indoors. I am curious about the Pineapple Sage I have growing. I note that it is getting quite large - later I will look it up on the web and discover that this plant will amaze you with its sweet scent and beautiful red flowers, it grows up to 8 feet tall and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. This a great plant in a pot or in the ground. Sweet pineapple flavor can be used to sweeten chicken, coleslaw or pork. Perennial. 8 feet tall!!! Good grief, um, maybe I should take some cuttings and pot up as well as get Richard to build it it's own cage. Gosh, 8 feet you say. Well then...

...I start counting potted plants that will have to move indoors when the coldest weather hits. Um, 1, 2, the herbs can stay outdoors, they are tough, 21, 22, 23, and the tomatoes and cucumbers can freeze down, I won't try and over-winter them, 44, 45, I can put some pots in the living room, 58, 59, 60, some in the dogs room, goodness I think there will be around a hundred pots to find room for. Gonna have to nag Richard to close in the front deck like he suggested. And maybe let him build that lean-to on the back of the wood shed like he wanted to earlier to put some in. Going to have to cook or bake something special to soften him up for moving all those plants.

I need to go and purchase a dish drainer to replace the one the Mole People bombed. They are way too expensive at Extra Foods, and while I probably will get it at Walmart, I decide to check out Canadian Tire first. And while I am there I may as well check out the 25 cent plants, right? Right??

40 plants later, I am in the van and heading out.
As I drive in front of the store, I notice several other racks of plants I never saw before, and the sign says "All Plants 25 cents". I cruise slowly by, trying to see what types there are, but a woman behind me is impatient, and beeps her horn. WELL, REALLY! I wasn't going THAT slow. Over to Walmart for my dish drainer, an all-in-one this time. Then off home to quickly unload and try to hide er, that is, um, place, my new plants in amongst the "old". I got 14 Ivy Geraniums this time, 12 double Impatiens, 3 Rosemary plants, 8 Gazania, and 3 Fuschia's. For those of you keeping track, that is 119 plants, and I have half of them potted up already.

Time to go home and water the tomatoes in the garden boat as they are looking decidedly woebegon. Since Richard put the watering tank beside the boat for me, watering is a breeze and I soon have it all done. I brush against the Fernleaf Dill as I reach to water a rose bush and the odor of it wafts up, making me hungry for all things dilly.

It's warm in the sun, and I take my time, picking and poking at weeds and flowers. The zucchini plant near the dill has done nothing all summer, so I ruthlessly yank it out and toss it over the fence for the deer. In it's place, I put the Lupine I bought the other day and a mini rose. They will do well there. I make a mental note that I will have to dig up both the Summer Savory and the Lemon Scented Geranium before frost sets in. I hate to do it, as they are really thriving but they will die in the cold. I will also dig up the Osteospermum; they are some of my favorites as well as the
Argyranthemum, aka Marguerite Daisy. Don't think they are frost hardy.

The dogs are lazing in the sun, and so am I. But it is time to start planning dinner. Hamburgers - yum - grilled on the Outdoor Gas Convection Oven I think, as well as Grilled Onions, Grilled Potato Patties, and a lettuce and Tumbling Tom tomato salad. That will do the trick.

Back to potting plants. Richard arrives home from work, and my plans for burgers goes out the window. "Had a burger for lunch" he says. So, I settle on chicken wraps: chopped cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced red onions, black olives, grated cheddar, feta, warmed in the microwave and topped with shredded Iceberg lettuce, a dollop of sour cream and some chunky salsa. Great idea!

After dinner we set about moving some of my "plant stands" from beside the driveway - found items I used last year - into the garden yard for me to set some pots on. I say 'we' when you know I mean Richard, and in the process he managed to step full foot into a doggy mine. I snickered, and heckled and made him go out the big garden gate and clean his shoes off, not through the small gate and across the deck, lecturing all the while about watching where he puts his feet down. I had policed the yard earlier in the day, but guess I somehow missed deactivating one of those mines.

You ever hear about fore-shadowing in literature, TV & Movies? You know, when they give you a vague clue about something and then, just when you forget about it...BAM they smack you with it big time?

Mother Nature really does have a sense of humor some days.

No, really, she does.

Just ask me....

Friday, August 29, 2008

At Your Service

It's sunny for 5 seconds as I stumble out of bed to loose the hounds today. At least, with my one eye half-open, it appears sunny. Nope, now it's clou...nope sunn...nope rain now, sigh. Mother Nature is in one of THOSE moods today I see. My brain swims up through it's fog, and I remember why Mother Nature is moody - Port Alberni Salmon Fest is beginning. It nearly always rains on this particular weekend. The hounds hurtle back in the door, excited to be up and raring to go. God, I envy them their energy!

Richard is getting ready to leave for work, so I sit quietly on the bed, watching the news, sipping my cappuccino and endeavoring to keep up with the commentator. Hmmmmm, Breaking News. US Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain has chosen a woman, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, as his running mate. Well, good on ya Johnny Boy, it's not gonna help you but good on ya anyway; Barack Obama gave stirring speech last night as he became the Democratic choice for US President; still rumblings here of fall Canadian Election, hmmph, idiots, this is a really terrible time of year for an election, we Canadians don't have time for this stupidity; earthquakes of Northern tip of Vancouver Island, but don't panic, not the big one...yet; gas prices rising again because of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico; time to check what Anna Olson is making today. Ohhhhh, Three Cheese Pasta Bake, a fancy baked mac 'n' cheese, one of my favorite dishes.

Both eyes open and focusing now, so I plan my day. If the sun shines as it is rumored to, I will start planting my 68 flowering plants. We walk out on the deck to look at them again and plot what goes where. Well, I do; the kids rush into the garden yard to check for Mole People and Cute Little Island Bush Bunny sign. Tails wagging, noses to the ground they cast about for anything interesting. I warn them NOT to eat Bunny Nuggets. They ignore me. Bunny Nuggets are a Bichon delicacy...DON'T ASK!

I slowly wend my way to the garden boat and roll up the beach mats. More Tumbling Tom's ripening. Lot's of tomatoes coming on the huge heritage tomato plants, although none appear to be ripening yet. Would love to get even one of each to try. Uh oh, better pick those few peas that are there before they are to tough to eat. Hey will you look at those soup mix beans, wow, they have come back well.

We wander back over towards the house and the plants on the outdoor potting table. I see that, finally, there is both a male and female blossom on the zucchini plant. Taking no chances I hand pollinate the female flower. Maybe we will actually get a zucchini to eat. Well, I can dream can't I?

Back inside I decide to make Sour Cream Biscuits to go with the leftover chili we are having for dinner. This is such an easy recipe to make and one I created myself. It's mid-afternoon, the biscuits are baked and cooled and I just have to try one. Oooooh, yum. Slightly crisp on the outside, moist and tender on the inside, and of course slathered in butter. I text message Kate and tell her what I am eating. She text messages back a one word reply:


I snicker and keep eating. Then it's outside to pot up some of those 68 plants I bought this week. Ok, 79 plants. The 10 mini roses I got for 50 cents each last week plus the
Lupine I bought today when I went to get some bags of potting soil at SharKare, and the 68 I got at Canadian tire for 25 cents each. I know, I know, Just For Today........

Potting goes well and soon I have 5 large black florist pots filled with an assortment of plants. A feeling of accomplishment overtakes me, time for an iced tea.

Richard is home from work, and we wander into the yard, discussing his day. He helps me with the beach mats on the garden boat, then picks up windfall apples while I hunt doggy mines. I am talking to him about my day when I suddenly realize I'm talking to the air; he's wandered off. That man can disappear faster than anyone I know. Then I hear him rustling about in the blackberries and muttering to himself. Shaking my head, I finish picking up the windfalls and herd the dogs inside.

Bedtime. I'm standing by the bed, watching the late night news when, out the corner of my eye, something moves across the blanket,
rapidly, like a net rusher in a tennis match. But I am faster. Wham! Whack! I counter with an overhead smash followed quickly by a chop shot finishing up with a backhand. Hmph. Venus Williams, eat your heart out. This will be the last time that spider runs across my bed. Not bad, and all from a standing start.

20 minutes later and the adrenalin rush is still pumping through my veins. Think I will watch tv for a bit, a rerun of Criminal Minds. I watch it with one eye, the other eye looking for anything that moves, just in case. Got my cross court serve all ready to go and it's match point.

I'm ready.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Impatiens 'n' Geraniums 'n' Begonias, Oh My!

Today I am a gardener again. Oh don't get me wrong, I am a gardener everyday. But today I am a flower gardener, and I'll tell you why. I found a sale. Yup, yesterday I found a sale on flowering plants over at Canadian Tire. It is their annual time-to-clean-out-the-greenhouse-and-get-rid-of-all-the-bedding-plants-that-didn't-sell sale and I decided to check it out. Oh, and I didn't tell Richard I was going to. We went to the store to check out prices on a cooler that plugs into the lighter in the van and on the way in, my eye was caught by a sign that said "Up To 70% Off".

"You go on into the store," I said to Richard, "I just want to look at these plants for a minute. Go ahead and check out those coolers, I won't be long."

No, my nose didn't start to grow. And really, I was just going to look. But then my other eye was caught by another sign that said "all plants 25 cents" and I was hooked. Bear in mind, these are plants that usually sold for anywhere from 99 cents to $1.49 each - and they were clearing out for 25 cents. My eyes glazed over and I began to salivate.

The next thing I knew, I was walking into the store to find a cashier with 40, yup count 'em, 40 plants. I would have bought more, but my cart runneth over and I couldn't get at some of the ones I wanted because they were buried behind immovable objects, sigh.

Richard walks up behind me. "Um, found some plants, did you?"

"Oh, um, well, yeah, um, I did, but guess what!? They were 25 cents each! This whole cartfull only cost me $11.20 including tax," I replied.

"Well, as long as you had fun," he grinned, "but what are you going to do with all of the...what do you have there anyway?"

"Oh my goodness, I got such a deal! I got 17 New Guinea Impatiens, 1 Brocade Leaf Geranium - there were more that I wanted but I couldn't reach them - 7 Variegated Impatiens, 1 Tuberous Begonia, 6 Gazanias - you know the one in the yard with all those yellow and maroon flowers you said was so pretty? Yeah, them - 1 Martha Washington Geranium, 6 Apple-Nutmeg Scented Geraniums and 1 Lemon Scented Geranium. Did I mention there were more I wanted but I couldn't reach them? And I can over-winter them in the back porch, living room and dogs room like I did last year. That will save so much money that I don't have to spend next year on flowers," I breathlessly replied.

"Uh huh," was Richard's only comment. "Say, didn't you just get some plants last week over at Walmart on sale? Some...roses was it? 10 of them?"

"Yeah, so, what's your point?" I replied. He just shook his head and drove us over to Walmart. "What's that pretty smell," He asks as he parks the van. "Apple-Nutmeg Scented Geraniums," I say with a grin. Then I sneeze 3 times. "Um, think those ones will stay in the porch this winter," I comment.

We unload the plants at home onto the little front deck. I admire them while dead-heading and removing dried up leaves, all the while making plans to look
tomorrow once more for more plants before my doctor's appointment.

So now it's today, um, that is Thursday, and I am back at Canadian Tire again. I browse through the plants slowly, just in case I see something more I, that is, need. I really wanted the rest of the Brocade Leafed Geraniums I saw yesterday but, they were way at the back of the rack, on the bottom behind a bunch of other plants, with a rolling rack in front of them. Hah! They don't know me if they think THAT will stop me. First I move the rolling rack. Then I grab two trays of plants I don't want and put them elsewhere. Then I reach waaaaayyyy back at the back of the bottom rack and snag a corner of the tray I do want and drag it forwards. Pheewwww! That was hard work for 8 Brocade Leaf Geraniums!

Now I look around to see what else...ohhhh, hey, is that...It is! Gerberas! 5 of them, and into my cart they go. And there, on the bottom of that rack, Begonias, some of them Dragon Wing Begonias, I get 13 of them to go with the one I have at home. And two more Gazanias. There, that will do it. 68 plants, $70.50 worth all for $19.04 including tax.

Of course Richard spots them as soon as I drive up. He just raises his eyebrows, shakes his head, and asks where I think I'm going to put these ones.

Yes, I'm done now. No, really I am. I have to transplant these into the pots I have and find places to put them in the yard until it's time to move them indoors. I think the house is going to begin to look like a plant nursery before long. Richard's talking about closing in the front deck with heavy duty plastic and using it as a greenhouse to over-winter some of them. Sounds like a real good idea to me. It's either that or...

...hey, Richard, how do you feel about plants stored in the bathtub and your bedroom?

What do you mean, NO!?

Hmmmm, you know, there were several flats of Fibrous Begonias over there, and they overwinter well in the house. Maybe tomorrow....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Revenge of the Mole People

It's cold, dreary and rainy as I get up to let the dogs outside, my eyes at half mast as usual. Another 2 painkiller day, methinks. I open the patio door for them, but they balk after sticking one paw out and sensing rain. I can't blame them, I wouldn't want to pee outside in that weather either. It takes some coaxing but they finally run out into the small pen, the one covered by a tarp so they have shelter, and do their stuff. Good Dogs!

Back inside, time for cappuccino and the news: Democratic Convention; Listeriosis spreads across Canada; Olympic Athletes home from Beijing; computer virus infects some space station laptops; author of "100 Things to do Before You Die" has died - wonder if he did his 100 things? Time to see what Anna Olsen is cooking...

...Honey Yogurt Cheesecake, YUM! Got both eyes focusing now, so time to get on with my day. Taking laundry out again as the well is still really low, but first, breakfast. Honey Nut Cheerios because I feel lazy and don't want to make my usual bowl of microwaved oatmeal with dried cranberries. I walk out into the pantry for a bowl and spoon and OH GAK, WHAT IS THAT ON THE DISH DRAINER? AAAHHHHGGGGG! MOLE PEOPLE POO!!! Slitty eyed, double scrunchy face - if it were an Olympic sport I would win gold.

I holler at Richard and tell him NOT to use any of the clean dishes in the dish drainer, then immediately rinse them and put them in the dishwasher. Then I throw the dish drainer out in the garbage. Whaaaat? You think I am gonna use it after it has been covered in Mole People Poo? Wash it off you say? Gak! Would you wash out a child's potty and use it as a salad bowl? I thought not.

Outside and getting ready to put dirty laundry in van and discover more Mole People Poo all over the back seat. Triple scrunchy face here. This means war. Richard gets the old vacuum and the vinegar and sets to work. He lifts the hood and checks the engine compartment to discover they have packed stuff in there everywhere. He cleans it out. Off we go to do laundry and get Mole People traps.

I go to Dollar Giant to purchase several plastic food storage containers - 24 to be precise. My big cupboard in the pantry has easy ingress for Mole People and I have been storing things like pasta, marshmallows, rice, cereal all in their own packaging. I know, just KNOW, that if I don't do something, and today, that they will be in my cupboard chowing down, and leaving their Mole People Poo on everything. And then everything will have to go in the garbage. The joys of country living.

Back home with 5 loads of laundry to dry. And 24 containers to fill and reshelve in the pantry. Done. That feels better. I also had bought 2 Mole People traps at the store that Richard will bait with peanut butter tonight. This is getting quite tiresome, and I will not - WILL NOT - let them win. I will vanquish them once and for all. Time for bed.

Morning again and after letting dogs out I wander out into the kitchen. "Well, did you catch a mouse?" I ask Richard.

He gives me his version of a slitty-eyed look. "No! Little buggers ate off all the peanut butter, never tripped the trap, then left me a deposit".

I snicker. Yes, it IS annoying, but you have to admire their cheekiness. "What about in the van?" I query.

"Did the same thing there too, only no deposit." he responds.

We discuss merits of and discard various types of Mole People traps before settling on live traps. Less messy and easier to dispose of Mole People that way. And off he goes to find some.

So, will we vanquish the Mole People?

And if we do, will all the relatives show up for the wake?

Does this mean the start of another loooonnnnngggg, wet winter, because the Mole People are moving indoors already?

And where is my garden trowel?????!!

The score is Mole People 2, silly humans 0, and it's the bottom of the second. Stay tuned.....

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hey Hey Baby, hu ha...

My granddaughter was here on the weekend. Yes, I AM using the royal "MY" here; yes, I know she is Richard's granddaughter too, but for this post, she is MY granddaughter. Cousin Tim was getting married - that's cousin Jim Paterson and his wife Sadie's youngest son - and don't try to keep track of all the relatives in this family of mine, you won't be able to do it. There are hundreds of us. Really.

Anyway, Rylan along with her parents, Hammond and Megan drove up Saturday for the wedding - Hammond and Tim being first cousins. My sister Kate and husband Jon drove up for it too. The day was cloudy, but not rainy or cold, so we all took a chance and left umbrellas and coats at home. The nuptials were being held outdoors in the garden at the Rollin Art Center, here in Port. The wedding was beautiful and so was the bride, Sherry. Rylan, even at 3 years of age, is one of those children who is just naturally well-behaved, and really enjoyed the proceedings. Afterward we wandered the gardens and took some Rylan-directed photo's in it's lovely setting.

I had ridden to the wedding with Hammond and Megan - Richard was at work and would join us later at the reception. Kate was going to ride with us to the reception while Jon went to the hotel to pickup their gift. Rylan is a singer. She's a dancer too, but in their micro mini van, she is a singer.

"Put on Hu Ha, please Daddy, and then Wild Mike" she asked. The first song blasted out of the car stereo, a rocking, rollicking, updated version - this one by DJ OTZI, of an old tune from 1962. Rylan sings and bops along to the music, really getting into it. After 3 or 4 reprises, she asks for another group, the name of which sounded like the Beach Boys. "You like the Beach Boys?" asks Auntie Kate. "No, Auntie," came the disgusted reply. "I said the BEASTIE BOYS". I snickered at Kate. "Well," she said,grinning, "pardon me."

The reception was fun, the food delicious and plentiful and the desserts...oh my gosh, the best Trifle I have ever eaten! Several of our Alberta cousins had come out to the Island for the wedding and we chatted and caught up on each other lives, as well as taking some photo's. The dance began and Rylan cajoled her mother into dancing with her; and dancing with her; and still more dancing.

Back at the table for a break and some juice to drink, she was busy trying to con her father out of his gingerale, when he said in an exasperated voice "Where do you see sucker written on my forehead?" Without missing a beat, she tapped him in the middle of his forehead and said "Right there!" We all laughed at her quick wit.

Time to go home. On the way there, we listened several more times to "Hey Hey Baby, Hu Ha". That child knows the song word for word. We thought she would be tuckered out but at 10pm she was still going strong. I was down for the count. So were her parents.

Next morning we all went out for brunch with Jon and Kate. Of course we were serenaded with "Hey Hey Baby, Hu Ha" all the way there. Rylan has a very healthy appetite, enjoying waffles, pancakes, bacon and sausage.

My birthday is the beginning of September so Kate and Jon had made a stop at Cowichan Bay at a shop called True Grain Bread and Mill and bought me 2kg of Kamut Flour, and 2kg of BC grown Spelt flour as a gift. I am thrilled with it and quickly start imagining what I can bake with it. Hammond, Megan and Rylan gave me a Fajita making kit for the Outdoor Gas Convection Oven as well as a flashlight-handled hamburger flipper and fork! Too cool. Now if it will just stop raining long enough for me to use them this week.

Too soon it is time to say goodbye for this visit and they all return to the South end of the Island. Gosh but it is quiet in our house. I turn to tidying up the living room and kitchen. Rylan loves tomatoes, and I had taken her to the garden boat to pick the Tumbling Tom's that were ripe to take home with her. Every time I pick one now I will think of her popping one between her teeth and grinning at me.

I read my book for a while, catch up with the news on television and work on my blog about the wedding, humming all the while. Suddenly I realize what tune it is I am singing, and I begin to laugh...

...Hey Hey Baby, Hu Ha

Will I EVER get that out of my head?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Best Laid Plans...

Looking back, I can pinpoint the exact moment things started to go horribly wrong. Me and my schedules. Honestly, you would think I would learn after all these years, but nope, oh no, uh uh, not me. I like things ordered and to go as planned. I like schedules: I will do this at that time and that at this time. HAH!

My Thursday started just like most days, with me stumbling out of bed, one eye closed, one half opened, fumbling with the patio door to let the dogs out. Scattered sunshine this morning. Cool, but the promise of a bit of warmth. The dogs come back in and I close the door after them. Too chilly yet to leave it open.

Time for cappuccino and the morning news. Canada wins Gold in Equestrian, Silver in diving; plane crash in Spain; human interest story about river dogs; another about a dog in South America finding a new-born human baby in a field and taking it home to look after with her 6 new puppies; time to change the channel. Wonder what Anna Olson is making this morning. Ooooh, Country Apple Pie. Yum!

Finally both eyes are open and focusing and out we go to the garden yard. Wandering about I check tomatoes in the mini-pea patch and note that one is ripe. Good, will save that for Rylan to pick on Saturday when she is here. Next I check the yellow Tumbling Tom and there are several mini tomatoes for her there. Time to roll up the beach mats and shower curtain on the garden boat. The plants are so thick in there that you can hardly see through it anymore. Lots of red Tumbling Tom tomatoes coming for Rylan too. Time to go back inside and finish tidying the living room.

Today my schedule is to make the beds in there for Hammond, Megan and Rylan. I am nearly finished with what I want to get done before they arrive this weekend. My schedule - and you know I LIVE for schedules - is working well: make up single bed; have Richard bring down futon sofa into living room and make it up; vacuum. On to kitchen: dust; organize; clean fridge; vacuum/wash floor. Bathroom: tidy; wash floor. Pantry: tidy; wash dishes; wash floor. On to bedroom and my bathroom: vacuum; make bed; dust; wash floors; clean windows - man are they dirty; clean dogs room, vacuum, wash floor.

But back to the beginning of my list: make bunk bed up...

...I start to move things around and off the bed. It is a catch-all for things-I-do-not-know-what-to-do-with-at-the-moment and now I HAVE to do something with. Put this there - gonna use this one - this can go upstairs - this in the back room. I notice something on the bed, looks like grass or maybe bits of leaf and wonder what Richard set on there the other day when we were doing the floor. Keep working. Move a pillow from the head of the bed and...WHAT THE HECK!!??? I make a triple scrunchy face with slitty eyes that move rapidly from side to side. Aw crap, and I mean that literally. I holler at Richard.

There is Mole People Poo allllll over the bed under the bags of bedding and the pillows I had sitting there and my schedule just went out the window. This means that ALL THE d****d bedding has to be stripped off the bed, oh and look, the little b*****d's chewed into the plastic bags holding the ALREADY CLEAN bedding so now everything has to be re-washed and the well is so low we can't wash it here which means SOMEONE HAS TO TAKE IT OUT TO THE LAUNDROMAT tomorrow and I have to shop for groceries and do last minute things...

...Richard wisely speaks calmly and softly to me, NOT making eye-contact - well that's what you do with a snarling, snapping dog, so those tactics work well with me - guiding me over to my chair and sitting me down, as I mutter madly about ****ing Mole People. Then he tells me not to worry, he will take all the bedding over to the laundromat and wash it for me right away. My blood pressure lowers slightly. He brings me an ice tea, patting my shoulder. Blood pressure lowers some more.

I go back over to the bed and re-group. No dirty little Mole People are going to defeat me!!! They never defeated me in the mini pea patch; they will NOT defeat me in the house. Harumph! Ok, the bags that have been chewed go to the laundromat; the blanket covering all the other bedding on the bed, carefully rolled up, into a garbage bag and into the garbage. No way am I picking off Mole People Poo. Bagged bedding that hasn't been touched by Mole People, onto the futon for now. Richard loads it up and leaves for the laundromat...a bit hastily I might add.

I press on, soon having the living room whipped into shape. Richard returns and I set to drying laundry. And drying laundry. And still drying laundry - 10 loads in all including the three that he had already done that morning before the Mole People Poo surfaced. Richard tells me that after washing the laundry, and while over at Walmart, he was informed that he has to work Friday afternoon, from 3 to 8pm. I had been counting on his help Friday. Now the last of my schedule is in
tattered and shredded pieces. I make a slitty-eyed scrunchy face. Wisely, Richard disappears outside to do outside man things.

Dinner time arrives and we decide on take-out Teen Burgers from A & W. Good choice, levels out the old blood sugar really well. My schedule - HAH! - is shot to heck. I know that I won't get my room, the dog's room, or my bathroom vacuumed and tidied before Saturday. I know that, and I no longer care. I know that I won't get some outside things done...I don't care about that at this point either.

I did manage to get all the doggy nose prints and doggy spit off the inside of the patio door, with the exception of an 8 inch strip I left at the bottom. Why, you ask, did I leave a strip of dog nose prints at the bottom? Because, silly, if the glass door is too clean, and the dogs come racing up to it, as they are wont to do, they will think it is open and smack right into it, turning themselves from Bichons to Pugs, just like that. Trust me, I've seen it happen. Not a pretty sight.

So, what did Linda learn from all this? Not to leave the darned door open so Mole People can come in?

No, no, I mean about schedules. What did Linda learn about "schedules"?

Well, um, hmmmm, lessee, ah, er, gee.....

Monday, August 18, 2008

Knock on Wood

The dogs are fussing at 8am, wanting to go outside, so ready or not, I am up. Not awake, mind you, just up. I wander to the kitchen for my morning cappuccino, then wander back to my bed to catch the latest world news on tv: Canada has won more medals at Olympics; dam breaks in the Grand Canyon, trapping campers; hurricane in Caribbean and Florida; Russian and Georgian leaders still in pissing contest; Canadians warned not to eat certain processed meats due to listeria contamination; Taliban threaten Canadians. Nothing new. Switch to Food Network and watch Anna Olson make a Club Sandwich Roll. Looks delish.

My eyes are both functioning now and I think I am awake, so we meander outside to the garden yard. Richard is filling plastic jugs from the water tank so I can water my tomato plants on the garden boat. I water some of the flower pots that look wilted too. The kids are enjoying the cooler temperature and so am I. Right now it is scattered sunshine although rain is threatened for the next few days. I can live with that.

Richard mentions that his hand is still bothering him a bit. The other night, when he was getting the water tank to put on the back of the truck, I heard him yelling at something: "get out of here! Go away, leave me alone, bugger off!" Then I heard him come quickly in the back door. He must have disturbed a hornet's nest - those vicious little insects have nasty stings - and was stung on the hand. He has had some really bad reactions in the past to bee stings and I always keep antihistamine on hand to administer to him.

Back inside, I sit and read my book, waiting for him to leave for work so I can get on with my day. As I am turning on the living room computer, I hear a bird call from out doors, close by. It's not a bird I recognize. Hmmmmm. I walk out the patio door, looking about and listening for it again. There, in the Cherry Tree behind the house, is that...could it, it can't be, I've never seen one here before...a PILEATED WOODPECKER!!! You know, Woody Woodpecker! I sneak in the house for my camera, thinking he will probably be gone when I get back. He is difficult to see up in the branches, where he is eating the few wild cherries that are left. I quickly zoom and snap and hope at least one will turn out. He moves on to pecking at the cherry bark. Then he is gone, off looking for more fruit to eat.

WOW, that made my day
, I am so excited. I don't recall ever seeing one in the past. They are beautiful. We have Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers and Flickers, but never had a Pileated Woodpecker before. One of the photo's isn't too bad, you can at least tell it is a Pileated, down there on the bottom right of the photo. Hope it will hang around for a bit.

Back inside I set to work tidying up my computer "stuff" in the living room.
It's amazing how much computer bits and pieces I have and how nice it is to finally get it all organized. I need to get the living room cleaned and ready for Hammond, Megan and Rylan who are driving up this weekend to stay with us. Our upstairs rooms are uninhabitable - long story, don't go there.

Now that the computer area is tidy, I decide to choose some recipes to make for this weekend. Hmmmm...Palmiers, yeah, those are easy; oh and Vanilla Bean Scones, those are delicious and so easy too. Ohhhh, here is one I haven't made before - Raspberry Cheesecake Ice cream, yum. I LOVE ice cream, it is one of my absolute favorite foods. Sounds like it might be fun to make. Um, cream cheese, vanilla sugar, vanilla extract, whipping cream, lemon zest, frozen raspberries, 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, and I can mix it up in my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. Bonus! Oh and I have to make some Brioche dough, in that funny new bread maker. That should do it.

We go outside again to check the plants and flowers. A gaggle of Canada Geese fly over in V-formation, honking their way back to the bird sanctuary across the Canal. The dogs don't even look up being busy in the yard with their own pursuits. Pippi as usual follows me on my desultory journey to the garden boat. We circumnavigate it - me pulling weeds, checking the progress of peas and tomatoes, dead-heading petunias and marigolds; she sniffing this blade of grass, watching that bug, staring into the middle distance. The cool air is pleasant after the heat of the last week, but I would like the warm temperatures to come back.

Deciding to go back inside, I call the crew and head towards the gate. Hmmmm, missing two. I quickly scan the yard and spy Rosie Mouse Killer INSIDE THE FENCE TO THE SMALL PEA PATCH. How the...What the...Grrrrrrr! Marching over I holler at her to get out of my Pea Patch. Rosie looks at me, puzzled, and walks back through an opening in the fence. Good Grief, I thought for sure they couldn't get through those openings. Silly me!

but mom
i's lookin' fo mow pepl'
dey undah da groun' der
i heah dem talkin' mom

I hustle them all inside, Rosie still nattering to herself and the others. Time for ice cream. The kids agree and gather round for their spoonful. We enjoy it thoroughly. It's been a good day.

Tomorrow I have a schedule laid out for all that I want to accomplish in the house, and it is a lengthy one. My day is planned to the minute.

Say it with me now...

The best laid plans of mice and women....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Lady or the Spider

It's early, and while I am not up, you just know that Richard is. Bless his heart he rolled up the beach mats and shower curtain on my garden boat. By the time I wander out at 9:30am, it is already +25 in the shade and going up. It's hot and airless in the garden yard. Even the dogs are listless in the heat, laying in the sun getting their daily dose of Vitamin D.

We bathed and deflea-ed the dogs yesterday, oh happy day, and it has improved their disposition immensely. Mine too.

It's been really hot for the last few days, and I am draggy. I do ok in heat up to about +28. After that, I fade. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about the heat - Lord knows we suffered so much with the cold and rain this past winter that I swore I wouldn't complain if it got hot. This is me not complaining!

My plants are suffering and as our water well is getting quite low, Richard is hauling a tank full tonight after work for me to pour on them
. I wander back into the house where I have 4 fans on full blast, two in the kitchen, one in the living room and one in the back room to help keep it cool. We have a window air conditioner but it doesn't make sense to use it for four days and then have to haul it out of the window and back upstairs again, so upstairs it stays. I turn on the living room computer.

The phone rings and it is Kate. My sister has never been a gardener, always insisting she has a black thumb, not the green thumb that I have inherited from our parents and grandparents. Recently she and Jon moved to a cute little cottage in the country outside of Sidney and she has decided to try gardening on a small basis. They have purchased several gorgeous hanging baskets and filled window boxes with geraniums, petunias, alyssum, lobelia as well as herbs. We talked about my latest blog post, Fruit Fly Olympics, and she laughed and said "I'll do you one better".

I should tell you that Kate and I are quite brave women. No, really. Not too much frightens us. Ok, well bears frighten me, but that's a different story. We come from tough, pioneer stock, and both think humor is a great defense, using it all the time. We have both backed down large, aggressive, annoying people with just a few soft words. And controlled our children with quelling looks.

Remember I said not too much frightens us? Well, um, there is one thing that can make us both run screaming into the night startling wildlife, and our husbands, into near palpitations. Not a big thing, by most standards, but to us it is HUGE. And hairy. And leggy. Very, very leggy. It is the one thing that causes an extreme atavistic response in both of us - that completely uncontrollable, shaking, shivering, yes, even drooling, God-help-me-it's-gonna-get-me, screaming meemee's, Richard-bring-the-shotgun-and-load-it-with-double-ought-buckshot, response. Um hm, that one. It is one of the biggest phobia's known to mankind. I am speaking, of course, of arachnophobia.

Yup, fear of spiders.

I know that the spiders on the Island are not BIG by tropical standards, like the dinner plate size ones of the Panama Canal Zone. However...the ones we have here, especially close to the water like down-Island were Kate lives, are as big as your fist.


And Kate had the misfortune to have a run-in with one, only that morning. Remember I said she had taken up gardening? You know, watering, weeding, fertilizing, dead-heading (remember, I had written in my blog that the Fruit Flies were doing
a forward dive pike from a standing start). Kate was dead-heading her Begonias, totally involved - in the zone as they say - when a huge, hairy, teeth-gnashing, 8 legged, foot stomping, spider, grabbed her by the arm, shook her, and told her to bugger off and stop disturbing it's sleep!

No, honest!

Ok, well, maybe it grabbed, er, landed on her hand and scared the bejeezus out of her. She said she did a triple back flip and spiked her landing, worthy of a Gold Medal in Gymnastics at the Olympics for sure. I believe her. I've been there. That gut clenching, adrenaline fueled, eye crossing, get-out-of-my-way, door busting, fear.

But I am in awe of her triple back flip. That's impressive. I've never done that one. My personal best spider response was the 100 meter dash in just under 10 seconds.
That and the 1000 decibal scream but that's nothing much, Kate has that mastered too.


Is that a skeptical look I see on your face?

Obviously you haven't seen our Island spiders up close and personal as they dash out from under your computer desk, grab you by the ankle, and threaten you with grievous bodily harm if you don't get out of their way.

That's when Kate and I mastered the splatting foot stomp.

That and her triple back flip.

I told you we were quite brave women.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bear Berries

I have plans for today. First, wander out to the yard and see what's new. On the potting table in the yard, my Gazania is FINALLY blooming. It is one I saved over from last year, along with lots of other plants, in the back porch. All the others started blooming 3 months ago, but this Gazania has been really slow growing. The wait has been worth it though, and it has produced a brilliant golden-yellow blossom with maroon accents. I notice it has more buds too. Perhaps it will bloom well into fall.

Moving on, I check the progress of my Strawberry Rhubarb plant that Dad sent me through the mail. It is doing amazingly well, having 3 new leaves and another leaf bud showing. Rhubarb is one of my favorite fruits. It mixes well with all other fruit. Everything appears good by the house so we move on to the garden boat. Richard rolls up the garden hose - silly man, I am just going to pull it back out today and water later - so he can pick up the wind fall apples without tripping over it.

We talk about the garden boat, and ways to expand this method of gardening next year. He doesn't know it yet, but I am already thinking about finding more large containers to put in this yard and the front dog yard, and fill them with dirt to plant vegetables in. That means we have to increase the height of the fence too. Think I'll wait to spring that one on him for a while yet.

The phone rings as I go in the kitchen door. It is the hospital in Comox with news about my surgery. The booking nurse informs me m
y surgeon, Dr. Sundby, is leaving until the end of October and then will be gone again for six months at the beginning of the New Year. He is going to Afghanistan. So my window of opportunity for surgery is small. Either have it November or December, or wait at least a year. Needless to say, I choose November and November 21st is the tentative date. I don't mind recuperating in the winter. I can't be outside gardening anyway, so will be inside planning my garden, and learning to walk again.

Richard leaves for work, and I decide to garden a bit, plant those plants I didn't get planted last week, then vacuum the floors. The dogs are in the yard with me, and when I break for an iced tea, they follow me in. I get caught up on the living room computer trying to solve the puzzle of my TV Tuner card, and why I can't get it to work properly. I forget all about the vacuum.

At 2pm, Mason is sitting with his chin on the patio door sill, eyes half closed, dozing. Suddenly he flies out the door barking an alert. Pippi and the rest fly after him, and a huge commotion ensues. Mason barks at the world in general throughout the day, but this bark is different. I step outside to see what the fuss is about. They are all standing up at the fence like meercats, frozen, looking through the holly and hawthorn to the other side of the driveway, and I see it...

...BLACK BEAR! Quickly I herd them inside, lock the patio door, close the curtains. Then I shut and lock the kitchen door, pull down the blinds, make sure back door is locked and close the back patio door into the small dog pen.

I know, I know, locking the doors and closing the blinds may be a little irrational - ok, a lot irrational - but it is how I cope with bears in the yard.

Then I make a decision and grab my camera. I sneak out the livingroom patio door, skulk across the grass, around the big cherry tree - using it for cover, and then over to the fence, all the while watching the bear. He is in the trees heading for the mouth of the driveway and I think he is going to exit the yard and head across Cherry Creek Road. I am wrong. He chooses instead to head towards the Saskatoon's - Kate's favorites - at the bottom of the drive. I stealthily photograph him as best I can, trying to zoom in on him as he eats, even going so far as to tape a short video of him.

At one point a noise on the road frightens him, and he takes off running but hunger overcomes fear, and he soon turns back to the berries again. I turn back to the house.

As I enter, I realize my hands are a little bit shaky, an adrenalin reaction to my "fight or flight" response - I choose flight - to bears.

I move from room to room, peeking through blinds, around curtains, and 6 little white dogs trail with me. I begin to feel like the Pied Piper. We see no further sign of the bear. Still, we wait 2 full hours before venturing out again. Mason stays on the step outside the patio door, watching and sniffing the breeze. Meanwhile, Pippi parks herself just inside the door. They are on guard.

Later I go out to the garden yard and take more photo's of my boat garden. I am afraid that one of these days that little bear is going to get bold enough to climb the apple tree that hangs out over the boat. Then, with my creature luck, he will venture too far out on a limb - I can hear the cracking of the branch in my mind - and my garden boat will be history.

An irresistible force meets an immovable object.

Irresistible force 1
Immovable object 0

Hence the photo's.

Paranoid? Who, me!!!??

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fruit Fly Olympics

It's 9am and I am outside already rolling up the beach mats and the shower curtain on the garden boat. Going to be a hot one today, and don't want to burn things. Things look good, although I make a note to water later, after the boat is in shade. With the warm sun these last days, the rain of a couple of weeks ago has evaporated. I lose myself again in the beauty of the view for a while. Then become aware of a faint tap-tapping above me. I look up to see a pair of tiny Downy Woodpeckers busily hunting for bugs in the King apple tree. We wander about checking this geranium, that fuchsia, those marigolds, noting that most of the pots need watering as well.

I hear a starling, or starlings maybe, in the holly bushes making coaxing noises and of course, my Muttering Murder of Crows in the Cherry trees. They mutter to one another, either critiquing my apparel - pajamas - or checking out the tomatoes and peas. Yes, I AM paranoid about my tomatoes and peas, what of it!?

Definitely time for cappuccino.

Now I am dressed in my usual jeans and t-shirt and starting my day. Of course, Richard has been up and active since dawn cracked, but as I mentioned before, I am a very slow starter in the morning. I take notice of that summer annoyance - fruit flies - flitting around hanging basket of apples and make a scrunchy face. Richard comments on them and suggests I make my homemade fruit fly trap: a cone of paper suspended in a jar with a 1/2 inch of apple cider vinegar in the bottom; works every time...

...but not this time. Hmmmmm, curious. Two hours later and there is still a cloud of the foul creatures flitting about. I add white wine vinegar to the cider vinegar in the jar, then stand back and watch. They pay it no mind at all, instead start flitting around my face. I scrunch my eyes and imagine I can hear them snickering at me, chattering to one another with their tiny, high-pitched voices about the stoopid human as they get in my nose and eyes. Double scrunchy face.

Giving a shrug I go on with what I am doing; all the while my mind is working on the fruit fly problem. I look up again at my hanging fruit & vegetable basket and it strikes me - gee, maybe there is SOMETHING IN AMONGST THE APPLES THAT IS ATTRACTING THEM, DOPEY! So I start to remove the apples one by one by one by...eeeew GAK! There, right smack in the middle of the pile, is an extremely rotten apple, with dozens of tiny fruit flies practicing their dives:
forward dive pike from a standing start, back dive in the tuck and, my personal favorite, the free position. Big Scrunchy Face here!

Richard dispatches the foul apple to the garbage and the little fruit flies soon disappear. I keep one eye watching the fruit fly trap, but see nothing. Still, I leave it there; it is after all summer and you can count on them being back, with their dirty little feet walking alllll over the nice fresh fruit and veggies and doing their level best to spoil whatever they touch...maybe its time for another cappuccino, I'm getting a tad bit testy.

We wander back out to the yard. Richard has gone to work - 12 till 8 today - but managed to mow the garden yard for me before he left. I notice that in the tiny pea patch - that has only two very sad looking pea plants, some Scarlet Runner beans, sage, thyme and tomato plants - there are some tomatoes slowly ripening. Maybe there will be some ready for Rylan to pick when she is here on the 23rd. Over at the garden boat, I see one tiny red Tumbling Tom tomato starting to ripen. Will save that for Rylan too. The peas are setting more and more pods everyday. There won't be gallons of them, but maybe we will get a small feed with dinner one night.

Back inside, I check the fruit fly trap. Ah Hah! Suckers! There are 3 fruit flies inside. Will leave it to attract more. Time to vacuum and tidy the kitchen, get dinner plans on go. Periodically I smugly check my trap. At the 4pm trap check, I don't see any fruit flies...I mean NO FRUIT FLIES! My eyes go slitty and search from side to side. How can that be? The little beggars have made a daring escape, and are even now laughing at me from behind their tiny wings. This trap is supposed to be inescapable! Does this mean that, as I have used this trap over the last few years on succeeding generations of fruit flies, the fruit flies have become smarter? have figured out ways to escape the trap and it's been hard-wired into their tiny fruit fly DNA? that I have to devise a different trap?

Naw, it just means I was careless when I made the darned trap and leaving a gap between the top of the jar and the paper cone, and they were able to push through. Phew, for a minute there I was worried about evolving intelligence in fruit flies. Not that there is much concern there. I mean, fruit fly intelligence, that's just laughable...

...still, I DID see a few fruit flies buzzing around my computer monitor the other day. And I DID see one sitting on my keyboard, moving from key to key until I chased it away.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth

This week I am a computer technician. Got some upgrades for my computer and since I am a Certified Computer Technician, I am going to play geek. Richard was over at Walmart and saw a computer monitor he was quite impressed with, came home and suggested maybe we should get a new one - our old one being quite elderly for a monitor. Now when I say our old one, you understand I am talking about the computer in the living room, of course, which is 7 years old, not the one in the bedroom which is only 1 year old. The "new" computer has an old-fashioned CRT monitor, not one of the sleek, modern, LCD Wide Screen ones.

When I start talking computer components Richard's eyes usually start to glaze over much like mine do when he gets into the technical aspect of an automobile engine. So when he suggests a new LCD monitor my eyes open wide. Off I go to scope out monitors at Staples, for comparison, and to ensure that Walmart really does have the best deal.

They do, and soon we do too! An Acer 22" Wide Screen LCD monitor and she's a beauty...I connect her to the "old" computer and take her out for a spin. It becomes evident - to me at least - that while the graphics card in this old computer is adequate, we really need a new, more modern and up-to-date one. With more RAM. Better Graphics capability. And while I, er, ah, that is, WE are at it, why not get a TV Tuner for the computer as well. I mean, we have the 22" Wide Screen Monitor, a TV Tuner to watch TV on the new monitor would be just the ticket.

We had plans to drive up to Courtenay for something to do and I suggest a stop at Futureshop while there. We browse, Richard in large appliances, me in graphics cards. I am surprised to find a card in my budget as well as a TV Tuner and soon the new components, a BFG nVIDIA Graphics Card and a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1250 internal HDTV Card, are in my hand and we are out the door. I read the instructions...

...Graphics card calls for a PCI Express x16 slot. New technology since I last purchased any upgrades. Do I have one of those? And TV Tuner calls for PCI Express x1 slot. Do I have one of those?
Hmmmmm. I had the cover off that "new" computer the other day, first time since I got it. Why have I not had it off before? Because, silly, it was under warranty and I didn't want to invalidate the warranty by taking the cover off. And...I just never got around to it. So now I am trying to remember what it looked like inside. I think I have both of those. Fingers crossed.

Turns out I do. Install the Graphics card first, and that was a breeze. Made quite a difference to the video display. Now for the TV Tuner. Installs and sets up easily. It comes with a remote control, that's the reason I bought it, and the remote is IR - Infrared. That's where the problem begins. You see, in order for the remote to work, it has to have and IR sensor plugged into the computer - into the TV Tuner card. Unfortunately whoever designed the tuner card, didn't take into consideration that the hole to plug the IR sensor into shouldn't be right at the edge of the tuner card as that means that YOU CANNOT PLUG THE SENSOR IN BECAUSE IT HITS THE EDGE OF THE COMPUTER AND WON'T SEAT ALL THE WAY IN LIKE IT NEEDS TO BE SO THE REMOTE WON'T WORK!

I call Bente and ask if perhaps Max needs more oysters for the store - Max being the Codfather of Codfather Seafood here in Port Alberni, and Bente being the Codmother - so we can have a reason to make a trip up to Courtenay. He does, and we do. I return the poorly designed tuner card and then, having done my research, go to London Drugs and purchase what I feel is an even better one, an ATI TV Wonder HD 600 USB Stick. All you have to remember here is USB because it just plugs into a USB port, you install the software and it works...

...sigh, until you turn your computer off. When you turn your computer back on, the tuner has lost it's tiny mind. Uninstall and reinstall the software, and it all works again...

...until you turn off the computer again and it loses it's tiny mind again. This is getting really old, really fast. I make a scrunchy face and sit down to figure out what to do, besides taking this tuner back up to Courtenay to return it.

And I am still working on it. I THINK I will take a 200 gigabyte drive I have, put it into the "new" computer, install Windows XP on it, then install all the software on it that is necessary, then install the TV Tuner on it and see if it will stay working. If it does, well, good. If it doesn't, I am NOT playing Computer Geek again for at least another year.


I mean it!


Although, I would like to get Windows Vista Premium to put on the "new" computer though, it only has Vista Basic and that's a pain. And I would like to add more RAM. Oh, and when I was in Futureshop the other day, I saw this neat gadget for computer that you can use to copy your old VHS tapes to DVD. And the "new" computer doesn't have a DVD Burner, only a CD/RW burner and DVD player combo so I would like to get a DVD burner for it. And a new web cam....

Friday, August 8, 2008

Muttering Crows & Rosie's Nose

Another gorgeous Valley morning and we wander again to the garden. As I roll up the beach mats and the shower curtain on the boat, I hear them coming...the Muttering Murder of Crows. They do like to sit and watch me work in the yard. I cannot tell them apart, but they have distinctive personalities. One is a real clown. Today there is a lot of noise out by the bridge beside our gate. Mason, my Bichon boy, finds it all quite annoying and he lets the world at large know this by barking his opinions.

I move about the garden yard picking up windfall apples and Pippi wanders with me, nosing about, checking out bugs and things that move. The other girls are sunbathing and sniffing the gentle breeze. In the background there are crow mutterings and then...something else. It sounds like a dog barking. A dog barking up in the cherry tree behind the house. Hmmmmm. I had a dog once who climbed trees. Had to watch Annie like a hawk or she would be 25 feet up as fast as you could blink. But I knew none of the Bichon's were climbers.

Orienting on the Wild Cherry tree, I see the culprit. One of the Muttering Murder of Crows has taken up a new vocation - that of dog mimic. Mason barks, and the crow barks, only it comes out more of a "mark, mark, mark". He hasn't mastered that "b" in bark that canines have. I snicker and shake my head at his cleverness. Time for a cappuccino.

Today is Bente's Anniversary and I have decided to go to Naesgaards and purchase a big bag of fresh, green, garden peas for her as a present. Now that may sound like an odd present, but it is one I know she will love, being a green-garden-pea addict like she is. I meet her at Quality Foods to give her her gift and she giggles with delight, immediately diving in and eating two peas. I am pleased that she is pleased.

I grill steaks to perfection - rare - for our dinner tonight and cook potatoes and corn. I made the mistake of using a purchased grill rub instead of making my own and the purchased rub doesn't agree with me. Soon I am sitting on the bed and watching television, attempting to digest dinner.

Richard is thumping about upstairs, moving things, who knows what, but it annoys the dogs and they periodically run hooting and barking out to the kitchen letting him know how they feel about the noise. This goes on a few times, and each time I try and shush them and each time I am unsuccessful. Sigh. Finally at 10:30pm I can't take it anymore. This time there is whining, barking and growling as well as a soft thump, so it is time to investigate.

Rounding the corner I notice that the gate is on the floor, Pippi is trapped in the kitchen and there are 4 Bichons gathered in a circle around Rosie. And there is something dark, and hairy on the floor at Rosie's feet. I swiftly cross the floor. Rosie just as swiftly grabs the dark and hairy thingy in her mouth. I even more swiftly grab Rosie by the scruff of the neck and hoist her up before she swallows whatever that dark and hairy thing is. Rushing to the kitchen I holler up the stairs to Richard that I really need help and he comes to my aid.

"Rosie has something in her mouth and I need you to get it out before she swallows it" I holler. Out of the corner of my eye I see something dangling from the corner of her mouth. "And please tell me that isn't a...

"...mouse!" Richard replies as he pries her jaws open and removes the vile, disgusting, well-chewed and very dead little mouse.

"Awwwgggghhhhh!" I reply.

The mousie remains are quickly dispatched into the bushes and an extremely annoyed Rosie rushes around the kitchen looking for more mice. Where she found it is not a mystery. The gate on the floor answers that question - Rosie, and the others, must have chased it behind the gate where it leans against the wall. When Rosie nosed it out behind the gate, the gate fell, and she grabbed it. Where the mouse came from remains a mystery, although I have a habit of leaving the back patio door open through out the day when I am home, an inviting portal for tiny mice.

Time for bed, my stomach has had enough today, and Rosie has a new moniker: Rosie Mousie Killer. She loves it.

I'd rather she kept her kills outside.

I am glad she got the mouse before it got into my room though.

Hmmmm. Wonder if that mouse was an advance scout for the Mole People.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

You Don't Look a Year Over 24!

is it mohnin' yet?
hey mom, mom, is it mohnin' now?
shhhhh, don' wake her
mom, mom, mom
happy an'bersry mom
whatsa an'bersry?

I wake to the sounds of muttering dogs today. Guess they need to go outside, so up we get. Stumble through my morning routine, finally have both eyes open, but not necessarily focused - normal for me. Yawn my way out to the garden yard to see that Richard is raking up June, July & August drop apples. How can he be so cheerful and do labor like this so early in the morning? The dogs cast about looking for signs of Mole People, but they are all underground. Going to be a hot one today.

Richard wishes me Happy Anniversary. Both eyes now focus and I reply in kind. It is our 25th anniversary today. 25 years ago we were married in a small town church on one of the hottest days of the year and it is supposed to be just as hot here today. He mentions that we should get ourselves a plant in honor of the special occasion and I quickly agree.

Off to the nursery we go. Richard is not much of a plant specialist, doesn't know a lot of the nomenclature but knows what he likes. And me, I love them all. As we walk in there are several gorgeous
Bougainvillea by the entryway, their papery blossoms rich with jewel-like colors. Richard is quite taken with them and they are on sale. Bonus!

Colyn's Nursery isn't busy so we can take our time meandering around before making up our minds. We look at hanging baskets filled with Firecracker Trailing Begonias, pots of Purple Celosia, complete with a honey bee, a beautiful golden yellow Hibiscus, then wander into the greenhouse. I notice a deep wine colored Martha Washington Geranium I have been looking for. I have the white and the pink one so this one will be a great contrast to those two. Richard admires several other multi-plant pots, one with a vibrant orange Begonia and some purple-foliaged, scarlet flowered fucshia's. We decide on a variegated-leaf Bougainvillea with bright pink flowers.

In the van, I text message Bente and then Kate that Richard has bought me a Bougainvillea at the Nursery. Kate's message comes back saying "O, cool!"

"What Nursery?" quickly comes the reply from Bente.
"Colyn's", I text back, "but we are off to Naesgaard's now".
"When will you be home?" she asks, and I text that we'll be back in a half hour. "I'll be waiting for you at your house," she responds. Hmmmmmm.

We look around Naesgaards, I find a 6-pak of white Zinnias as well as two 6-paks of deep orange and one of a pretty dusty pink on clearance which I purchase. I love Zinnias and I can already picture them in a pot in the yard. Then off we go home.

True to her word, Bente is patiently waiting for us, with hugs and an Anniversary card she has made. Then she opens her van door and laughs at our expression. There sit two more gorgeous Bougainvillea, one gold flowered and one the color of Apple Blossoms!

After the laughter dies down, she explains: "Kate e-mailed me and asked me to pick one of these up for your anniversary from her and Jon because she knows how much you love them. They were on sale, so I bought two of them. I nearly had a heart attack when you text messaged me that you were at Colyn's. I must have just missed you," she giggles. Laughing some more, we put them on the deck and admire them again, then go in the house for iced tea.

After tea, we wander to the garden boat, talking about how and where to plant our new Bougainvillea. I notice some of my pea pods on the boat are fat and juicy, so pick a handful for Bente. She LOVES peas.

After she leaves I go to the Internet for Bougainvillea info. Interesting stuff:
"Big and rowdy, loud and lovely, this sprawling woody vine is colorful showboater wherever it is grown. It was named for Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a Frenchman who sailed around the world in 1767." says WOW! They can grow up to 40 feet. Time to go admire them some more and take photo's.

Mom and Dad call from Leduc with Anniversary Greetings and we reminisce about our wedding day 25 years ago. Mom says "wait til you have been married 61 years like Dad and me". I can't imagine it. Our daughter Gina phoned last night from Edmonton with her best wishes and we had a great visit. I had talked to my - yes I am using the royal MY here - brother Kelly yesterday to thank him for his gift. MY brother Rick also e-mailed best wishes and Richard's sister Gert sent a lovely card. Then had a quick visit via phone with son Hammond with best wishes from Megan, Rylan and him.

Richard has gone to work, so the dogs and I trek out to photograph the Bougainvillea. My unconcious mind picks up a discordant noise while I am arranging the plants, and then my concious mind says "LISTEN!" I hear the sounds of tree branches breaking down on the creek. UH OH! I listen more...BEAR!!!! I quickly and quietly move across the yard, not alerting the dogs to what is there. I spy him in a plum tree that he is attempting to climb, after the juicy ripening plums in the top. Out comes my camera and I zoom in as best I can on him...maybe there will be some photo's turn out. Then I quickly shoo the dogs in the house, close the gate to the garden yard, lock the house door behind me, and close the window blinds.

Whaaaat? You think bears can't open doors or peek in windows?? Of course they can...can't they? Not taking a chance, given my luck with wild creatures and my garden yard, I keep checking through the blinds to see if he is out there close by. I am NOT a bear fan. Yes, yes, I know, I am the first to email cute little baby bear stories and photo's, but I have a healthy respect bordering on deep fear and paranoia about big ole black bears. Believe me, it is disconcerting to walk out on the deck and have a bear charge the fence at your dog, or walk out to go blackberry picking only to have your dog hip check you out of the way and then go roaring after a bear, chasing it away from the berry patch where you would have been picking.

Give me Mole People. Give me a Slug Army. Give me cute little Island Buck & Doe Mule deer. Give me my Muttering Murder of Crows. Anytime. Just don't, please, give me Lumbering Island Black Bears.

Mason says he could take him with one paw tied behind his back. Ummhmmm, sure my little 10 pound lion-hearted Bichon.

Time to eat dinner.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Ladybug and the Tiger Slug

Summer is back after a week of rain. The Valley is basking in sunshine and so is the garden yard and so am I. The Bichons and I wander out in the yard at our usual 10am, check the mini pea and bean patch by the shed first. I look for and find the two peas that managed to survive the Mole People so far, hidden beneath bean leaves. My mind notices that there is one pea from each of the two varieties that got planted, from about 100 pea seeds in all, that have survived - one seems to be doing well, one not so well. By now I have become quite philosophical about it all and give a shrug.

The kids suddenly alert that "der be Monstahs inna yahd!" I walk over to the fence where they are, looking towards the big pear tree and see cute little Island Doe Mule Deer and her adorable twin fawns. Richard had mentioned seeing them on several occasions, the most recent of which was over at the barn. What he saw goes to prove how truly clever deer are. He heard sounds coming from the corral, and knowing the cattle were all out in the pasture, went to check to see what was going on. He was surprised to see the twin fawns there. The doe had put them in the pen for safekeeping while she was off looking for food. They were running back and forth, but made no attempt to jump out. He left them alone so as not to frighten them

I wander back to the garden boat to roll up the beach mats and shower curtain. The boat is lush, no other way to describe it: tomatoes everywhere, the remaining pea plants with pea pods filling out, zucchini starting to form, flowers blooming. Honey bees are buzzing everywhere I look. Meandering around, I come to the Fern leaf Dill. There in its heart, as busy as can be, is a bright, orange Ladybug. She is gorgeous against the green foliage and yellow blossom of the dill.

My Garden Boat started out as an experiment. I knew I could get flowers to grow in it - after all it is just a big flower pot - but wasn't sure what, if any, vegetables would thrive. Now I have my answer: tomatoes - check; jalapeno peppers - check; peas - check; yellow zucchini - check; onions - check; beans - check; herbs of all kinds - big check; and of course flowers.

I move around the far side where the corn
has tiny cobs forming silk - 1, 2, 3, 4...scrunchy face! The slugs have been here eating the silk from one of the tiny corn cobs. My eyes go slitty and shift from side to side looking for more slug evidence. There, a Tiger Slug! I quickly pick and flick him over the fence and across the drive.

Time for cappuccino. We wander back inside.

It's afternoon now and I am a baker. Yes, I am still trying to figure out the recipe booklet for the new bread machine. I found a great Brioche recipe on the Internet - the one in the booklet has incorrect measurements - that I changed a bit and mixed up in the machine. I decided to make Cinnamon Raisin Brioche, and when the dough was finished it's first rise in the machine pan, I pressed it out on the counter into a rough rectangle, slathered it in brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins, then rolled it up to form a loaf. Oh the dough is soooooo silky it can't help but be delish! And the aroma of it baking is mouth watering, to say the least. My mind is abuzz with variations on a Brioche theme.

While it bakes, we go back to the garden yard to do more gardening. The watermelon plant I put in 2 months ago has failed to thrive so I brutally yank it out by the roots and toss it over the Disco CD fence - an appeasement to the cute little Island Buck Mule Deer. In it's place I two zucchini plants that have been sitting on the potting table for a while. I'm curious to see how they do.

It's evening now and Richard comes out to help put the garden boat to bed. As we work, I tell him about the corn silk and the Tiger Slug and what I did to the slug when I found it. He gives me a smirk as he walks away, saying "Are you sure that was a good idea? I mean, with the way your luck has been running with critters around here...
now his Tiger Slug buddies will probably come in the night to avenge your attack on him!"

I snort. "Yeah, righ..." I start to say and then I flash on an army of Tiger Slugs and Black Slugs squiggling through the fence to the garden yard, some dragging their deceased slug brother on a litter, while others brandish mini garden implements and still more carry flaming torches to light their way. I give my head a shake. The stuff of nightmares.

Still...I don't think I'll take the dogs out in the yard after dark for a few days.

You just can't be too careful.

Friday, August 1, 2008

...Read the Manual

It's day 2 of the new breadmaker and I am determined to master the recipes in the instruction booklet. The breadmaker I've already mastered, that's easy. The recipes in the booklet on the other hand...

...I spent an hour last night trying to come to grips with the "terminology" - or lack thereof. For example, PROG. 7: DOUGH. Here is what I see:

Quantity is 200g
Ok, well, that is straight forward. 200g is, according to the online conversion calculator, 7.05479 ounces. Hmph. Uh, oh, that can't be right. I mean the 200g can't be right because of the rest of the ingredients. When you look at the 750g loaf ingredients, it calls for 3 and 1/3 cups flour and 1 cup plus 1T of water so this dough recipe should weigh, well, way more. Siiiiigggh.

hey mom

Semolina flour 1
Salt 1
Oil 1
Water 3/1 + 2
Yeast 1
Hmmmmmm. Not so much. Methinks something got lost in translation when they were trying to write this manual.


Not now guys, I'm real busy; we'll go out later.

Well then. You can see the problem, right? I mean, I'm not imagining things, right? And what the heck is the amount of water? 3/1 + 2 cups??? Let's see, 2 cups flour plus 1cup semolina is 3 cups flour. So, 3 cups of flour should need about, ummmmm, 1 to 1.25 cups liquid. I think.

but mom, mom!

Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh. Ok, ok, I'll take a break. WHAT?!

um, der's a deehr monstah inna yahd
uh huh, i sawd it tew
yup, a deehr monstah
com kwik mom!
it eatin' stuff
kwik mom open dooah we scawe dem away

Oh. Well. Um, crap, there's a deer, no 2 deer. They are on the other side of the holly bushes, about 20 feet from the door and garden yard. I scrunch my eyes. It is the cute little Island Buck Mule deer and his mate. Opening the door to the dog yard I holler at the cute little Island Mule deer to leave my garden boat yard alone while the kids run out hooting and hollering showing how tough they are. The cute little Island Mule Deer snicker and saunter slowly away shaking their heads at the dumb Island Human and the dumb Island Canines.

Back indoors, I settle down to demystify the recipes. Where was I? Ummmm, oh right, weight of dough versus ingredient amounts and what the heck IS the water measurement? I'm getting a headache.

I look at some of the other recipes. My headache grows. I really want to try and make some quickbread in this new machine. But the recipe...well, like I said yesterday, I can follow it up to the salt. They lose me there:
Eggs 3
Butter 1/2

Sugar 1 plus 1/2
Salt 1/1
Flour 2 plus 2
Lemon 1
Yeast 2,5

Hmph. So, salt...1 teaspoon?? Lemon...juice? of one lemon? Lemon zest? And we know there is no yeast in quick bread, so, 2.5...teaspoons of...baking powder? Anybody?

I am going to try it. Going to make the lemon bread. Elsewhere in the booklet, in troubleshooting, they refer a few times to baking powder where they should mean yeast.

Here we go again.

Say it with me now:

"What could possibly go wrong...again?"