28 August 2009

Does Your Artie Choke?


My first attempt at growing artichokes has been fun, though not terribly productive. I harvested this one today, though, and found another small one growing on the same plant, so perhaps there will be more to come yet. I steamed this one (though they always seem to need more steaming than I manage to give them) and we had it with fresh melted garlic butter, which was absolutely teh nom. For next year, I definitely want to start them earlier and get them in the ground earlier, because they really are quite the fun treat to pull apart and eat.

The garden has been a bit of a mixed bag this year. I expect to get maybe enough scarlet runner beans to cook as part of one meal, but they've been fun to watch. There are a few pumpkins and winter squash, so that's not a total loss. The tomatoes were a sad, tragic loss (Curse you, Late Blight!). I'm still remaining hopeful that I'll get some butterpeas, but a somewhat late start coupled with the wettest summer on record means they're only just producing pods. And unless my crowder peas get really busy, they may not even make it that far. At least the garlic made me very happy, and I'm already planning for even more next year.

The other thing I'm planning, if I can find the time and energy, is to shift some of my raised beds around and rework my tiny front ledge. The neighbors across the street decided to put in a bright halogen driveway light about a year ago that they leave on pretty much all night long, and it drives David crazy. I'm not terribly thrilled about it myself, but I don't have the glare straining my eyes when I'm working at the computer, either. At any rate, I'm thinking to construct a woven lattice living fence of willow right where the hillside drops off, moving the flower beds away from the foundation, and then turning the current beds and measly strip of grass into vegetable beds.

We'll see how well I manage to make that happen.

25 August 2009


Working on revamping the template here a bit, so don't be surprised if things are changing around for a bit. Going to see if I can come up with a banner of my own design, for one thing. I just did one for my new family history blog, so I expect I can come up with something for this one, as well.

20 August 2009

Tuck Update

Tuck handled the anesthesia and the diagnostics very well on Tuesday and thanks you all for the good wishes. He's still a bit congested, but that's kind of to be expected when someone spends an hour or two shoving a scope up your nose and grabbing chunks of tissue. He's quite the little trooper, though, and absolutely everybody at the specialty hospital fell in love with him.

I also got the good news that it was going to end up costing me several hundred less than I'd thought, which was very nice. Still, I'm looking at a couple thousand in total expenses for this round of diagnostics and it looks like at least some surgery is in his future. So if you haven't picked out some Tuck swag, feel free to go find a little something for yourself or the frenchie lover in your life. And if you want something but don't see it, let me know and I'll try to make it happen.

The Right Tool for the Job

"Fred with Tyres" by Herb Ritts

We're off this afternoon to spend a couple of nights at my grandmother's. My dad's two sisters are up visiting for a week and we don't get to see them very often, so it should be fun. Making the trip, though, required a bit of vehicular maintenance. My car's been chugging a bit lately, especially since I've been running the air conditioner to keep Tuck from frying in the heat.

I suspected and confirmed that I was a bit past due to change my spark plugs, so I picked up some fresh ones yesterday and set out to replace the old ones today. The owner's manual makes it look all so easy, doesn't it? "Why just pop those old plugs out by twiddling them around with your thumb, put the new ones in and VIOLA!" Except it's never quite that easy.

In truth, this wasn't too bad, but what the manual doesn't tell you is that the spark plugs are set way down in a hole in the engine block. I mean way down in. The extender in my socket wrench set was not up to the task. Fortunately, I have another socket wrench extender that's long enough to reach and was able to unscrew the old plugs without trouble. The problem then was that the spark plugs didn't come up out of the hole along with the socket wrench. This required another trip back up the hill into the house to find a pair of forceps, with which I was able to pluck the old spark plugs out.

So now my car has brand new spark plugs and, although it'll never sound like a new car again, it's still running much more smoothly than it was and I'm not so worried that it'll crap out on us on the 4.5 hour drive up the coast.

The moral of the story, of course, is that you should always make sure your tool is long enough to get deep down into the hole.

18 August 2009

New Chairman Tuck


Tomorrow is Tuck's big appointment, so do think happy thoughts for us. And if you haven't done so, do please consider going and buying some Tuck swag. We were able to negotiate and pare down the estimate for this workup, but it's still going to cost nearly $2500 by the time all is said and done and anything to defray that cost a bit would be exceedingly helpful. Besides, who wouldn't love a little piece of his awesomeness?

15 August 2009

The Beloved Frenchie Needs You

Chairman Tuck

Next week Tuck's going to have some major diagnostic work done to see if we can get to the bottom of his recurrent respiratory infections. When I say major, I don't necessarily mean invasive procedures so much as majorly expensive. As in, a few thousand dollars that we don't particularly have.

Anyway, considering his bouts with pneumonia and upper respiratory infections have cost us easily that much in a bit over a year - and that's with me getting meds at cost and providing most of his care myself - the hope is that we'll find something that can be fixed. Barring that, I'm hoping at least to know whether there are things we can do to improve his care from a preventive standpoint.

But still, thinking about the cost over the past few weeks has been nothing short of gut-wrenching, particularly since things still aren't terribly rosy for David's business. The other night, though, Rabbitch suggested that I should shamelessly exploit capitalize on Tuck's adorable mug and start selling it. On mugs. And t-shirts and what-have-you.

To that end, I've been working the past couple nights on putting together some images and creating an online store on Zazzle. The Chairman Tuck image above is the latest and, I think, the best yet. So rather than ask for donations for this particular cause, I'd appreciate it if y'all went on over and bought a little something. Christmas is coming up before you know it, so buy several little somethings. You'll be getting some extra adorable stocking stuffers and maybe, hopefully Tuck will be able to breathe a little bit easier because of it.

p.s., If you go to the storefront, scroll down and look for the "Product Lines" section in the right sidebar. Everything is organized by design there.

11 August 2009

Geek Humor

What does it say about me that I snorted when I read this? If you don't get it, don't worry. And if you really need to know try the Wikipedia article. Just don't say I didn't warn you.

A Familiar Dilemma

This is a very frequent occurrence in our house. From xkcd, of course.

05 August 2009

Maine Fiberarts Tour Weekend

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is the Maine Fiberarts annual tour. Sea Hill Farm (the little farm compound where we live) is on the tour, so come by and say hi to Paula and David (I'll be away visiting my grandmother), pet the alpacas and donkeys, and most importantly, buy stuff! Seriously, we're looking at more huge medical bills for Tuck and could really use it.

Directions to Sea Hill Farm can be found here. More information on businesses participating this weekend can be found here.

Tuck says please and thank you. And if he weren't going to be away with me this weekend, he'd give you kisses, too.


02 August 2009

Weekend Edition

My off week was broken up by a shift on Thursday night I switched out in order to have next Friday off. Still, it wasn't entirely unproductive on the home front. I've been slowly adding blocks for the reversible Roman stripe quilt I'm making for our bed. I had two dozen fat quarters of oriental and complementary prints, so I divided them into cool(ish) and warm(ish) tones to give the two sides different feels. This is the cool(er) side:


And this is the warm(er) side:


These photos ended up with a bit too much of a greenish cast to them, but the colors are fairly close. Only another 106 blocks to go, then I can assemble these all with sashing strips, attach a border, apply a binding, and we'll have a queen-sized quilt. At this rate, I may be able to get it all done before December, though I'm really hoping for sooner.

Yesterday was also a good day for doing things outdoors. There have been precious few of those days this summer, so I kind of have to make the most of them. I got the side doors finished and mounted on the chicken coop and harvested these:


That's 44 bulbs of garlic. Some of them are the Russian red variety I've been growing the past couple of years and some are a Spanish red from our friends George and Rain at Green Label Organic shirt company. They live down in Barbara Kingsolver country in Virginia and the t-shirt company is their primary business (Great shirts, check them out!) - that's how we know them - but Rain sells garlic locally on the side. Both varieties are nom and have a bit of heat to them and I can't really tell them apart. What I do know is that I'm looking forward to cooking with them, though the big bulbs will likely be saved for planting this fall.

In other news, yesterday was a bad day for rodents Chez Tête-de-laine. David woke me up yesterday morning to deal with a rat who had gotten herself caught in the chicken wire while trying to go after leftover feed. Of course, just after I got to the scene of the crime, she expired, and I found after pulling her out that she'd managed to eviscerate herself, possibly by trying to chew her way out of her predicament. Had she been unhurt, she'd have been relocated far away. While we're not big fans of vermin, I do believe in giving them a chance if they're not too invasive/obtrusive. As it was, I was left with a much easier task.

Then this morning around 5AM, I went downstairs to let Tuck out one last time before bed. When I turned on the kitchen light, there were Cougar and Tolo with a dead mouse. Well, it was Cougar with the mouse - flipping the carcass up in the air and batting it about while growling at Tolo, who was hovering expectantly. While very proud of our predators, I decided David wouldn't enjoy dealing with the mess if they eventually decided to eat her and leave half lying around. So away she went into a bag, and then into the trash. I say she because it was an apparently very pregnant female, which means that's one generation of mice that won't be born in our walls, which is not a bad thing at all.