Friday, June 29, 2012


The bluebirds are almost a week old, I think.  All five are doing well; I guess the sparrows finally got tired of killing bluebirds.  It amazes me how such ugly babies can grow up to be such beautiful adults.  
Patsy found a snake in her henhouse and killed it because snakes have been known to kill baby chicks.  They'll eat eggs, too.  
I once heard a strange noise near my garden and went to investigate.  A snake was eating a toad that you would swear wouldn't fit in his mouth, and the toad was making the noise.  It's the only time I've heard a toad's voice.  
It always bugs me when city folks look at a toad and call it a frog.  Toads are brown and fat and can't hop very high; frogs are green and can cover yards of space with one hop.  (Hey, I warned you this was random.)      
It's amazing how many varmints like to eat chicken.  We have a fox that runs through my back yard almost daily, and will play in the horse pasture catching bugs to eat, with me and Cliff watching and talking.  If I had chickens, that would be a dead fox, but right now I really don't have any good reason to wish him harm; maybe he will get some of the moles that tear up our yards.  
Some people assumed that when we went to Colorado recently, we had decided not to go to Canada.  Not so.  We have changed our agenda numerous times, but we have our passports and are going, probably in July or August.  We were going to wait until September, but Cliff's brother and his wife have decided it's just going to be too tough to squeeze into their plans, so we'll go sooner.  Maybe it will be cooler there, and we can get a break from the heat!  

P.S.  I just checked:  the high today in Calgary is supposed to be 73.  Here, it will be 101.  Yesterday was 104.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's hot

But who cares about the weather?  That's all anybody is talking about.  I have air conditioning now, something I never had until a little over three years ago.  I'm quite comfortable.  
We had to go on a shopping trip to buy some Thompson's water seal for the decks.  I'm also window-shopping for a small patio table with an umbrella for the deck that used to be occupied by the hot tub.  I'm hesitant to buy it now, however.  I'm pretty sure that in another month or so, patio stuff will be on clearance by the stores wanting to get rid of summer items.  
Since Cliff has retired, he has noticed how much time I put into meals and remarks on it often.  While we were shopping, we happened to go into a Walmart that has a Subway inside.  The bread smelled delicious, and it was really hard to pass it up, but I told Cliff, "We have free food at home.  The longer we fool around here, the later dinner is going to be."  
That got us moving.  
We had stuffed peppers, using some of those king-sized bell peppers from the garden. Do you know how many dishes I dirty up making stuffed peppers?  First of all I cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds; then I put water in a pan, bring it to a boil, and boil the peppers for three minutes.  Meanwhile, chop onions and brown the ground beef and onions in a skillet.  Already we have two dirty pans, not to mention the cutting board.  Add stuff to the skillet and mix.  Now we get out a 9 by 12 pan and lay the peppers in it (another pan) and fill them with the meat mixture.  
Whew.  A sink full of dishes that mostly can't be tossed in the dishwasher, but must be washed by hand.  
I also decided to fix eggplant parmesan; not really a good combination with stuffed peppers, but I was using what I had from the garden.  This required me to beat a couple of eggs in a bowl, beat them, and put flour in another.  Next I fried the eggplant slices that had been dipped in eggs and flour.  Another skillet.  Finally I put the eggplant in a 9 by 13 pan, put the sauce and cheese on it, and stuck it in the oven.  Dishes, pots and pans, and spoons galore.  
We also had pickled beets that I spent quite a while making yesterday.  We won't talk about the two pans it took to fix them, plus the covered container I placed them in when they were done.  
I'm not complaining, because I enjoy cooking stuff from the garden.  But when you have to go to the garden and collect the stuff, clean it, peel it, dice or slice it, and then cook it in three pans or skillets... well, it's pretty tiring.   
The upside is that I made enough so that all I have to do tomorrow is warm up leftovers.
For supper the past three nights we have been having borscht, because Meesha's recipe makes enough food for an army.  But at least it is already made, and the only dishes I have to wash are the bowls we eat from and the spoons we eat with.  We are not tired of borscht, although I probably won't make it again now until the beets I plant for my fall garden are ready.
I really admire my grandmother (and probably yours too), who had no choice but to do all this cooking and dishwashing and cleanup because that was the only way to have affordable food.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


As usual, my earliest zucchini plant has died.  There are no big gray squash bugs around; must be those little vine borers, although I haven't seen any.  

It seems to be trying to come back from the dead... I had that happen once, so we'll see.

Meanwhile, the zucchini I planted a month later is still thriving right beside it.

My earliest cukes are producing like crazy...

And my later-planted cucumbers are joining the work force.  

Yesterday I planted more cucumber seeds and zucchini seeds, and put the soaker hose all around them.

Perhaps because of the drought, the okra plants aren't even three feet tall, but we've already had okra once.  I think I only watered these one time.  

Here's the corn, with the late potatoes to the left.  I dug the early potatoes yesterday.  The onions from bulbs are nothing to brag about, but the ones from onion plants are huge.  From now on, I will only use plants, not bulbs.  

The main tomato crop, with potatoes on the right.  There is a wee bit of blight showing on the bottom of the tomato plants now, but I should get plenty of tomatoes before it does any harm.  

I've already pulled up my early green bean plants.  On this end, the later green beans are starting to bloom.  On the other end of the row, green beans are just now coming up.  I sorta like this shot of the monstrosity house being tipsy, don't you?  Two different families have made bids on the property, but so far it sits abandoned.  The house on the other side of us has sold, though.  

 These are tomato plants I started from seed in the garden and then transplanted to a different location.  They are probably three weeks behind my main tomato crop.  I like to have various crops planted at different times because sometimes if the early crop fails, the later one does all right.  

These poor scraggly tomatoes are ones I left where I originally planted the seeds, figuring I'd pull them up.  They have never been watered, but they're still kicking.  Now I'm going to see just what becomes of them.  Yesterday I got the last of the cabbage and the early beets out of the garden.
I am hauling in the biggest peppers I have ever raised.  I didn't even know sweet peppers would get that big!
July 20 through 30, I will be planting cabbage, green beans, and possible turnips.  August 1-10 I will plant beets, radishes, and lettuce.  We'll see how a fall garden does.  

Typical of me...

I decided last night to watch a DVD of the TV miniseries "The Shining" because it was made at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park (where we recently visited) and was the version of which Steven King approved.  There were a couple of DVD's in their jackets laying on top of the DVD player (yes, I'm a clutterbug), and when I moved them, there was my Nook.  
I'm undecided about whether to call and get it re-activated, since I always use the Nook App on my Ipad instead of the actual Nook device.
I still don't understand why I kept getting the message that my book was on a different page on another device, since nobody was using it.  Oh well.  Things that make you go "hmmm".  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I've lost my Nook E-reader (and I don't much care)

Gradually over the past couple of months, I have put my Nook aside because I've found I prefer reading books on the Ipad Nook app.  Sometimes it was handy to have both, for instance when Cliff was reading one book and I was reading another; however, it's rare for Cliff to read fiction during the spring, summer, and fall.  
So I'm in the process of reading "Child 44", which was a Free Fridays selection some time back (excellent book).  For the last couple of days, when I go to my book on the Ipad, it's been telling me that I opened several books on different pages on "another device".  That would be my Nook.  
Today it hit me that I haven't seen or used the actual Nook in awhile, only the Ipad app.
Somebody has my Nook!  I looked around the house in the usual places, but I didn't find it.  
I called Nook support and explained what happened; my Nook is now useless to anyone who tries to use it.  If I should find it, I can call and get it working again.  
The worst part of this whole mess is my trying to explain it to Cliff, because he doesn't understand the difference between a Nook and an Ipad.  I told him all he has to realize is that the Nook is an $80 device, while the Ipad is (or was when I bought it) worth about $600.  
That was something he understood.  
All is well.

More St. Louis stuff

After spending time at the Budweiser Brewery, we went to get a close look at the Gateway Arch.  By this time the temperature was rising sharply.  

 Cliff and I have driven by the Arch many times, but this time we got a closer look.

 It's BIG.

 You can actually go to the top of the Arch; I have added this to my bucket list.  Cliff will not be joining me, since he has issues with heights.  
From the Arch, we strolled to Laclede's Landing, downtown St. Louis' oldest district, in search of lunch.  

 Hannegan's turned out to be an excellent choice.  Cliff and I shared a huge Reuben sandwich with corned beef piled high.  It was a more-than-adequate meal.  

We enjoyed our meal outside in spite of the heat.  
Sunday morning we tried to get an early start, since the forecast was for temperatures in the upper nineties.  We left at 8:30 with Pat and Charlene ahead of us.  It sure was nice to see them up there once again, and hear their Harley roar.  

 There's lovely country around St. Louis. 

We ate lunch before we got to Jefferson City and Charlene and Pat turned back toward home.  The heat was oppressive; I felt like we were riding inside a giant blow-dryer.  I was actually feeling a little woozy until we stopped at Jefferson City and I bought us a couple of Gatorade-type drinks.  
We weren't all that far from home at Concordia, but Cliff felt we needed to stop and cool off.  That was probably a wise decision.  We pulled into McDonald's and got indulged in a frappe, which will cool you off from the inside out.  
Home looked good to us and the air conditioning felt heavenly.  Looking at the ten-day forecast, something tells me we won't be taking any long motorcycle trips for awhile.  Maybe just a short jaunt once in awhile during the morning hours.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Budweiser Brewery

We got to the Budweiser brewery bright and early Saturday morning.  When we walked in, someone told us that a tour had just started and we should feel free to join them... OR we could wait for the next tour to begin.  We joined the tour that had already begun, and soon regretted our decision.  There were forty-five people from Ireland who were on a bus tour, and about forty more of us who tagged along.  It was far too many people on one tour.  On the bright side, we got to enjoy hearing the Irish brogue during our time there.  We couldn't hear most of the stuff the guides said, but Cliff still enjoyed the huge equipment, and we all loved the old buildings.

 Part of our tour group.

 More of our tour group.

 Cliff's sister having a serious discussion with her husband.

 Cliff with his baby sister and her husband.  This picture is deceptive:  Cliff is not THAT much larger than the two of them.  Honest!

 Charlene gave me permission to take this picture.  She really doesn't appreciate "butt shots", but she gave me the go-ahead this time.

 There are a lot of these huge containers.  We were told that if a person drank one beer every hour of his life, it would take over 100 years to empty this vat, an impossible feat.  An Irishmen told us, "Obviously he has had no experience with the Irish."  

 Most of the backs you see in the picture belong to Irish folks.  

 Somewhere in this picture is the most photographed place on the Budweiser property.  I would have had somebody take my picture beneath the eagle, but there would have been a dozen Irish folks in the picture with me.  Not that that's a bad thing.  I love the Irish.   

 I had no idea Budweiser made so many different products.  

 A died-in-the-wool Irishman visiting with my brother-in-law who, as it happens, is mostly Irish!  Pat is a chameleon; he fits in anywhere.  That's why he makes his living as a salesman.  Here's a joke our Irish friend told us:  "Do you know why women's feet are smaller than men's?"  "No," I answered, why are they?"  "So they'll fit beneath the kitchen sink when they wash dishes."  
I told him he was a male chauvinist; he just laughed.  

 Irishmen were everywhere.  

When you first start the tour, somebody takes a picture of your group.  At the end of the tour they try to sell it to you for twenty bucks.  I simply took a picture of their picture with my camera and got a free picture.  So HA!  Remind me not to wear that red shirt again... am I really that fat?  Oh well.


I'll bet you thought I had given up on blogging.  Ha!  Never!  
Friday around mid-morning we got on the motorcycle and headed to St. Louis to visit Cliff's sister and her husband.  We usually go highway 50, the more scenic route; but it was getting later in the day, and I was afraid we were going to hit St. Louis at rush hour.  So we took I-70 to get there faster.  It wasn't a fun ride, but everything went well and we got to their house before either of them were off work.  They had given instructions on how to enter their home, so we relaxed and unwound in the comfort of the air conditioning.  Once they were both home, Charlene announced that they were taking us to a grocery store; sounds like a strange place to take visitors, but this was a grocery store the likes of which we had never seen.  You can read a press release about the Des Peres Schnucks HERE.  
There are many Schnucks stores in St. Louis, but none like this one.   

 Belly up to the bar and get a sample of beer or wine; an expert is there to help with your selection.  The samples, by the way, are full servings.  I saw people sipping drinks as they went about their shopping.  

 There's a walk-in wine and cheese cooler, with advice on what wine goes best with the cheese of your choice.  

 More cheese.  There's also a walk-in beer cooler, but I didn't get a picture of it.

 Street entertainers.  Only I guess you would call these guys store entertainers.  Brother-in-law Pat informed us that usually it's a blues band playing.

 Live lobsters.  

Chefs in a couple of locations will prepare your food.  If you feel like a steak, go to the meat counter in the grocery section and pick one out:  for five bucks, they will cook it for you and you can sit at the counter and eat it.  Feel free to buy a bottle of wine and bring it to your table to enjoy with the steak.  

 On the balcony, cooking school is in session.  

You can get a great view of the store from the balcony.

 The entertainers are still going strong.

Tired from all the shopping?  Have a seat and watch television for awhile.  

Cliff's birthday was the 16th of June, so Charlene bought him a carrot cake.  I found a bargain on Eight O'clock coffee, and bought my first watermelon of the year.  

The grocery prices at this store are the same as at all Schnucks locations.  I find most St. Louis grocery prices are a little higher than ours, but not too awfully much.  

It was a fun little expedition, and I have already put in my request to visit Schnucks again next time we're in St. Louis.