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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Moonshadow, Moonshadow, 9/3/3-9/20/12

We lost our Moonshadow... My little itty bitty white kitty. My blue eyed girl. The only marshmallow I love, my puppy, my satellite, my herald. My fallen angel.

I rescued her and her sister from a garage at just weeks old in the chilly days of Autumn. Had to keep them locked up for days till I could get them in to the vet and get them all shot up so they could be around other kitties.
First time I knew what her name was... they were hiding under the bed as usual, and I was trying to coax them out by calling sweet names and words... Till I started singing Moonshadow. I started singing that and here came this tiny white poof with huge blue eyes creeping out from under the bed, and up into my lap, purring with much more force than her tiny body could possibly allow. Eventually her sister went to live with one of my sisters, but Moon stayed with me.

Moon grew up to be a tiny thing- six pounds of dinky little white touched with flourishes of grey Siamese coloring that she got from her father around her face, paws, and ringing her tail with toasted marshmallow along her spine. Impossibly huge blue eyes that once she looked up and me and meowed, no other sad eyes could affect me again.

She had a brain the size of a walnut, and was as scattered as the four winds. Always racing about, she never really stopped being a kitten- kept her kitten claws and teeth, kept her kitten ways of playing and loving. She was shy and skittish for the first couple years- and she never really lost that last touch of feral, but it made her all the more loveable. As she got older she got much friendlier, especially when she was in heat- she wanted lovings from everyone and anyone then.

She had such a big and loud purr- it was stunning that such a tiny body could produce such a loud noise. She was a nudger, pushing her head against your hand in love with a force of a cat three times her size. She didn't just walk across a room, she pranced, her little white mutton chop legs trit trotting away like she was the cutest thing in the universe- and of course she was.

In the morning, if my love was up first, she would some up and purr all loud in my ear and poke her paw into my face as if to tell me it was time to wake up because papa was awake... then as I left the bedroom, she would race ahead of me to wherever he was- she always knew which direction to go- and she would trounce into the room, my herald announcing I've woken up. She was my morning bathroom kitty- always having to be in there when I first got up, wanting loving pettings, to which she would get so happy she'd start playfully grabbing my hand and nipping it.

She was a porcupine- you could brush her all day long and not get much hair- but the moment you put on something black she would have a fur explosion all over you- no one's wardrobe is complete without a little Moon on them. She could kick off a snowstorm of white fur when she was intensely loving a petting.

She was a jealous little thing- give loving to anyone else, and darn it, she better get her share too. Call another cat, she came running too. I never could quite figure if she just thought I was calling her too or if she just knew she would get loving anyway.

She was Pookums Yin to his Yang. He all big and black, she all dainty and white. She was his companion, his personal face cleaner.

She glowed in the sunlight, and it was glorious. It was a halo, and she was my fallen angel lit up by the sun.

She was my perfect naynko... I would always tease about what tasty treats she could be.

She brought joy and moonlight to my life in a way I have never experienced with any other cat, nor probably ever will ever again. She was the most entertaining little foo I've ever encountered.

She would pitter patter so softly into our bedroom- and always curled up on me when I was sad or sick- she would lay out on my shoulder or hip. I would feel her light warmth on me and it always made me feel better, beloved... I could always tell when she was on the bed because she was the lightest, and her purr would proceed her. She was the cat that always consoled me most. When I was sad or sick and curled up in bed... The cats all hung out, but she was always the one that would curl up right on me and purr as if she could purr me back to health and happiness- and you know what? It always helped a lot. I don't know what to do with this sorrow without her to help purr it away. 

She always loved people food even though I don't allow the cats to have it. She would hear the crinkle of a chip bag and come running, wanting to try to get her head inside. Always having to shoo her off the kitchen counters- she was always hoping for some little scrap of people food to lick off a plate.
She always preferred to drink out of my water glass than out of the water dish. She would dip a dainty paw into the water to drink if she couldn't just stuff her head into my glass. She would paw her water out of the dish as often as she would bow her head to drink directly. 

She proved that cats have wings, always flitting and flying from one spot to another.. And when she was spooked the hair on her tail would stick straight out and I swear it was bigger than her body.

She loved her squishings. She would rub up against my legs, and I would pick her up. She would immediately start squirming and purring and get petted right out of my arms and jump away- only to come right back to do it all over again, and again, and again. For such a delicate little foo, she loved serious pettings. She would use my legs like a personal pincushion while I had her in my lap, flexing her paws in intense pleasure. She would smush her face between my palms so I could pet both sides of her head at once, and she loved under chin rubbings.

She was a joyous and bright light in our lives- and the world is a darker and deader place without her. Mornings will be emptier and more dreaded without her companionship.

She was a lady and a tramp, a lover and a fighter, the friendliest companion and the first greeter in the house. 

I know if I hadn't rescued her all those years ago she likely would either have been hit by a car, or made pregnant by some cat too big and died trying to hold a litter in her tiny body. So I know that she had many years of love and affection she would never have had otherwise. But I can't help but feel overwhelmed by tears that she didn't get another 9 years and lived to a ripe old age.

She seemed to have passed fairly peacefully and extremely suddenly. She was out being friendly and sociable, then went up under our bed and just... passed. I think I was in the room at the time, but I didn't know she was curled up there till much later in the day. Her tiny little body was kept warm in the spot she was, and when she was pulled out, she still had a little warmth to her- enough so that all I could do was hold her and cry and try to deny the truth... Moons gone. I know logically there was nothing I could have done to change or prevent it- but I can't help but feel like there's something, something...

There will never be another Moonshadow... All my pets are special and unique.. But she was extraordinary, a once in a lifetime if you are really lucky you will meet one kind of cat. They say when you are born, you only get a certain amount of heartbeats- and her tiny heart beat fast at the speed of joy and love. They say the brightest lights burn out quickest, and she was a supernova of brilliance packed into one tiny white furry body.

We laid her to rest in the sanctuary where the sun is always shining so it can always be warm and glowing on her, among the tall grasses where the birds play so she can always watch them. I made sure she is in sight of where I sit at my desk so I can look out and send her good morning love every day. I gave her one last loving stroking of her fur before we shrouded her and put her into a little box. We buried her a few feet down and placed a cairn of rocks over her- next spring when it's planting season I'm going to put in white with blue irises around her grave- I think it will be a suitable flower for her.

We will miss you my Moon Moon Moon, deeply. You left a big hole in our hearts where a little white ball of fur used to be. I love you my baby girl, and I will never forget you... Rest in peace my fallen angel, we are blessed that we had you grace us for nine years. I hope you come back to haunt me, my home is always open for you.

Goodbie baby.. Moonshadow, My Moon, Moon Moon Moon.... The world hurts without you. If I could clone you I would. I don't know if I never want more cats again so I don't have to feel this kind of pain, or if I will search the rest of my life for another that's just a fraction of awesome that you were...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Got things going on in the coolness...

Got the paint and adhesive...
John Deere green for the cans in the solarium. I did up a test dozen at first and set them up. I like them quite a bit, enough so that I shot the next 30 cans- then I ran out of paint. So I will have to get another can to finish up that part of the project.
Flat white and clear adhesive for the Rose Petal Pavilion. I now have the bases glued to the mounting plate, and the thing sprayed white. Tiled in the hexagon rooms except the final outside row. I wanted to let it sit and cure in well before mounting in the roof poles and the final tiling- I'll fill in the two hallways then too. Still dithering around with how tall I want those roofpoles- I got 9 dowels, so I'm undecided as to how I want to cut them up to make my 18 needed for the three hexagons.
And need more adhesive- different stuff. I got E6000 clear, and it's working great for the mounting and tile setting, but is way too thick for the thinset I need to do to seal the tiles into the floor.
And I want to do a basic petal layout for the roof tiles while the whole thing is still flat enough to make it easy. It wont be so easy once poles are in place. 
The hardware store had glow in the dark paint too. So I tried it out on a couple whiskey bottles. Looks like we might have the glass border for the herb garden. I've been kicking around the notion of glow paint, perhaps some reflective too.. But I'm liking the glow alone so far. I think I might try a glitter and glow too for shits and giggles since I have the mats already to try that. It may be that a whole heap of bottles are getting moved to workspace rather than pole barn.
Now I'm tinkering around with other notions for this paint, like perhaps some hanging glow jars for trees :)

And hey hey, got the workshop cleaned up today- didn't scrub down the kitchen area yet, but the place sure does look a LOT better than it did yesterday. And just a note- I really want to install a kitchen sink up there. I did give a good eye to what exactly I need to scrub up and attend to in the kitchen- I really got to get that done so I can start using the cabinet space more effectively. I got stuff to store up there, and it's just sitting in the wrong place right now.
Also managed to overfill a big laundry basket of random crap that needs to come downstairs. Workshirts, empty hangers, books- and oohh, my off white ringwar cloak.

I'm getting all impatient about the gourds and pumpkins. The first frost has been reported by my favorite seed company, and I know October will bring us our first official frost too. So, whatever is out there once the frosts hit and the vines wither, that's what I'm bringing in. Everything. We shall see whats good and such from there. I got a bushel gourd that looks fantastic.. Accidentally broke the stem off the snake gourd a week ago- it's been sitting on the kitchen table being watched ever since to see if it will take to drying or if it will be scrapped. Have a whole handful of smaller shapes and sizes that are looking good, and a nice handful of batwing pumpkins are just starting to come into their proper color. So there will be gourds on the Halloween table that we grew :)
I dunno what's going to happen with the pumpkin pepper- it has a lot of green fruits, but none of them show signs of oranging up at all. I guess if worst comes to worst I can always pull them up and string them up like tomatoes. All those are still green too- I might try up a green tomato recipe with those.
I need to pull up and put away the milk jug waterers for the season.

Gotta do garage cleanup. I got stuff tossed around all over the frigging place. And I need to figure out how to dress the place up before the wedding. I want to do a tent between the garage and the house and clear out the garage for the event anyway for all weather party space. However, if the weather proves too crappy for backyard, we will have to set up the ceremony in the garage. The roof leaks, badly in some spots, the floors and walls are gross and the walls are full of nails in some places. So I really need to figure out some low cost fixes, and pretty damn fast.
I was thinking perhaps just strapping down some big ass tarps over the roof to temporarily fix the leaky roof problem. Cut up some of the plywood currently serving as my gardening bench to board up the weak and rotten vertical spots between the rafters. Probably would have to do it this fall to make sure the inside is dry enough for painting. I figure the floor can just be really well scrubbed, and we will have to leave it at that. Perhaps yoink a couple off carpets from in the house for the ends.
And recycle, recycle, recycle. The more crap I use up from out there, the less stuff that has to be moved around to do stuff in there. And yeah, still move a bunch of stuff to the pole barn.
I think a lot of my basic gardening paraphernalia can be stowed down there. All my strings of milk jugs, hand tools, tarps and bedding bits. And crap, I totally forgot about our tent being spread out in the pull barn- again. So lots of stuff this fall can be relocated to the pull barn, lol.

Made up a big ass batch of chicken stew a couple days ago- we had it twice for dinner now, and I'm going to bag and freeze up the last 3 servings. I think I'm gonna make a big ass skillit tonight for dinner- I'm ravenous. I think potato, bacon, and spinach, yum.
I still haven't started up the smoker for pork bits. I realized since I'm using frozen hocks too I need to plan the smoking process for three or more days instead of an afternoon. Gotta thaw stuff properly and possibly brine it before smoking it.
Been drying lots of stuff- Based off their fresh hydrated weights, I got 10 pounds each freezer corn and mixed veggies, a couple pounds each of fresh from cob corn, peas, onion, and of course a few pounds of mushrooms. Got some slaw mixes and a couple pounds of kale still. Have a batch of celery in the dehydrator now- and the celery end soaking in water for planting in a day or two. I've also plucked quite a bit of tarragon, sage, rosemary, marjoram, pineapple mint, and a bit of winter savory so far. No thyme- I decided the pant really wasn't up to trimming yet. I've finally gotten to the point of emptying out the big jars, so I've started relabeling them for the stuff that's homegrown. I'm taking out all the nice glass jars I saved up- gonna use those for gifting since I got a lot- and I'm going to start using all my cool odd jars for herb mixes. This will really help streamline that area of the pantry. Kicking around the notion of putting in a shelf for the back row of bottle to sit on- and all my oddbit tiny jars to sit under.
Last time I was at the GFS, I picked up a giant jug of parsley, and big jars of oregano and basil, and a 5 lb tub of instant potato powder. I usually like the flake, but that was 3 lbs for the same price. And I've already used the potato powder to help thicken up the chicken stew, and I think I liked it better than using flake.

I'm a tad concerned for the holiday this weekend- forecast calls for a 50% chance of rain and temps in the 50's. It's supposed to be a getting stuff done, got some yardwork to do, want a bonfire kind of weekend, and I'm not sure if that is going to happen or not.
However, got good food prospects anyway. Making up a mess of spinach and beans, and some other contributions to the cook and bitch are scalloped potatoes and squash, and a cornbread stuffing.

And as a general yard hooray!! It looks entirely possible that at least the fenceposts, if not the entire fence will be set in place before the first snow between our property and that to the south. It's all in the east neighbors hands right now as to when it happens. We had a rather extra disturbing episode of the southern neighbors on our easement drive a couple weekends ago, so I am heartily glad that fence plans are moving forward. I don't care what those southern neighbors are doing on their property, but they sure as heck need to keep it off mine. Geez, this last time I saw one of their vehicles on our easement facing the street, and it burned out all the way down my drive. They were fighting and she was at the end of the drive- and at the moment I watched the vehicle move out I had a sudden horrific thought of I'm about to witness a vehicular homicide. It didn't end up that way thank goodness, but the whole thing was still icky. I walked up to the driver and asked them politely to not be on my property. Since they were outside by then already off on their whatever, I asked the father and son regularly staying there to please not let people of their property on my property. It was one of the most unsettling episodes to date since moving here.
I've been PO'd about some, er, right un-neighborly things that have happened. Flaked out with the whole looked like a nefarious deeds going on next door- and when it happened on my easement drive, that is what prompted the surveying of the fenceline. The whole thing with the call the police, and stabbing, and neighbors tripping over into my yard weird earlier this year was really.. odd. Whatever it is they got going on, we, and by this I mean us and the easement neighbors, don't need it on our property.
And, yeah, the deadwood fence still looks awesome. Not quite as perfect as when it was first constructed, and we took photos.. Anywho, it's now nicely grown in. After the main fence is put up, I was thinking about taking it down because it won't be as needed. Thinking of redistributing the wood along the easement ditchline to help give some hard structure definition to the cattail line. But maybe it will sit where it is and get more nasturtium attention next year.
I do need to do some serious tree grooming along that line- as in, cut down every effing one I see to the soil line. Can mow over some stuff, but not that. Figure if I stack it nice when I gut it, could have the first course row of wood to lay down on the ponds edge.  Since we got nice cattails coming up there, that's the area I cut my sisters cattails from, I want to encourage that to grow in all along the line. A thin line of ditch cattails in an easily harvestable space is useful in the long term and pretty.
I think next spring we will rent a tiller, and do a serious and large replanting of ditch lillies in the NW area of the roadside. The clumps we transplanted this spring did wonderfully well down in the corner. But it was a lot and long labor busting up and moving around with just spade and fork.

And as a gravelish, fillin, whatever... I want to start exploring around with using a little concrete to bind together recycled garbage bits into gravel or pavemently bits. Like the whole area along the southern fenceline so we don't need to mow there, around mailbox areas, that sort of thing. We end up with a lot of bottle caps of all sorts, and oddbit shreddibles that I think could end up being a goodly recycled mass for those areas. If it works well, trim out driveway edges with it. Cements are the cheapest binders I can find right now. I think if I really hunker down and start shredding up pulp paper that could work as well- but we would need to get a bunch more buckets with covers to do it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Holiday plans already?

Yeah, holiday plans already...

The heat of summer has passed along with the first harvest. Lughnassad was a total failure in August. For all the hundreds of corn seeds I dealt with this spring, only got 3 plants- and one of those didn't have any ears :( Local farmers might have looked better, but the corn celebrations were definitely a no-go this year.

But we have more holidays coming up :)

This equinox we are having a couple family and friends over for a celebration- seriously yummy seasonal eats, perhaps a run to the local cider mill to see what they got for mulling (our trees didn't do squat).. a bonfire if the weather is nice. Some two-man yard clean up stuff. If we are really lucky, our favorite harpist who's coming might be able to bring one of her instruments so we can have joyous music for the occasion. So already second harvest is looking better than first harvest did. Tomorrow I get to check the cattails I cut recently and see if they are ready to be sprayed with hairspray to preserve the spindles. I'm really hoping they will be ready for the equinox table- and for my sister to take home. She wanted a bunch, and it's a nice bday present I think, home grown and preserved with special wishes for her.

Third harvest and one of my favorite holidays, Halloween :) Woot, making some preliminary plans to hit a haunted house or two this year. Quite a few of those Beltane planted gourds will go onto the Halloween table. Of course food and the usual rituals.. And a bonfire weather permitting.

Looking forward to Thanksgiving and my sisters turkey.. and the carcass to make big delicious pot of turkey stock with. Tis been requested that I make squash soup this year. Which is a good thing, I need to write down how I make it when I make it, lol. It's going into this years family cookbook.

Christmas- yeah, christmas planning already. Started working on the second volume of the family cookbook this week. Already got the second spiral typed up, recipe list sent off, and starting on adding my part of the list. Thinking about what to make for folks too. Perhaps some big jars of spice mixes- those are always popular with some folks, maybe some bath salts- those were loved by a couple folks too. Probably some ornaments- I always have ideas and new stuff I can do with those. And I got some lovely new origami paper this summer in Ann Arbor to use. And a couple books of pretty cardstock paper. I have to check over my seed stock, but I'm thinking some young herb plants might be nice too. Of course, I have to go hunt down addresses for christmas cards- but that's ok, need to make sure I got addresses for the wedding too. Maybe make some jewelry for a couple of the gals I know will like the kind of stuff I make. Maybe some sewing of house clothes and buying some basic smallclothes for the boys- stuff they can leave here.

Just as a random thought while I'm thinking about it.. I'd also like to update my desk to something more suited. I'm looking to go metal, or at least metal base so I can just leave my desk in one spot year round. Move my current desk into one of the boys rooms, and get another for the other room.. Lol, make them go through what they got, make space for their own regular stuff here. Probably clean out a bunch of stuff. Put things in order for a handful of christmas clothes, lol.

On the To Do List..
We now have enough cans recycled for me to put in the pond border in the solarium. Need to pick up some rust resistant paint, and paint them all up so I can sink them in.
Time to start in on the next phase of building the Rose ballroom for the wee folk. It was just too hot to try painting and using adhesives. Now that it's cooled down, it's time to kick it up and work on it again- need to pick up some suitable adhesives.
Need to do a serious scrubdown of the upstairs kitchen, and the workshop in general.
Cut down the willow withies in the sanctuary. Though I'm enamored with the idea of creating a living space with them, some serious cutting down and work is needed in the area.
Start turning in bottles again- geez, we got a mess in the garage. STILL need to move the other bottles down to the pole barn. Snort- and clean up the tent from the pole barn- I had forgotten about that till just now. Anywho, move pole barn stuff down to the pole barn. Resume turning in recyclables.
Find out where to turn in toxic/unwanted recyclables for 2013. We have a dead TV, a small pile of dead batteries, and a couple empty paint icks to dispose of.
Drop off the paper bags of donations to the local resale shop. We have several built up now, mostly fall stuff like business sweaters and warmer formal clothes- we just don't wear so much of them here. And they just reorganized the store to show and move the goods much better. There is a goodwill nearby too, but I'd rather donate to the more local folks if they can handle it. I really do know where their donations and dollars go to.
Lol, feed us before the evening goes on much longer....

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Early breath of Autumn

The full hot of summer has completely snapped, and now the warm days and cool breezes of autumn are coming in. Now it's finally come time again when I'm willing to spend time outside and not keel over.
With the coming of autumn has been coming of some rain. Farmers Almanac is saying it should be wet this month and next, but I fear it comes too late to save crops, and might come enough to spoil some of them. But on the bright side, the water table around here is indeed inching up- the pond at the far end of the road finally has visible water standing in it. A slender heron was standing in it earlier today too.

Got some more fresh mushrooms on clearance for 99 cents- this time baby portabellas that normally sell for 2.50. The first two cartons of them are already sliced and in the dehydrator.
Over the last week or so, I've been loading the dehydrator wit herbs. Lots of sage, tarragon, winter savory, rosemary, marjoram, and pineapple mint are now in jars in the pantry. Still have much more herbal goodness to pick once this round of mushrooms are done.
Also picked up sweetcorn, 12 ears for 3.50. Not the best price, but considering how corn is doing this year, not too bad either. Reamed them all and now those sweet kernels are roasting to dryness in the oven. Already simmered up a batch of corn stock, and now it's cooling on the counter so I can chill it overnight before it goes into the freezer. Got about 3 quarts of stock off the 12 cobs, not too bad for something that otherwise gets thrown away by most folks. Just chopped the cobs in half so they fit into the pot, and covered with water.. that's it. The stock smells really good, I'm sure it will make for excellent chowders as the weather turns colder.
Hardings also had an excellent 10/10 on Campbells condensed soups- you bet your ass I stocked up on cream soups for cooking through the winter. I might even go back and pick up a few more cans. That kind of deal saves 69-99 cents a can!

Tonight is chili for dinner. I wanted to do it a couple weekends ago, but one of the boys had just gotten braces, so I figured hot and spicy was out. Both the boys were bummed. But this weekend he's healed up enough that chili is a go. I kind of do chili on the fly, but this is how I did it this time...

2 lb ground beef
2 large yellow onions- coarse dice
1 head of garlic- peeled, and cloves left whole
3 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can each light and dark kidney beans- normally I do 2 each, but that's what we had on the shelf- undrained
1 small can of tomato paste
red pepper flakes
kosher salt
chili seasoning- homemade kind

Brown up the beef, but don't get too fine chunking it up while browning. Once it's really started to yield up some liquid and fat, toss in a small palmful of red pepper flake- 1-1 1/2 Tablespoons. 
Once the beef is brown and is just starting to steam off it's liquid, add in the onions, garlic, and a small palmful of salt- again, 1/1 1/2 Tablespoons. Stir it all in well till some of the onion starts going translucent.
Dump in the tomatoes, beans, paste, and a large palmful of chili seasoning- 3-4 Tablespoons of it.
Stir well, then stir some more, all on high heat.
Cover, and when the pot gets to a boiling, drop the heat down on low, just enough to barely maintain a bubbling.
The let it cook for a couple hours. About halfway through, taste for seasoning, and add more if needed. The tomatoes should break down, the beans should be tender cooked, the beef should not look freshly browned, the onions are just bits of stuff. The whole of the liquid should be thick, rich, tomatoy, and spicy- and it should taste like a homogenous whole instead of it's separate ingredients.

We like to serve ours with gratuitous amounts of shredded cheddar, dollops of sour cream on top, and lots of corn chip scoops to eat the chili almost like it's a dip.

Now it's also finally cooled down enough that I can get back upstairs again and do stuff. It just was too uncomfortably hot to do anything for quite a while there. So I will hopefully be able to get upstairs in the next week and get some serious cleaning done prior to getting some work done messing up the place again, hehehe.