Sunday, December 3, 2017

Pantry inventory

I went over to the pantry (off the other kitchen) to turn the heater on, since 20 is the expected low tonight. And while I was there, I counted the jars of canned food, which I've been meaning to do.

Here's the 2017 inventory:
In quarts, from this year:

40 vegetable soup
93 green beans
6 shelled peas
36 snap peas
32.5 tomatoes
23 tomato sauce with herbs
10 quarts salsa (in pints)
9 spinach
4.5 sauerkraut
20 sweet pickles
5 carrots

From past years:

9.5 beet pickles
31 dill pickles
8.5 tomato sauce
13.5 borsht
6 plums
and 27 half-pints of jam

There are also 6 Jarrahdale squashes, a bag of shallots and a bag of onions.

This is to feed two people, and five dogs (four small and one medium-sized).

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Rain, meh

Grey drizzle outside. The bathroom ceiling drips into its bucket. I'm not feeling motivated to a damn thing. The house is a mess. The rabbit room is a mess. The hallway is getting narrower and narrower. Feh.

I haven't been idle all week. I'm just about done hanging the pantry door – need to find a couple of trim pieces in the gym, and patch the holes and dings in the cheap, modern, used-and-abused door jamb. It took days of slow-mo carpentry to do – chiseling out the hinge pockets, finding hinges and pins, rummaging out shims and trim.... Richard, bless his heart, hauled the door over from the gym. It's one of the original doors from the school – there are 20 or 30 stored over there. The casing (thats the flat trim part, yes?) is original, too, and warped and fragile. The jamb is a battered newer one, almost tall and wide enough, that I found in two different places. The handles and operational bit (we call them "door guts") are from our stockpile of cool metal parts.

Of course, since this is an old building, nothing is truly square or plumb. And the old materials are not in the best shape. And the walls are a weird thickness. And I scrounge materials. So it's all a little funky. But since the old door was sheet of plastic stapled over the hole (augmented by a down sleeping bag during the cold spell last year), it is a big improvement. 

It opens and closes beautifully.

I'll have to get creative on the inside trim.

C. has been making corn tortillas from masa harina (gluten free!) and we've been making enchiladas from our own black beans, salsa and tomato sauce. Pretty tasty.

Also, the local roofing guy came by and did some patching up there. He's a nice guy, but very shy. He quietly appears, climbs up there, and clumps around painting roof-goop on bad spots. We're shy, too, so this lack of interaction is fine. He does need to get us an invoice so we can pay him from our special roofing account at the bank. 

Right now, trying to make myself do something. I split a little wood and haul it in in our little red wagon. Feed and water the animals. Read. Wait for some kind of ambition. Or motivation. Or sunshine.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

World's best son-in-law

His name is Richard, and he's awesome. He, Em and little Liam came up Saturday, and he spent the whole day reaming out our four storm drains in an effort to make the roof leak less.

He is a wonderful guy, and we are lucky to have him. We're lucky to have all three of them, and we know it. But he worked his ass off for us Saturday, and it wasn't the first time, either.

I called the rental place and reserved the 85-foot "electric snake," and E. and R. picked it up and brought it out. The thing is heavy and awkward, and consists of a frame, a cage for the line and a motor. Basically, you feed the pointy end and heavy line into the pipe, and the motor drives it around and around to ream out the pipes. It doesn't feed the line, just rotates it, so you have to push the line in and pull it out manually. It was a hell of a workout, not including hauling it to and from the basement for the fourth line, which was eight feet off the floor. Em and I took turns assisting, holding the flashlight, bracing the frame, and putting it in reverse when needed.

Em captured the threatening shadow of the machine.

I rented one and reamed out the septic lines four years ago. I wouldn't be up to it today, especially on a ladder in the basement!

So thanks, Richard. You rock.

He hit multiple blockages and worked through them, so we're hopeful that the roof sumps and storm drains will do a better job of getting gallons of rain water off the roof and into the dry well.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Midnight in the land of sauerkraut

At midnight last night, C. decided to start the sauerkraut.

No, I don't know why midnight was the magic time, and I personally was ready to go to bed, but I got caught up in it, too.

She fired up The Robot, and started slicing away.

 The yellow glove is covering the wrist brace she's wearing after hurting her arm splitting wood.

The hardest part, after cutting the core out of these big cabbages, is deciding the slicing direction of the chunks of kraut. Purists slice by hand. We aren't that pure.

I removed the outer leaves and cores, and quartered the heads, then helped smash and juice the shredded leaves with a one-handled rolling pin.

We filled a six-gallon crock with five or six cabbages, covered it with a cloth and a plate, and left it overnight to produce brine.

I'm glad she decided to tackle the job. We've been kind of low lately, having a hard time getting started doing the many jobs that should be done. And the weather is dreary.

In other news, we had pie. I love pie.

It was apple, and C. made her first gluten-free crust. The recipe is here. She said it was a little awkward to work with, but doable, and pretty dang good.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Yesterday Earl and I made our monthly trip to The Can (Spokane, the local metropolis of 215,973 souls – and a Costco, and a fine bookstore, Auntie's).

Our very kind younger daughter Emma took us to Costco for serious cheese shopping. (Young Liam helped by making motor noises from his stroller.) I had a quick lunch with my work buddies. Bought gas. Bought a month's worth of Canadian and Mexican beer. And met with an angelic woman from SNAP, to apply to have our mortgage reconfigured to lower our payment, since we're on disability now. She was great, and we are hopeful.

Then a quick stop at WinCo to score a month's supply of Guittard milk chocolate. Will it last a whole month? We don't know. We are hopeful. C. has offered to hide it, and allow set amounts each day, but I'm afraid I might turn violent.

Today C., Earl and I hit Deer Park (pop. 4,000) for Blue Sky cola and some miscellaneous groceries I didn't have time to buy in Spokaloo.

I think we're set for the month, and we're happy to stay home now.

The weather has turned wet. I think the usual fall monsoons are here, though late. We need to hit our mushroom spot for fall pickings.

Today C. went up on the roof and cleaned out the stovepipe topper. She poked around a bit, looking for the causes of our usual leaks.

We have some money set aside for roof work, and talked to a nice local guy about it. He has no sense of urgency, though, so we may need to call one of the more businesslike places. I do not want to be bailing out the back door this year.

We've had a couple of deaths in the last month or so. Birdie, our neurologically damaged house chicken, died. And Walter, our granddog the pug, struggled with a horrible autoimmune disease and was finally, mercifully, euthanized. He was only 6.

I keep busy feeding and watering the animals, hauling firewood, and reading. And thinking about next year's garden.

And older daughter S. gave us her old Nikon digital camera, so we should have some good shots to post!

No eggs today. None yesterday.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Snow day

The snow got serious, and we must have five inches out there. It's not a lot, but it's enough to keep me mostly inside, reading and listening to Jango internet radio. Ruthie Foster's "Death Comes a Knocking" is playing. Crank it up! Great song.

Friday, November 3, 2017

First snow

We've got little dusting of snow out there today, but it's mostly melted away.

Earl and I hit Deer Park for groceries (mostly chocolate) and chicken food. The roads were bare.

I've been reading and puttering instead of posting, so here is a recap of recent events.

First, my mom is doing well after surgery. :)

Just before the temps plummeted, I insulated the pipes in the pump house.

Here's the before shot. The pump and pipes are in a big (10x10x10 feet), loosely insulated room inside the cinderblock building. We run a small heater in there, but it's still frozen three times in the last five years, generally at the elbow in the upper left foreground. Last year's busted pipes sent spray cutting through the fiberglass and foam insulation around the room. What a mess. I planned to build an insulated plywood box just big enough for the pipes, and run a little milk house heater in there, but did some research online and decided to make better use of the heat tape and add the recommended inch-and-a-half of fiberglass insulation. I think I'll wrap the whole thing in plastic before it gets really cold. Fingers crossed!

Granddaughter Ciri celebrated her first birthday with a gathering at the restaurant where her parents work. Her friends Eloise and Landon helped open the packages when she got tired. We had fun!

Here's a gratuitous shot of Smokey, our angora house rabbit, with amaranth. He's a very cool fellow.

I'll be posting a final tally of the preserves in the pantry soon. The last of the tomatoes are still ripening in the other kitchen, but I think we're done with canning. Huzzah!

One egg today.