Friday, August 31, 2007

Kitchen Photos

Okay, so after helpers this morning removed the old fridge to take it to Gaye's house, I mopped the floor and then put away and organized everything that had been displaced in the process of moving the larger fridge from the basement into the kitchen. It won't fit in the space the smaller fridge vacated, so I moved some shelving I have into that space. At the end of the kitchen are stacked some of my food storage buckets (mostly different kinds of flours and grains) and larger pots.

From the other side of the kitchen you can see better the "new" fridge and (for once, clean) counter space and sink.

I thought the line-up of ripening tomatoes was rather photogenic.

Especially this guy:

Especially for Dy

So washing out two fridges really gives a girl some time to think and one of the things I was sort of mulling over was that here we were involved in a "move" again--and how GRATEFUL I was that it wasn't MY move. Even though I was here cleaning out a fridge (or two) for a move, it isn't MY phone number changing, my utility hookups--even though I've done a lot of the work with the Realtors in this move--in the end they're not acting on my behalf. I get to stay in my messy house with the icky carpets and the aging roof and feel rueful over the weeds that have taken over the flower beds (but not my garden!). And I'm really grateful for that. I may even have the cash to get the carpets cleaned at the end of September. How great will that be?

I don't mind that another round of priming and painting is coming up--I never really minded that part. I like the dramatic transformation that two coats of primer and two coats of paint does to a room. I don't mind juggling all the extra tasks around the demands of piano lessons and contracted work. My love language is "acts of service" and I truly love the woman for whom we are doing all this. If it weren't for the financial stresses--that are completely unrelated to the moving activities, they're just part and parcel of 2007 for us--I'd be doing just fine now.

How much more powerful of a sign from God that this is to be our Forever home (Pine Grove Mills/State College--I'm open to moving to a house with a taller basement for Chris when the kids are grown, but in the same neighborhood) that He has made it possible for FAMILY to join us here. I found myself wondering who would be next. I tried to convince my sister and her husband to make the move out of San Diego earlier this year, but her husband has family there in California and I imagine that when you are first-generation American, you don't leave that regardless of the financial cost. So we'll see what the future brings.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday Evening of a Hot and Humid Day

Today wasn't the hottest day we've had so far this summer, but I swear it was the most humid. I've just about saturated the t-shirt and knit skirt I'm wearing in sweat and when I'm done blogging I'm going to go take the third shower of the day.

It's 10:20. The kids are in bed. At least two out of three of them are asleep. It's been a hectic day. I almost forgot to take the dog for a walk this evening.

I got up early, feeling much better than the night before when I'd been feeling flu-ish and had a sore throat. I got dressed in some ugly gardening clothes and ran over to the garden to weed and prune the tomatoes for an hour. The added water a week ago caused the fungus or bacteria that they're all sick with to come raging back--so I've been cutting off the diseased branches and using the opportunity to tie up the plants and get the tomatoes off the ground. I'm on the last square of the garden and the one that was arguably the biggest mess/host to the biggest problems. Therefore an hour only weeded another third of the square and I only got two more plants pruned and tied up. But that leaves me with two plants left to prune and tie and the ground under them to weed. I'm not sure when I'll get to that. Probably not tomorrow. I guess Saturday as there's a bunch of tomatoes ripening and another batch in the front yard and on my window sill. I'll make another small-ish batch of spaghetti sauce. The spaghetti sauce seems to do better when I'm not trying to can up too many tomatoes at once.

At any rate, around 8:30 I hurried and tidied up the plot, put the wheelbarrow and tools away in the garden shed, and raced back home. Grandma Gaye had overseen the dressing of the twins and they were all ready to go. I hopped in the shower and then into clean clothes, inadvertantly grabbing a tomato-stained shirt that I ended up wearing the rest of the day. I must have made a magnificent first impression more than once today.

The kids and I hurried out to the truck. First stop was the drive-through lane of the bank. Second stop was the doctor's office. We got two sets of kindergarten physical papers filled out and one set of 6th grade physical papers filled out. My plan to spread out all the shots over the year had worked and the kids weren't due for shots of any kind. The twins happily answered all of the doctor's questions. They like this doctor and he likes them. His twins are 21 years old. He says they still share clothes (and an apartment).

The boys were pronounced a healthy bunch and we left there to go back home. I did a load of dishes and the boys made themselves sandwiches. Gaye came home from spending a few hours working over at her house and had a sandwich, too. We had a short break and then it was nearing 1:00 pm, so we all piled back in the truck, Grandma Gaye, too, and headed over to the new school building.

The school was fabulous. In the last ten days the construction crew and teachers have worked feverishly to put the finishing touches on the place. The floor was laid, the carpet installed, the ceiling tiles placed, the windows washed, the desks arranged, LOCKERS INSTALLED for the middle school kids (Ooooh, every new 6th grader was in heaven--it was like at the BIG middle school! Only better--because they weren't actually going to be at the big middle school, and they STILL got lockers. Lockers! Look how big we are now!) and each one already labeled with the name of the inaugural middle schooler who would possess them.

The Kindy teacher had asked that we bring the kids' school supplies to the open house so she could have them all put away and labeled or arranged or something for the first day of school. So Max naturally wanted to bring HIS school supplies, even though his list had not said to do that. So he filled his new orange backpack with his supplies. I gave him permission to go out to the car and get his backpack and unload all his stuff into his locker. Nobody thought that was geeky. They all wished they'd thought to do the same thing.

Last year the fifth graders didn't fit in the old building. They had to rent a room in the building next door to the school and at the end of each day break down the tables they'd used and put EVERYTHING belonging to the class away in a storage room. This year as sixth graders they get one of the bigger classrooms and real desks. And the math program is new, too. I like it much better than the Everyday Math program the elementary kids use.

We stayed almost an hour, visiting with some of the other parents, looking around the new building, turning in some paperwork. The twinks spent most of it in the kindergarten room talking to their new teacher and playing with the legos that were out on one of the tables. The K's get their own bathroom IN their classroom and I'm thrilled about that, too.

Then, we came home, had a little down time, and waited for Chris to get home from his lunch meeting. By this time the heat and humidity were beyond oppressive and we all wished we had central air conditioning--but tomorrow is the big moving day as we and friends from church get everything belonging to Gaye OUT of storage and INTO her house. As part of that, we're moving our fridge that we brought with us from California up into our kitchen and moving the fridge that the previous owners left here out of the kitchen and into Gaye's kitchen. The two fridges are nearly the same age, but the CA fridge is bigger and the PA fridge is a better fit for Gaye's kitchen.

So Chris spent about two hours disassembling the CA fridge and getting it moved from the basement to the kitchen (via the driveway, up the front walk, and through the front door) and then I spent about three hours cleaning out two fridges, and moving the stuff from one fridge to the other. I don't clean out the fridge head to toe very often. I'm more of a spot cleaner I guess, so cleaning out the fridges was a big chore. You can miss a lot when you only clean up after big spills. Gaye kept wanting to help, but I felt strongly that they were my messes and anyway, it was a good opportunity to check the expiration dates on everything.

And so now it's a little past 11:00 pm and in spite of a thunderstorm that was supposed to bring in cool air, it still seems unbelievably hot and humid. I actually have some pretty serious work deadlines coming up (got a slew of emails to that point this afternoon) and since I couldn't find a babysitter for the twins for tomorrow, we've decided that I'll stay here and work all day while Chris and Gaye and the volunteers work on the move and then Saturday I'll put in hours helping unpack. Sunday is the Sabbath and then Monday will be another full day of work. Thank goodness for federal holidays--they really help me catch up when I'm behind a bit in work. Tuesday we'll take the kids to school and then meet other parent/friends at the Waffle Shop for a first-day-of-school breakfast. I expect to spend all of next week either working on this work project or unpacking boxes.

I'm looking forward to it actually. It's good to have work and it's good to have family to do things for and it's good to feel really hopeful (and only a little bit worried) about the upcoming school year. Max will NOT have a first-year teacher this year (although she's new to the school) and the twins will NOT have a first-year teacher for kindergarten and there's no reason to think that this isn't the year the kids will have teachers they love and a really fabulous time in school. I think we're about due for that. I'm ready for a year like that. (And I'm ready for the fall. For 55-degree temps and raking leaves and acorns and putting the garden to bed and another blanket on the beds. I'm ready for that, too!)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Family Ties Key to Happy Kids

[Pulled from the online pages of via Google news.]

Sunday, August 19, 2007

NEW YORK — So you're between the ages of 13 and 24. What makes you happy? A worried, weary parent might imagine the answer to sound something like this: Sex, drugs, a little rock 'n' roll. Maybe some cash, or at least the car keys.

Turns out the real answer is quite different. Spending time with family was the top answer to that open-ended question, according to an extensive survey — more than 100 questions asked of 1,280 people ages 13-24 — conducted by The Associated Press and MTV on the nature of happiness among America's young people.

Next was spending time with friends, followed by time with a significant other. And even better for parents: Nearly three-quarters of young people say their relationship with their parents makes them happy.

"They're my foundation," says Kristiana St. John, 17, a high-school student from Queens in New York. "My mom tells me that even if I do something stupid, she's still going to love me no matter what. Just knowing that makes me feel very happy and blessed."

Other results are more disconcerting. While most young people are happy overall with the way their lives are going, there are racial differences: the poll shows whites to be happier, across economic categories, than blacks and Hispanics. A lot of young people feel stress, particularly those from the middle class, and females more than males.

You might think money would be clearly tied to a general sense of happiness. But almost no one said "money" when asked what makes them happy, though people with the highest family incomes are generally happier with life. However, having highly educated parents is a stronger predictor of happiness than income.

And sex? Yes, we were getting to that. Being sexually active actually leads to less happiness among 13-17 year olds, according to the survey. If you're 18 to 24, sex might lead to more happiness in the moment, but not in general.

From the body to the soul: Close to half say religion and spirituality are very important. And more than half say they believe there is a higher power that has an influence over things that make them happy. Beyond religion, simply belonging to an organized religious group makes people happier.

And parents, here's some more for you: Most young people in school say it makes them happy. Overwhelmingly, young people think marriage would make them happy and want to be married some day. Most also want to have kids.

Finally, when asked to name their heroes, nearly half of respondents mentioned one or both of their parents. The winner, by a nose: Mom.


"...two kinds of ice cream," according to the song from "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." John Lennon, more darkly, described it as a warm gun. A much more typical description comes from Stacy Rosales, a 23-year-old recent college graduate, who calls it "just a general stress-free feeling where I'm not really worried about anything. THAT makes me happy."

For Chad Fiedler, 17, it's "just waking up in the morning and looking forward to what I'm going to be doing that day." And for Eoshe Roland, a 14 year old from Nashville, it's "playing trumpet in my school band."

However you express, define or feel it, 65 percent of those surveyed say they're happy with the way things are going for them right now.


When asked what one thing makes them most happy, 20 percent mentioned spending time with family — more than anything else. About three-quarters — 73 percent — said their relationship with their parents makes them happy. After family, it was relationships with friends that people mentioned most.

"It's good news to hear young people being realistic about what really makes them happy," says psychologist Jean Twenge, author of "Generation Me" and a professor at San Diego State University. "Research has shown us that relationships are the single greatest source of happiness."

Also confirming existing research, Twenge says, is the finding that children of divorced parents are somewhat less likely to be happy. Among 13-17 year olds, 64 percent of those with parents still together said they wake up happy, compared to 47 percent of those with divorced parents.


Overall, romantic relationships are a source of happiness — but being in one doesn't necessarily lead to greater happiness with life in general.

"It would be nice, but where I am right now is, I want to take care of myself," says Rosales. "Before you can be in a committed relationship you have to know who you are and what you really want."

Eventually, though, marriage is a goal for most young people, with 92 percent saying they either definitely or probably want to get married.

"I don't want to be one of those career businesswomen who just doesn't ever settle down," says St. John, the New York high school student.


Money may make the world go around, but when asked what one thing makes them happiest, almost nobody in the poll mentioned money or anything material. Still, money does play a role in happiness.

Those who can't afford to buy many of the things they want are less happy with life in general. Just under half of young people think they'd be happier if they had more money, while the same percentage (49 percent) say they'd be just as happy.

"I'm going to college next year," says Fiedler, who will attend Drexel University in Philadelphia. "Not the cheapest thing nowadays. Money isn't the most important thing, but if something happens, it can turn into it."


Young people in this survey had a 10 percent higher stress rate than adults did in a 2006 AP-Ipsos poll. For ages 13 to 17, school is the greatest source of stress. For those in the 18-24 range, it's jobs and financial matters.

Only 29 percent feel very safe traveling, and 25 percent very safe from terror attacks. Still, those interviewed said the fear of terror interfered very little with their lives.


Alcohol users are slightly less happy than those who don't drink. The differences are more remarkable among 13-17 year olds; just 40 percent of those who drank in the last seven days reported being happy with life, versus 68 percent of those who didn't. And 49 percent of illegal drug users reported being happy with life, compared with 66 percent of those who didn't use drugs.


While 72 percent of whites say they're happy with life in general, just 56 percent of blacks and 51 percent of Hispanics say that. And 66 percent of whites were happy at the moment the interview began, compared with 57 percent of minorities.


"I just like believing in something greater than me and everybody else," St. John, who attends a Catholic school, says of her commitment to religion. "When I pray, sometimes it just makes me feel better, if I'm freaking out about things."

Those for whom religion and spirituality plays a bigger role tend to be happier, according to the poll. More than half — 55 percent — say it is either a very important part of life or the single most important thing in their lives.


Oprah Winfrey? Michael Jordan? Hillary Clinton? Tiger Woods? All those names came up when people were asked about heroes. Of public figures, Martin Luther King, Jr. got the most mentions. But nearly half mentioned one of their parents, with mothers ranking higher (29 percent) than fathers (21 percent.)

"My parents came here from the Philippines in the '70s," says Rosales. "They raised a family and got to where they are from scratch. My mother's now the director of a hospital. I admire them both so much."

"My mother is a pastor, and she's my role model," says Esohe, the 14 year old in Nashville. "She's so giving." Blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to name their mothers.

Also mentioned: God (more than 10 percent), teachers (nearly 5 percent); and members of the military, policemen and firefighters.


Will young people grow up to be happy adults? Overall they're optimistic: Sixty-two percent think they'll be happier in the future than they are now. (Those over 18 are more optimistic.) But many anticipate a more difficult life than their parents had.

"I think a lot about my kids and what their lives are going to be like," says Fiedler. "There may be wars going on, who knows. I just have a feeling it's going to be harder for the future generation to be happy."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Of Knitting and the Like

It's been a little bit since I've talked about what's on my needles. As usual there's "what's on my needles" and then there's "what I'm actually working on." So this is really "what I'm actually working on." After the last few weeks of steamy temps, I'm not actively working on anything with a lot of wool content. That said, today's high was 73 after a downright COOL overnight (and since Gaye and I found her a nice, $20 airconditioner for her bedroom, the temps will probably stay cool right into September and beyond, LOL), and I find myself looking forward to working again on some of the wooly lace projects. I did have to finish one wooly project and that was a single sample santa mitten for the class I'm teaching later in the month at the LYS. They also wanted the sample baby sweater I'm doing for the class in October, so I started that. Omygizzle, it is sooooo cute!! It's the Baby Bolero sweater from One Skein (I didn't pick it--the yarn store did) and it uses Inca Cotton's 100% Organic Cotton in colorway Ecru (which is the natural color of the cotton--no dyes). Now, this cotton has been out of my price range this year, but since it's a sample for the store, they just gave me the skein and I have to rave about it. It's soooooo soft and just a JOY to work with. Partly because of the yarn, and partly because of the newborn size of the sweater, this thing knits up super fast. I've gotten a bit bogged down in the sleeves because each of them take as much time to knit as the entire rest of the sweater--and there's an obscene amount of SEWING for such a tiny little thing, but it's going to be worth it. The sweater is adorable. I already have a second one on the needle for one of the newborns expected shortly at church and since the Inca Cotton skein has a generous 325 yds (and the sweater only uses 150 yds), I'm going to knit up a second one for the other newborn expected shortly at church.

Anyway, I'm in a sweater mood again, ironically. I think it was the two baby sweaters that I did earlier this summer that did it. I'm about 2/3 of the way through the third version of that baby sweater and making progress and I'm working also on a sweater for Max and one for Milo (sorry, no picture--it's a red stockinette sweater with assymetrical cables running along one shoulder--a large and full-sleeved version of the sweater I made for Cousin O's first birthday.) and I'm feeling like I'd really like to finish those sweater vests for the boys for church AND make some progress on Chris' sweater, but that starts to be a lot to get done between work and school starting soon.

Plus, before you know it, we'll be in Christmas knitting mode and I have to get something for the second piano teacher done before then.

Oh, and the garden? I never got the expected hate mail about my weedy garden and so I still have it. My goal this week and next is to work a tiny bit each week day on it in the hopes of getting things enough under control by this month's weed check that they let me keep the garden another year. When the tomatoes are really and truly done, I'll start replacing the plants with plastic wrap and see if I can't do something about the weediness of the plot. Then next year, plant mostly melons and corn in the garden and make good use of ground covers and mulch. I can't grow tomatoes in this plot for a few years because I'm fairly sure that the dirt is harboring tomato diseases and it takes three-to-four years of no tomatoes to make it safe for tomatoes.

If I can honestly kill off the frickin' frackin' crab grass in the garden, it would be worth keeping. (I have to say that the last three weeks load of a half-bushel of tomatoes for canning each week has done a lot towards improving my resolve to keep the garden. It sure wasn't feeling worth it before I had a couple of batches of pizza sauce canned up. Today I got 4.5 quarts of spaghetti sauce canned up (unburned for once) and I think it's very tasty. I only plan one batch of Mrs. Zook's Tomato soup since I still have quite a few quarts left and I'm not sure yet how hard/easy it will be to get the twins to eat tomato soup in their lunch. I did get them lunch thermoses, so we'll see how that goes. I still have chili, green beans, more beans, and I'm debating doing a chicken soup base to which I could just add noodles.

As an aside, Mrs. Writing and Living, I'm totally sympathetic to your pressure cooker fear. I was more than a little skittish the first few times using mine, but I follow the directions (that came with the pressure cooker) to the letter and I don't go any further away from the canner/cooker than the very next room. I use the kitchen stove timer to check the pressure every five to ten minutes when getting the pressure up to where it needs to be and I've been known to just stand there in the kitchen and watch it go up (if only going to 5 lbs pressure, for example, or if it's just one lb of pressure shy of the goal). I've gotten very good at knowing where to set the temp on my stove to keep it at a very stable pressure (just a little under five on the front right burner, just a little over five on the back right burner). The biggest "chance" I'm taking is that my stove is, um, not approved for canning. You're not supposed to can at all on a glass-top stove. I don't know why, but I've been told it's because of the weight of the massive pots. So I'm taking a risk there--and as soon as the household can afford it, I'll send it over to Gramma Gaye's house and replace it with a propane stove that is safer to use. But that could be another few summers.

Friday, August 17, 2007


August is hot, sticky.
It's sweat running down your temples,
down the center of your back.
It's an under dressed hot, young thing
looking wilted.
And it's a well-padded mother-of-three
pausing gratefully under the Wal-mart
airconditioning blast.

August is half-a-bushel of tomatoes every week
in spite of tomato blight and
it's red and orange hot peppers and
juicy, sweet watermelon that tastes
even better
than the airconditioning blast feels.
It's sweeping watermelon seeds off the porch
because 5-yr-olds don't spit well yet.

August is cold showers three times before dinner
and stirring spaghetti sauce in front of a box fan
and the kids wanting to "wait in the car with the airconditioning."
It's not letting them because in February,
we'll think back wistfully to August.

August is snipping at your beloved
because it is just. too. hot.
And then hurried apologies because
you didn't really mean it.
Sorry! Sorry! I love you! I love you, too.
Mmmmm, salty.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Canning Pintos or Black Turtle Beans

Loosely based on the Ball Canning book, and run past the canning expert at the Penn State Extension office, who used to HAVE the Ball Canning book contract (but now someone else does).

(My Ball blue book says 2.25 lbs of dried beans to a quart, but that's total nonsense--I do 5 lbs at a time and I get 9 quarts out of that.)

Anyway, don't do 5 lbs, do 4 lbs--that'll get you about 7 quarts and you can do the whole thing in one load through the pressure canner, assuming you're using a big/tall pressure canner, which you really do need to pull this off. Like one of the 23 qt sizes.

So the afternoon before canning, you rinse the beans really well and fish out anything nonedible. Put them in a large pot (even the canning pot is fine) and cover them well with cold water. Let stand 12 to 18 hours in a cool place (or the kitchen counter, if that's all you've got). Drain. (If it wasn't too cool and there's lots of bubbles on top of the water, maybe rinse and drain a few times.) Put in a large pot and cover with two inches of water. Chop up 3 or 4 LARGE onions and put them in a food processor so they're well diced (I like the sweet varieties for this). Add that to the pot. Add some spices. Honestly, pinto beans suck up flavor like cardboard, so you'd be hard pressed to over season the things. Black turtle beans have some actual flavor of their own, so go a little easier, but with pinto beans I pull out the Sam's club sized seasoning and give a couple big shakes of the "Mexican Pepper Variety" or "9-pepper blend" or something else that normally you wouldn't consider for a meal with the kids. Don't add salt though.

Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes (I tend to lose track of time during this stage though and so this is really more like, cook for at least 30 minutes--anything after that won't really hurt). In the meantime, get your jars and lids ready. Put hot beans (and cooked onion and seasonings) in hot (quart) jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. NOW add 1/2 tsp salt to each jar (Ball says 1 tsp, but that's actually more salt than I like in my beans, and I'm a girl who'll eat pasta just to have something to put butter and salt on), wipe off the top of the jars, put your lids and rims in place, tighten them up nicely, put in the boiling pressure canner (you only need 2-3 inches of water though) and after all your jars are in the canner, put the lid on the canner.

Let the steam build up without the weight in place for about ten minutes, then add the weight. Keep an eye on the pressure gauge. Stabilize the pressure at 10 lbs. As soon as you're at 10 lbs, start timing-- the quarts need to stay there at 10 lbs for 1 hour and 30 minutes. After the timer goes off, just turn off the heat and let it return to 0 lbs pressure on its own in its own good time. Don't try to rush it. Rushing around pressure canners means someone gets hurt in my experience (thus far it has been ME burning part of the flesh off my arm, not any of the kids, but just to be safe, I bark and fuss very loudly at the kids that they are to stay OUT of the kitchen when the lid is on the pressure canner).

Once you're at 0 lbs (I promise that thing is still hot as heck and is ready to give you a good steam burn, so take off the weight FIRST, wear oven mitts, and lift the lid so that it points away from your face and be ready with a place to put the lid down). Let the jars sit there in the pot another five minutes, then pull them out and put them some place where no baby or kid can touch them. Leave them alone for 24 hours (they'll probably sit there on your shelf and continue to boil internally for another 10 minutes, honestly), then unscrew the rims, clean the jars if you need to, label, and put on shelf.

When you're ready to eat them, if the recipe calls for them whole, you don't do anything but reheat (if the recipe calls for it). If you prefer your beans refried, spoon them into the food processor, process till smooth, then scrape into a frying pan to reheat (use a non-stick pan and you don't actually need any oil or anything. They'll be nonfat, totally smooth like store-bought, and maybe there's still some nutrition in there since you're pureeing them in the water they cooked in.

The end results is smooth and tasty and (we find) not as prone to give you gas as the usual method of cooking them in an open pot (which doesn't cook them as well as the high temps in the pressure canner/cooker).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wednesday and a Moment of Peace

I had made enough progress on workwork yesterday that I dared to think last night that after dinner I would knit a bit and then head to bed at a reasonable hour with my husband. Instead I sat in the green chair, picked up my knitting and passed out. Gaye says I woke briefly four times, but I only remember once before Chris coming upstairs to put the kids to bed woke me enough to get me to bed.

I guess I really needed that sleep because I feel soooo much more human today. Today is the official "ready" day of the new charter school building, so Chris and Max are off helping with that. Gaye is trying to get phone service and DSL set up, which Verizon is managing to make far more difficult than it needs to be. We did get her computer set up so she can sit at Max's desk and answer email and troll the Internet looking for the correct trash company and stuff. I am reminded often what an awful lot of work it is to move and how glad I am that I'm only helping this time.

I am working on workwork, the dishes, a bit of canning, and catching up on laundry. I guess that sounds like a lot, but there's nowhere I have to be until 6:30 this evening (when it'll be time for the twins' piano lesson) and the day feels more "normal" than a day has felt in quite a few weeks.
Today Grandma got her computer set up at Max's desk, much to the delight of Max and the twins, since my hand-me-down computer is "bricked" at this point. So Gaye can once again get at her email and the kids got to have a little fun online, too.

I'm off to get some more workwork done, and then hopefully finish my Santa mitten sample for the yarn store.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tap, Tap, Tap

Is this thing on?

I apologize for being remiss in my blogging. To say things have been busy--well, that's an understatement. Last weekend I went to North Carolina for a few days and learned spinning on a hand spindle and on a machine. I took some pictures, but they didn't turn out very well. I had a great time with my Aunt and I hope to do it again some day with her. I also want to go again with Chris someday. In the meantime, I can recommend the Campbell Folk School without reservation. Not only will you learn some fun skills, but you'll eat fabulous meals and not have to do the dishes when you're done.

I arrived home again between 3 and 4ish on Monday afternoon. I picked up the dog from the kennel and the kids from the family from church who was watching them. We came home and had dinner and just enjoyed being around each other. Tuesday was a whirl with Max's piano lesson, cleaning up the house for grandma, running errands, and picking up grandma from the airport. Wednesday morning I started a batch of pizza sauce that I worked on, on and off, for the rest of the day between looking at houses with Gaye and going to the inspection on the house that Chris and I had found for her. She had an out in the inspection--could decline to purchase the house at that point--but we didn't need it. The house is both the nicest in its price range and one of the best priced (from the buyer's point of view). By the end of the inspection Gaye knew it was the one she wanted and so we went to meet the mortgage broker.

By this time, we were already running out of hours in the day, so Gaye offered to take us out to dinner. She didn't have to ask twice. We all went to Perkins, and after that, took the twins to their piano lessons. After that we all went home and the kids played until bedtime and I brought the pizza sauce up to a boil and then canned it in the pressure canner just to be safe.

Thursday I got some workwork done and then we ran more errands, hitting the post office, Wegman's, and the storage place. Gaye ran over to the bank and opened an account and then we took Max to Penn State for the last of his experiments. While he was there we hit Office Depot for more paper, Barnes and Noble for the book Max is supposed to read for the summer reading program, and Giant grocery store. After picking up Max we went home and I tried to get more workwork done.

Friday was more quiet, with Gaye working the phones to get three quotes on insurance and me trying to get workwork done--Saturday was much the same. Although I did get over to the garden for about 3 hours in the evening on Friday. Mostly I concluded that I'd best cut my losses and get out of the community gardening business. That three hours barely put a dent in the weeds. I've never worked on a square of land that was so infested with crab grass. My other gardens have never had this kind of a battle going. I can't keep up with the weeds and it doesn't do me any good having one more thing to stress about.

On Saturday I took Gaye over there long enough to harvest all of the onions and some of the peppers, melons, and tomatoes. Next weekend I'll pull up the remaining plants and then resign my plot. If that's even necessary--I'm rather expecting to get my second nasty-gram from them about the weeds and it's possible that at that point they'll say I've lost my plot anyway. Maybe I would be fighting things harder if the tomatoes weren't so sick. (And if I couldn't get the tomatoes and other veggies so easily in bushels locally.) Anyway, you can't win every battle.

Today was church in the morning. I must admit that one of the most touching talks I have ever heard was given in church today and instead of just having a bad case of leaky eyes, I flat-out cried. I need to get some hankerchiefs and just keep them in my scripture bag. (That said, I can't find my scripture bag since last weekend.) At least until things have settled down a bit.

When we came home, we had lunch and then I had a terrific nap that left me feeling a bit disoriented, but better about things.

Well, we're expecting Chris in about 45 minutes, so I'm going to go get a quiche started and then do a bit of knitting. Gaye is counting down the days till her house closes and she can move in. We're enjoying having her around (she remembers everything I forget, it's really very helpful) and will miss her when she's got her own digs, but she's only about a mile and a quarter from our house and I'm thrilled that the boys will grow up able to bike over to one of their grandmothers' houses. Gaye says, "Yep. It's going to be pretty good."