Monday, September 29, 2008

Kind of sad really

Today was the day of harvest for about 1/3 of my potato plants, and it was really kind of sad. I gathered 2 buckets of plants, and a box of plants (see earlier posts) and I got enough red potatoes for a smallish batch of mashed potatoes. :( Sad. But very tasty. I think if I had had enough dirt, and a deeper container it would have worked better to grow them in containers. I still have a bunch of plant in plastic bags, which aren't quite ready to harvest. I expect more potatoes from them. But if we continue at the current harvest rate, we'll get 3 meals out of 3 months of growing. Did I mention the weather this summer was lame? but seriously- the potatoes do taste really good :D

On another note, I made an apple pie today, which always makes me happy. I haven't made one in years, but I hope it will be good. Granny smith apples were on sale, and I think they make the best pies. We'll see later though I guess!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Alien Patrol

Notice the smudge show up on the screen in picture 2? Mya got so excited that mom was taking her picture that she had to run up for an "upclose" shot. Then we had to get the dog goobers off the camera. She's great to have around. She loves when dad or Justin works outside and she gets to be with them. If its just mom and I and she has to be inside doing "girl" stuff, then she gets very depressed. Its kind of funny. Oh, and in the pictures, the background, you can see the old kitchen floor, which is now big golden brown tiles, very pretty.

I really don't have anything to say, but I wanted to blog today for some reason. I spent most of the day cooking in our torn up kitchen, which was actually kind of fun. We still have to be careful where we walk as we wait for the mortar to set that is holding the tiles. We learned yesterday that if the mortar is not set, and the tile is stepped on, sometimes it breaks. But if we only lose one tile, then that's doing really good I think. It was fun to be in there on the new floor, and enjoy it for cooking. I wasn't sure if I would like it, but I'm already really liking it. I thought it would be too hard, and make my feet hurt, but it wasn't, in fact the cooler temp of the tiles helped keep my feet from hurting so badly. I liked that.

Justin has been working on firewood, and other projects lately, waiting for to finish up the final bits of the tile work. I'll post some more pictures when it is done and grouted. Right now there is stuff everywhere. Pretty messy, but will give us a chance to put it back together in a more organized way hopefully. Plus we can give everything a nice cleaning before it goes back in. We already took the freezer out onto the deck, its new home. After we took it out of the entryway (literally the only place in the entire house where it fit and had power) so that we could lay the floor, we just said no way - not going back in the entryway. So, after measuring it many times, and measuring every doorway and space in the house (again, we already did that 3 years ago when we bought the freezer) after we did that we said Out on the deck it goes! So today Justin and dad make a roof to go over it and keep some of the snow off.
I got to do a little scrapbooking this week, I got some really cute halloween papers for making cards to sell, and there were so cute I wanted to use them for something for me. I didn't have any pictures of anything I've done on halloween handy, but I was digging through my drawer of current "projects" and found pictures from last halloween when Autumn brought her kids over, and did a couple pages about them. It was really nice to just scrapbook and not worry about trying to make something to sell, or working on my Christmas cards (yep, I've already started making them. I think I have 25 done already).
This is probably a very boring blog post, but I just felt like writing so here you go! :) Guess I better go get my stuff packed up for the potluck tonight, its international night, and we're supposed to bring something from the country where our ancestors came from originally. I chose Germany and make German Streusel Kuchen, kind of a shortbread cookie/bar thing I've never made before, and Scotland and made a barley mushroom casserole, which smelled really good, and I love barley. Should be fun. Everyone I've talked to has been really excited about it, so I hope we get a good turnout. Seems like people are really into bringing dishes from their "homeland". Well, better go get ready.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ok so maybe....

Ok, so maybe I'm not a total gardening failure. I did manage to get some tomatoes! Everyone has been teaching me how to do it. Grandpa taught me how to get the plants to green up, mom taught me about fertilizing, dad taught me about dirt, and Justin helped. So it's been a family project, and mighty tasty too.

Woohoo! New Floor

For her dividend mom decided to redo the floors in the kitchen, entryway, bathroom, and living room. Justin volunteered to lay the tile to help save some money, and he's doing a beautiful job. It looks so great. I keep looking at the new floor thinking, - this is the floor that always should have been here. There's still a lot of work left to do, but we're getting it done. Well, Justin is getting it done, I'm trying to help and not get in the way. :) Fun stuff.

Freezer malfuntion, maybe

Ok, well maybe I shouldn't blame the poor freezer for the operator error. About 2 months ago we noticed that the freezer wasn't sealing, and so being the maintenance workers that we are, dad and I got some duck tape and taped the door shut. So then, whenever you wanted anything out of the freezer, usually you'd yank the door, pull the muscles in your arm, remember the door was taped shut, peel the tape off, get what you wanted, close it up, and go on your way. Well, I've been meaning to defrost it for a while now, even though it was supposed to be frost free, or so we thought. Well all of a sudden monday I opened the freezer and it had really been leaking (the duck tape quit being a "solution") and so we did an emergency defrost. I found the manual, and it was supposed to be defrosted at least once per year. And we've had it defrosting. oops. So we defrosted it and got it all fixed up. But now we're going to move it downstairs (and out of the entryway) and bring the slightly smaller upright freezer upstairs into the kitchen. I'm sure that will be fun. Nothing like carrying a giant appliance down a flight of stairs, and carrying another giant appliance up the stairs to make you wish you lived in a level house.

A Master Gardener I am not

I'm really not very good at gardening, I don't know if I have ever mentioned that before. But I do try, although I'm not sure why (heh, I made a rhyme). This year I had some seeds for an Alaskan Muskmelon, specially bred to grow in our climate. I planted them in the greenhouse in pots, and low and behold, they bloomed, then miracle of miracles, they started putting on fruit. I actually have one still growing on the plant, I have high hopes for it. Maybe in the greenhouse it will still get big enough we might could eat a part of it. :) But as you can see, this particular melon didn't really get large enough to eat. Smelled like a cantaloupe though. :) Mom took the pictures.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I realized something

I got this picture off of a website today.

I've been thinking about all the economic turmoil lately, and I realized something today as I was talking to Justin about it. Every 40 years the economy is reset, often either right before or right after a war. In 1776, we had the war over taxation without representation/separation from England. 1812 was the war with Great Britain; "Great Britain had been at war with France since 1793 and in order to impede neutral trade with France in response to the Continental Blockade Britain imposed a series of trade restrictions that the U.S. contested as illegal under international law. The blockade devastated American agricultural exports but helped stimulate local factories that replaced goods previously imported."

The Mexican/American War was from 1846-1848, with the compromise coming in 1850. Besides the fight over the land itself, there was the conflict over whether slavery would be allowed in the states that were included in the union. "The delay of hostilities for ten years allowed the free economy of the northern states to industrialize. The southern states, to a large degree based on slave labor and cash crop production, lacked the ability to heavily industrialize. By 1860, the northern states had many more miles of railroad, steel production, modern factories, and population. The North was better able to supply, equip, and man its armed forces, an advantage that would prove decisive in the later stages of the war." Then of course they went into the civil war, and the debilitation of the country, and eventual rebuilding of the states.

In the 1890's was another great depression, equal to the depression of the 1930's. I found a few really interesting articles from the New York Times, actually from 1893, doing research for this post. "That business depression exists and has existed since mid-summer no one doubts. Much as we deplore this fact, the painful proof of it is manifest; confident as we are that the worst is over and the country is now on the road to recovery, it is certainly true that a general depression, starting with stringency of money and a financial panic, has extended through all branches of business and has brought suffering and misery. It is equally true that this condition has not been limited to our country, bus has been world-wide in extent, and is in part due to world-wide causes which it is quite beyond the power of legislation here, past or future, to control.....The fact remains however, that legilation cannot escape its share of responsibility. Unwise laws can impair confidence, shake credit and disturb industrial stability, until the people, under the stress of suffering, demand and get remedial legislation by repeal or otherwise." That's from December 1893.

Here's a synopsis from a history/encyclopedia website "This panic was an extension of the Panic of 1873, and like that earlier crash, was caused by railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing which set off a series of bank failures. . . The 1880s had seen a period of remarkable economic expansion in the United States. In time, the expansion became driven by speculation, much like the "tech bubble" of the late 1990s, except that the preferred industry was railroads. Railroads were vastly over-built, and many companies tried to take over many others, seriously endangering their own stability so to do. In addition, many mines were opened (frequently with rail connections), and their products, especially silver, began to flood the market. . . .As concern of the state of the economy worsened, people rushed and caused bank runs. The credit crunch rippled through the economy. Smart European investors only took payment in gold, weakening the US gold reserve, which further dropped the US dollar's value. People attempted to redeem silver notes for gold; ultimately the statutory limit for the minimum amount of gold in federal reserves was reached and U.S. notes could no longer be successfully redeemed for gold. The investments during the time of the Panic were heavily financed through bond issues with high interest payments.. . . This was followed by the bankruptcy of many other companies; in total over 15,000 companies and 500 banks failed (many in the west). About 17%-19% of the workforce was unemployed at the Panic's peak. The huge spike in unemployment, combined with the loss of life savings by failed banks, meant that a once secure middle class could not meet their mortgage obligations. As a result, many walked away from recently built homes."

Then of course we have the depression of the 1930's, cured mostly by World War II because we used our factories to manufacture the goods that we needed to use to fight. Now of course we don't manufacture our own goods, but that's for later. Also contributing to the upswing was women going to work. Men went to war, and women and children went to work in the factories to support their families.

The depression of the 1970's came after the Vietnam War. Now we have this depression around the time of the Iraq war. And this post is not about the politics of war, I want to focus on the economic side. We have a war now, that if we were in the 30's we would be strengthened by using our factories for manufacturing the tools, cloths, etc. for the soldiers, and also for producing our own goods. But now we don't produce anything, we have switched from an economy of trading items for money (items we produce as well as use) to being an economy set up on buying goods from other countries. I don't know about anyone else, but its become the norm to find that the stuff we have was made outside the USA, and I'm surprised and excited when I pick something up and it was made here. Or course it usually says manufactured and assembled in America with USA and imported pieces, sigh, but at least we can still put things together in this country.

I just thought it was so fascinating to start counting back through the years and look at basically every 40 years our economy is re-set and restructured. Pretty interesting stuff. I don't know if it helps anyone else, but I found it very comforting, in a weird way. :) I hope someone else does too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's raining its pouring

I know I've already said that I love fall, but I found something else that I like about it this week. This week that dad is gone hunting is always the week that the rainy season starts. We get these typhoons/monsoons that come from Japan usually, and they dump rain on us - those really cool big rain storms where you just watch and say "wow!". I love that. So that's what we've been having this week. The other cool thing about it is that Justin's company doesn't work in the big rains, so he gets to stay home, another thing I love. It's such a relief from the busy summer season where he usually leaves the house by 6 am, and gets home sometime between 6 pm and 9 pm. So its really really nice to have him home, and be able to do more stuff together. Although yesterday we used our time to defrost the freezer downstairs, and make a new roosting box/cubicle for the chickens. They've been using 1 box, and with 40 chickens they are crushing eggs then as they jockey for position. Speaking of which I need to go look for eggs. I just wanted to say - Welcome Rainy Season! :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fall is Falling

The pictures are actually from Tok, last year. But since I don't have an fall pictures yet, these will have to do. :)

I realized last year that I really love fall. I love the smells, the colors, the food, the smell of cider and other fall spices , the slower pace after crazy summer hours, the cooler weather, the decorations, the holidays. I just love it all. I used to love summer (what kid doesn't?), but I've found as I get "older" that summer is work. There's gardening, and painting, and fishing, and cleaning, and traveling, and on and on and on. Summer is hard work when you get out of the school routine. Not so much vacation, especially up here where it is so expensive to travel in the summer because of bloated hotel/attraction prices. Plus the crowds, the traffic, the craziness - I just welcome the return of fall, and normalcy. Plus in fall and winter I have the weather excuse if I don't want to go somewhere. "Oh sorry, can't do that, big rain storm, sorry" or later "sorry, big blizard, no can do." :)

But aside from the excuses, I love fall itself. The warm earthy colors. I have this thing for pumpkins (food and decorative). I have a bunch of pumpkin recipes that I am eager to try. Plus now I get to enjoy the wood stove going almost all the time, and the warmth that brings.mmm toasty. This cute bird feeder, is from "The Country Door" catalog, and its just cute, a little too expensive for a bird feeder, but really cute.
I also love to shop at Joann's for fall stuff, usually because its almost always at least 40% off, and I like to buy on sale. Last year at Joann's and Fred Meyer I got these really cool glass pumpkins that look kind of crackled. Hmm, should take a picture and post it, as soon as I get them out and on my table. I also got halloween/fall table cloths. Easy and cheap way to redecorate, and really I'm going to say it again - they're cute. :) The wreath here isn't especially great, but I love this style of decoration. I want to learn how to make them, so that I can make one for fall, one for Christmas, etc. They look easy enough, but wreaths have never been my strong suit.
Well, I just wanted to share a little bit of my love of fall with you all. Oh, and sorry for any mis-typings; my astigmatisms have changed, so I can't wear my glasses and do computer work, or I get a frightful headache, and really my vision is not good enough to work without glasses but if I want to be on the computer I have to take them off. . . .I hope October 1st comes quickly so I can get my new glasses.