Thursday, September 1, 2016

August is Gone

The past couple of weeks have rushed past me again.

Today I'm cleaning my freezer and taking inventory of the freezers and my pantry.  Marty (as well as myself) has gained weight and is pushing to trim down, so knowing what we have again will help me in menu planning.  I've gotten away from keeping up on this since my Mom passed and I was gone so much, but I really need to get back on the ball with it.

As I type, the garage freezer, a small chest type, has been emptied into ice chests, a large pan of hot water has been placed on a dry towel in the bottom, and the ice will be loosening up so that I can clean it.  Thankfully it doesn't build up a lot of ice, but some does develop near the top and that annoys me, so at least once a year (usually June) I try to empty and clean it and re-inventory - obviously I'm behind!  I'm sure I'll find things that need to be pitched.  

After that one is done, I'll move to the refrigerator and it's freezer (a side-by-side).  I know there's a lot in there that will need to be pitched.  Mostly produce that I've ignored, ewww.  It'll go straight to the compost bin.

In the past two weeks, I've been pulled out of my laziness (oh sluggard I can be!) to help a couple dear friends.  One (Panda) had an out-patient procedure and needed a driver and I was more than happy to help.  She treated me to lunch at a yummy little cafe where they served a huge portion of breakfast foods - she'd been talking about their biscuits and gravy all morning, so I had to have them.  They came with hashbrowns, three eggs, and two strips of bacon...I brought half home and enjoyed it the next day.

A couple of days later, I received a text from my quilting Padawan (student).  At 42, she was in the hospital having had a minor heart attack known as SCAD (you can click the acronym to find out about it).  She spent the better part of a week in the hospital before going home, then thought maybe there was further problem and a couple days later spent another night in the ER though that appeared to be more related to anxiety.  It's a very scary thing at such a young age (any age really) to experience this, and she has three young children.  She is now getting lots of rest and people are signed up to bring meals for the next couple weeks as well as coming over to help her through the days helping with housework and her homeschooling.  I will be going over next week for a couple days of 10-2 time blocks, so that has spurred me to get some of my own chores taken care of first.  Please keep my friend in prayer.  She is known as Renee here on my blog.  I love this young woman as if she were a daughter, and she is a sister in Christ as well and has a strong faith, but even in strength of faith and knowing Who is in control of all things, fear of the unknown (future health-related issues) can weigh us down.

Nick is rapidly approaching his 18th birthday.  Now that he has a part-time job and has received his first paycheck, along with tips, he has been pestering me to get to the bank so he can open a checking account.  After having to put off for over a week for various reasons, we accomplished the task yesterday.  He has had a savings account (of the CUGMA type) since he was very young.  I only learned yesterday that because it was that type, he could not access it even though it was in his name - I was the only one who could.  So we switched it to a joint savings account and opened a joint checking for him.  This gives him a debit card too - which I find frightening, I'm so old-school.  His checking account is online only, so no physical checks at this time.  He has no bills to pay, so it makes sense to not pay for check-printing.  I haven't used an ATM since before Nick was born, so we were both given a lesson on how to use it.  It's not that hard.  I did learn that you can deposit cash through the ATM. Nick had more than 21 $1 bills in his wallet (from the tips) so wanted to get rid of them.  Cool beans! and who knew? Not this old gal, lol.

Back to the freezer.  I'll be glad when our temps drop.  It was 107 on Tuesday and 101 still yesterday.  I'm so very much looking forward to winter.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Scanning Along

Over the weekend, I received a chat message from my brother Eugene.  He lives along the Texas gulf area.  He let me know my brother Dean's lung cancer had returned and he would not be seeking further treatment.  I don't know the current status after his doctor appointment on Tuesday where he planned to ask 'how long?'.

Sadly, our family is one that has always had a lot of issues and strife.  Dean "disowned" me after my Mom passed away due to a misunderstanding of a request I made on behalf of my Dad, and no attempts to rectify it have worked.  I pray for him and leave it at that.

Eugene asked about the photos that had been separated by sibling and when he was going to get "his" and also asked about Dean's.  I told him I had taken Dean's to my aunt last April and she gave them to him, but he was not happy with what he got.  I guess he had expectations of more, but at this time, the siblings are only getting the childhood photos in which they alone are in, and any photos of their offspring.  Before sending those, I am scanning them.  In fact, I scanned most of them after my trip north a year ago.  My plan was to send them their own pictures in addition to a thumb drive containing all the family photos - including any I've acquired from other family members over the years.

When I scanned them, I did so at 200 dpi.  As I prepared to package up Eugene's photos, I realized that maybe 200 dpi was not adequate, so I set to re-scanning all of his photos at 600 dpi, which is better should any larger reprints be made from the scans.  Now, to get them packaged up and sent to him.

Going forward, the question will be whether to re-scan ALL the family photos.  This small segment took me the better part of three days.  It could take weeks to re-do the entire family set, and I no longer have the originals of Dean to re-scan.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Shades of Summer

Today, I thought I'd share just a few shots of our summer.  I haven't carried my camera with me much, only my cell phone, so most pix are from that, and unedited.  "Summer" was short this year from a school standpoint; barely over two months.  Nick started back on the 11th, and today he started his very first, paying job.  He's a bus boy/cleaner at a local franchise of a nationally (?) known restaurant. 
Smoke & fire.
Shortly before leaving to head north, we had a fire not so far away.  Smoke could be seen from our back yard. There was another very bad fire a bit further away while we were gone. 
Lake near Shasta
From a bridge while Nick was driving; this being up in the Mt. Shasta area.  For late July/early August, despite being "in a drought", the lake level is much higher than in recent years.  My personal thoughts, but no proof to back it up, are that the pictures frequently shown via social media of this area with barely any water in it are somewhat staged.  The lake is, I believe, a man-made lake having been created by use of a dam.  There has been a major interstate bridge being built at this location for the last several years.  To work on / create the footings and base structure, water needs to be low or non-existent.  To me, that's a convenient opportunity for certain special interest groups to make their points on water shortages, global warming, what-have-you.  I'm leaning on the side that a great amount of water was drained from this lake to accommodate the construction of the new bridge and now that it's almost finished, and with a good snowfall this past winter, the water level is back to "normal".  It's even higher than levels of decades ago when I've traveled through here at this time of year.
Bright tanker trucks
This has fascinated me for the past several years with my trips to Oregon.  I love these shiny, brightly colored tanker trucks.  I've wanted to get a photo of them since I first saw them but there's no convenient place to pull over to get a shot.  On this day, Nick was driving and traffic for some reason was very slow.  This is around the Black Butte area of Shasta, just north I think. Please excuse the intrusive antenna running right through the middle of the pic - I was just happy to be able to get the picture!
  Nick in the aircraft.
We were in Tillamook one day, my aunt, Nick and I.  This is the inside of this 'guppy' Erickson crane aircraft that's sitting there at the Air Museum.  The building that currently houses the museum (which will be moved to Madras, OR within the next year) was built during WWII as a blimp hangar.  There were two such buildings, but one burned in 1992.
The exterior of that aircraft - 'guppy' face, lol.

The Tillamook Cheese Factory
When I was growing up, a field trip to the Tillamook Cheese Factory took place during my elementary years.  I'm not sure why I wasn't on that trip, but I wasn't and I was always curious about it.  In the past couple years, I've been there just for the ice cream, but this year with Nick along, I wanted to see what was there.  They now have a self-guided tour with huge windows that look down on the factory processes and kiosks that have photos and explanations.  This image shows giganto blocks of cheese rumbling in along a conveyor belt to where the woman is (just left of center).  She is manning a station where the cheese, as it moves left, passes through cutting "wires" and after that, she then pushes the block away from her which causes the block to go through another set of wires thus creating rectangular blocks of cheese, I'm guessing 2 - 4 pound blocks after cutting and she places those separately onto the curving conveyor belt that goes to the next step.  The trimmings go into the bin on the cart to her left, which when full is placed onto the conveyor shown towards the bottom of the image.  I didn't read the kiosk info so I don't know what happens to those trimmings.  Maybe pet food or dried and shredded/ground to powder?  Another window area looked down upon the smaller blocks going into the plastic wrappers.  This particular cheese wasn't being encased in the more well-known orange Tillamook Cheese wrapper though.
Classmates
My graduating class of 1971 had it's 45-year picnic reunion.  My sister is on the right in the hot pink, and the gent on the left in black, was my high school sweetheart.  His hair is longer than mine!  The lady barely visible behind him in white, is the home-town gal who keeps us all together and has for the last 45 years.  We have a picnic gathering on every 5-year anniversary, and a bigger event held over three days on our 10-year level anniversaries.  I've missed a few over the years.  One of the classmates and her husband, own the property the picnic is held on and it is a wonderful, park-like setting next to a creek with some well-planned features - it's their own private 'park' they've created and I'm thankful they welcome the whole class (or those who actually attend) for the reunions.  Being a small town, our graduating class only had around 70 students.  We've lost eight or nine of the guys already and that of course, is very sad.  Others, though they live within just 20 miles, have never shown up for a reunion.  That too is very sad.  We had a wonderful time.  One of the classmates, and the old boyfriend - his best friend, even during school years, would run Dory fishing boats out of Pacific City as commercial fishermen.  They had gone out on the two days prior to the reunion and caught crab and other fish, bringing both as their food contribution.  The crab was cooked and cleaned.  Towards the end of the day, he told us he didn't want to take any of it home with him, and had brought gallon-size zip-top bags for anyone to take home any amount of crab they wished.  My sister and I filled three bags, still leaving a LOT (we nearly the last to leave), to take back to my aunt's where we stayed.  My aunt, and Nick, were in 7th Heaven that night enjoying the crab.  In fact, we enjoyed it for several more days!
My dad.
 Nick and I visited my dad.  He'd had his back surgery in May.  I didn't think he looked as well this time as he had in April.  He's very unhappy.  As I knew beforehand and tried to tell him, his plans in moving to this location didn't go as he thought they would.  He is wanting to move back to the town where he and my Mom lived, but now has no place to go, and probably can't afford to move back if he could even find a rental apartment.  He should not live alone regardless of his thoughts that he can care for himself (he can't).  Medically, he's a non-compliant patient, so his back is not healing as well as it should...and he's 83.
Nick the mad painter.
OK, well Nick wasn't mad, but he does look a bit devious in this image.  When my uncle had deteriorated to the point he could no longer maneuver the stairs, my aunt had their bedroom moved down to the guest room.  Now that he's gone, she wants to be back upstairs, but wanted to clean, paint, and refloor beforehand.  The younger set were given the task (with some $$ incentives) to repaint.  They had a blast.  My aunt supervised, and I peaked in now and then.  The blue is now a very soft yellow.
Oops!
Even Bo got in on the act.  He had his own "brush".  Well, sort of, he likes to wag his tail - even against the freshly painted wall.  This black lab was trying to bring out his golden retriever genes.  He weighs 125 pounds.  His full sister is golden retriever in appearance and only weighs about 75 pounds.  They get to play together frequently as she lives right next door with my cousin and family, and the respective fenced back yards have a connecting gate.  
Stewy
My cousin's son has been in 4-H for several years.  He had a pretty mellow sheep this year.  Stewy was a market lamb destined for 'the table'.  This was at the Yamhill County Fair.  In this class, he placed last because he hadn't cleaned the shavings off his sheep's belly and legs.  It was a showmanship class.  He was in another class in which he received a blue ribbon.  While there, I wandered over to the horse barns and took in the familiar (and missed) smells of horses, leather and manure.  I got to pet many a soft equine muzzle and became quite melancholy.  I had horses in my childhood, and showed at this very fair while in 4-H.  When you go to the fair to view the animal shows, one goes early and only pays parking and leaves when the show is over.  The second day of showing, I chose to drive separately as I wanted to take in some of the horse shows and my aunt planned to leave right after the sheep show.  I sat in the bleachers of the arena and reminisced with great joy of my own years there.  Before that though, as we walked up to the sheep arena, there was a lady holding a beautiful saddled Arabian.  I walked up and conversed with her.  She allowed me to get more of my 'horse fix' by petting him and even hugging his neck.  Nothing like the feel and smell of a horse.  No, I didn't ask to ride - though it was tempting.  It's been 10 years or more since I've been on the back of a horse.

Is that an eruption?
We had a traffic construction stop at a good place for a shot of Mt. Shasta.  The clouds make it look like she's erupting.
Nick showing off his work cap.
Nick needs a hair cut.  That poufy hair looks cute under that cap.
Dressed for work.
About 40 minutes before he had to start work.  His 'uniform' as required.  Just one more step of realizing that my baby will eventually be out and on his own.  Makes me sad.  In the meantime, he has another year of school, and maybe he'll even stay here with us as he looks into his college years.  He wants to take a year off.  I'm recommending he doesn't for a number of reasons.  Even if he continues with only one or two classes a semester, it'll be easier than taking that year off entirely, for him to return when he decides his career direction. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Oh, Honey!

It's probably time I start looking for recipes to use up my honey supply.  My last purchase of honey was from Costco, and given the events of the last two and a half years, that purchase was most likely made before February 2014!  Honey never spoils.  But it does darken...and crystallize. Being one who hates wasting anything still good, I set about to return it to liquid honey.

Crystallized jug of honey.
Once it crystallizes, it is impossible to get out of that plastic jug with the very narrow spout.  I wasn't comfortable putting the jug directly into a pan over a flame, so used the steamer pan.
Dirty steamer pan with hard-water evaporation line.
The steamer pan didn't provide much depth, but I'd hoped it would still work.  It didn't help much.
Partially liquefied.
You may be able to see in the above photo, there's a lower level that appears to have liquefied while the upper portion is still very much crystallized.  I tried to stick a long-bladed sharp knife in through the spout but that proved fruitless.  All I could get out was that little bit in the jar.
Ready to cut.
 The solution!  Said sharp knife is very good at slicing through that plastic.
The top of the jug and the knife!
Crystallized honey.
The honey was very crystallized.  I dug out large spoon and scooped it into a pan.

I set the pan of crystallized honey on the diffuser over a low flame, keeping it uncovered as I didn't want any water from steam to drip into it.  I discovered burner flame doesn't show up in photos.  Weird, huh?
After quite awhile, and stirring to make sure all the crystals had dissolved, and letting it cool off, I took some pint jars and their lids, sterilized them and poured the now liquid honey into them.  Now, even if the honey should crystallize again, which it likely will, it will be easy to get out of the jars to be used.  I would also feel more comfortable setting a glass jar directly into a pan of water than the plastic jug, or it can go into the microwave to liquefy.

Does anyone else find it odd that liquid is spelled with two i's, but liquefy, changes the second into an e ?  The English language!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesday Wanderings

Hah! No, I'm not really wandering anywhere outside of my own house, at least not yet.

Having spent several weeks in the wet land up north back in April, I haven't been looking forward to going back up as much as I normally would.  It's more the aspect of the drive, and the time away from home, than being around family up there.  I'd love to be around them more.  

There are a lot of timing issues that came up that needed to be worked around.  Some of the items that came up, yes, I could pass off and let Marty handle, but I've already missed a lot of those things in the past couple years.  They have to do with Nick's school year and now Senior pictures, and picking up his registration packet and getting registered for this year.  This is the last time I'll be helping much with any part of his high school education - throughout the year that is - and I'm tired of missing it.  

In light of that, my trip north will be for only two weeks, which also means once again, I'll miss seeing some of the folks up there that I haven't seen much of during the last couple years events.  Back in April, I decided not to go to quilt camp this year; maybe I'll resume next year, or maybe I'll go up and be part of the one they have in spring, though it's shorter than the one that takes place during the same time as the Sisters Quilt Show.  

Nick will travel north with me this time - the first time since summer of 2013.  He hasn't found a summer job and doesn't appear to be giving that a 100% effort.  He can help me drive, which already is making me feel better about that long drive.  This may be his last opportunity for a very long time to see his relatives he used to see every summer.

We're planning to leave around 7/21 and be back home about 8/5.  He starts school on 8/11, which is even earlier than last year.  It seems the summers get shorter and shorter for the kids - perhaps not a bad thing given local child labor laws/regulations and the difficulty even at 17 of finding a summer job.  

In other in-home wanderings, it's the endless household chores (I'm still a slacker).  The last couple days have required dealing with ants.  Nick cleaned out and rearranged his bedroom, leaving me to figure out what to do with all the stuff he no longer wants and which is still right in the areas of the house where he left them.  I'm more "emotionally" attached to his stuff than he is (good for him/bad for me).  I've still been working on genealogy, but for two or three days have been side-tracked with sorting through pictures attempting to cull out what I don't want - I've saved them ALL including duplicates over the decades, from a lot of singles activities at church, vacations and other outings.  I'd like to pass some of them on to some of the folks in the photos, but I've no idea where they live any more having lost touch over the years.  Many aren't on social media.  

That's the news from here.  Not much exciting, but that's my normal....and it's ok :)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Heat Wave

Our area is expecting an unusually hot heat wave over the next few days.  By Monday, our temps are expected to reach 109º F.  After that, the 10-day forecast is nothing less than 95º for any given day.  I'm guessing it won't be much cooler now until October or November.  I hope I'm wrong.

Marty left this morning by car, headed to Arizona.  He'll spend tonight at his 90-year old dad's (he'd been evacuated for a day due to a wild fire in his area), then Sunday afternoon he'll head to Phoenix for a 3-day business trip and drive home on Thursday.  The highs in Phoenix for the next 5-10 days are all in the 110s+.  How do people live in Phoenix?  Certainly not without air-conditioning.  

I'm thinking I might look for a retirement home on the coast of Oregon!  I stand the heat less and less as I add on the years, and weight.  I was recently reading some old letters written by my grandmother.  She lived on the Oregon coast because she couldn't tolerate the heat.  I was chuckling as I read what she wrote, more than once, that it was too warm that day....and it had reached only 74º.  I don't think I'm that bad yet, but I'm getting there.

If you're in a hot zone, stay safe, cool and hydrated!  If you're in a cool zone wishing for heat...head to the southwest - we have plenty to spare!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

20-20

15 June: Marty and I are marking 20 years of marriage.  20 years!!! Those years have flown by SO very fast.  

I'm very bad at figuring out gifts, and we've not done much more than go out to dinner to celebrate in past years.  

I was thinking I could come up with something 'small' that I could get 20 of that Marty would like, but for the life of me, aside from flowers, or candy bars, my ideas have hit a brick wall.  I went out today and at least got a card.  He never mentions things he needs, or likes, and his only hobby is photography - now digital, so no getting canisters of film.  He has a plethora of lens filters - replacing as he damages them.  So, I guess it'll once again be 'just a card'.  He's not at all sentimental, so the card will end up in the trash in a short time.

After walking through Party City - thought maybe 20 balloons but nixed that idea - I discovered, that "20" must not be that big of a deal in the world of anniversaries.  A fair amount of stuff for 25, and all the decade levels beyond that, but nada for 20.

On our 13th, we went to a mountain resort town about four hours away for an overnight trip.  That's the last, and only, time we celebrated away from home.  Our anniversary hits mid-week and Marty's working and he's leaving Saturday and will visit his dad in Arizona in advance of a work-related trip to Phoenix Monday through Wednesday.  
Lee, Marty and my daughter Victoria
 
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