Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mondays are our usual day of the week to work in the garden at the front lake here at Lake Summerset.  Yesterday I found myself working alone.  That’s okay because I don’t expect the ladies on my crew to show up every week.  We all have lives and do what we can.  I copped out one day this summer because I had a cold.

I had a pleasant hour deadheading Purple Cone Flowers and Black Eyed Susans.  I cleaned up some day lilies (if you don’t know I despise day lilies) and watered all the recently planted plants.  I had put some mums out in the ground and one lady donated a rose bush.  I made sure they had plenty of water.

I decided I wanted to decorate some more for fall.  I had gotten two bales of straw last week and put the mums next to them.  I went down highway 75 to the pumpkin farm and got four pumpkins.  Deciding that was not enough, I ran home and got four of my still green pie pumpkins.

But I wanted more!  I called the farm that sells sweet corn in the summer to see if they would sell me some corn stalks to make a fodder shock.

If you don’t know what a fodder shock is let me explain.  You take a bunch of freshly cut stalks of corn and stack them into an “x” shape.  Nothing screams fall like a fodder shock.

The farmer called me back and told me to come on over.   I took my big ass clipper (thank you Jess and Anthony), jumped in the truck and headed to the farm. The farmer met me and we shook hands.  Isn’t shaking hands just the nicest gesture?  I like it so much better than the two kisses on the cheeks like the Europeans do.

The farmer checked to see that I had the tool to cut the corn stalk.  I proudly displayed my lovely big ass clipper.  He pointed me across the street and told me to take about twenty and that would make a nice shock.  I gave him a fiver.

My big ass clipper made headway with those corn stalks.  I had twenty in no time at all.  I pitched them into the back of the truck, closed the tailgate, with some effort, and made my way back to the front gate.

When I got back to the gate and parked I discovered I had screwed up the tailgate.  Somehow, the little wire that holds it in place had gotten tangled in the closure.  I’m sure I will have to take it to the Chevy dealer to get it open again.  At this point in time I should have realized I should just go home and go back to bed.

I lifted my corn stalks out and tied five of them together a little above the midway. I put them in a tripod where I wanted the fodder shock and lifted each leg out to balance the shock.  Then I put a corn stalk here and a corn stalk there until they were all in place.  About that time the wind picked up.  I gathered all the remaining fodder that had scattered around me and when I looked back the fodder shock slowly leaned and fell to the ground.  J C Penneys!  I took it all apart and put it back together again.  This time I pulled off a couple of ears of corn to make it not so heavy.  It fell again.

Cars were passing by and a couple gave me a wave.  Probably splitting a gut laughing at the old broad who was trying to stack corn stalks.  Well to heck with them, I’m making a fodder shock.

I got it back together and it seemed pretty stable.  I had laundry going at home and determined to head there and get something done today beside stacking corn stalks.

I cut a long length of twine and decided to go back later and tie the fodder together.  In the meantime I got three loads of laundry done.

When I got back to the front gate the stupid fodder shock was on the ground.  I put it back together again and tied it at the top.  I took a picture of it so I had proof that it once stood tall and lovely.

It rained last night and if it is on the ground today it will be mildewing.  Oh goody!  I’m allergic.  I’m taking three bamboo poles today and if it is down I am starting with the bamboo poles in the ground.  An Asian fodder shock!

Peace be with you, and my fodder shock.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I had a lovely week this past.  On Monday I gave my presentation on vegetable gardening to the Lake Summerset Garden Club.  I had many folks ask questions and I felt quite comfortable answering them.  I also took the remaining seven mums that I had left from my plant sale that was on Saturday before.  I sold all of them and so I can say my first sale, I sold out.  Yeah me!

On Tuesday a landscaper came to look at my herb garden.  I am having it turned into a real herb garden.  I am so excited.  I decided that if I couldn’t take a vacation this year, because of the new dog, that I am going to spend my vacation money on something very special for myself.  And that is my dream herb garden (photo above).

On Wednesday I picked about a gallon of cherry tomatoes.  I turned them into tomato sauce.  I whirled them in the food processor (Thank you again Jeff and Diane Scaduto.) put them into a strainer and pushed the pulp through the strainer.  I had about a dozen Italian tomatoes that were ripe and I crushed them into the sauce.  I tucked this away to make spaghetti sauce later.

Friend Garnet called me and asked if I wanted to go kayaking the next day and we decided we would do the river again.  A friend had told us if we went past the place we got out before, where I did the splits, there was a better place to get out.  Garnet showed up early and explored and didn’t find any other place to get out.  We decided we would drive to Rock Cut and go kayaking there.

We left my truck at the Forest Preserve and headed to Rock Cut.  It was a glorious day.  The sun was shining brightly and the clouds were perfect.  The weather was just right for being on the water.  We put in with no problems.  We started to the right of us as we had already explored the left and straight from us before.  I dubbed the bay, Lily Pad Bay, as there was a bunch of lily pads.

Making it to the other side we realized there was a lot of noise.  There was a guy with a chain saw and chipper cleaning up brush on the edge of the lake.  I told Garnet that he was shredding body parts like that guy in Fargo.  We watched a flock of birds for some time even with the annoying noise.  Garnet wanted a rock or something to throw at them because she wanted to watch them take off flying.

We watched another group of birds flying into the woods.  There was a bird that looked like it was sitting on a nest.  I thought it rather late for baby birds but the bird just sat there the whole time we watched.

My tailbone gets pretty sore during kayaking and I told Garnet that when I broke it I sat on my Grandma’s donut for about six months.  We decided that “I sat on Grandma’s donut” should be a country and western song.

I was sick of the noise and allowed the wind to turn me around.  Then I hightailed it around the bend and away from the noise.  A paddle board caught our eye at the other end of the lake.  We decided to go see what it was.  It turned out to be like a surfboard and the girl was standing on it and paddling with an oar.  We talked to her for a while.  It seems that she rented it there at the lake. Thirteen dollars for an hour.  Garnet and I decided we had to try it.  Our plans were to go get Mexican for lunch and come back and do this for an hour.

Well the best laid plans of mice and men do go awry. I got my kayak out of the lake and onto the cement landing.  I pulled it out and looked back to find Garnet in the lake and her kayak upside-down.  It seems that when she got ashore the kayak got stuck in an indentation in the dock and turned over.  She was soaked!

We got the kayak up and turned it over and popped the plug.  It took some time to drain and Garnet said she would be dry by the time it drained.  She wasn’t.  We wrung out her towel and I offered to wring her shorts dry too but she wouldn’t let me as it would wrinkle them.  (They were already wrinkled!)

We wrestled with the idea of her putting her towel around her waist but I felt we would embarrass ourselves at the Mexican restaurant.  Her not me!

We got the kayaks loaded into her truck and stood around watching a girl with two kayaks and a dog.  Wondering if the dog had its own kayak, we saw another girl pull up with a baby, and wondered if the dog and the baby had their own kayak.  We were laughing so hard at this idea.

We hung towels and clothing on the kayaks and continued to watch the girls to see how they would manage with the dog and baby.  The first girl carried the kayaks to the landing with the dog on the leash.  Garnet wanted to tell the other girl to carry her own kayak.  The girls took their time loading a bunch of equipment and getting suited up.  The dog and the baby had their little life vests and climbed right into the kayaks. It took them some time to rock and roll the kayaks into the water and sure enough, off they went.

During this time a car pulled up and an old friend stepped out of the car.  Her father had just called me the day before.  I had worked with him at Shirland School for many years and knew his daughter well.  I gave her a hug and she introduced me to her boyfriend.  It was good to see my old friend.

Garnet decided that she was dry enough and we headed to the Mexican restaurant.  It was a new place that we had stopped at a while back but it wasn’t open yet.  It was very nicely decorated and I got a Mexican pizza which I had been craving for some time.  I got chorizo on it and it was delicious.  I ate the whole thing and Garnet’s beans, which she didn’t want.  She had tostados which she always gets and bitches about how messy they were.  (Then get tacos instead.)

Our adventure was over and we headed back to my truck.  We had decided that we were too exhausted to go back to Rock Cut and do the paddle board thing.

That evening was my class that I had signed up for on using your I-phone.  I got this phone for Christmas from my dear friends, the Webbs.  I still was not used to it and wanted to learn more.  I was highly disappointed.  There was a bunch of ladies about my age with their I-phones and all we did was ask questions and the instructor would answer them.  I did learn about Siri and how to use it and how to clear my history.  I learned a few other things about the settings on the phone.

I want to make a movie of Emily playing with her toys to post and I didn’t learn how to do that.  I think I just have to not be afraid of the phone and try to use it.  I did get my Apple id and password changed so I can look at aps that I might want to put on the phone.  Any suggestions out there?

Yesterday I got that tomato sauce out and made spaghetti sauce.  I sautéed up some onions, peppers, garlic, celery and carrots and threw that into the pot.  I added some tomato paste and some of my tomato flour.  Added some herbs and seasonings and it came out pretty good.  I will decide tomorrow what I want to make using it.  I’m thinking some stuffed shells.

This week will end with the hubster and I having dinner with his parents at Nunzio’s in Rockford.  They have this Steak Sinatra that is out of this world.  And their house salad is to die for.  It was the inspiration for my big ass salad that I make frequently.  It has everything but the kitchen sink.  I always get the au gratin potatoes and save them to bring home for my breakfast the next day.

Life is good.  Peace be with you.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

I have had a couple of weeks of stress, fun and stupidity.  First my good friend’s husband died and I went with her to Iowa to plan his funeral.  I am so glad that I could be with her and we had a lovely long ride and a chance to talk a lot about our feelings and such.

A group of friends gathered and drove together to the funeral that Saturday.  Two and a half to three hour’s drive each way.  We did stop in a little town on the way home and had a tour of the place and we girls had a pizza.  The boys weren’t hungry.  It was called The Silent Woman in Fennimore, Wisconsin.  Very cute atmosphere.  The pizza was undercooked and Nancy sent hers back.  They topped the pizza with balsamic vinegar.  Very interesting!

On Thursday night, Garnet, Lauri and I went to Madison, Wisconsin.  It took a while to get there as Wisconsin has decided to go into orange barrel mode.  County T had a detour that I had forgotten when we drove through for the funeral.  And then a little farther up they had another detour.  Garnet sat next to me and brooded that we were lost and wouldn’t make the concert.  She is such a fraidy-cat!

We finally made it to the roundabout in Oregon, Wi and I missed my turn so we had to make another round about the roundabout.  Take about embarrassing!  Lauri had sent me a map of a DETOUR to take because we were hitting Madison at rush hour.  It took forever to drive this country back road to get to Target where we were meeting Lauri.  We went through another roundabout but I refused to do it a second time for Garnet.  The most aggravating thing was that Lauri kept texting me and Garnet couldn’t figure out my phone.  (She can’t figure out hers either.)  So I finally stopped and texted Lauri that we had just crossed Fish Hatchery and that must have made her satisfied as she quit texting me.

We made it to Target and gathered in Lauri’s car and headed off to the Mexican restaurant that Lauri had decided to introduce us to.  She almost ran a red light before I screamed for her to stop.  We were busy talking and chatting.

We had dinner at the Mexican restaurant and I had a delicious chiies rellenos, a tamale and a tostado.  Topped that off with a Corona with lime.  That being taken care of we ventured on to our destination.  We went to the Majestic Theatre in Madison to see one of my favorite bands, Over the Rhine.

I had ordered tickets way back when I saw they were coming and the week before the Majestic emailed me that if I wanted box seats to call the phone number listed.  I called and said I wanted three box seats and gave them my name, phone number and number of the tickets.  I never heard back.

When we got to the box office I asked the girl at the ticket booth if I had been okayed for the box seats.  She checked her computer and asked if I was Marla.  No, I’ve been called a lot but not Marla.  She asked about another name but it wasn’t mine.  I was so pissed!  When I got the tickets initially I asked for the box seats and they told me that their theatre was general admission and first come first serve.

We headed in to get our seats.  The balcony seats I had asked for were empty and I told the girls that we were taking them and if we got thrown out, so be it.  I volunteered to go get the beers.  Figured if we got thrown out I wouldn’t be present.  Not really, I just wanted to treat my girlfriends to a beer.

Well we didn’t get thrown out.  We sat right above the stage for the entire concert.  First up was Lucy Wainwright Roche whom I had seen before with OTR and she is quite good.  She has a very interesting voice that I cannot describe.  She is the daughter of Loudon Wainwright III who wrote Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.  I hate it when people mention that song because it becomes my next brain worm.

She did a very short session and we all headed to pee one by one so as not to lose our snarfed box seats.  We got settled and the lights dimmed and out they came.  They had a guitarist, mandolinist, other stuffist guy and I didn’t catch his name.

Karen let us know that they were a little low key because they had lost the Big Blue Dog, Minnie Pearl that week.  It broke my heart.  Lauri lost her husband one week and had to put one of her dogs to sleep the next.  My Jessie had died in March.  We all shared a moment of dog love.

They did manage to play one of my favorite songs, Born.  It goes, “I was born to laugh, I learned to laugh, through my tears.  I was born to love.  I’m gonna learn to love without fear.  Great song.  Yes, I cried.

The concert was very laid back.  Garnet had threatened to dance but they only played one song to dance to and she refused my request.  Bitch!

They played their set and came back with Lucy W R and did a really great version of a song that slips my mind right now.  Song about everybody needs someone to love.  But it was a song from a man’s perspective and Lucy and Karen kicked its butt!  (After the fact I thought of it.  It was Hungry Heart by Bruce Springstein.)

Then they finished with OTR doing an easy going version of All My Favorite People which is a song Karen wrote when her mom was in a nursing home and she realized that all of her favorite people are broken.  Really touches your heart.

Lauri got us safely back to my truck at Target and said our goodbyes.  Garnet reminded me of the detours and I made my mind to take a different route.  When we got close to the Amish farms in Brodhead, I headed east to the first road and took that south.  I was sure it would take us to Route 11 and we ended up riding for quite a while in a lovely but kind of spooky country road.  At this time Garnet started on her whine about being lost and having to call her hubster to come and save us.  I asked her if she had locked her door.  She quickly did.

I was just hoping that we wouldn’t come across a bunch of deer.  She was hoping we would see civilization which we didn’t see for quite some time.  A light came over the next hill just about when I was ready to stop and get out my smart phone.  We ended up in Orfordville, which is the home of the famous Knute’s Bar and Grill.  They have this blue gill and walleye fish fry on Fridays which is fabulous, if you’ve never been there. And their potato pancakes are the best ever!  It is well worthwhile.  We were just a few miles out of Brodhead on Route 11.  Told you so!

We went through Brodhead and took Mt. Hope Road to Stateline Road and made it home safely about 12:30.  Garnet and I said goodnight and she drove home in the dark and I was so worried about her but she texted me and said she made it safely.

My next adventure this week was the annual Lake Summerset Garden Club’s Fall Plant Sale, of which I was in charge for the first time.  I had ordered my $200 in small bills and a money box from the bank in Davis.  Plants had been ordered, signs made, put a notice in three papers and put it on the Neighborhood on-line site for Lake Summerset.  I was all set.

I packed up my truck with my supplies the night before and was all set for Saturday at 6:45.  I got to the front gate and put up my signs and started setting up.  The lady who was in charge last year was there to help me get set up.  Little did I know that the email to garden club members had said to be there at 7:30 and not 7:00 as I had scheduled.

The truck arrived at 7:00 and the two older folks who delivered and we two gardeners started unloading.  The guy who drove the truck said, “All your volunteers are watching us and will show up when we are finished.”  What an attitude!  At 7:30 several volunteers arrived on time and we finished unloading the truck and van.

We had to count the plants before we started and I kept getting 120 of mums instead of 130.  Stupid calculator.  I’m used to an adding machine.  We counted again and I was satisfied.

Just about the time we got into full speed with the plant sale it started to rain.  I hadn’t thought to bring a jacket because it was supposed to rain a little and stop.  The wind was bad and we were all soaked in no time.  We actually sold quite a few plants despite the rain.  One lady had an extra jacket and I put it on.  I was out there in shorts and a tee shirt and they all had on parkas and umbrellas.

One volunteer admired my naturally curly hair.  Naturally fuzzy if you ask me! I took a photo of the volunteers but they insisted that I be in the photo so one lady volunteered to take the photo.

Just before my second crew arrived the group insisted that I go home and change my clothes and wet shoes, which I did.  The dog acted as if I had been gone for a week.

I got dried off with fresh clothes and went back to the sale.  At the end we had nine mums and two asters left.  Not bad, not bad at all.  I went back later to take down my banner and the security chief bought two mums and the two asters.  Seven mums were left and I am taking them to the Garden Club meeting on Monday, where I am the speaker for the day.

I am giving a presentation tomorrow to the Garden Club on vegetable gardening.  I don’t know how many will show up for this.  I can’t imagine it is an interesting subject for most gardeners.  Most of the gardeners have really pretty yards whereas I have a vegetable garden and a so-so yard.

Today I am practicing my presentation.  I hope to get outside and tackle my tomatoes which are pretty much done for the season.  I also want to get a few weeds out of my flower and shrubs.  I also have to change the hummingbird feeders and it will probably be the last week for the birds to come visit.

Fall is a wonderful time but I start getting depressed because I know winter is coming.  I used to enjoy winter and went cross country skiing and walking on the frozen lake but I am older now and afraid of falling and being unable to get up.

After tomorrow’s presentation, I plan to veg for a while.  I was thinking of going to Cheese Days but heard it is a crowd of thousands and I can’t deal with that any more.  Although I am a cheese addict I think I will stick to the house or maybe go kayaking with Garnet.

I also have a class on Thursday night this week.  I am taking a class to learn to use my I-phone.  I am very excited about that as I am constantly embarrassed that I can’t figure out how to use it properly and to my advantage.  Wish me luck.

Peace be with you.