Archive | April, 2020

Quote With Not Much Comment

27 Apr

I received this from a trump supporter.  Yeesh.

UV light (2)

A Game of Cat and Mouse

24 Apr

Back over on Arlo and Janis someone remarked that the snakes that seem to hang around here might at least keep the mouse population under control.

Probably just as well.

Our cats are pretty much useless when it comes to catching mice. For the most part, almost every cat we’ve ever had considers mice to be just another one of Mum’s pets. “Oh, look! A mouse.” “Are you gonna get it?” “Nah. Do you want it?” “I’d have to get up.”

And so it goes.

We did have one cat – Roxie, I think – who would catch a mouse and carry it around most of the day. When it was dinner time, she’d sit the mouse on the floor beside her, much the way a lady puts her purse on the table, and then look around in astonishment when the mouse was missing when she finished eating. Sugar – a big white blimp of a feline – would hold a mouse between her paws. Every once in a while she’d pick up one paw or the other, as if checking to see it the critter was still there. She never tried to eat it or play with it. The Squire thought she might be trying to hatch it.

Eddie has been with us since around 2006, and to the best of my knowledge has only caught two mice.  One was in the house, and he left the rib cage in the middle of the living room floor.  I picked it up and marveled at how tiny the bones were, while The Squire had a fit. That’s the trouble with medical people – we are just fascinated by all of this.

We did have one cat who was a fabulous mouser – a little grey vixen we named Mosby. She was bound and determined to be an outdoor cat, only zipping inside long enough to eat and using the litter box, and then sitting by the door and yelling the house down. You have NO idea how loud a determined cat can be. But every day, when I came home she would have five or six little bodies laid in a row on the mat.  She was running across the yard to meet me one morning when a hawk swooped down and carried her off.

It was like watching – and hearing – a crucifixion.

Suddenly Spring

24 Apr

After a week of hide-and-seek temps, with the days being in the upper-50s or low-60s and nights with freeze warnings, it seems to be Spring.

It started to sprinkle Wednesday afternoon, and the rain just smelled differently from what we’ve been having. And we’ve been having a lot. It rained all Wednesday night and most of yesterday, but this morning is warmer and the rain has cleared. It is 56-F at 3:00, and the forecast is for mid-60s all next week, and 72 for next Sunday.

Of course, we all know how much faith to have in forecasts, but it certainly looks good! It would be nice if it stays dry long enough to mow the lawn.

A Loaf of Bread, and A Jug of Wine

21 Apr

Or, just the bread.

Two of the blogs I follow have been discussing homemade bread, and I thought I’d post the two recipes I make most often. The Squire is very fond of these – one is all-round excellent; the other makes wonderful sandwiches. I’m not going to bother telling you how to mix, knead, and punch down. All bread is made the same way. I will admit that I use my bread machine now instead of doing everything by hand. I turn out the dough after it has risen the first time, shape it, and put it into loaf pans to bake. At least it looks as if I’ve been working hard.

And now, on with the show!

Onion Dill Bread
2 1-pound loaves – use 8 x 4 pans
Warm in microwave:
•¾ cup cottage cheese, •¾ cup sour cream or full fat yogurt
•3 Tablespoons sugar •3 Tablespoons minced dried onion
•2 Tablespoons dried dill weed, •1-1/2 Tablespoons butter, •¼ cup water
Put warm mixture into bread machine or large mixing bowl. Add:
•3-1/2 cups flour, •¼ teaspoon baking soda
•1-1/2 teaspoons salt,  •1 unbeaten egg
•1 package yeast,  •1-2 Tablespoons vital gluten (optional)
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then until it registers 190-F internally.
The original recipe called for dill seeds, but The Squire doesn’t care for them, so I tried it with the dill weed and we really like it that way. Full fat yogurt gives the bread more of a tang, but that’s a matter of your choice. Don’t substitute “diet” yogurt. You need the fat content to make the bread work. The extra gluten makes the dough easier to work, but you don’t need it if you have bread flour.

Rich White Bread
2 1-1/2-pound loaves – use 9×5 pans
Warm in microwave:
•1-1/2 cup milk,  •¼ cup honey,  •¼ cup butter
(Pour the milk in a 2 cup measure, then add the honey, so you don’t have to dirty the ¼ cup measure.)
5 to 5-1/2 cups flour,  •2 eggs
•2 teaspoons salt,  •1 package yeast,  •2 tablespoons Gluten, if desired

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until it registers 190º-F internally. This is an excellent loaf for any purpose. Toasts nicely, and makes divine jelly bread




Bored? Read a Book

21 Apr


Snakes Alive! Part 2

20 Apr

My first husband, also known as the Late and Unlamented, was worse than any other six people I know when it came to snakes. He didn’t like to walk under trees because he was convinced a snake would fall on him. This was probably the biggest reason mowing the lawn gradually turned into my job; he didn’t want to trim the edges.  On day the girls found what we call a King snake in the front yard. Their markings resemble a Diamond Back rattle snake, but are not venomous; they are probably related to boas. However,  they will coil and strike to frighten you away. “Don’t tell your father. He’ll go all to pieces.”

And of course, immediately it’s “Daddy, Daddy, come look what we found!”

He came out with the “S” volume of the encyclopedia under one arm, and a broom under the other. Immediately he started poking at the poor critter.  The snake had taken refuge between the roots of an oak tree,  and of course, it sprang out at him. He frantically began flipping pages in the book, and then thrust it at me. “There! There!  It’s a pit viper!”

“Oh, for the love of Mike! They don’t even grow in this country.”  (Actually, they do, but I wasn’t dumb enough to tell him that.)

“No, look! It’s curled up in the pit of that tree!’

“Well, you better watch yourself. Its mate is probably up in that tree.” I took the girls and went inside, with him hot on my heels.

When The Squire and I bought this house there were no proper screens on the windows, only those slide apart things that honestly do no good at all. They certainly don’t stop mosquitos, and we discovered they don’t slow down snakes, either. I went into the living room one  morning, the summer after we moved in, and discovered a brown snake on the mantle, curled back and forth up the corner molding, practically balancing on its tail. I was perfectly capable of handling it myself, but I went out to round up The Squire so he could do Manly Things for his bride. He was mowing the lawn, and slowed the tractor when I approached. I cupped my hands and hollered, “Can you come get the snake off the mantle?”  “Yeah. OK.” And then he threw the machine into reverse and looked at me. “What did you say?”

Someone else has remarked that might be a good thing to have snakes, because they catch mice. Just as well, because out cats are just about useless.

That’s another story.


Snakes Alive!

19 Apr

We got into a discussion over on Arlo and Janis about snakes, of all things.  This is one form of wildlife that has never particularly bothered me.  They’ll startle me, if I come across one unexpectedly, but so will a Great Blue or a fox.   I can tell “safe” snakes from “dangerous” ones, and behave accordingly.

When I was a child we lived in housing which had been put up after WWII in an area which was farm land only shortly before. From time to time, Mum would find a garter snake in the flower bed, and let it curl around her hand and wrist. If I promised to be very gentle and not squeeze, she’d let me hold the little critter. She also pointed out how the head just blended into the body, and that meant it wouldn’t hurt me. “If you see a snake with an arrowhead, that’s dangerous, and you mustn’t try to touch it.”  Many times I’ve walked up when a bunch of men are fluttering around a snake, grabbed the poor thing, and walked off with it.

When I was married to my first husband, we lived in a very old house, which had a stone cellar. We also had at the time a passel of cats, a rabbit, a Collie dog, and a bantam hen named Loretta, all of whom would settle in a row on an old daybed on the back porch. One of our cats was wildly in love with Loretta, and would lay on his back, patting her under the chin. Loretta would gather up her skirts, look at Joe over her glasses, and scoot down a couple of inches. Joe would roll over closer to her, and try again. There were other shenanigans going on between the dog and the rabbit, and the rabbit and the cats, but I’ll leave that for you to imagine.

So – to get to the point here, one August morning the Gas Man came to read the meter, and I opened the basement door for him. A few moments later he came upstairs, leaned against the door, and took a deep breath. He glanced out onto the porch and watched Joe and Loretta in their ill-starred romance, and all of the other craziness, and then glared at me. “Ma’am, did you know there was a snake in your washing machine?” Apparently, the poor soul thought I had put it there! It was hot as blazes outside and the basement was cool, so the snake had come in to be more comfortable, fallen into the washer and couldn’t get out. I asked the man to help me, and he practically fell over trying to get back up the steps. “Oh, for Pete’s sake, hold the window open, and I’ll put him out.”

“Y-y-yes, ma’am.” And so we did.

Both in that house and this one we get snakes in the attic from time to time, trying to get warm in the late fall, and we can hear them rustling around. In the spring, the attic gets darned hot, and we hear them looking for the exit. It sounds as if somebody is dragging a body across the floor, which is pretty much what’s going on.

We have a stream beside the house and a large pond in the front, and frankly I’d deal with snakes than snapping turtles. Snakes don’t attack you!

To be continued:

That Would Do It

14 Apr

About fifteen years ago we lost the big tree outside the den window to a storm, and replaced it with a Japanese Maple. The little tree did very well for a long time, but the rising sea levels have made this place even swampier than it was when we bought it. There is a new spring at the top of the walk and the water runs into the garden. Note, I said there is a spring at the top of the hill. Not the bottom, where sensible springs would be, but at the top. Jack and Jill live here!maple tree

And so, the poor little tree has drowned.

This morning The Squire and I discussed the likelihood of uprooting the skeleton and planting something else. I did a search for “trees that do well in wet, sunny places”. The first thing that came up was an artificial ficus tree.

The only thing that would worry me is that the pot might sink into the ground.

Easter Dinner

12 Apr

We couldn’t have company, but this is a one of the Squire’s absolute favorite meals. The original called for 4 chicken breasts, but we honestly prefer the dark meat, so I make it with chicken thighs from Costco. This, a baked potato and a salad, with Brown Sugar and Bourbon ice cream for dessert, was a feast.

Chicken in Caper Cream Sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken pieces of your choice

1 teaspoon lemon pepper, 1 teaspoon dill weed, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup whipping cream, 2 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed

Combine the spices in a small bowl (a custard cup works beautifully) and season the meat. I put 1/2 teaspoon on each side of each piece of meat, and rub it in, but I’m inclined to be OCD, so . . .

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and turn the heat to high long enough to brown it on both sides, then cover the pan and reduce the heat, turning the meat occasionally. I use a meat thermometer, to avoid over or under cooking.  Set it for 165, and you’re perfect!

Remove the chicken to a plate and keep it warm. Increase the heat to high, and stir in the cream, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the “goodies”, about 3 minutes. Stir in the capers, and pour the sauce over the chicken.

The Squire says that when I open my restaurant, this should be at the top of the menu. Figure 313 calories preserving if you use breasts, and slightly more for thighs.

Dressing For Church, Easter 2020

12 Apr

What? No hats and gloves?

Easter dress 2020