Saturday, July 27, 2013

Tomato Dreams

One of the big reasons for summer is fresh from the vine tomatoes. I've talked before about this but I wait all year for my first fresh tomato and cheddar cheese sandwich on fresh homemade bread. I have several favorite sandwiches but this has to be the tops followed closely by a BLT with fresh homegrown tomatoes on homemade bread (and yes Miracle Whip when I can find it made with sugar and not HFCS). Now that my paltry crop of tomatoes are coming in I am having a sandwich about every other day even when I don't have an excellent cheddar and have to use Kraft or some other industrial cheese. Still a damn fine sandwich. Soon the tomatoes will be gone for the year and it will be June of 2014 before I have another. Something to look forward to.

Speaking of tomatoes. Last year by this time, I had canned 30 or so quarts and this year zero. That's what 43 inches of rain will do to a tomato crop. I am getting some tomatoes but not in the quantities to enable a canning run. I do have canned tomatoes left from last year that might even hold me through till next year so I won't be in too bad of shape.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dying Bees, It's Worse Than You Thought

We've been hearing about CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) for a couple of years now and scientists have been desperately searching for answers and a new study is indicating that while we are beginning to understand some of the issues it is actually worse than we thought. Here is more:

In a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.
When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.
Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they’re designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.

When I see how many bottles, bags and whatnot of pesticide, fungicide and other stuff goes out of just my store on a daily basis it is no wonder millions of bees are dying. People are spreading huge bags of broad spectrum insecticide across their entire properties and it is killing everything including them...just a little more slowly. I have a real problem keeping my mouth shut as I check this stuff out and I can't begin to say how guilty I feel about it. It is all I can do to to keep from screaming at these folks, little children in hand, as they haul these baskets full of poison home to spread around willy-nilly.

George It Is

Seems I get to share the name with the new prince...good choice and I don't mind sharing and the name as served me fairly well.

Back to work today at 1pm and I'm scheduled for the garden center till 815p. Going to be hot but for the first time in a week or more the chance of rain only stands at 20%. Lately it has been at least 50% or higher and unfortunately very accurate. Just shy of 43 inches of rain so far this year.

I did have two days off but they were entirely consumed by getting the second garage door replaced. Not really hard work but very time consuming and again I had to "adjust the garage floor on one side by removing about an inch and a half of concrete. I did get smarter this time and get a couple of masonry blades for my angle grinder/cut-off saw which made it a bit easier. So both doors are now replaced and I can get back on schedule with trying to get some raised beds built in the garden and planted. The middle of August is pretty much the deadline around here for getting summer veges planted in time to avoid a frost but with the changes I am seeing in the climate I may get an extra few weeks this year. I should at least get a three or four beds built and planning by then. The fall garden will be going in shortly thereafter so the pace won't slack too much.

I think I have finally settled all the bills from the recent surgery...shame on me for not seeing the fine print in my medical coverage. While I knew I was limited to a maximum of 20 thousand a year in medical expenses covered I didn't know that the limit on outpatient services was only 2 thousand. The insurance did have a negotiated rate with the doctor, so that helped, but still my out of pocket expense wound up being about 1,500 bucks. Could have been worse to the tune of 3 grand without the negotiated rate. It sucks a wee bit that the insurance company considers the amount of reduction from the billed amount to the negotiated rate as part of your 2 grand. Just another year and I can qualify for Medicare if it is still around.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Royal Baby News

Well the Duchess pulled it off and produced a boy. No pressure there. Sounds like a healthy lad at 8 pounds 6 ounces. Now we just have to wait for a name. I'm leaning toward "Valiant" or "Charming" myself. Congratulations William and Kate.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Old Fashioned Southern Fruit Cobbler

Long hot day in the garden center but dinner brought me back to life. Still trying to eat from the badly damaged garden so tonight was okra and tomato casserole with a bit of cheddar and fresh corn on the cob along with a little coleslaw. The highlight was dessert though. My friend Kelly brought me a quart of fresh picked wild blackberries in trade for some fresh corn. Fresh blackberries call for a cobbler. In the Southern tradition a cobbler is a quick dessert made with pretty much any fresh fruit and the only thing that changes is the fruit and how much sugar goes in the fruit. That said;

Foundation recipe:
1 Quart of fresh fruit mixed with a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit.

Cobbler topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 stick of butter (8 Tbsp)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt (if you are using salted butter skip this)

Preheat your oven to 375f.
Butter a 8"x8" pan.
Mix the first three ingredients and then cut in the stick of butter (or use a food processor)
beat in the egg and vanilla,
Put the fruit in the buttered pan and using a tablespoon put the batter on the top in clumps but leave it in dollops, don't spread it around. Bake for 30 -35 minutes until golden and bubbly and serve warm. (Vanilla ice cream is good) This works for peaches, blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries or any other soft fruit. You can thank me later. Don't hesitate to mix and match the fruit. Blueberries and peaches are super as are blackberries and raspberries. Whatever, and this recipe multiplies with no problem...just double or triple to your heart's desire.Just make sure you have a good foundation of fruit under the batter.

Wall Street Has Found Another Way To Screw Us

Just read this in the AJC this morning. Have to go to work so I don't have time for a long post but this just really pisses me off. Goldman Sachs and aluminum warehouses.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Robot Strikes

The robot struck yesterday. I had the day off yesterday and the plan was to head to the gym for my first workout since being cleared by the surgeon. That part went as planned and I was pleased to see that I haven't backslid too far. Next on the agenda was to go to the Depot and get cinder blocks and build the first of my raised beds since we haven't had rain in a few days and the garden was workable. Getting cinder block requires that I take Madam's Explorer and not my Hyundai. With my brain on auto thinking about what I had to do I grabbed Madam's keys, got the tarp for the back from the basement, headed for the garage, pushed the button to open the door, got in the Explorer and backed into the still closed door. The robot did open the garage door...just the wrong one. The robot always pushes the top button to open the Hyundai door.

After I cleaned up all the broken glass I did get to Home Depot but to buy a replacement garage door and not cinder blocks. They don't make wooden garage doors of the type I needed and since both garage doors should match I wound up with two new steel doors.

I got the old door removed as well as the tracks and began the install on the new door(s) only to discover that the left side of the garage floor is about two inches higher than the right due to a little hump. Looking at the old wooden door bottom you can see where the original installer just cut away a wedge of wood about a foot long on the bottom of the door so that the little hump at  the edge didn't stop the door from being level. A quick solution for the uneven floor but not one that I can employ on a steel door. I will spend the morning(before I have to go to work) trying to level the garage floor on the left edge with a chisel and hammer...this is not going to be a lot of fun and the right edge of the other garage opening has the same issue but not quite as large.

All this because I let the robot open the garage door for me.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Least Of My Brothers

The New York Times Editorial Page tells it like it is:

On two crucial issues this week, the extremists who dominate the Republican majority in the House of Representatives made it clear how little interest they have in the future prosperity of their country, or its reputation for fairness and decency. The House will refuse to consider a comprehensive immigration bill that could lead to citizenship for millions of immigrants, Republican leaders said on Wednesday, and will slowly and casually consider a few border-security measures that have no chance of passing on their own.
And, on Thursday, the House passed a farm bill that stripped out the food stamp program, breaking a pact that for decades has protected the nutrition needs of low-income Americans. It was the first time since 1973 that food stamps haven’t been part of a farm bill, and it reflected the contempt of the far right for anyone desperate enough to rely on the government for help to buy groceries.
These actions show how far the House has retreated from the national mainstream into a cave of indifference and ignorance. House members don’t want to know that millions of Americans remain hungry (in an economy held back by their own austerity ideology), and they don’t want to deal with the desperation of immigrant families who want nothing more than a chance to work and feed themselves without fear of deportation.

 ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

This and That

Sorry to be so scarce around here but life is intruding every which way I turn.

Got a clear from the surgeon so I am back to full functionality. I have gotten so far behind in the garden I will never catch up.

Speaking of the garden we are getting some stuff...early corn, a few tomatoes and peppers and the occasional squash. Nothing to speak off really but we have managed some complete garden meals. The constant rain has done much damage and it will not be a bounty year for the gardeners in Georgia.

We now have had 41(at the airport) inches of rain so far this year but I think it is more in my area and it is supposed to rain today, tomorrow and Sunday(the left overs of Chantal).  Just for comparison Seattle has had 18.5 inches so far. We have them beat by more than twice! The current record for the period was set in 1948 and was 42 inches.

Part of my lack of blogging is work which has been scheduling me for opening at 6am on most shifts and while I really have no trouble getting up and functioning early in the morning my age seems to be sneaking up on me and I come home exhausted. I try and catch up on all the doings on the "tubes" and find myself asleep at the computer. I give up and take a nap.

I see the House has passed a Farm Bill but managed to drop food stamps out completely. I forget the number exactly but 40 million just got told by the GOP that they don't count and should just starve. Oh, and about half those are children. The GOP promise to visit the SNAP funding later is an obvious lie since they know full well that the only the counterbalance of farm supports made it politically possible. If you voted for a GOP Representative for Congress you should be ashamed and I hold you personally responsible for the suffering you have and will cause. Think about the millions of children that aren't even going to get the minimum break of good nutrition to help them survive as adults. We won't even go into what you and your insane and evil minions are doing to education, the environment and the economy.

Going to get something constructive done. Have a happy Friday.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

But We're the Richest Nation Right?

Not so much. We've got a lot of billionaires but that comes at the expense of the rest of us. As the 1% get richer the rest of us get poorer. In fact, when compared to other developed countries, when it comes to per-adult median wealth, we rank #27:
Country Median Wealth per Adult
1. Australia $193,653
2. Luxembourg $153,967
3. Japan $141,410
4. Italy $123,710
5. Belgium $119,937
6. United Kingdom $115,245
7. Iceland $ 95,685
8. Singapore $ 95,542 (non-OECD)
9. Switzerland $ 87,137
10. Denmark $ 87,121
11. Austria $ 81,649
12. Canada $ 81,610
13. France $ 81,274
14. Norway $ 79,376
15. Finland $ 73,487
16. New Zealand $ 63,000
17. Netherlands $ 61,880
18. Ireland $ 60,953
19. Qatar $ 57,027 (non-OECD)
20. Spain $ 53,292
21. United Arab Emir. $ 47,998 (non-OECD)
22. Taiwan $ 45,451 (non-OECD)
23. Germany $ 42,222
24. Sweden $ 41,367
25. Cyprus $ 40,535 (non-OECD)
26. Kuwait $ 40,346 (non-OECD)
27. United States $ 38,786

If you take a close look at the list you will see that all the "socialist" know...the ones that provide everyone with healthcare and all that crap are, in many cases, well ahead of us. Even poor old Cyprus, who got "gang banged" by Germany and the rest of the EU and even struggling Spain are better off than the average American.The secret is that this is all a result of the great American idea that making more money from money is more important than making anything real.

You can read more about this over at Firedoglake.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July to everyone. It's raining here in Georgia with only occasional breaks of light drizzle not an ideal day for outdoor activities. I have to work from 3 til 8 so there were not any big plans for anything around here. Madam and Betty Beagle are piled up in the bed watching some old movie and I just came in from picking another load of blueberries. Way too wet to slop through the vegetable garden though I am sure there are things ready to pick. I've fallen woefully behind in pickling and now have both vege drawers in the fridge full of cukes plus several large bags filling up the bottom shelf. Once the cucumbers hit their stride and with all the rain they come fast.

Everyone have a safe and happy holiday. You guys on the Left Coast drink plenty of fluids and stay in the cool places and we here on the East Coast will continue to tread water. If you guys in flyover country have sun then enjoy your tube steaks and burgers.

Oh, and I like my dogs Carolina style..mustard, onion, chili and coleslaw....steamed bun. Of course, the weenie has to be in a natural casing and grilled.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

First Tomato

Finally!  The first fully "on the vine" ripe tomato this morning. This is first 'proper' tomato and not a cherry or plum which started ripening last week. It's going to be a few days before any others are ready though so this one is going to be lonely.

Missed my goal of having corn by the 4th but it will start being ready in another week or so.

Peppers are finally beginning to happen as well. Picked some jalapeno's this morning but just a double handful.

Blueberries are in full force and I'm picking about 2 quarts a day. Already lots in the freezer and I'm thinking jam is near at hand. I probably have enough frozen to last until next year already.

Looks to be a wet week as it rained last night and the forecast is 80% today and tomorrow with a 100% for the 4th. I have to work both days but only afternoon half shifts until 8pm. My store is just a few hundred yards from the high school where the city puts on the concert and fireworks display and our parking lot turns into a huge tailgate party. I'll have to park strategically in order to actually get home at 8pm on the 4th.

Everyone have a safe holiday.