Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Waning August Days

I've had a couple of days to sit on the kitchen deck.

It's been beastly hot and is daily creeping up to it again. By Friday we will be once again in the 90sF for at least a week. No rain in sight. I've managed to keep up with the tomatoes. The zucchini looks like it's done. Mark and I are going to undertake the task of emptying the freezer, scraping the frost build-up off and trying to organize it for more space. He needs to help because I cannot reach the bottom of the chest freezer. We call him 'tall boy'!

My son's mother-in-law died peacefully and had a funeral last week. The son told me it's been very difficult and hopes some form of normalcy returns soon. We met them at the wedding, otherwise we had no connection, but the family is very tight and I'm sure this is devastating for them. 

Anyway.....life carries on at this patch of earth. 

Monday, August 28, 2023


Grandpa Joseph and Grandma Marie.

Wedding photo. 

I didn't know Joe, he died when I was, I think, four.  He was born in 1882. Grandma was born in 1892. My grandma was a strong, purposeful woman who was actually kind under all that stern. They were both children of immigrants.

This is my great-grandmother on the paternal side.

I found this photo, both of them actually, when I cleared out my mother's house. I didn't know my father's side of the family to speak of. What I know is my grandmother was an only child. She had been married and divorced at the time she married my grandfather. He had been married, was a widower with three children. They, together, had four sons. Her family and his family had been in America seemingly forever. I did a family tree on Ancestry years ago. At the time I stopped, the grandfather's people were in Maine, 1760s. Her people were in Boston during the same time period. Both families were of English descent. His more hardscrabble, hers prosperous.

I've been doing some thinking on family over a couple of years. I grew up without extended family, other than grandma. My mother had a personality disorder which eventually drove most away. Aunts, uncles and cousins I never knew. Some I knew for awhile, until they were suddenly gone. I heard viscous things about all of them throughout my life and as a child believed her. Of course, I didn't understand what she was, even well into adulthood I tried to make sense of her and I tried so hard to find some kind of decency in her. There was none to be found. By the time I realized this fully, I had spent a lifetime catering to her meanness. I was not an abused child dealing with the results of that abuse. I was an abused child who went into adulthood continuing to be demeaned. My brother left the family 30 years ago. I thought he was awful. Turns out he was the sane one.

I have never been a communal person, which under the circumstances makes sense. I have always been wary. I also formed a front that definitely conveyed the message "mess with me at your own risk". I have found since my mother died, I've been changing. I'm happier, much more easy going. She has been slowly but steadily leaving my consciousness. I don't dream of her screaming in my face anymore, not for a couple of years. It's refreshing knowing that I am losing the definition of myself she created. Even at this age, I am healing. 

I don't have a family and there isn't anything I can do about that. I have my son, that is a good thing, but no one else, other than Mark. Which is another good thing. I'm getting corny, but I've realized I'm sort of like the half dead bush that suddenly starts budding out again. For anyone else who recognizes my life in themselves;  It's not too late if you allow yourself to let go. It sure does feel better.

SJ and RW
As We Were Called
Sandra and Robert

Saturday, August 26, 2023

A Cooler Day

We have finally caught a break in the oppressive heat and humidity department. So I made soup.

Mark needs to go to town today. He will pick up a rotisserie chicken, no cooking for me tonight. 

Otherwise, it's quiet, as usual. I'm listening to Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I'm surprised I hadn't read this book until now. The library app is one of the better things to have happened to me. It shows me I have read or listened to one hundred books in the past year. I guess I use it. Do any of you know the NextDoor app? I have it for the surrounding area. They can be a mean and petty group of people, with some decent people mixed in. My life has become very isolated in the past couple of years. I was thinking of putting an idea for a book club on the app, something I would gladly host, maybe once a month. In the past I tried to get involved in groups here, but it was near impossible. People are polite but not inviting if you aren't part of the clique. Eventually I gave up. I thought perhaps this may be a way of meeting people outside of the garden club, the arts group, etc. I am not in need of much social interaction, but I am growing weary of my own company. Even the cats have begun to find me boring.

Speaking of boring...I guess I'll go make some pickles. Be still, my racing heart.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Pickle Keeper

Just for you, Kaye!

Much more pesto is in another freezer. This is the last batch I made. I have 8 quarts of pickles so far. Bill gave me a lot of pickling cukes yesterday, so I anticipate another 8 quarts.

It's still quite humid. I wish strongly that quite would become quit. I have processed one gallon bag of tomatoes this morning. This is as interesting as it's going to get, I'm afraid. Life had folded itself up for now, too damned hot (humid) to do much of anything. The horses are holding up well, maybe because their ancestry is from the desert. Mark is doing the outside labor and has held up well, too. He does take two showers a day. I forgot to mention that along with the pickling cukes Bill gave me a huge box of tomatoes and a lot of slicing cucumbers. I am under siege!

Wednesday, August 23, 2023


I have very little to say, except.....it is HOT. We had a feels like temperature of 111F yesterday, an 80 degree dew point. Right now at 8:30 AM it's 82F with a dew point of 77 degrees. I live in Minnesota, not Florida. We are not used to this and I don't want to get used to it. I'd say it's the 'new normal' but I don't think there is a normal anymore.

I got that off my sagging chest. The mini fridge is working well. I'm really pleased with it. The freezer works! It's now filled with pestos and herbs. So, even while living in hades there are some good things.

Bill brought me a large box of wild plums. Thirty years I've lived here and I did not know wild plums are all around me. There were 14 cups of plums in the box, all are in the freezer. I don't make jam or jelly, I don't use it, but I will make a galette or two with them.

I spent a few days preserving. Lots of tomatoes have been used, both roasted and as pesto. I really like the pesto made with fresh tomatoes. Thank you Giada. Thank you Grandma for instilling the instinct to preserve food into me. I hope it's not a dying skill.

Now, The CoverBoy. He must show up here at least once a week or his pride is hurt. He is a very skilled snoozer. Such a lucky fellow he is. Mostly, we are lucky to have him. Mostly.

That's the story today. Temperatures are supposed to drop to the 80s, rah rah, after today's hell. Probably still humid. Just call me Little Miss Suzy Sunshine.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Happy Days

My Pickle Keeper

It fits perfectly next to the washer, so no going to the basement is necessary. I have to move the laundry hamper, probably to the bedroom, but that is little inconvenience compared to lugging this to the basement and now it's readily available to me. It has a small freezer which I will use for my pestos. It's 4.4 cubic feet of extra for me. I bought it on FB Marketplace. It was in the daughter's college dorm room and is in perfect condition. Spotless. And....only about a 35 minute drive. I'm very pleased!

The things that make us happy do change along the way.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Pretty Kitty

Button nose tripod kitty wants in on the blog action.

 I got quite a bit of tomatoes processed yesterday. It's now pickle day. We are going to buy a compact refrigerator to put in the basement for the pickles. Fermented pickles will keep in a cool place, like a basement, but they continue to ferment, which makes the last of them quite sharp. I know this from experience. We like them enough to get a pickle keeper.

We are in for very hot weather for the week. God awful humidity, too. I bought an InstantPot when they first came on the market. I was looking for an electric pressure cooker and came upon this thing that not only pressure cooked but slow cooked, too. My crockpot had crocked out, so I bought it. I bring this up because on this hot day I have stock cooking in the InstantPot with no heating up of the kitchen. Perfect.

Time to get myself in a pickle.

Friday, August 18, 2023


Three of the fennel seeds I planted germinated.

Bill brought me the box of tomatoes. He said he will have a lot more if I want them.

I said I will take them. He also brought me a ice cream bucket of pickling cucumbers and some dill.

Today will be dedicated to fermenting pickles, roasting tomatoes and processing fennel fronds into pesto and cubes. The fronds on the fennel I grew are enormous. If you haven't used the fronds for pesto, give it a try, very good.

I mowed yesterday, thanks to the rain we had last week. It's the fourth or fifth time all season. I normally mow twice a week. All the flowering plants look worn out. 

I'm being buzzed by a helicopter flying very low, back and forth. I have no idea why, but it is persisting. They are either looking for something or just being annoying. Maybe we are under observation.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Gone to the Cats

The table I put plants on is now covered in a dog bed, per cats orders.

 They have taken over. I've found it easiest to accept my fate.

Mark saw his Primary today, At the end he brought me up to her, gave her a brief synopsis and asked if she would be willing to see me. She is. So now I reenter the Medical Mystery Tour. Oh, boy! We got our second shingles vaccination yesterday, so we are good. You know when you are officially old is when conversations revolve around cats and medical issues. It's official. I'm old.

Otherwise, it's another quiet day on the farm. Lots of tomatoes to roast. I did use a large zucchini for stuffing. Yes, if you look closely there is a zucchini under all that meat. Mark said I make the best vegetarian meals.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Another Way-Back

August 14, 1981
We took the plunge

We were married in the Hennepin County Courthouse. It obviously was a solemn affair! We have lost contact with both witnesses, which sadly happens. 

Forty-two years later, here we are. I dragged Mark to a farm when he thought he'd never be there again. You know, marrying a city girl and all. Life took lots of sharp turns and bumps along the way, yet here we are with six cats, fourteen horses and one raccoon. Not bad.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Past Interest Revisited

Once upon a time I used to sew.
I made this outfit, circa 1980.

This red suit I made in the mid-eighties. This is at work on Valentines day, 1984. Atlanta, GA.

Probably the waning years of the 80s to early 90s

The skirt and this top were an outfit. I did all of that beading.

It's hung in my closet for about 35 years. It's yellowed and misshapen. I keep it because I like it, even though I will never again wear it. 

This is a photo of a shadbelly, an upper level dressage coat, also used in the Arabian show ring for what are called English horses, otherwise known as saddle seat. This is not what I made, but a photo of one. I made one for Shaka's trainer at the time. She needed one to show him and did not own one nor could she afford to buy one. It is the last piece of clothing I made, 1994 or 1995.

I actually don't think about it anymore because I just stopped and got busy with other things, but I used to make at least a third of my clothes. I had champaign taste on a beer budget! I learned to sew in 7th grade home economics and I took to it. I know why I stopped, my world changed. Instead of going to the stable to see my horses, as I had done, we bought a farm and the rest is history. The most I do now is hemming pant legs.

A little something no one of you would have guessed about me, I think!

Friday, August 11, 2023

Gobble Gobble

"If you don't follow the trends, you can never go out of style. "

From a book I was listening to. I had no idea I am so hip!

Seriously, it makes a lot of sense, in so many ways. I know there are some trends which are fun and you know won't last, but it doesn't matter. Because you like it. Mostly, though, I go my own way. My son repeated back to me a few years ago something I used to say and it stuck with him. Buy well, buy once. This was about furnishings. But it can apply to many things in our life choices. That's it for philosophy today. 

Onto the day....I have chicken stock simmering and cherry tomatoes roasting. Mark made an appointment with his NP next week and is going to ask her if she would be willing to take me on as a patient. I'm ready to jump into the deep end once more.

I had a least thirty turkeys in the yard yesterday. I couldn't fit them all in the photo. They come everyday and each time there's more of them. We are loaded with grasshoppers and that may be why they spend so much time here. I really enjoy seeing them. The cats were mesmerized as they sat on the ledge in the screened porch.

I had an interruption. Bill came by with beans and several large tomatoes. I stopped growing slicing tomatoes because I get so many from Bill I don't need to grow them. Since I started this post I'm now roasting a tray of Romas. I really enjoy this time of summer, when the produce is peaking and I get to preserve my and others labors, as well as enjoying right off the vine.

Life is pretty good on my farm at the moment. We may even get more rain. Oh....Bill said he's got my mower fixed! I'd better buy a lottery ticket.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Isn't She Lovely

Yesterday I mentioned in comments that I'd had an MGA. This is not my actual car, but this is what it was....1959 MGA. This is the car I was pulling the ragtop up on when Mark offered to help me. I bought it when I was married to husband #1 and kept it until the late 1990s. I used to love cars. At some point in my life they became a mode of transportation and not inspiration. I had some marvelous times in this baby. I've owned several sports cars in my youth. I shudder at it now, but I hauled a toddler around in this wide open car. Ah, memories.

Back to real time. I did make zucchini fritters last evening for dinner. I think I can explain why Mark and I get along so well. For about an hour after dinner he was still raving about how good they were. I cook and he appreciates what I cook. A lot. And, he stays out of my way. I am not a two-people-in-the-kitchen person! He said last night that he knows how his butt disappeared. It left skid marks on the floor the first time I kicked him out of the kitchen.

We had a couple of heavy downpours yesterday. There was dancing in the house. We still need rain but, man-oh-man, was that appreciated. We have a beautiful morning and a mild day ahead. No complaints about weather today.

I saw a video pop-up on Google of Giada De Laureniis making pesto with fresh tomatoes. I make pesto rosso with dried tomatoes but this was new to me. I had a bunch of purple-ish cherry tomatoes so I gave it a go. I used the tomatoes, garlic, basil, walnuts and parmesan, and of course, olive oil. It's really good. Who knew! I got three small jars from that one batch.

I intend to be productive today. Intentions and results don't always match, but let us hope.


Wednesday, August 9, 2023


How life often feels!

I've been listening to a cardinal serenading me through my office window. Amazing how it upped my mood. It often is the small things in life. 

Mark got home in the afternoon after spending the day with clients. I had a nice day of kitchen puttering. He had a good day with people he has known for decades. He's spending today on errands. I will likely kitchen putter again. We are coming up to forty-two years of marriage this month. There's been many rough spots along the way, but I realize I definitely did well with him. I guess I will keep him. He had no idea he was in for a wild ride when he offered to help me pull the top up on my MGA in a parking lot at Como Park!

The morning is nearly gone and I have not even got myself dressed yet. Some days are like that, it's just how it is. Mark is picking up lunch so I don't even have to think about that. He's also picking up a rotisserie chicken for dinner. What a guy! I think I'll make zucchini fritters to go with the chicken.

I started with a cardinal and ended with a chicken. Ha!

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Pickles. Fritters. And a Cat

Mark is meeting with clients so I have the place to myself. Well...there's cats.  Here's the nearly daily dose of a cat in a box. He was helping me sort through my office clutter. Very helpful, indeed.

I have the vegetables for eggplant soup roasting.

Bill brought me some more pickling cucumbers. I set those to fermenting this morning. The one on the left is on its fifth day, I'll test one tomorrow for flavor.

More food talk: I haven't made zucchini fritters in years. Don't ask me why. I also shred carrot to mix with the zucchini, making it doubly good. I have a lot of zucchini so I'll be shredding some for fritters and some for freezing.This is a favorite time of year for me. I feel close to my grandma as I preserve. She was the 'Queen of Preserving Food'. No one went hungry during the Depression in her house. I also wear bib aprons, like she did.

I guess it's all about food today. We talk about what interests us, what we are doing at the time and at this time, as at most, it's food for me! I took my last bag of yellow plum tomatoes out of the freezer and plan to make a sauce. It's not the prettiest sauce but it is delicious. It's a bit cooler today so sauce on the stovetop is doable. I wish now that I had planted yellow plum tomatoes this year. Ah, well. 

OK, I guess that's it. My quiet life on the farm

Monday, August 7, 2023

Sunday, August 6, 2023

More of the Usual

We had an 85% chance of rain overnight. No rain. We desperately need rain but the rain gods don't care. The temperature and the dew point are nearly the same. I'd think so much humidity would cause rain, but I seem to be wrong.

I didn't feel well yesterday but still managed to get some sorting done.  All the Christmas tablecloths, placemats and table runners are in a clear, sealable plastic bag so now I know where they are and can see them as a reminder. I have a bakers rack in the closet in my office and that's where they are stored. I have been surprised by how good it makes me feel to be accomplishing these tasks. I have two large cardboard boxes full of give-away items, all in good condition and usable. Three days ago I was wondering what happened to two throws I bought while I lived in Saint Paul. I liked them and remembered they were in good shape, but I haven't seen them in a very long time. They were in a bottom deep drawer in the laundry room, way in the back covered with multiple other items. Mystery solved. It's like getting something new!

Most of the grocery shopping is done through Aldi pick-up. I didn't remember having boneless/skinless chicken thighs until I pulled it out of the freezer. I don't buy those but I remembered it was a swap for bone-in. This was one of the best meals! I sautéed the vegetables and sweet potatoes, When they were nearly done I added the thighs. They were so good. I may change my mind and buy them sometimes. Odd how the least thought out and simplest turns into a flavor fest.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Chill Cat

My little oddball. ❤️

He spent a day beating up the bag, then he turned it into a bed. He has not tired of it for days. I may have a flattened paper bag on the kitchen floor into perpetuity.

I'll be working on clearing out and straightening up my stash of stuff again today. It feels good to accomplish something. We got more produce from Bill yesterday. I will need to take some time to cut up and freeze peppers, he has given us a lot. I stopped growing peppers years ago because my neighbor always plants too much! Not a bad thing, not for me anyway. 

Friday, August 4, 2023

My Name is Sandra and I Have a Tablecloth Problem

Dawn the Bohemian calls it food porn.
I call it what I have in my life.

Today's lunch was a cold salad, something I've been making a lot lately.

 Last evening an egg concoction, using lots of produce.

It's still really hot and humid but a break is in sight. My pickles are bubbling in the brine and I'm resisting the urge to grab one. I spent yesterday clearing out drawers in the laundry room and clearing my desk of papers I shouldn't have laid there in the first place. I have a tablecloth problem. I've given away at least twenty-five in the last decade. Going through this stuff I find I have at least that many still. Some I don't even remember. Mark tried to cover for me, saying I used to entertain a lot when we lived in Saint Paul. Thirty years ago! And no one needs anywhere near that many tablecloths. Here's where the problem is: I'm giving away one. I know. The next thing is dozens of old towels. What do I do with them? These I can let go, but they aren't something I would donate. If I tell you that I have been doing this clearing out for about fifteen years, would you believe me? Well, I have. When I say I don't like clutter, I don't. But when things are packed away, out of sight, it's not clutter. It's tidy hoarding. I hoard glass jars. I hoard the heavy plastic deli containers. The good thing there is the two delis in the area are now using the cheap ones. No more for me to add to the massive collection, which I must have because.....? I wasn't thinking about any of this until I got the brilliant idea to sort through and organize yesterday. Holy Hannah. I bet I still have clothes in my closet that my thigh wouldn't fit in the waistband of. But, you never know, right? Yah.

Thursday, August 3, 2023


The first batch of brined pickles. I used a container ghee had come in, it's two quarts, so I was able to get all the cucumbers into one jar. Now they ferment.

I used some of the tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant for a quick pasta dinner last evening.

The dew point was already at 71 degrees by 7:00am. It's going to be a miserable day. I don't like to wish away time, but this summer can leave. Please. 

Since the air conditioner is on perhaps I'll use the day to do some organizing. Nothing is where it belongs and with the humidity out of the air I may be able to accomplish something. Self-diagnosing, which is the only option I was given...... I wonder if I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? I become exhausted doing nothing. That said, my self-treatment has helped clear my mind (raw desiccated thyroid). I also take iron which has made a difference in my peeling nails and skin. One more supplement I've put myself on, Berberine. It's been touted as nature's Ozempic. It is not. I looked at the little bit of actual science and what it is known to do is help insulin resistance, which I was diagnosed with nine years ago. I've been borderline diabetic all these years. I spent four years following a diabetic diet and nothing changed. Went off the diabetic diet, nothing changed. I can feel a difference, insulin resistance causes inflammation and I am feeling less 'inflamed'. So, all pretty good, as things go.

I guess I felt a little chatty this morning. That happens when an oldish woman decides to talk about her ailments!

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Brining and Other Things

I look at Frieda and realize she is my doppelganger in feline form. 

 I do love this very odd little cat.

We have tropical weather for a couple more days. I wish we would get the rain that happens in the tropics. I'm going to make fermented pickles today. Bill brought me some larger pickling cukes, he likes them smaller. The larger ones are perfect for fermentation. Bill finds my pickling process all wrong and there is no way to convince him brined pickling is as old as time. So I don't try. I simply happily take the cukes and smile.

I suddenly have quite a few eggplant so I think eggplant soup will be happening when it cools down a bit. I have froze a small bag according to instructions I found online. I will take some out to see if it works as said. If it does, that will be great! Multiple sites told me I could freeze my pickles last year. Um, that didn't work.

Anyway....all is quiet on my front, which is a good thing. I think I'll go pester the cat.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Night Sky

Sometimes it pays to look up.