Category: Monthly Wrap-Ups

November 2022 Wrap-Up

Away From Home

November 2022 entailed traveling through thirteen states. But most of the time was spent in Kentucky and Florida. Overnight stops included the states of Missouri, Louisiana and Texas. All in places familiar to me as part of my “Travel Safety” mindset. Not all of the travel was alone. I had company for the better part of the trip.

However, I am looking forward to staying put in December. Hopefully all the kids will make it home for Christmas. This will be the first holiday gathering since the pandemic began. During the pandemic we gathered twice- for a memorial service and a wedding. A familiar theme for writers.

Hobbies on the Road

Completed Stocking

As a quilter, I often travel with a small quilt in the final stage-the hand quilting. This is true of this trip. All that remains is the binding.

However, for this trip I also brought a Bucilla stocking. The extended stay in Central Florida allowed me time to start and complete the cute snowman for the newest member of the family. I think the stocking will be loved.

Keeping track of craft items while traveling can be tricky. For this November 2022 trip I kept the two projects in the same tote bag. Large enough to carry both items and small enough to carry into hotel rooms at night. Both the quilt and the stocking may have small monetary value, but each is priceless.

November 2022 In the Library

Travel also gives me great opportunity to read. Four books were reviewed in November 2022. (Click on each title for the individual review: The Displacements, Thank You For Listening, The Last Thing He Told Me, Love Marriage.) And another completed and still another currently in the reading stage. Plus, numerous children’s books are ready for gifting. They deserve a review as well.

Weeding in a Garden

November 2022 included weeding in a garden. A Florida garden, the warmer climate allowing work in this late fall month. As one ages, it is difficult to keep up with the yardwork. And that is if one is actually inclined. In my dad’s case, he prefers the jungle look. All I can think is… a habitat for snakes. So, a backyard jungle has gone through a partial transformation.

But the majority of the work took place in the front of the house. Wandering vines were removed, pine needles swept and accrued sand removed from the driveway. Now he has a safe path to the mailbox. Plus, the communal sidewalk is clear for the neighbors to traverse.

Of course, the hurricane was responsible for the twigs and small branches littering the lawn. Mother Nature contributed to the wild appearance.

Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving was small but very nice. Spending time with family is important to me. A focus on togetherness has always made the day special. The lovely Florida weather was an added benefit. So, even though Thanksgiving was early, the day helped set the tone for an upbeat end to November 2022.

October 2022 Wrap-Up

Happy Halloween

The end of October 2022 is here and so is a favorite day of many. Happy Halloween to all the Trick-or-Treaters. I am away from home today so I will miss all the costumes. Maybe my spouse will have some leftover Halloween candy to share once we reunite mid-week.

October 2022 In the Library

Many books were read this month. My target of one book reviewed each week was met with a wide variety to choose from. From historical novel to futuristic, with a solid economic text and just-in-time for Halloween- a trio of children’s books. Furthermore, two more reviews are on the way. The eclectic selection continues with a fictional commentary involving climate change and other social issues in The Displacements. Be sure to check back later this week. And a romance/love story will be featured next week.

Closing out the Harvest

The first freeze of the fall took place in October 2022. There are still a few green tomatoes ripening on the table. Even though the harvest was not record setting, it was plentiful. For those who missed Progressing Through the Season, click here to see some pictures of the newly planted asparagus bed.

Fall Cleaning

October 2022 extended the re-organization of the house. The focus this past month has been the basement. In addition to the canning storage area, I am organizing the library/play area. The grandkids need a space to spread out when they visit.

Highlight of October 2022

The best of the month came toward the very end. My new railing and stair banister finally arrived from the artists at Mostly by Nature in Santa Fe. We have purchased other pieces from the shop Sequioa Santa Fe on Galisteo Street.

The old railing was dismantled when hardwood floors replaced the carpet in the living room back in June. There have been no visits from the toddlers during this time for obvious reasons.

Now that the construction phase is over, I am looking forward to having family gather for the winter holidays. It will be cramped, but many memories will be made. Enjoy the before and after photos below.

Old Railing

Wood spindle railing
Last picture of wood railing before removal

New Railing

Artistic one-of-a-kind Iron railing
Unique Iron Railing updates the room.

September 2022 Wrap-Up

Summer Hanging On

The last day of September 2022 means another month has passed by. Time does not stand still. No freeze yet so lots of canning when I am not travelling. The highlight of the month was a road trip to Pierre, South Dakota for a Zonta International District 12 seminar. Weather was delightful but offered another glimpse of a changing climate. The highs were in the 80s and I never needed at jacket. Not even at night.

Skirting the Badlands

Last weekend I saw my first glimpse of the Badlands as I returned from Pierre/North Pierre, South Dakota. A distant glimpse as I was travelling south on South Dakota Highway 73 from Kadoka, South Dakota to Merriman, Nebraska.

The topography to the west was incredible. The canyons and bluffs created by rains as well as drainage from the White River, are stark in their beauty. I wish I had pictures to share but alas I was driving and there was no really good place to pull over. Driving down this road encountered little traffic. Not surprising since the area is not conducive to vegetation or habitation. Just incredible views of nature.

Heartland Travel

The Heartland of America is vast. Even numbered interstates crossing east/west begin with I-10 to the south culminating with I-94 to the north. I-90 intersects South Dakota, and the speed limit is 80 m.p.h. and at this speed I only noted one lawbreaker. On my trip out to Pierre, I only drove 19 miles of interstate. The rest of the trip involved U.S. and state highways.

Positives of using the backroads are less traffic and a greater chance to notice the surroundings. Negatives can include difficulty passing local drivers and occasionally roads in poor condition. Fortunately, we had no troubles on this trip. Only positives.

 

September 2022- Endless Cucumbers

Cucumbers are the star of the 2022 garden. Almost October and they are still flowering. Of course, the days are getting shorter, so I expect the vines to start slowing down. Pickles will certainly be in Christmas gift baskets. But many other goodies that are cucumber based will be included. The Indian Cucumber Relish recipe from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving filled the house with wonderful aroma and both the sweet and savory jam recipes are great.

The tomatoes are struggling to turn red. So only one batch of family secret salsa recipe has been whipped up. I believe that will change in the coming weeks. Long-term forecast shows no freeze into the first ten days of October. So, canning will continue.

September 2022- In the Library

Reading is not on the front burner with everything else vying for attention. I am currently reading Lilac Girls picked up on my visit to Mackinac Island. Set in the Second World War, the book is gripping. My To Be Read list keeps growing, so I know how much of my winter will be spent. Dividing my time between reading and quilting is once again, just around the corner.

August 2022 Wrap-Up

Busy Month

Classic White church with steepleAugust 2022 was a busy month with multiple trips including a short weekend in Upstate New York. The airplanes were packed and delayed. Although with the new guidelines, even a minute behind scheduled takeoff is now considered a delay.

I did manage to squeeze in a few hours in New York to visit a church where one of my ancestors had preached. Full of intention to write a post sharing the experience, alas the pictures remain in the computer and the words in my head. Much like the bats of the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin.

August 2022 Odds and Ends

The rains on the High Plains took a hiatus in mid-August. Fortunately, moisture returned at the end of the month. Unfortunately, the battle with ants returned with the rain. Mysteriously, I found a copy of The Berenstain Bears and the Great Ant Attack as I was re-arranging furniture. Naturally I took the time to re-read this classic children’s Chapter Book. Stan and Jan Berenstain put forth quite a bit of information in the books. No wonder my kids loved the series!

Tomato plants are loaded with green fruit. But have been battered by the incessant wind. Cucumbers are slowing down, as are the eggplant and jalapeno peppers. The potatoes are starting to die back, and a harvest of potatoes has commenced. I am hoping for a late frost, so the sweet potatoes have a chance to mature. But that may not happen since a blue jay was spotted this last day of August 2022. These beautiful albeit noisy birds make a short appearance on their flight South each year.

First Draft Complete

The first draft of a children’s board book is complete. And it is surprising to see the wide range of requirements for submission. A warning to other writers. Read the fine print. There are publishers who reserve the right to reject your submission but retain your idea without compensating you. I found that unsettling.

Currently I am editing and deciding whether to submit directly to a publisher or find an agent. There are pros and cons to each as I am finding out in Author 101: Bestselling Secrets From Top Agents by Rick Frishman and Robyn Freedman Spizman. Another option is to go the self-publishing route.

Politics in America Key in August 2022

The only thing I am certain of for the latter half of 2022 is that the United States of America is facing unprecedented times. August 2022 is shaping up to be an historic month. U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan to start the month off. Pelosi’s visit was the first by the House Speaker since 1997. And one that caused a few waves with the People’s Republic of China.

Her visit was topped politically by the FBI raid on former President Trump’s current residence. An unparalleled move, at least in my memory. Is this just politics? Or is something genuinely disturbing going on? If nothing else, the fall campaign season should be particularly fiery. I wish there was a way to avoid all the political advertisements. Needless negativity shortens the lifespan.

Growing Family

Last Christmas Day I learned a new grandchild was due at the end of August 2022. Well, the little guy arrived quite early and quite small back in Mid-July. Preemies are a bit scary, so I chose not to share the news in the July 2022 Wrap-Up. However, now weighing six pounds two ounces, he has doubled his birth weight. Tube feeding helped with the weight gain. Preemie baby with oxygen and feeding tubes.He remains on supplemental oxygen but everything else is as if he was born at the “normal” forty weeks. Much time has been spent with this tiny lad, and he seems determined to catch up quickly. I treasure my family and am thankful for this newest member. Even though the curse of interesting times is upon us, life can bring joy. Embrace the blessings!

July 2022 Wrap-Up

Hot and Rainy in July 2022

July 2022 brought both dry heat and heavy rain to my part of the country. The high temperature topped out at 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Multiple rains of over an inch also occurred. The heat is a normal occurrence in July on the High Plains of America, July 2022 was not exceptional. The rain was a bit above average but not unheard of as compared to other parts of the United States getting a once in a lifetime storm, over and over again.

Big Storms and Changing Weather

Ever since Hurricane Harvey dumped feet of rain on Houston, Texas, I keep an eye on storm systems. Slow moving rains can saturate the ground, even when the ground is parched. Furthermore, the storms don’t need to be hurricanes.

Last winter we suffered through 100 plus m.p.h. winds which devastated my garden fence and blew away my garlic. Click here to read the January 2022 Wrap-up. Winds this summer snapped my almost 30-year-old, borer-riddled, prize-winning peach tree in half. The fruit was too immature to ripen.

I am not old enough to personally know how this year’s winds differ from the Dust Bowl years. I am thankful these winds did not occur ten or so years ago when we witnessed less than ten inches of precipitation two years in a row. No rain and high winds make a deadly combination in my part of the world.

July 2022- Back on Track

Finally, I feel like I am back on track with my writing, both on the blog and otherwise. Writer’s block exists. My goal for July 2022 focused on output first and then on quality. Hopefully the content did not suffer much.

Perhaps re-reading the Diane Mott Davidson books helped. Certainly, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s Option B helped my malaise. Plus reading and reviewing the two new fiction books, Meant to Be and We Begin At The End was time well spent.

Fair Time

Once again rural county fairs are in full swing. Carnivals and parades augment the showcasing of 4-H projects and Open Class exhibits. Funnel cakes, snow cones and Bierocks are sold at concession stands to fairgoers. Everyone needs to experience a county fair at least once in life. Those of us involved in rural life look forward to the fair each year.

Getting Candy at the Fair Parade July 22
Getting Candy at the Fair Parade

March 2022 Wrap-Up

Wow, March 2022  is already gone. This month needs more days in it! I think the shortness of February has something to do with the fact March always seems to disappear. Plus, this time of year has so many demands on me.

March 2022 in the Garden

Spring arrives in March and so does the beginning of the yard work. Since President Biden told us to expect food shortages this year, I decided to expand the garden and plant more. Two new beds were rototilled. Asparagus, which takes multiple years to establish will grow in one. The crowns will also be planted in the next day or so. They will reside between the grapevines planted last year and the fenced garden. Deer tend to turn their nose up at this crop.

A snow fence now encircles the Big Garden as an added deterrent against the wildlife that wander in and out. Next, I will need to build a new gate. Additionally, plans to repair the blown down fence are started. Utility lines are marked. So, the project should be finalized this weekend. Hopefully it will be a few years before hurricane force winds visit us again.

Two hundred forty-four plant seedlings are nestled under the grow lights. Not counting the sixteen peanut plants. Nor the sweet potato slips. Of course quite a few of the starts are herbs and flowers. The latter really draw in the bees; key for pollinating the fruits and vegetables of the garden.

Snow fence built in March 2022
A snow fence adds another barrier against wildlife and wild winds.

Quilts and More Quilts

I am hand quilting a small baby quilt and have another waiting in the wings. A third quilt for a toddler is in the design stages. Fabrics are picked out along with the pattern. A diagram with numbers will keep me straight. Then, there is a key to the diagram which lists each quilt by description. There will be about twenty-five fabrics altogether in this latest design. The name of the pattern is Trip Around the World. One of my favorites. If you keep to the diagram everything comes out great.

March 2022 in the Library

More books were read than reviewed in March 2022. I reread one of my favorite Helen MacInnes books as a way to protest the Invasion of Ukraine. But, I did not include a review. I also read two new board books before giving them to a mom-to-be. They were cute. Maybe I will review a series of board books this summer.

Furthermore, I think you will enjoy the next two reviews. One for each of the upcoming weekends. Both are fiction. So I need to rebalance and find a non-fiction entry that I can finish. I much prefer to lose myself in the world of imagination. Too many dry texts in my past.

Inflation Challenge

The month of April will include an Inflation Check Challenge. It will be interesting to see how prices compare. I know petrol is higher. And housing. I am glad I am not young and just starting out. That would be a real challenge! Maybe things will slow down in April. As interest rates and prices climb, the supply/demand mechanism will come into play.

February 2022 Wrap-Up

Short Month

The shortest month of the year often gets away from me and February 2022 is no exception. Quilting was the focus for much of the month. But I read quite a few books were as well.

The super cool air has kept me from starting seeds. Many nights the temperature dropped below zero degrees Fahrenheit. A check on the ground indicates a freeze point just a few inches below the surface. So, I will wait another week before starting seeds.

Political events on the international level are the center of attention. Since I only watched one night of the Olympics,  most memories of a united world competition were wiped out. Instead, the tensions abroad are on stage. How quickly events can change one’s thoughts!

February 2022 in the Hobby Room

February 2022 featured hours in the hobby room. Because, hand quilting takes a considerable amount of time. If I owned a long arm machine, projects would be completed much faster. But, I do enjoy the hand quilting in small spurts.

The queen size quilt just completed took a lot of small spurts. Since this is a wedding present, I spent much care. The lines of quilting are in long rows. Furthermore, the binding is included in the backing. quilt showing backing, binding and topI think it will be treasured forever.

A crib quilt is now layered and the stitching will commence. I created the pattern myself and love how the colors blend together. Since the youngster has an engineer and an architect for parents, the trig calculations on the white background will be appreciated.

The fabric prints shift along the diagonal.  First, the upper half is baby-themed. Then the quilt transitions to teenage themed. Thus extending the use of the quilt. However, as the little one grows, it will most likely transition to a lap quilt.

Finally, the third quilt has the borders pieced. Now I need to calculate the length and width measurements required of the panel center. A seam allowance must be taken into account. Another key factor is which of the borders I attach first, sides or top and bottom.

Busy Reading Month

February 2022 provided plenty of time for reading as the weather was typical-cold. I am still trying to alternate between fiction and non-fiction. The Angry Earth became a DNF (Did Not Finish) as the length overcame my attention span. The work is well written and I took away quite a bit from the sections I did read.

I very much enjoyed both fictional novels finished this month. Janet Evanovich is a favorite and I enjoyed new to me author Kate Atkinson. Both authors will remain on my radar.

War

War Rattles over NATO Inclusion did not receive much attention when first published on February 12, 2022. I can understand the lack of “likes” as war is not something to promote. But I was surprised at how few people read the post. Perhaps world interest lags mine.

Unfortunately, the war rattles are now front and center on all news outlets. Furthermore, the topic is now critical. My hope is that a global war is avoided.

There are many novels covering clashes of political ideals. Two authors in this genre I have reviewed are Helen MacInnes and David Baldacci. Both worth reading. In a world of gray, good versus evil does exist. The conflict in real life is daunting. Now all eyes are glued to Russia and the Ukraine.

Queen size quilt in browns, cream and blue
Queen size quilt, hand quilted
Baby's quilt in reds, blues, golds, and whites
Farm animal panel quilt with border of yellows and purples

January 2022 Wrap-Up

Start of a New Year

The time for the January 2022 Wrap-Up is here. It always amazes me how fast the first wrap-up arrives. We are already finished with eight percent of the year. Here on the High Plains the weather has run the gamut from high winds to gentle snow with a few gorgeous almost spring-like days thrown in.

January is a time for planning the upcoming garden, quilting and reading. Especially on the dreary days. Wonderful walks and some travel accompanied the pleasant days. In between we gathered in small groups of family. Perhaps the larger gatherings can resume in the summer.

January 2022 In the Library

Quite a bit of reading took place this month. Non-fiction led the way, although not all have made it to this forum. There were two fiction reviews, a cozy mystery featuring Mac ‘n’ Ivy and a hard to categorize selection in Piranesi.

Since the alternating of fiction and non-fiction works well, I plan to continue in this way. Perhaps, I became bogged down last year with too many similar books. Finding the balance is key. Reading is both relaxing and inspiring. Although, sometimes not at the same time.

January 2022 In the Garden

High winds created havoc in the garden. A row of garlic was blown out even though heavily mulched. Fence and fence posts were sheered and netting and supports shredded. Repairs are planned. But may not be completed until March. The ground is too frozen in shady areas.

Seeds are mostly purchased. Early starts will be made indoors in February. Since the destruction of the garden hardscape was great, I am also toying with ideas for more permanent structures. I will be certain to share.

Projects and Hobbies

Chandelier refinished with gold paint on the frame and the lampshades remain a frosted white.Currently the main focus of my quilting has been the hand stitching of a large bed quilt. But I also made some changes to home décor. Kitchen lights have arrived and are waiting to be installed. But an agreement can’t be made with regard to the entryway. One household member prefers a dungeon look of iron and wood while the other more of a Broadway theatre look with gold and crystal. Thus a compromise was struck and the current light fixture stays for now; with a paint job!

Needs and Wants

The light fixtures are key representatives of the needs versus wants dilemma. In this time of rapidly rising costs, we all need to be cognizant of expenditures. The kitchen lights had become faulty. New bulbs short out. But the entryway fixture works well. So, no need to replace.

Tracking expenditures should be basic economics. Budgeting needs to focus on current needs. Wants are fun to have items that we can do without. I think 2022 will be a year to focus on needs, not on our wants.

The wrap-up of the Inflation Check Challenge points out the importance of separating needs from wants. While we are most likely avoiding hyperinflation, significant inflation is on tap for 2022. Only a perfect storm will lead to the former. A storm we do not want. So, I for one will be quite careful with my budget in 2022. Purchases and investments will still occur. But only after much due diligence.

November 2021 Wrap-Up

A Quick Reflection

The November 2021 Wrap-Up marks another month off the calendar. A new variant of Covid-19 is in the news. So is climate change. Fall is winding down, albeit slowly. The holiday season has begun. What started as a slow month of productivity has morphed into one of busy-ness. Thus, time to reflect.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Only one month to go and we have the second year of the pandemic behind us. History alone will give us a clear picture of the depth of Covid-19. Accurate reporting is a challenge for nations trying for validity. Then there are many countries unwilling or unable to report cases and deaths with any precision.

November 2021- A Glimpse of Climate Change

No precipitation, rain or snow, fell on my part of the world in November 2021. Thus, the drought returns. September 20th is the last recorded rainfall in my gauge. Unfortunately, the forecast is calling for more of the same. High temperatures are running fifteen to twenty degrees above average. This would have been a good year to grow crops under a hoop.

The frosty night temperatures do create a problem with irrigation. Hoses need to be disconnected almost every night since few nights remain above 32°F. But watering of certain plants is critical because they have not entered their normal dormancy. It is a tough time to be a gardener.

Thanksgiving 2021

This Thanksgiving was quite enjoyable. We gathered as safely as possible. The age range included one just under a year to the oldest soon to be a nonagenarian. A new recipe developed for a youngster restricted to a vegan diet for health reasons was enjoyed by all. I will share the recipe for Nolan’s Vegan Holiday Rolls next week. These rolls are adapted from the Soft Gluten Free Dinner Roll recipe.

I married into a big family. We cannot fit everyone around one table and meals are always buffet style. This took some getting used too since my family gatherings growing up topped out at eleven. Cousins and all. A tight fit around one table but doable-just not much elbow room. And Southern families tend to have all the dishes in the center of the table to be passed around. As with everything in life, there are pros and cons about each serving style.

In the Library- November 2021

My reading fell off again this month. But I am currently enthralled by Nell Painter’s Old in Art School. Hopefully, I will have a review to publish this Friday. One of my goals for 2022 is to re-establish my posting patterns-if possible. As usual, quite a few books have been bought for gift giving in December. In addition to my Econogal’s Annual Top Book Lists, I am contemplating adding a top gift list. Of course books would be a big part of that list as well.

Craft Time

I have spent many hours in my Hobby Room this month. A thorough re-organization was needed. The room is a good size. However, I need to find room for my paints-at least for the month of December. My painting nook upstairs is perched between a southeast and southwest window. This provides great light. But it is also where the Christmas tree goes.

The bulk of the Hobby Room is devoted to fabric. There is a good size cutting table. And a much smaller sewing table. Book cases hold quilting books and magazines. But they also hold gardening books. I still lack a greenhouse/ garden shed so my seed storage is also in my Hobby Room.

Finally, I have cabinets holding glue guns, glue, beads, pipettes, ribbon, crayons, pencils, papers and more. Photos and scrapbooking materials also have a home in the room. So, organization is key.Felt Stocking pattern

November 2021 Productivity

The month ended up being very productive. I have always found work, especially manual labor, a cure for what ails you. I am on track to finish a Bucilla stocking for the youngest as well as a new quilt. Staying busy in a constructive way is my way of combatting the Blahs.

October 2021 Wrap-Up

Halloween

The October 2021 Wrap-Up is here and that means it is Halloween. I am still undecided about opening the doors to Trick-or-Treaters. The general populace seems oblivious to the current resurgence of Covid-19. Additionally, the forecast is one of a wintery mix. In lay terms, a cold rain mixed with sleet or snow or both.

On top of that, the October 2021 Wrap-Up includes the quarterly Inflation Check. There is much talk in the media about price hikes. We will see what my personal check list looks like. Have you checked your list yet?

Also included is a look at winter projects. I am ready to focus on the hobby room until the first of the year when the brassica seeds will be started. Since I was not able to build a greenhouse, only a few plants were brought inside. Hopefully, they will thrive.

Man wearing a Fritos Costume
Both the costume and the wearer have aged since 2005 when this was taken but both are present Halloween October 2021.

Inflation Check Challenge

Keeping track of prices has been enlightening. There is definitely some price creep, but no large leaps in the products I am watching. The largest quarterly increase of available goods was 5% for the dry cat food. This was the first increase for this product since the challenge began.

The largest increase from a percentage standpoint was in canning lids. An increase of 17% is quite meaningless when there is no product to buy. I do not check for lids every day, but quite frequently and have not seen any locally since February. Jars are still available as are packages of rings and lids together. Both incur more cost.

Third Quarter Inflation Check Challenge

ItemAmountJanuary 2021 Price
Regular/Sale
April 2021 Price
Regular/Sale
July 2021 Price
Regular/Sale
October 2021 Price
Regular/Sale
Comments
Planet Oat Extra Creamy Original Oat Milk52 Oz.$3.49$3.99$3.99/$2.99$3.99
Small Bag Signature Select Sugar4 lbs.$2.99$2.99/$1.99$2.99$2.99/$2.49The October sale price was a smaller reduction than in April.
Signature Select Cream Style Corn14.75 Oz.$0.69$0.79$0.79$0.79/$0.65Enjoyed the October sale price.
Fleischmanns Active Dry Yeast4 Oz.$6.99$6.99$7.19$7.49Another increase in yeast is concerning. Price before the pandemic was several dollars lower.
BananasPer Pound$0.59$0.55$0.59$0.59
Kraft Real Mayo30 0z.$4.99/$3.79$4.99/$3.99$4.99/$3.79$5.29/$3.99Mayo is still on sale. However the jars were either at or past their Best Use date.
Meow Mix6.3 lbs.$7.78$7.78$7.78$8.22First increase in price for this product about 5%.
Morton Salt26 Oz.$1.19/$0.94$1.19/$0.99$1.19/$0.99$1.29/$0.99Increase in regular price.
Crest Pro Health Toothpaste4.6 Oz.$5.99/$4.99$5.49/$3.99$3.99/$3.49$3.99/$2.99The continued price decline makes one think there is a price subsidy at play.
Align Probiotics28 Count$26.58$26.58$26.58$26.58
Tide Botanical Rain Detergent92 Oz$11.97$11.97$11.97$11.97/$11.39Small Discount
Kerr Regular Mouth Canning Lids12 Count$3.18$2.88$2.88$3.38The big increase this quarter did not keep buyers away. Still completely sold out each time I check.
3M Ad. Allergy Furnace Filter1 Count$15.88$15.88$15.88$16.38An increase of 2.5%. Stock was low but not sold out.
Dunkin Donut Boston Cream1 Count$0.99$1.09$1.17$1.09Competition brought the price back down. New coffee shop in town.
Regular Unleaded Gasoline1 Gallon $2.36$2.79$2.79$2.79The local Pilot must have bought a year's worth of product- or else selling at a loss. Prices while travelling topped $3.50. We certainly fill up before leaving town.

October 2021 Wrap-Up in the Hobby Room

October is a transitional month. Outside temperatures can vary widely-even day to day. So, I spend some time in the hobby room. Currently, I have multiple projects going on. One quilt has been layered and is in a stand. At least one hour a day is spent hand quilting this Christmas gift.

Another gift is in the cutting/sewing stage. I did not include rotary cutting blades in the Inflation Check Challenge, but they seem to be a bit more expensive. Each new project usually needs a new blade, so I should have included these. Maybe next year.

A new great-nephew is arriving next February. His quilt is currently in the design stage. I am in a bit of a quandary with this one. I have a great backing piece, with one small problem. It is about ½ inch shorter than my design. So, I am working on the math.

My current plan was to have alternating blocks of a finished seven inch size. The center would be comprised of 16 of these blocks. I was planning on a six inch border. But, to incorporate the design into the border, I end up with seven inches per side. Somehow, somewhere, I will need to “cheat” either a seam allowance, or with the binding. The alternative is to use a boring border.

The final project is a cloth book. I bought the kit at the Alamosa Quilt Company travelling through there in August on the way to Santa Fe. I have been searching for kits like this for several years. The grandkids will love these!

Final Thoughts for the October 2021 Wrap-Up

An ongoing pandemic can be quite depressing. Viruses are pesky. Flus and colds appear every year. Severe consequences vary by type. Few people die from a cold, more from a flu. Covid-19 is more deadly than either. (I am really tired of seeing the 99.9% figure surviving Covid-19 on social media. That is far from true.)  But the novel coronavirus is far, far, less deadly than Ebola or the new virus I am watching- H5N6. Click here to read about this viral flu infection that kills about half of those who contract it.

Since I am not a microbiologist, I cannot offer any valid insight. But I can read and discern. And I can alert as I did back in January 2020.

We need to recognize our world is changing in many ways. Detrimental shifts need to be addressed. Beneficial changes celebrated. The future is uncertain. I intend to do what I can to add value to our world. Conservation is a good place to start. I learned when camping as a Girl Scout to leave the land better than before. What a good lesson for all people, places, and things!

 

 

 

 

August 2021 Wrap-Up

A Scorcher

August 2021 on the High Plains was a scorcher. But, a couple of afternoon thunderstorms brought some much needed moisture. And relief for a day or two from watering. Travel also provided some respite from the triple digit heat.

August 2021 In The Garden

Unlike last year, the current crop of Roma Tomatoes is struggling with a blight. The fruit is small and the vines are shriveling even before ripening. Fortunately, other crops are producing so I have plenty of options.

Cucumbers and green beans are vying with each other to be king of the garden. There will be plenty of pickles and beans this winter. I have designated one tower of beans to stay on the vine. This way I will enjoy dried beans as well as fresh green beans.

I am also harvesting broccoli, Swiss chard and a few beets. The blue potatoes are almost ready to harvest. Since we are not forecast to go below freezing anytime soon, some of the longer developing crops should do better this year.

August 2021 In the Library

This month marked a return to reading and reviewing on a more regular basis. The ratio of fiction to non-fiction was 3-1, not too bad. The fictional settings were from various parts of the United States. I found them quite enjoyable. And I highly recommended Liquids Till Lunch, the self-help book towards overall wellness.

Special Projects

I have been working on some special projects in the sewing room. They are gifts so no hints or pictures-yet. One was quite difficult because there was not a pattern. I hope to write about this old-fashioned gift next week.

Travel

The Alamosa Quilt Company was on my list of stops while escaping the heat. If you are ever in this high mountain valley town, this store is a great place to shop. The staff is very knowledgeable and the selection is top notch.

There is a back way to Santa Fe from Alamosa. The drive is relaxing until you are almost to the Capitol City of New Mexico. Non-Interstate roads can be quite the treat, but not if you are in a hurry. As I wrote in Summertime In Santa Fe, this road trip is one we take periodically. The food is great and so is the artwork. Santa Fe is truly a can’t miss destination.

A Difficult Point in Time

World events during August 2021 were complex and disturbing. Covid-19 is striking again. Arguments continue on many levels, but in my part of the world the biggest controversies revolve around vaccinations, treatments, and masks.

Here in the United States, repercussions from the changing climate include massive fires and large storms including hurricanes. The destruction is great. Unfortunately, the arguments and finger-pointing rival those surrounding Covid-19.

Last and certainly the most unsettling is the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Words truly fail. Much was sacrificed these past twenty years and to no avail. One hopes September is better.

July 2021 Wrap-Up

After a two month hiatus I am returning to the monthly wrap-ups with the July 2021 edition. This month will include a comparison of prices as well as a summary of events. Even though the book reviews are fewer, the gardening and travel offer plenty to discuss.

Covid-19 and Summer Travel

Without a deep dive into the numbers, it is hard to correlate the media reports of new Covid-19 outbreaks with observation. In the last six weeks I have put 5000 miles on my Subaru Outback crossing the country. Thirteen states in all. People are travelling everywhere. In addition to a few examples of gas shortages, hotel rooms along interstate highways are also in high demand.

I still prefer to pack food along in a cooler. But to be honest this habit developed pre-pandemic. At the end of a long day of travel, often the last thing I want to do is find a restaurant. Picnic lunches at rest areas also hold an attraction over fast food.

July 2021 Travel

The longest trip in July took me all the way to Florida for the Celebrating Life event honoring my Mom. The much needed closure allowed me to see family that I was separated from during the Covid-19 pandemic. I truly hope this pandemic will run its course and does not get repeated in my lifetime.

I took a slight detour through Texas Hill Country on the return trip. It has been more than a decade since my last visit. This is a beautiful part of the country. And worth leaving the Interstate system to visit. Rural areas suddenly turn into small (and not so small cities) and vice versa. Fair warning, the torrential downpours still occur almost daily. Of course that makes for good grazing. I saw plenty of herds on my trip including the infamous longhorns. But no white Cadillacs with the horns on front. Most likely an iconic image of the past.

July 2021 In The Garden

The toughest part of travel in the summer is the neglect to the garden. Fortunately, the Raised Row technique I use keeps the Big Garden relatively free of weeds. However, a few cucumbers grew so big that they became food for my niece’s chickens. I did have enough of the right size to turn into six pints of pickles. The canning season is just getting started.

The first of the potatoes and the last of the garlic have also been harvested. Green beans, eggplant and tomatoes are all starring in the garden. Unfortunately, there have been casualties as well. Neither the artichoke nor the avocado were able to survive the neglect.

We are fortunate the rains continue. The most recent storm dropped over an inch. Plenty to help with the veggies which seem to prefer natural water over human supplied. The rain also helps keep the utility bill in check.

Overgrown Cucumbers

Cucumbers of all sizes
The chickens enjoyed the over ripe ones!

Fair Time

It is county fair time on the High Plains. Last year many of the fairs were cancelled or mere shadows of previous years. This year should be a return to normal. For those of you in major cities, many counties here have been without a case in months while the more populated counties average one every week or ten days. Thus it is hard for inhabitants to want to maintain isolation.

County fairs in this part of the country focus on the 4-H kids. They also offer rodeos and parades. The fairs are community events. Most of the county high schools have all school reunions in election years. That was skipped last year. A lost year. All school reunions are possible because average class sizes hover in the dozens-or fewer.

Price Comparisons in July 2021

My travel in July 2021 allowed me a glimpse at prices across the country. Gasoline has been the most intriguing. While it is $2.79 in my home town, a high of $3.65 was spotted in both Colorado and Tennessee.

I did some grocery shopping in Florida. The comparisons were quite interesting. Twenty pounds of rice in Florida is almost half what I pay. But the beef prices were much, much higher. I chalk that up to transportation costs.

Thus, the timing for the Inflation Check Challenge is perfect. The current quarter price comparison follows.

Inflation Check Challenge

ItemAmountJanuary PriceApril PriceJuly PriceComments
Planet Oat Extra Creamy Original Oat Milk52 Oz$3.49$3.99$2.99July Price on sale Regular price $3.99
Small Bag Signature Select Sugar4 Lbs$2.99$1.99$2.99April Price on Sale Regular Price $2.99
Signature Select Cream Style Corn14.75 Oz$0.69$0.79$0.79
Fleischmanns Active Dry Yeast4 Oz$6.99$6.99$7.19July Price Increase of $0.20
Bananas1 Lb.$0.59$0.55$0.59A return to January prices after a April dip.
Kraft Real Mayo30 OZ$3.79/$4.99$3.99/$4.99$3.79/$4.99A return to the January Sale Price
Meow Mix6.3 Lbs$7.78$7.78$7.78
Morton Salt26 Oz$0.94/$1.19$0.99/$$1.19$0.99/$1.19
Crest Pro Health Toothpaste4.6 Oz$4.99/$5.99$3.99/$5.49$3.49/$3.99A continued decline in price
Align Probiotics28 Count$26.58$26.58$26.58
Tide Botanical Rain Detergent92 Oz$11.97$11.97$11.97
Kerr Regular Mouth Canning Lids12 Count$3.18$2.88$2.28Sold Out in Both April and July
3M Ad. Allergy Furnace Filter1$15.88$15.88$15.88Sold Out in July
Dunkin Donut-Boston Cream1$0.99$1.09$1.17
Regular Unleaded Gasoline1 Gal$2.36$2.79$2.79In January and April prices were within a few cents. July prices had a twenty cent range in town.
A comparison of prices to keep track of inflation.

April 2021 Wrap-Up

The April 2021 Wrap-Up signals the month is finally over. The month felt like a year in some respects. A small amount of progress was made on the last of the baby quilts. A tremendous effort yielded enough plants to fill the Big Vegetable Garden. Finally, I made it past my reading block and the writing is starting to come around as well.

Covid-19 Vaccinations

All of my immediate family has opted to vaccinate against the coronavirus. Reactions varied from none to mild. Mostly sore arm muscle at the injection site. This is a common side effect for me.

In my neck of the woods, many have decided not to vaccinate. Unfortunately, the result of a low vaccination rate is a resurgence of the viral outbreak. So, one way or another herd immunity should come about. Personally, I do not know of anyone who contracted the disease twice. But this new outbreak is taking a toll on the younger populations. This is particularly surprising because our students have been in school together since the fall. Thus there has not been an increase in contact and interaction.

Inflation Check Challenge– April 2021 Wrap-Up and Check-In

The comparison prices from the Inflation Check Challenge were quite a mix. Of the fifteen products, nine kept their regular price the same. However, sale prices changed with some showing a slight increase. Two items decreased in price. Bananas dropped four cents a pound. Most likely a seasonal adjustment.

Mysteriously, canning lids dropped in price. Not surprisingly the thirty cent price dropped resulted in an empty shelf. The product was sold out. I have no idea if the price will change again once new product arrives.

My expense for sugar was less because of a coupon, but the regular price remained the same. I love coupons! Both salt and mayonnaise remained on sale, but the sale price adjusted upwards.

The biggest increase was gasoline. It is now $2.79 per gallon. This increase took place in the early part of the quarter. I think the price has stabilized for a while. Here is the list:

Item                                                                                                                                   January 2021                                 April 2021                                                                                                                                                              Regular Price/Sale Price              Regular Price/Sale Price

Planet Oat Extra Creamy Original Oat Milk                                                                    $ 3.49/$ 3.99                        $ 3.99

Small Bag Signature Select Sugar                                                                                       $ 2.99                                      $1.99/$ 2.99

Signature Select Cream Style Corn                                                                                     $ 0.69                                      $ 0.79

Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast                                                                                          $ 6.99                                      $ 6.99

Bananas                                                                                                                                    $ 0.59                                      $ 0.55

Kraft Real Mayo                                                                                                                      $ 3.79/$ 4.99                           $ 3.99/$ 4.99

Meow Mix                                                                                                                                 $ 7.78                                      $ 7.78

Morton Salt                                                                                                                              $ 0.94/$ 1.19                           $ 0.99/$ 1.19

Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste                                                                                                $ 4.99/$ 5.99                           $ 3.99/$ 5.49

Align Probiotics                                                                                                                       $26.58                                     $26.58

Tide Botanical Rain Detergent                                                                                              $11.97                                     $11.97

Kerr Regular Mouth Canning Lids                                                                                       $ 3.18                                     $ 2.88      Sold Out

3M Ad. Allergy Furnace Filter                                                                                               $15.88                                     $15.88

Dunkin Donut-Boston Cream                                                                                                $ 0.99                                      $ 1.09

Regular Unleaded Gas                                                                                                             $ 2.36                                      $ 2.79

 

Yellow Roses in Honor of Mom

March 2021 Wrap-Up

March 2021 provided much needed moisture here on the High Plains. The big snow event elsewhere came in the form of rain. Three days of precipitation. Then just a week later we had a quick, wet six inches of snow. All melted within 48 hours. All total, we received over three inches of moisture.

March 2021 In The Garden

Seedlings under grow lightsThe spring rains did not immediately turn into flowers. We still have the lagging effect of February’s brutal cold. The crocuses that can pop out of the ground by February 1, did not arrive until March 20th. And, the flowering trees have yet to make an appearance. So this Easter there will be an absence of color in the garden.

Several new fruit trees and bushes were planted, and a young sour cherry was transplanted. Of course, the weather was taken into consideration. A dream of having a greenhouse/garden house is becoming a reality. The cherry stood in the way but has adapted to its new spot in the yard.

The apple tree and plum tree have been protected from deer and rabbit. Plus, the raspberry is a dwarf and so will be a patio plant. More plantings will be done in the first half of April. This year may see a large amount of winterkill.

My grow light seedlings are coming along. The brassicas and leaf greens are in the process of hardening off. I have tentatively scheduled the transplanting for late next week. (After the mini heat wave which starts Easter Sunday.) Finally, the first of the asparagus have poked out of the ground. Soon, we will enjoy fresh garden grown veggies.

March 2021 In The Library

My reading goal of including more non-fiction is on track. Additionally, I am expanding the genres under the fiction category. Currently I am reading The Invisible Life of Addie Larue. Very interesting.

However, I am slacking off in the number of periodical articles perused.

Pandemic Thoughts

March 2021 certainly flew by faster than March 2020. It is hard to believe the pandemic is still ongoing. I did receive my first vaccination. There are no problems to report so far. I took the first vaccine available to me, Moderna. Time will tell if there will be any side effects, good or bad. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to seeing more family in the near future.

I am concerned by the many variants popping up throughout the world. My corner has returned to business as usual. Everything is open. For the most part masks are by choice. The exception is in healthcare areas. Perhaps we will be spared the variant strains. Starting Good Friday, anyone 16 or over may be eligible to receive a vaccination.

Inflation Check Challenge

The end of the first quarter is upon us. So our initial inflation check challenge is due. It is time to start filling the market basket formulated at the beginning of the year. Off the top, I know gasoline has skyrocketed. It will be interesting to see how other goods in the basket compare. Keep an eye out for the one-on-one comparison coming in late April.

 

 

 

 

February 2021 Wrap-Up

February 2021 is one for the history books. Brutal, record setting cold pushed past the High Plains on its way south towards the border of the U.S.A. and Mexico. Fortunately, our part of the country expects sub-zero temperatures from time to time. So, we escaped the disaster that befell many of the southern states.

But we did not escape the cold! The official low temperature for the month in our little town was a negative 28 Fahrenheit. At our place, the outdoor thermometer hit a temperature just shy of that. We were very thankful our power remained on. Needless to say, indoor activities ruled February.

Reading Through the Cold Snap

Much of February 2021 passed by while reading by the fire. In addition to Spin and Cleaning Sucks, I re-read several Janet Evanovich books. They bring needed laughter. I also read a delightful YA novel, Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer and a thought provoking economic release by James Rickards, The New Great Depression. Both will appear as reviews in March.

February 2021 Garden Prep

It is never too cold to think of the garden. In early February 2021, peanuts were started. I did not soak them overnight, but just for a few hours. This was a mistake. Only three of the two dozen have sprouted. This will be remedied.

Other seeds started include cauliflower, at a fifty percent germination rate; celery, kale, cabbage, and iceberg lettuce. The lettuce has a 100% germination. These cold weather crops should be big enough to transplant by early April. If not sooner.

Our last average freeze date is May 15, although later freezes and even snows are not unusual. Thus, transplants are an important part of gardening. Due to the severe cold, I doubt my hoop experiment will yield any success. So, my plans for a greenhouse-garden house are moving forward.

Quilts and More Quilts

Another advantage of cold weather is the time available for quilting. February marked the completion of two baby quilts with a doll quilt thrown in. I am down to just three UFO’s. I look forward to sharing more about the quilts as March progresses. Binding finishes off the quilts and is my least favorite part of the process.

Log Cabin Quilt in yellows and grays

New Life in February 2021

 

The highlight of February occurred on the 19th. Another granddaughter was born. I am excited to welcome Ivy Louise into the family. She is named in part for my mom. The circle of life continues.

January 2021 Wrap-Up

The January 2021 Wrap-Up is a day late but hopefully not a dollar short for the reading public. As a month, it was difficult. Numbness as much as pain. But that is to be expected when dealing with Life After the Loss of a Loved One. Fortunately, the circle of life continues. And as I have experienced from a tooth repair at the dentist, numbness wears off. Pain to the heart will take longer, but fortunately a life full of good memories is lasting.

Travel in January 2021

A long cross country drive offered a glimpse of how America is reacting to the Covid-19 pandemic. The vast majority of the country has taken steps to stay healthy. This does not mean everything was closed down. Restaurants were open. Outside seating was available in most cases. But capacity varied greatly.

We did encounter a few places where masks where not in the majority. Business was booming in these spots. I think this will be the case everywhere by the end of 2021. As more and more people who want the vaccine achieve their goal, pent up demand will explode.

A final thought on travelling by car in the United States is just how beautiful this country is. And how varied. (I guess that is two thoughts.) Visitors to the country as well as citizens should go beyond the big cities. The smaller towns offer such a diverse experience.

Looking Forward in 2021

January 2021 is now in the past. We lost two family members, bringing the total to three for this long winter. The remainder of the high risk individuals in the family have all received a first vaccine. So far, no adverse reactions. At the end of February, I will report on the second series of shots.

My spouse is on the extended list for vaccine, but I am not yet eligible. It will be interesting to follow the progress both here and abroad. Meanwhile, I expect to be a bit unsocial for the coming month.

Spring 2021 In The Garden

The snow mostly disappeared over the weekend allowing me to get into the Big Garden and make some repairs. A large windstorm in the middle of the month caused damage to the support structure. We still have very cold nights, below zero this past week, so no outside planting. But seeds will soon be started indoors. Life begins again.

December 2020 Wrap-Up

Today is the last of December 2020 and the end of a very long year. 2020 was unique and not necessarily in a good way. Yet the year will be long remembered, and that is historically positive. Therefore, this wrap-up will extend beyond a monthly account and provide glimpses of what the entire year felt like here on the High Plains.

Change can be difficult. Self-discipline even more difficult and 2020 required both. Our household is inching closer and closer to the Over-The-Hill category. One of us has multiple “co-morbidities” and we both have thyroid issues. A year ago I would have said we both had another fifteen to twenty years on our lifespan. Now, who knows? So we are and will continue to be cautious with respect to Covid-19.

December 2020

Our month started out with the dreaded news that multiple family members had contracted the virus. Not all at the same time. The earliest was an octogenarian uncle who contracted the disease just prior to Thanksgiving. He died in early December. He had many co-morbidities. So his death was not unexpected. We were able to watch the graveside service via a livestream video. It was hard not being there in person.

Norman was a special man. A farmer by trade, he could have easily been a minister. His Thanksgiving 2001 grace still registers with my offspring. The prayer was both spiritual and patriotic. Perfect for those trying times. I will never forget the support he gave me in the early 90s after one of our little ones was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. The sporadic phone calls always seemed to occur when I most needed them. Rest in peace Uncle Norman.

A Low Key Christmas

A few days later, my spouse brought home a Norfolk Pine from the grocery store and we decided to use it as a Christmas tree. The live plant stands about three feet high and we placed lights upon the branches and packages underneath. Low key, yet the cheery tree greeted us each time we opened the front door.

Lights were hung on the front porch and the Christmas dishes were used throughout the month. Determined to keep with the spirit of the season, I made multiple batches of cookies to distribute to neighbors and family. We enjoyed our fair share as well.

I brined a turkey for the first time, and I will never roast one again without brining first. First of all, I really did not know what I was doing. However, I tossed some fresh garden herbs into the boiling salted water along with turmeric. The result was fantastic. I added little in the way of spices for the leftover dish Turkey Tetrazzini, yet it was one of the most flavorful dishes I have ever made. Brining the turkey is a new requirement in this household.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Cship
Chocolate chocolate chip cookies
Pecan Pie Bars
Chocolate Fudge shortcake Pan cookies
Tumeric flavored brine

Celestial Delights for December 2020

Perhaps due to the brilliant clear skies we have in this part of the world, we are avid stargazers. December 2020 brought us several opportunities to embrace the cold nights by gazing at the above sky. The Geminid meteor shower is one of my favorites. One evening we spotted ten meteors in about thirty minutes.

But the highlight of the month was the appearance of the “Christmas Star.” The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is one I will remember. I place it with the Total Eclipse of 2017 as a treasured event. Truly, some things only occur once in a lifetime.

Other December 2020 Highlights

I continue to post my top list of books for the year. Click here for the 2020 list. My reading has fallen off a bit the last few weeks, but I am currently reading a Christmas gift, American Nations by Colin Woodard. Look for the review in January of 2021.

I also began another garden experiment. The remainder of my sweet potato crop was too small to cook. The root vegetables were less than an inch across and only numbered three. So two were tossed in the compost and the third was placed in a glass jar to hopefully spout. All through December 2020 I changed the water and watched roots slowly form. I was delighted to find sprouting stems and leaves on the 29th. I hope to grow slips from this plant as ordered slips often arrive in poor condition and weeks after the earliest planting time.

My quilting by hand continues. Christmas movies are great to have on while the tiny stitches are made. Many a cold December afternoon was spent in this way. However, I will need to begin cutting and piecing another baby quilt in January. My second grandchild is due late February.

Sweet Potato start in glass jar just beginning to sprout
Two quilts in hops for hand quilting

The Year of the Pandemic

It will be interesting to see how 2020 is treated by historians. While some countries have kept the numbers low, others have not. We are still in the middle of the pandemic and many countries are seen as having failed. My country is included among the failures. However as I wrote in my Successes and Failures post last January, we just need to keep trying. The Spanish Flu (which you can read a review of a good account by clicking here) came to an end and so will Covid-19.

My 2020 resolutions flew out the door rather quickly. In fact I had to look them up for this account. However, I was quite pleased that I managed to keep the third without trying. If there was ever a year for negativity, 2020 comes to mind. For the most part I stayed positive. A pandemic is something beyond my control. No need to be glum when something is out of your hands.

Gardening in 2020

Two items shine when I reflect on 2020. The first is my garden. I continue to advocate for the Raised Row technique first discussed in this March 2018 book review. The yields are great and the weeds are sparse. We are still enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of my labor each time we open a jar of home produce.

Furthermore, I really enjoy the multiple experiments. I wrote numerous times about last spring’s peanut experiment which yielded a fair amount. I will use some of this year’s harvest to start next year’s plants. The legumes are great for the soil in addition to our eating enjoyment. As mentioned above, I am excited about my new sweet potato experiment. 2021 looks to be another good year in the garden.

Econogal 2020

Perhaps my greatest success has been my writing. Econogal readership is expanding, although not exponentially as viruses do. My favorite posts include Striking a Balance in May, Vail Valley Escape in July, Patience with a Side of Self-Discipline in November, Rainy Day Fund and Brave New World.

November was a key month with the number of hits on the blog almost tripling that of October. Perhaps people were just bored or stuck at home. However, I do appreciate the comments and the new followers. The community of bloggers is a solid one of support.

Superstitions

For the most part I am not a superstitious person. A key exception revolves around sports. Horse racing in particular evokes various superstitions. But I am a bit superstitious this New Year’s Eve. Last year I was full of expectations of 2020. This year I have absolutely NONE regarding 2021.

Furthermore, as you can see in the picture below, my planner for 2021 is not the artsy one of 2020 (that I had been so thrilled to find and purchase) but one much closer to the earlier years. I use planners extensively to keep track of my writing, the garden activities, and the weather. We have so little moisture on the High Plains, rain and snow measurements are key. Hopefully, a return to a plain, unexceptional planner will yield a less intense 2021. Happy New Year Everyone!

Planning calendars

November 2020 Wrap-Up

Even though I was a bit apprehensive as November 2020 approached, I am now a bit sad to see the month come to a close. I think my anxiety stemmed from the acrimonious presidential campaign. Even though the Electoral College has yet to meet, and so the outcome is not official, the country is on track for another peaceful transition of power. The Founding Fathers were sage statesman.

Stress Free Thanksgiving

Perhaps the most positive aspect of November 2020 was my immediate family’s adaptability with respect to Thanksgiving. We started the day with an hour long Zoom. It was a first for my Mom. She lives in an area of the country where Covid-19 positivity is declining and was able to leave her nursing home for a few hours. (Many precautions were taken.)

The family enjoyed seeing each other virtually. I treasured the time. From the oldest to the youngest, each of my loved ones looked healthy and happy.

The Zoom meeting was followed later in the day by a group text. Pictures of all the delicious dishes were shared by each of my offspring. The photos represented a first turkey, a bevy of side-dishes and fantastic desserts. I swear I gained weight just looking at all the food!

Stuffing and sweet potato casserole
Applesauce Bundt Cake

Thanksgiving for Two

My husband and I had a very enjoyable day. After the family Zoom, we took a long drive out in the country. Winter wheat fields of green contrasted with tones of amber where milo and corn stubble remained on the ground.

Upon returning home we popped our very small turkey breast in the oven. Homemade whole wheat rolls, a layered pea salad, sweet potato casserole, stuffing and an applesauce Bundt cake provided plenty to eat.

The garden contributed ingredients to many of the side dishes. The last of the homegrown sweet potatoes were in the casserole. I dug up the carrots for the stuffing Thanksgiving Day and along with onions stored from early fall, and we had a tasty dish. Green onions from the side garden were an integral part of the pea salad. Finally, the last of the tomatoes topped off the Kentucky Hot Brown made from leftovers on Friday.

I think my enjoyment stems from the satisfaction of utilizing the homegrown produce. Perhaps I felt a connection to the pilgrims celebrating their survival. We no longer have the need for self-sufficiency, but perhaps we lose some satisfaction when everything is bought at the store. Food for thought.

Final Reflections on November 2020

I spent quite a bit of time on my own in November 2020. Most of my interaction was with my husband. The pandemic is ravaging our area of the world and many of my neighbors are battling the virus with varying outcomes. However, I did make it to one of the small local businesses to finalize my Christmas shopping. Precautions were taken.

Perhaps I will not escape the virus, but I am making the attempt. Vaccines are likely in the coming year. In the meantime, I am happy creating quilts, reading and writing. I feel blessed to live in a happy home.

Kentucky Hot Brown before cooking
The last of the garden tomatoes make the Kentucky Hot Brown delicious.
Kentucky Hot Brown after cooking
This version of Kentucky Hot Brown leaves off the bacon.

October 2020 Wrap-Up

My October 2020 was certainly busy, but not as stressful as October 2019. I spent quite a bit of time in the garden before the snows finally came. But now that the seasons have made their hand-off I am re-focusing on indoor hobbies. Political events are taking center stage and Covid-19 is ever present so I expect the month of November to be action packed.

In the Library

Only two reviews were released this month. One was non-fiction-The Day It Finally Happens and the other, Near Dark by Brad Thor was reviewed earlier this week. These were not the only books read. You can expect a review of Catherine Coulter’s newest FBI series next week. However, I actually encountered two unpalatable books this month. Neither were finished. Fortunately, one was checked out from the public library and the other on Libby, so money was not wasted.

It isn’t often I encounter a book I just don’t like and two in a month, nay two in a year is unheard of. Looking on the bright side, odds are it will be quite some time before I stumble upon another. Perhaps, the negative political advertisements have permeated everything-even enjoyment in reading. Or, maybe the books were just bad.

October 2020 In the Garden

The Big Garden is ready for winter. Hoops over the rosemary and artichoke have worked so far. The basil just beyond the rosemary did not survive. Nor did I expect it to. A greenhouse is still in the dream stage. But, the Swiss chard and the brassicas are good-for now.

New straw and compost were spread along the rows of the garden. While I may still pop some garlic gloves in the root row, the rest will lay fallow until late winter. The Raised Row system has eliminated rototilling and I have been reluctant to put in a cover crop over the winter.

I did receive a query this October 2020 on how hard a raised row system would be for senior citizens. I wish to share my response with all of you. Setting up the garden is strenuous. Depending on individual fitness, the implementation may require the aid of a younger body. But the reason I love my big garden so much is the weed control. I have few weeds to pull in the rows-both growing and walking. Indeed the only weeds are along the outer edges. Crabgrass and bindweed try to sneak underneath the metal perimeter.

So, if you are a senior citizen and can get help starting a raised row garden, I highly recommend one. The main caveat would be nimbleness. If you no longer are able to easily get up and down due to flexibility issues, raised boxes may be a better answer. Bodies-and minds- age at different rates.

A few strands of wheat came up volunteer this past summer. Even though it is late I may take those gathered seed heads and plant in one of the boxes as an experiment. Less than half-a-dozen heads were gathered. Otherwise, the garden is at rest until February.

October 2020 In The Kitchen

Lots of goodies were processed in the kitchen this October 2020. Many of the recipes such as Green Tomato Relish have been shared in earlier years. This relish is a favorite. Click here for the recipe. And I still have a bucket full of tomatoes in the garage slowly turning red.

The baking season is about to begin. I am fine tuning another biscuit recipe. Unlike the Hearty Wheat Buttermilk Recipe posted last spring, these are light and fluffy. Delicious, but probably not as healthy.

Of course, Halloween is a holiday. Holidays call for rolled sugar cookies and themed cookie cutters. I am glad a few little ones live near enough to indulge my need to celebrate holidays in this fashion. Otherwise I would indeed turn into a Cookie Monster complete with an extra pound or two.

I do not plan to hand out candy tonight. Instead, I packaged some goodies and walked around to the neighboring kids. I think the Covid-19 outbreak will impact the festivities.

Hobbies

Indoor activities will now come to the forefront. This past week featured hand-quilting of one baby quilt, finalized piecing and layering for another, and early color selection for a third. The family is expecting another little one in late February.

The wet snowy days do not lend themselves to hand quilting. I am finally experiencing a touch of arthritis in my right hand. Since both my mother and maternal grandmother have/had problems this was not unexpected. I am just happy the problem held off so long. Perhaps I will invest in a long arm quilting machine if the condition deteriorates quickly.

Covid-19 Pandemic

My little corner of the world had a rude awakening this month. The number of Covid-19 cases doubled in just over a week. We also registered our first deaths. Yes, plural. Unfortunately we still have low compliance. In addition to anti-maskers and hoaxers, we have an unwillingness to social distance.

Rural areas are experiencing what happened in the cities last spring. We have fewer people and much less resources. Many counties only have one hospital and critical care cases are flown out-weather permitting- to the large cities. It may get quite ugly.

We were behind Europe by 3-4 weeks in the spring. If this holds true, I expect Thanksgiving, a very dear holiday to Americans, to be quite bleak. Shut downs may occur again. And people will probably ignore common sense. We are trying to be optimistic, but I doubt Thanksgiving will be normal.

United States of America Elections 2020

I have been fairly quiet with respect to elections. Partly from the influence of my paternal grandfather. He had some quirky beliefs. One was that a young woman should only appear in print three times; at birth, upon marriage, and at death. Another ideal was to never discuss religion or politics at the dinner table.

So far, I have tried to stay within that parameter. That is not to say I have not discussed the elections. Instead, my intent is to get everyone to vote. Even if the individual may have opposite views. I am encouraged by the early voting turnout. I may end up in the minority on some candidates and issues, but I feel like the 2020 election year will be representative of our populace.

Furthermore, I am confident that our elected officials overseeing the vote are accountable and will give us honest results. Our county clerk lives in my neighborhood and her character is outstanding. We need to remember everything begins at the local level. If you can trust your local officials, then that belief can be transferred up the line. And if you can’t- then you have the duty to vote out the local representatives.

I have put together a slideshow for October 2020. This is a transitional month between seasons. Perhaps that is what makes October a favorite time of year. Enjoy.

September 2020 Wrap-Up

September 2020

The September 2020 Wrap-Up will get a bit political due to the first of the 2020 Presidential Debates. If you can call last night’s debacle a debate. But in loyalty to the many followers across the globe, I will save my observations on national politics until the end. After all, this post is a wrap-up of the entire month not just the next to last day.

Travel Returns

September 2020 included two out of town trips. Both via automobile. The first was a trip to Kentucky. This journey included an overnight stay in suburban St. Louis, close to my high school home.

The hotel practiced Covid-19 precautions with a seal at each door which indicated if entry had been made after cleaning. I managed to forget my hanging bag and needed to buy some replacement clothes. Fortunately, the mall I haunted as a teenager was located at the same Interstate interchange. Unfortunately, the mall was all but abandoned.

The one store open was a Macy’s. I arrived 40 minutes before closing. Thanks to the wonderful customer service-all with Covid-19 consciousness- I was able to replace the outfits needed for the following two days. The only time I have ever encountered an equally outstanding service has been at a Nordstrom’s. Kudo’s to Macy’s for filling a need. The successful shopping trip helped mitigate the sadness of seeing a once vibrant shopping mall in such dire straits. 

We then enjoyed an outdoor dinner at an Italian restaurant in a nearby strip mall. The tables were well spaced and the food was excellent. The weather which can be quite muggy in St. Louis was perfect. The following day we continued on to Kentucky.

Kentucky

In a normal year, I make a minimum of two trips a year to Kentucky. Because of the pandemic, my spring trip was cancelled. Things are still not normal, but business can only be put off for so long. So, I am mitigating the risk factors as much as possible.

First, I do wear masks, especially indoors. On this trip, we packed a cooler with snacks and drinks. We never entered a fast-food restaurant. All sit down meals were outside-or in one case in a large tent with open sides. Bathroom breaks while travelling were made at highway rest stops. Finally, we washed hands and utilized hand sanitizer frequently.

One highlight of the trip was revisiting the Kentucky Champion Oak Tree first discussed in the May 2019 Wrap-Up. This trip I took the following video in hopes of giving readers a better idea of how grand this tree is. Please enjoy the YouTube video at the end of the post.

Another highlight was finding a wonderful specimen of an Ohio buckeye tree at an equally wonderful Indiana rest stop. America has many fantastic places within her shores.

Buckeye Tree September 2020
Buckeye Tree From Indiana Rest Stop

Our return entailed a fifteen hour drive on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Almost a full month later, no signs of illness. Again, we were as cautious as could be without practicing total isolation.

Wyoming

Just this past weekend, I attended a conference in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Again, I mitigated risk as much as possible. Time again will tell if I was successful or not. But my true concern from that trip were the wildfires spreading across the Western States.

The pictures in the slide show below are from that trip. The air quality was horrific. The index AQI on Saturday was 184. I have never been in this situation before. It was horrible. Our climate is suffering.

September 2020 In the Garden

Twice, my garden escaped the threat of frost. So production continues. Although some plants show signs of running there course. Half of the potatoes and half the sweet potatoes have been harvested. The Roma tomatoes continue to flower but the heirloom tomatoes are just maturing what is on the vine. The peanuts need another week before digging.

Fall crops are thriving. Rutabaga, broccoli, and cabbage are now established. Hoops are in place around the artichoke and rosemary. The canvas covering goes atop on the evenings before the threatened frost. Once the freeze begins, the canvas will remain even during the day.

September 2020 In the Kitchen

Of course a robust garden calls for much canning and freezing. In addition to the traditional jelly, pickles, salsa and spaghetti sauce, I made ketchup for the very first time. The taste is wonderful. But the process was quite time consuming. Over 11 hours from start to finish!

I realize it is much easier to by what I can from the store. But the satisfaction I derive from canning is priceless. Furthermore, I firmly believe my preserved goods are healthier. I control the inputs. All my recipes are reduced in both sugar and salt. 

I am closing the traditional part of the end of the month Wrap-Up with a slide show highlighting the various events of September 2020. The political discussion follows the multi-faceted slide show. I have placed the You Tube video at the end-in hopes of neutralizing my diatribe with the calming effect of nature.

 

American Politics

Those of you who wish to tune out here, I will hold no grudge. I absolutely hate politics as I am a bit blunt and haven’t quite figured out the art of persuasion. Or perhaps, I just feel everyone is entitled to their own opinion so why bother to force mine on others. However, I do feel the need to comment on the first of the Presidential debates.

Last night was disgusting. It was not a debate. Instead, three-yes, three- old white men failed America. Old in attitude more than with age. I say that because I am friends with a 98 year old that shows up to work daily at her retail clothing store. But, I digress.

Neither of the candidates nor the moderator fulfilled my expectations last night. They were horrific, each in their own way. My comments on each are below. These are my opinions.

President Trump

Quite simply, the President forgot to be presidential. He lost the respect of many voters last night. Maybe not his key supporters, but the many swing voters that awarded him the election in 2016. Not only did he fail to engage in a meaningful debate, he lost at least one voter when he declared the elections would be rigged if he lost.

This strikes at the heart of the matter for me. Either you believe in the system or you don’t. Our system is a good system, not perfect but good. As such I believe in it. If I did not, there would be absolutely no reason to vote! Our election will not be rigged. My county has used mail ballots for years. The system works. President Trump you should not insinuate a system is rigged if you lose. But, not if you win?!?

Former Vice-President Biden

While I was a big supporter of the former Vice-President when he ran for election in 1988, an election he had to bow out of due to health issues, I was not satisfied with his responses last night. (Although his demeanor was stellar in comparison to the other two.) He refused to directly address the questions about the civil unrest we are currently experiencing in this country on at least two occasions. This concerns me.

Furthermore, Mr. Biden, you have not allayed my fears that the far left controls you. I will not vote for socialism. You stated you were opposed to the New Green Deal, but you failed to explain The Biden Plan. Our national debt is out of control. Raising taxes is not an answer in itself. Spending cuts need to be made as well. We are running out of time before the tipping point is reached. The Debt Clock is ticking.

Chris Wallace and Fox News

The biggest failure of the night belonged to the third man, Chris Wallace. The role of a moderator is not an easy one. I know this from personal experience. But, Mr. Wallace totally failed in his effort last night. Many steps could have made the outcome better. First, a reviewing of the rules of the debate at the start, along with a statement of consequences for breaking those rules.

Second, wording of the questions in a manner not trying to create a division. Furthermore, stating the questions in a straight forward manner, not alluding to whether a candidate would be pleased by the topic. Also, making sure the candidates stay on topic. Many, many times the questions were ignored in favor of a talking point.

Finally, the presenters of the debate have the technology to mute microphones. I know this is possible at a small rural facility where I moderated a contested school board election. Why did Chris Wallace and Fox News FAIL to use this option? My disgust is greatest for their failure to bring the American public a legitimate platform to evaluate the candidates.

Jo Jorgensen

The winner in last night’s debate? Perhaps Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian candidate on the ballot in all fifty states. If you try to go to her website jo20.com you may need to be patient. The demand has been so great to find an alternative to the two men above that the server is a bit slow processing.

While I have voted third party in the past, I had not contemplated voting that way in 2020. Until last night. I tend to be a fence sitter. We actually have a great amount of power. Year after year we decide the outcome of elections.

This year I may sit on the fence until Election Day. In the meantime, I am researching Jorgensen. Perhaps she will win my vote. For those who say it will be wasted, that may be true, but at this time I would feel tremendous angst voting for either of the men representing the ruling parties. Perhaps the leadership in both the Democrat and Republican parties need to take note. Elections are won, one vote at a time.

I do plan to watch next week’s debate between the Vice-Presidential candidates. I doubt they will get out of hand, but in the end it is the Presidential candidate that will end up as the leader of the United States of America. Not the Vice-President.

A big thanks for all who made it to the end of this long opinionated post.  September 2020 was certainly full even in the midst of a pandemic. To all American readers, please vote your conscience. We are indeed at a pivotal point in history.

August 2020 Wrap-Up

Wrap-Ups can be hard posts to put together and the August 2020 piece is no exception. In addition to the bucolic happenings in my rural part of the world, many events of note are occurring elsewhere. Unfortunately, the news from outside my hamlet is both disturbing and distressing.

Civil Unrest

Most significant from my point of view is the continuation of violence in American cities. Perhaps readers living outside of the United States see the civil unrest as more of the same. But my perception is different.

Some of my earliest memories arise from the year 1968. A year in American history marked by assassinations and protests. The issue of civil rights for African Americans played a significant part of the unrest in 1968 and is a key component to 2020 protests. Additionally, young people in 1968 as in 2020, formed the heart of the disruption. The Vietnam War also played an important part in the history of 1968. The prevailing uncertainty of 2020 is the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both years also share the aspect of a Presidential election.

However, in my mind the unrest is different in this year of perfect hindsight. The divisiveness is uncivil. Finger pointing and name calling have given way to bricks, Molotov cocktails and most upsetting, bullets. It seems to be Blue Lives Matter versus Black Lives Matter. And God help you if you try to insert All Lives Matter. Those three words are akin to the kiss of death. Just ask Hillary Clinton.

Political pundits and others claim outside influences. Multiple countries have been stipulated. This concept dates back to the cold war. Author Helen MacInnis posited this type of psy-ops in many of her books. This is a theory bandied about but to date no solid proof.

Covid-19

The pandemic continues. Much like an ocean tide its’ intensity ebbs and flows across the globe. An area or country is thought to be past the danger when new infections pop up. As of yesterday there are 8 confirmed cases of re-infection. I fear we are far from the end of this virus.

Covid-19 has also caused conflict, and not just here in the United States of America. Mask or no mask, closed borders, restricted travel, herd immunity or flattening the curve, each approach finds opposition among the populace. Each individual must weigh the risks because collectively most nations have failed to balance the health danger with economic collapse. The end result is a failure of both.

Furthermore, the rush to find a cure is problematic. First is the shortened time period and reduced number of trial participants in order to put a vaccine on the market. This leads to the second problem of public skepticism.

In authoritarian run countries, the citizens will not have a choice. The vaccine will be required. In places where individual freedoms are core to the culture, the government(s) must convince the public that the vaccine is safe. This will not be an easy task in countries such as the U.S.A. where the response has been ambiguous at best and disastrous in some states and localities.

Financial Crisis

A distant third in the list of national and global concerns is the financial crisis. The debt levels in the United States are spiraling upward as can be seen in the debt clock by clicking here.

Perhaps more concerning to those with an economic background is the changing role of the Federal Reserve. In the past, the primary role of the Federal Reserve has been addressing inflation and unemployment through monetary policy. This is no longer the case.

Perhaps due to the political climate in Washington, D.C. the role of the Federal Reserve is evolving. An excellent discussion of this change is in the latest newsletter from Allison Schrager. Click here to access her website and sign up for her newsletters. Or click here to read my review of An Economist Walks into a Brothel.

August 2020 for Econogal

August 2020 contained many days of triple digit temperatures. Yet the garden kept producing vegetables. I was able to read quite a few books, scientific papers and blogs. In addition to working on quilts, masks were made as it seems we will be wearing them for a bit longer.

August 2020 In the Garden

The garden continues to produce much of our fresh produce. Green beans, eggplant, Swiss chard, cucumbers, beets, onions and tomatoes made regular appearances at the dinner table. On occasion, enough ripened simultaneously to preserve.

The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving is a life saver for a home gardener. I do not have space for multiple rows of tomatoes or cucumbers, for example, and it is nice to put a small amount up at a time. This winter we will enjoy opening the garden bounty as well as sharing s Christmas gifts.

I spent a few hours picking grapes at the home of a relative. My own grapes are not yet ripe due to a late freeze. I love grape jelly. However, it has been a bit difficult finding the low sugar pectin. So the full sugar recipe was also utilized.

Visitors to the garden were beneficial insects, bees and spiders. So far, no orb spiders with their distinctive web. But spiders are welcome additions to the garden. I just need to remember where the webs are.

I also had human visitors to the garden. Three family youngsters brought me honey and sand hill plum jelly. I sent them home with enough Swiss chard to make Swiss chard with Raisins and Almonds. As they left, air hugs were exchanged. Such is life during a pandemic.

August 2020 In the Library

I read a variety of novels this month and reviewed the best of them. This month I concentrated on books that were either uplifting or offered escape. Sometimes you need a mental break from the difficulties of life. A balance of entertainment keeps one grounded and ready to face life’s tasks.

Non-fiction continues to be a struggle. Perhaps the scientific and business articles I am reading need an offset of light hearted fiction. Plus, my reading is predominantly from Libby or Kindle. I have yet to make an appointment to browse at my library. A requirement now that Covid-19 is making the rounds of our small community. Nor have I had the pleasure of wandering around a book store. Usually these two places are my sources for non-fiction.

August 2020 In the Kitchen

We continue to create new dishes in the kitchen using fresh produce from the garden. However, I am glad Econogal is eclectic versus solely based on food. I either forget to take pictures, or take pictures and forget to write down the recipe. So you can guess what will feature in next year’s resolutions.

Hobbies

I am so glad I learned to sew many years ago. The quilting offers inspiration. I love working with colors.

But the ability to make my own masks is wonderful. I do not like the elastic around my ears. Nor could I find any until just recently. So my masks have ties. Plus, I can color co-ordinate masks to my outfits. Many sacrifices need to be made with regards to the pandemic, but fashion doesn’t need to be one!

July 2020 Wrap-Up

July 2020 Wrap-Up

In these pandemic times each month stretches into a year and July 2020 is no exception. Our little corner of the world tripled in virus cases this month. Yet we have only had one new case in the last ten days. This is a good example of how the disease spreads- in fits and starts.

I struggled with my emotions a bit in July 2020. I live in a rural area and many still feel like the virus is unreal, even a hoax to an extent. So, I isolated as much as possible. And I kept my spread sheet current. I am tracking daily new cases in counties of interest to me. My hope is the numbers will help me evaluate the risk of certain actions.

Travel

The only travel outside of my county in months was the quick trip to Vail Valley over the weekend of the 4th of July. Click here to read how we mitigated our risk. It has been almost a month since our risky celebration. No ill effects so far.

As those who follow me know, I like to travel. So, this pandemic is really curbing my style! It has been interesting to hear from others that also are afflicted with wanderlust. Cautionary tales of planning as well as the willingness to call an audible are emerging. In the end it boils down to risk averseness. Each individual needs to understand the risk/benefit ratio.

Staying away from hot spots and following health protocols diminish the risk, but the danger from Covid-19 remains. Thus I am still aiming to strike a balance.

Weather Anomalies At Work

For decades the weather pattern in my part of the world has been one of rains in April, May and June. The 4th of July usually marked the end of the moisture and the beginning of triple digit heat and winds close to tropical force levels. But July 2020 is following the pattern seen more recently.

The wind and heat were abundant in June with a much lower rainfall mount than “average” but this last week in July 2020 has brought monsoon type rains and pleasant temperatures. Last night we enjoyed our backyard fountains and fireplace. No wind and cool, but not cold temperatures. The forecast for the next ten days is similar.

I hope these daily temperatures continue. The garden thrived on the over two inches of rain this week. My tomatoes struggle with triple digit temperatures too. So the respite is welcome.

My canning chores have begun. Beets and cucumbers have been pickled and a batch of mixed fruit jam made. Grape harvest is not much more than a week out. Plenty to keep me busy as we begin the last full month of summer.

The homegrown veggies are a staple of our evening meals. Eggplant and Swiss chard comprise a major part of the current menu. The peas are about done but the beans are starting to take their place. If you don’t currently have a garden, consider planning one for the next growing season. Now is a good time to finalize the fall crops. Kale, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are among the crops I have begun for a fall garden.

July 2020 Reading

I continue to borrow books from Libby, the library app. We have also bought some to read through Kindle. I have a backlog of reviews. My feedback from loyal readers is that two posts a week with an occasional third is just about right. So my blog has been a little off in the timing this month with some reviews posted on days other than Friday.

I did read a children’s book explaining the coronavirus published back in April. So much has been learned since then. I also continue to read research papers from across the world. I truly appreciate Google translate, this tool allows me to read in my native language.

Looking Forward

August will be spent working in the garden, quilting, reading and enjoying my corner of the world. I have two places to keep track of for possible trips in September. Striking a balance remains important. I do not envy the local elective officials and their task to decide the best way to keep educating our young.

Enjoy the pictures and stay safe from this virus everyone!

Volunteer Garlic Bunch
Volunteer Garlic-Hardneck Variety

Flower among a Planting of tomato
A gladiola growing alongside a tomato.

Tray of drying basil
Drying Basil

Fire glowing in outdoor fireplace
Our back patio retreat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acrylic painting landscape view from car window
An acrylic painting titled Getting an Early Start

June 2020 Wrap-Up

Writing was a bit thin for Econogal during June 2020. Instead, I read, gardened and quilted. I also kept track of Covid-19 in various United States counties. Unfortunately, I also witnessed via television a lot of civil unrest in my country. All components added to a lack of writing.

Beastly Weather in June 2020

I love my adopted home of the High Plains except for a few weeks in late July-early August when the wind blows and the temperatures are in the triple digits. Unfortunately, those weeks came during June this year. We have low humidity, but the winds are often tropical storm strength. This creates a very unpleasant atmosphere.

We were fortunate enough to receive a bit of rain. Twice we had rainfall of one half inch and the third rain was three tenths of an inch. While the amount was about half of average it was welcomed as the measured precipitation in May was measured in one hundredths. The next two months are our rainiest, with approximately 2.5 inches expected each month. As you can see from the photo, our neighborhood is praying for rain.

Decprated sign saying Pray for Rain
Pray For Rain

Quilt Room

I spent a lot of time in the quilt room during the month of June 2020. Two quilts have been sandwiched together and are in the process of hand quilting. A third is still in the piecing process. My quilt room is in the basement which helps provide a cool location to hang out.

Piecing is time intensive. Even though I use a machine in the piecing, the work can take weeks depending on how many pieces are involved. Some quilt designs have over a thousand pieces. The one I am working on now is just in the hundreds. Five of the blocks are called The Courthouse Square and the other four are a variation on the Rail Fence.

In the Garden

June is the first month of harvesting nearly every day. Herbs are gathered just before blooming and dried. In addition to the cooking herbs of sage, thyme and oregano, I also cut lavender. It smells wonderful and I can use it dried in teas next winter.

I lost my battle with the flea beetles this year. They devastated the brassicas. However, my lettuce crop was outstanding. Even though the early triple digits brought on early bolting in the big garden, the side garden is still producing delicious greens of many varieties.

The first of the beets were picked. I used one of my favorite recipes from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving. We love opening our pickled beets on cold winter days. For some reason, the beets struggled at first but now they are growing quickly.

Cherry Harvest

While the old cherry tree was loaded with cherries, harvest was just so-so. Usually the birds split their feastings between the cherry trees and the mulberry trees. This year a frost nipped the mulberries so naturally I had intense competition for my cherries. I did make one batch of jam and enjoyed cherry pie and cherry smoothies.

The younger cherry tree just had a handful of fruit. This is just the second summer since planting. The goal is for it to reach a good harvest before the old one stops producing. I would love more fruit trees but am grateful for the two cherry and two peach trees.

Covid-19

June started with six million Covid-19 cases worldwide and ends with over ten million cases and half a million deaths. I fear we are only at the beginning. At least in the United States.

Draining is probably the best way to describe the feeling I have with respect to the virus. I am being careful. Yet I even hate to type that. Here in America the virus has become political. I am dismayed. A pandemic should not be viewed politically. Especially one so far reaching.

So I have not posted much June 2020. Instead I have read and researched about the virus. Regretfully, biology is not my strong suit. Microbiology seems alien. The only microbiologist I personally knew died years ago, at a far too young age.

I fear we will start to see more and more cases and even deaths among our younger population. The protesters and rioters are not immune to this virus. Covid-19 is truly non-discriminatory. June 2020 was just the start to a long, long summer.

 

May 2020 Wrap-Up

In this roller coaster year the month ending on May 31, 2020 is no exception. Near 100 degree temperatures today are a reflection of the violence and debate rippling through the United States of America and spilling into other locales. Many compare this month to the late 1960s. Even that comparison fails to achieve unity with camps divided on which moment in time is awarded top spot. A misnomer, since I think both belong in the pits.

Civil Unrest

In actuality, the violence marking the end of May 2020 has been festering under the surface for a while. There are protests throughout the world today. While a few are in support of the racial injustice in America, the Hong Kong protests have a spark of their own. The most recent spawn from an announcement May 21 of a planned new national security law. Click here to read more.

Both the Hong Kong and the U.S. of A. protests come on the heels of an extended lock down due to Covid-19. Additionally, skyrocketing layoffs and terminations from permanent business closures add to the angst. Thus the pandemic coupled with economic threats created a tinder box waiting to ignite.

The above May 21 announcement was the catalyst overseas. But the incendiary in America was yet another death of an African American at the hands of a white cop. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Many will remember Colin Kaepernick gained infamy and lost a starting job as a NFL quarterback trying to address this decades, nay centuries, old problem of racism and bigotry.

I have no answers to why peaceful protests in America turned so ugly. Part of me wants to say it is an attempt to divide and conquer much like many Helen MacInnes plots. Part of me wants to blame the idle restlessness caused by the isolationism of the pandemic. I fear a breakdown of society is untenable.

May 2020 Closer to Home

Since I live in a very rural setting, the riots both in this country and abroad seem remote. Other than concern for family members living in major cities across the country, life continues as normal. Quite the juxtaposition.

My May 2020 was spent primarily in the garden and in the quilt room. The triple digit heat will force the lettuces into bolting but will be welcomed by the plants that prefer warm days and nights. And the hot afternoons were spent in the cool of the basement designing baby quilts left and right.

People, Place, Time, and Space

I was blessed with another great nephew this last week of May 2020 and was thrilled to don mask and gloves for a peek at him that could be measured in seconds. A Web M.D. doctor was interviewed on television and threw out the four guidelines above (although not in the nice rhyming order.)

People refers to limiting the size of the group you are in.

Place is location. Outside is better than inside.

Time needs to be minimized. Don’t give Covid-19 the time to transfer.

Space is distance from one another. The U.S guidelines are six feet.

So an example of a relatively safe gathering would be less than ten people outdoors for thirty minutes sitting at least six feet apart. A quick visit, perhaps enough time to eat. But certainly not foolproof.

Goodbye and Good Riddance to May 2020

If one lives long enough, one experiences difficult periods in life. As I touched upon in my post, Successes and Failures, early in 2020, work is a good cure. However, many have lost jobs. But one can still stay productive. Volunteer or create. Either is better than the actions of mob mentality. Certainly for me these last days of May 2020, staying productive eased the pain of societal disintegration.

I hope calmer heads prevail in the coming months. This does not mean I think the problems need to be swept under the rug. Freedoms are being usurped across the globe. The sins of our forefathers continue to regenerate here in America. The issues need to be addressed. The violence is but a symptom. The underlying cancer goes deep. Societal change will be difficult and fraught with danger.

2020 is indeed a pivotal year.

April 2020 Wrap-Up

Fair warning: The topics in the April 2020 Wrap-Up are about as eclectic as they come. It has been a whirlwind stay-at-home month. I actually left my home four times. However, on two occasions I did not leave the vehicle. Both times we drove through for a take-out dinner.

Essential Trips

The other two times involved essential purchases. Both occurred the same week. The first was to a greenhouse nursery. The proprietor has a policy of appointment only and masks must be worn. I purchased about a dozen peppers. Even though I have a multitude of seedlings going, the peppers are necessary for my secret recipe salsa. And I have trouble getting peppers to grow from seed.

Then two days later I made the first trip to the grocery store in a month. What an experience! Now, the store has huge arrows on the floors directing the flow of traffic. Apparently, following the arrows is quite difficult for people to adjust to. Furthermore, only about half of the people wore the masks requested by the government.

I had heard tales in the media about shortages. Perhaps it was my lucky day, but there were only two items on my list unavailable; yeast and avocado. The milk was a little light and the expiration date quite close as well. Furthermore, a large amount of stock sat around the aisles waiting to fill shelf space. I just hope they had room for all of it!

Covid-19 Update

The latest case figures worldwide show over 3,000,000 cases with 214,583 deaths. Now many people will divide the number of deaths by the total cases. Easy math gives you the figure .07 (percent) of those infected have died. Not too worrying? Well, I am still worried because I do the math a little differently.

Of the 3,045,993 positive cases worldwide, only 1,006,102 are considered resolved. This terminology is important. A resolved case means an individual no longer has Covid-19. Obviously, there are two resolutions. The negative ending is reflected by the death count. Then, the remainder are those who battled Covid-19 and won.

However, using these figures in an easy math equation indicates a less satisfactory result. 214,583 divided by 1,006,102 equals .21 which gives one a rate of death triple of above. Furthermore, if this is extrapolated over the two million unresolved cases, the world could expect to lose about 640,000 lives to Covid-19—If and only if no one else tests positive.

Caveat for April 2020 Covid-19 Numbers

Please keep in mind a few things. First, not everyone will be tested. Therefore, one cannot say one-fifth of the population will die. The one in five number is only for confirmed, resolved cases. So, there is hope that better treatments may impact this number. However, my plan remains to avoid the virus.

Second, this calculation is based on worldwide numbers. Individual countries vary. If you would like to calculate your country both BNO News and Johns Hopkins University are compiling data. As of today, BNO News is still playing catch-up due to the death of a family member. But I like this online news agency out of the Netherlands because they started tracking stats very early on. The two organizations have different time zones so that also pushes the numbers apart. If you use JHU numbers, the ratio is .18. Rounding gives you the same one in five number.

April 2020 In the Garden

April 2020 showers were on the light side, so I have used soaker hoses to keep the garden alive. The temperatures have been about average. Although the weather forecast gave me a bit of a scare. Today an original temperature forecast of 96 degrees Fahrenheit and bright sun was slated. I am so glad the experts were wrong. At mid-afternoon it is 84 degrees Fahrenheit and partly cloudy. Perfect weather for transplanting.

While I did not have the nice two hour drizzle that accompanied the pepper transplanting, today was ideal. The plants I placed in the garden today were chosen from the seedlings I have started indoors this spring. Transplants include peanuts, basil, artichoke and my hybrid tomato favorite Heirloom Marriage Genuwine. I love these tomatoes but I do think the name is a bit confusing. Hybrids are not heirlooms and thus I won’t save seed from these tomatoes.

Hardening Off

My other tomatoes are still hardening off on the front porch along with more artichoke, basil, and dill. The cucumbers and beans are just now sprouting. I will wait a week or so before transplanting. Even though we are not quite past our last freeze date, the long-term forecast looks safe.

The hardening process can be tricky. Each day, plants are left outside in a protected area to become accustomed to Mother Nature. The goal is to lengthen the exposure daily. However, a few days ago we had a Red Flag Advisory. Since the wind can do so much damage, I skipped a day in the hardening off process.

Transplants that do not receive this gradual adjustment to the outdoors are vulnerable to loss. I would hate to waste two months of nurturing. So I am not rushing the process. The photos are of seedlings nearing the end of the process and/or the seeds started outdoors but in containers for later transplant.

Raised Row Garden

The raised row garden continues to astound. Please read this review of a great method of gardening. I managed to keep Swiss Chard alive all winter with a fabric hoop covering. Unfortunately, the recent high wind ripped the covering. Making lemonade, I just relocated half to protect some young cabbage seedlings.

Landscape Blanket
Protecting Beet Seeds From Starlings

I believe some pesky starlings have been enjoying my sweet beet seeds. So, I have now replanted a variety of beets for the third time. A light landscaping blanket now covers the seeds.

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Tree in Full Bloom

Garlic and onions in various stages of growth are sprinkled throughout the garden. I have placed a small amount of garlic under the almond tree to help deter borers. The tree flowered for the first time; Just a sprinkling of blossoms as compared to the fully loaded cherry tree.

Early Harvest

April 2020 included bringing crops to the table. We enjoyed carrots twice. First just cut and boiled and the second time in a stir fry. I sow the carrot seed in late fall and they are among the first green shoots in the garden. We are also enjoying asparagus, Swiss chard, green onions, mint and lettuces. Egg-white frittatas with home grown produce cannot be beat.

April 2020 Hobby Room

The top for the Train Quilt 2 is fully pieced and waiting to be sandwiched. I love the circus theme of the border. The pastel colors are perfect for the little miss who might receive this on her first birthday. Additionally, I have settled on a pattern for the new baby who might be here for the next Wrap-Up. Another great- nephew to spoil.

But the time in the hobby room was also practical. Dozens of masks were made and then mailed to family members. My offspring live in large cities. The hope is the masks are enjoying use. They were quite easy to make and I kept one for myself. As stay-at-home restrictions ease, I believe I will still wear a mask in crowded situations. At least in the short term.

  • Quilt strips before sewing in mauve, blue gray and off white
    Beginnings of a quilt

April 2020 In The Kitchen

Covid-19 has one beneficial side effect. We are enjoying amazing meals. Even before the virus struck, we cooked most of the time. But the stay-at-home orders have created an abundance of extra time in the day-or so it seems. The result is fantastic recipes discovered or just remembered. A highlight of April 2020 was making sugar cookies for Easter as part of the Easter delivery meal.

I am a little concerned about the local yeast shortage. But, if I run out of regular yeast, I will turn to making sourdough bread. Additionally, I am thankful that my bread-making skills have improved so dramatically over the last few years. Soft home-made sandwich is preferable to the bricks I turned out early on. Bread Illustrated remains as my go-to cook book for bread recipes.

Fresh Bread
Fresh Bread

April 2020 In the Library

Just a couple short months ago I asked my librarian about online library loans. Her response was to download the Libby app. I did and I couldn’t live without it! While best sellers usually mean a wait, we both have enjoyed reading the various Lorena McCourtney books. She is a champ at writing cozy mysteries.

However, I do have some non-fiction books on hand. I have started three and have yet to finish one. Perhaps they do not offer the escape from reality I need. At least one of them is riddled with inconsistencies so that is also a factor.  Depending on how long this isolation lasts, I may find a way to finish each of them.

Three books
Reading in Progress

No Travel

Seldom do I have a month where I do not travel at least to a neighboring state. But April 2020 was a month without any travel. I love my corner of the world. But I also like to travel. I had hoped to recognize my Dad’s battle with breast cancer with an in person attendance at the Kentucky Oaks. But the first weekend in May is upon us. No running for Oaks Lilies or Kentucky Derby Roses will occur this spring.

Very few planes fly overhead. The Amtrak does pass through twice a day, but I have no idea how full it is. April 2020 brought a cancellation of the Centennial Zonta International Convention. So I will not be traveling to Chicago this July. No travel and no plans.

Thank you to all that made it through this long post. No venturing outside has cut down on my interaction with people so I jumped at this opportunity. I wish all of you good health. Carpe diem!