Time Flies …

… whether you’re having fun or not.

Winter was really difficult for me this year, with most days being cold enough to really aggravate my rheumatoid arthritis. But it seems to be over at last, although we still get a lot of unseasonably low-temperature days. And of course, lots of rainy, windy days too. But I can’t really complain much, since nothing has to be shoveled!

The winter cold seems to have been good for the fruit trees – they’re all covered with flower buds. We’re hoping the rains hold off enough for ample pollination this year; last spring it rained hard the whole time the trees were blossoming, and the fruit harvest was almost non-existent.

The wet, windy weather has kept me from doing anything in the garden so far, but I’m still hoping for better days. In the meantime, I’ll be starting seedlings indoors. I found a video online showing how to make starter pots from empty tp rolls, so no more little peat pots here! I’ll also be scouring thrift stores and “buy nothing” groups for multi-pocket strawberry planters, for both berries and herbs. The corner store down the block will soon have tomato seedlings, so I’ll be looking for Romas and either cherry or grape tomatoes. Apart from those, I’ll be starting zucchini, snow peas, green beans, pumpkins, and (I hope) rhubarb.

* * * * * * *

I don’t have much progress to report on the knitting front yet – too much pain in my hands. The same goes for sewing projects; I can just barely keep the mending basket from overflowing. It’s very frustrating.

* * * * * * *

Our Easter weekend was quieter than it’s been in years. Phae was in Alberta visiting friends. Normally we have Andy (brother-in-law) and his two sons here for every holiday dinner – Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas – but when Murray called him on the Saturday to find out what time we should have dinner ready on Sunday, Andy told him they’d had their turkey dinner the night before. Nice of him to not tell us until after we’d bought the turkey and all the veggies … So we had a lovely quiet dinner, just the two of us. Leftovers Monday night, turkey sandwiches at work for me all week, turkey fried rice Tuesday and Wednesday nights, turkey stir-fry with the rest of the veggies Thursday night, and turkey soup Friday night. By Saturday there wasn’t enough of anything left to spread on a cracker. We’re really on a roll with the no-food-waste thing!

* * * * * * *

With the price of everything so high these days, it’s important to us to save wherever we can. Today my round trip to combine errands included the credit union, groceries, gas station, and renewing my car insurance. That cost has actually gone down for me, which was a nice surprise. It turns out I get a safe driver discount AND a low-mileage discount AND a discount for driving less than 10 kilometres round-trip to work and back.

Next weekend’s round-trip errands will include Fabricland for buttons ( for a project for Shelan ), returning deposit containers at the centre by Fabricland, the local mall for new running shoes, greek yogurt, laundry supplies, and a refilled prescription, the optometrist to set up an appointment, and donate some of Mom’s old glasses, and my favourite thrift store to drop a box of decluttered donations and scout out some jeans and shirts for work.

* * * * * * *

I’ve convinced Murray not to mow the lawns until the fruit trees have finished blooming and all the dandelions have gone to seed; I want to encourage as many pollinating insects as possible to spend time here. Bees are in serious trouble all over the world these days, so I’m hoping we can help a little. Fingers crossed, everyone!

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Happy New Year!

And I’m hoping it really will be …

Christmas was very quiet, low-key and peaceful. Murray and I don’t exchange gifts any more; we’ve agreed that we have everything we need and most of what we want, and the real gift is being able to spend Christmas in our own home, with good food and good company.

Between serious shortages and highly inflated prices, I finally gave in and bought an artificial tree – on sale, naturally, and for about a third of the normal price. With all the lights & decorations on it, I think it turned out pretty well.

The baking didn’t happen as planned, though … shortages in the stores and ridiculously inflated prices convinced me to just do double batches of shortbread and pfeffernusse, and that was it. We couldn’t even find any decent sweet potatoes for the big dinner. But with the turkey, gravy, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, and the mashed carrot-and-turnip dish Murray likes, it was a really nice meal anyway. Andy and the boys were here, of course, and Phae had two friends over, so there was plenty of chatter and laughter.

* * * * * * *

I only made one resolution (if you can call it that) last year, which was not to buy any more yarn or fabric until I’ve used what I have. I’ve stuck to that, with only one exception, the yarn (again on sale, of course!) to make my sister Shelan a nice summer top. I still have to seam it up and darn the ends in, so I’ll post a pic when that’s done.

Then I made myself four summer tops, and I’ve started a fifth – again, once they’re finished I’ll post pics.

I found more of the right type of yarn in the stash for my Giving Back project, so I made 18 more hats:

And then I dug deeper and found some nice cotton yarn I’d been given a few years ago, so I turned it into 19 new dishcloths:

Now I can shred & compost the dreadfully ratty old ones with a clear conscience!

* * * * * * *

On the food waste front, we’re doing extremely well. This week, for example, I’ve only had to compost 2 brussels sprouts, a tablespoon of gravy, and a cookie I sneezed on (can’t be too careful these days, between Covid and flu season). We had turkey sandwiches on Boxing Day, turkey fried rice & veggies on Tuesday, and Murray made a big pot of turkey soup on Wednesday. He’s still eating that but I’ve gone back to sandwiches. He’d made a big batch of cranberry compote so if there’s any left tomorrow, I’ll freeze it.

* * * * * * *

Work hasn’t changed much. I’m still doing the later shift – I’m not a big fan, but it is what it is. Volumes are still worryingly low for all the trucking companies, not just mine, but with the cross-training I’m getting now, I can still help out the northbound evening shift and so get my eight hours in every night. Which is a good thing, since inflation continues to spiral upward but my pay and Murray’s pension are still the same.

* * * * * * *

December’s weather was brutal – for this part of the country, anyway. Bitter cold, deep (for us) snow followed by freezing rain, followed by more snow, followed by more freezing rain. The week before Christmas the roads were so treacherous we were all sent home from work a day earlier than planned. Then it warmed up and just rained from Christmas Eve through yesterday; now it’s just cloudy, but getting colder again. At this point I’m just hoping that we get some dry days in the spring while the fruit trees are in bloom, so that we can actually get a decent fruit crop next fall.

* * * * * * *

Pretty soon Phae and I will be starting the garden planning for the spring. Considering how the last few years have been, I don’t want to get too ambitious. But I would really like to get some herb planters going, and some new rhubarb stock. We have a tentative semi-plan for the raised beds, but that plan is very weather-dependent and involves a lot of hard physical work. We won’t get it all done in just one or two weekends, either. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

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And Just Like That – It’s Winter

A month earlier than it’s supposed to be.

It’s unseasonably (and unreasonably) cold – below freezing. We haven’t had much snow yet, but the couple of inches that fell last week paralyzed the entire Lower Mainland. The number of people here who drive little lightweight cars with lightweight summer tires and don’t understand why they spin out or get stuck is frankly mind-boggling. Too many of them seem to believe it’s perfectly normal to drive faster in snowy/icy conditions – maybe they think that will get them home and out of the weather sooner, I don’t know. But it sure makes commuting a lot harder for those of us who actually know how to adjust our driving to the prevailing conditions! The day it snowed, my usual eight-minute drive home took almost three hours. I was so glad I’d put new all-season tires on the car not long ago.

And I’m very glad I started this winter’s “giving back” project in October instead of waiting until mid-November. I’ve already given Phae 28 knitted scarves to give to those who need them, and by this time tomorrow I’ll have finished 25 hats for her to hand out on Monday.

Scarves and hats:

Yes, I use just one scarf and one hat pattern – I found these particular patterns give the most warmth for the amount of yarn used. All the yarn is acrylic, so the pieces are washable, won’t shrink, and won’t fade.

* * * * * * *

Work is … well, work. Mostly the same as always, but less of it. Inflation and soaring prices and fuel costs are taking their toll on all the transportation companies; volumes have dropped dramatically, and a lot of drivers are looking for other jobs. My manager just changed my hours, so now I’m there from 3 pm to 11:30 pm, and cross-training with another department so I can still get my eight paid hours every day. I wish we could afford for me to retire, but the same inflation that’s slowed business down at work is making itself felt at home. Our property taxes doubled this year, as did the hydro and natural gas bills, the house insurance went up, the interest rate on our mortgage has doubled and is predicted to go up again, and grocery prices are beyond ridiculous. At least next year’s trip to Ireland is already paid for …

* * * * * * *

I did manage to find some free knitting patterns for summer tops, but they’ll have to wait until my winter projects are finished. (It’s not like I’ll want to wear them any time soon!) I want to make some new dishcloths, an afghan for Phae and one for myself, and maybe a quilt. Oh, and a few more masks, since flu season is upon us and I have all the materials. I’ve kept my promise to myself – I haven’t bought any more yarn or fabric, just used what I had and what people donated for the hats and scarves.

Next weekend I’ll be starting the holiday baking. I stocked up on almost everything I’ll need before prices shot up; I did a quick pantry check yesterday, and all that’s still needed are lemons and frozen tart shells, so I’ll be watching the sale flyers for those. I’ll be making shortbread cookies, pfeffernusse cookies, lemon pound cake, candied fruit pound cake, and mince tarts if I can get the tart shells; if I can’t, I’ll make mince thumbprint cookies instead.

* * * * * * *

If I don’t make it back for a while – may you all have the happiest of holidays!

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Is There A Bright Side?

I guess it depends on how you look at things …

My garden plans never happened. Mostly because this is only the second or third weekend THIS YEAR that it hasn’t rained.

The fruit trees did get pruned and sprayed – but the entire time they were blossoming, it rained. So little pollination happened that at my most recent inspection (last week) I counted maybe a dozen apples, a dozen or so plums, a possible handful of blueberries, no cherries, no hazelnuts, and ONE solitary pear. Canning season won’t take long!

On the other hand, the local blackberries blossomed after the monsoons were pretty much over, so I’m hoping there will be a bumper crop there. And so far our friend Randy’s rhubarb patch seems to be doing well – which makes up for the pathetic showing mine has put forth. He doesn’t care much for rhubarb, so we’re welcome to pick all we want.

None of the garden shops we checked out had any cherry or Roma tomatoes. Sigh.

* * * * * *

I did get to spend a few days with Jess in Vernon in May. We kept it pretty low-key, as the weather wasn’t terribly cooperative. We did get to spend an afternoon with her friend (and mine) Laura, mostly at their favourite garden centre, where I bought Jess a bunch of bedding plants for her garden. I also spent one day visiting Leanne and Catherine while Jess was at work.

* * * * * *

Tina came out from Halifax for two weeks in June, and we had a wonderful time! I took some time off work, Jess flew down for a few days, and Andy and the boys came to our place for a barbecue while both girls were here. We also all got together over at Shelan’s place for a lovely afternoon visit.

The down side there was seeing how frail and tired Mom is these days. She has a lot of trouble breathing, and her blood pressure fluctuates between way too high and way too low. I think assisted living is not too far in the future … she’s in bad enough shape that Shelan now does all her grocery shopping, and the library delivers books to her and picks them up again. I do my best not to let her see how sad it all makes me feel.

* * * * * *

I’m trying very hard to stick to my decision not to buy any more yarn or fabric until I use up what I have … but I keep running into snags in the use-it-up process. Twice already I’ve started knitting projects, only to discover I had ALMOST enough yarn to finish them. So now I’m on the hunt for patterns for summer tops that will need just a little less yarn. I may have found a few … but math is not my forte, and figuring out if I have the yardage I need is difficult. Using up my fabric stash will be easier; I’ve almost finished matching up patterns with fabrics and notions. I plan to make mostly summer/hot weather tops, maybe a few tops for cooler weather, and one or two pairs of pants for work. Any leftover fabric pieces that are big enough and lightweight enough will be used to expand my collection of covid masks, and the smaller ones will get shredded for stuffing quilt patches along with leftover bits of yarn; if the bits are 100 % cotton they may get composted instead.

* * * * * *

Work itself continues to be rewarding but sometimes rather challenging. The Omicron covid variants are horrendously contagious, and being vaccinated doesn’t seem to keep people from catching it, though at least most cases are quite mild. We’re constantly short-staffed, but at least the overtime pay will come in handy now that inflation is at an all-time high. (It’s so high I just got an “inflation relief rebate” cheque from ICBC to make up a little bit for the current ridiculous gas prices!)

* * * * * *

Murray and I are being more careful than ever with our spending these days; never shopping without a list, checking flyers and websites for sales, using what’s already in the pantry/freezer, no more takeout or delivery food, being creative with leftovers, and doing our best to completely eliminate food waste. But I still haven’t been able to convince Murray that we don’t need to eat meat EVERY day.

I’m even being more sparing with cleaning products. The one thing I will NOT cheap out on is cat food; the brand I buy may be expensive, but it’s not nearly as expensive as vet bills from not keeping Greebo healthy would be!

Of course I still take lunches and coffee to work from home every day. I have several good thermal travel mugs and the awesome lunch bag Jess and Jeff gave me a few Christmases ago – it’s so good that when I get home at night, the ice pack I put in it that morning is still frozen! And it includes reusable utensils, so no plastic throwaways. And for days when one cup of coffee at work isn’t enough, in my desk I keep a jar of ground coffee, a jar of powdered creamer (house brand, not name brand), and a cute little one-cup French press I got last time I was in Vernon. I also have a little jar of sugar and a shaker of cinnamon (both of which get refilled at home) for when lunch includes one of the single-serving jars of fruit I froze last summer.

* * * * * *

I guess the point of all this is that overall, I have a lot to be thankful for and very little to complain about.

We have each other. We have family and friends we love, and we get to spend time with them.

Yes, prices are high – but I have a good job, Murray has enough pension income, and we’re learning new ways to make the most of what we have. Which, frankly, is a lot more than most of the people on this planet have. We have a house, a garden, clothes that fit and aren’t falling apart, comfortable furniture, good food in the pantry and freezer, and ways to preserve and prepare it. We may have had to cut back on some things lately, but not the things that really matter to us.

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A Year (Or So) In Review

Well, I know it’s been quite a while, but I honestly didn’t have much of anything positive to say.

2021 was not a good year, at least not the good year we were all hoping for when it started.

Global climate change took its toll here in BC, in a number of devastating ways. Heat domes, wildfires, floods, mass evacuations; at one point every single highway out of BC was impassable. Many communities and supply chains have still not recovered.

Covid-19 developed yet another variant, and while Omicron may be less deadly, it’s incredibly contagious and our healthcare systems remain strained to the breaking point.

Inflation has hit a record high and will likely go even higher.

Okay, enough of that.

* * * * * * *

Last year my New Year’s goals (I refuse to make “resolutions”) were:

to finish all the projects I have going,

to get outside and walk more (weather permitting),

to spend less time playing games on the computer and more time reading,

to take time every day to really appreciate everything I have and everyone I care about.

I’m happy to tell you that those goals were mostly accomplished!

I didn’t finish ALL the projects, but I only started one new one, and I plan to make it a yearly thing: I call it my Giving Back project.

If you recall, in my last post I talked about knitting scarves and hats to give away. Well, by Christmas Eve I had knitted, and Phae and her friends gave away to homeless folks, 12 hats and 32 scarves. I still had lots of yarn left that’s appropriate for them, so I’m going to keep knitting scarves and hats until it’s used up. And as the really cold weather seems to have ended (I hope), as each one is finished it goes into a clear plastic bin for next December.

* * * * * * *

As always, Andy and the boys came for Christmas dinner. The more things change, the more some things stay the same. I won the usual game of Fridge Tetris with the leftovers, and we ate turkey in various forms until New Year’s Day. The only food waste was a small spoonful of mashed carrot & turnip, which I was NOT sorry to see go.

Christmas and New Year’s were very quiet and peaceful here, just the way I like them.

* * * * * * *

Soon it will be time to prune and spray the fruit trees – I wanted to start pruning today, but it was just too cold and damp, and very foggy. So I browsed my new West Coast Seeds catalogue and made a tentative list of what I’d like to plant this spring. Dill, chives, spearmint, pickling cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, new rhubarb stock if I can get it, and maybe one or two more blueberry bushes. But the year is young, and I haven’t made any definite plans yet.

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And Now It’s Over, Apparently

Fall, that is. We barely had time to welcome it in and it was gone, and now it feels like we went straight to winter. It’s cold, it’s wet, and it’s dark. And on the few rare sunny-ish days, it’s even colder. There’s been frost a few nights, and the air has that wintry bite to it. The garden looks dreadful, since every time I start getting dressed to go out and do something, the rain starts again. Experts tell us this is a “La Nina” year, which means the winter will be long and nasty. Good thing I have lots of knitting and sewing projects lined up!

* * * * * * *

Work is finally settling back to our regular routine, which is a relief. I don’t mind doing some overtime now and then, but two or more hours every night was just too much. Sure, the money’s always useful, but I was rapidly getting to the point where it just wasn’t worth it any more.

* * * * * * *

Not much has happened here at Chez Chaos – at least, nothing really interesting. We had Andy and the boys here for Thanksgiving dinner, as usual. The two boys ate enough for six, as usual, and left a huge mess for me to clean up, as usual. Le sigh.

Hallowe’en / Samhain was quiet here, except for the locals who had fireworks, but even that didn’t go on outrageously late. Neither did the Diwali fireworks a few days later … I think I missed most of them since I did work late that night. Remembrance Day was pretty quiet too; I spent a lot of time thinking about my Dad. To most North Americans, he was “the enemy”; the reality was that he was a teenager pulled out of school by a regime he hated to fight in a war he hated. He once said he was actually glad he ended up a POW by the time he was eighteen, because it meant he wouldn’t have to pretend any more that he wanted to fight.

* * * * * * *

Again this year I’m combining being frugal with giving back. Through the year I acquire lots of nice yarn from thrift shops and yard sales, and now I’m knitting scarves and hats for the local homeless shelter. My goal is to knit at least three items a week; I’ll keep you all posted on how often I meet that goal. I know all too well what it’s like to be homeless, what it’s like to have nothing, what it’s like to struggle in a society that doesn’t seem to care. So I want to show someone less fortunate that yes, there ARE people who care.

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Fall Is Really Here

And I’m finished with fruit for this year. The final count is in:

Canned: 21 pints of pears, 16 pints of peaches.

Canned last year & not eaten yet (they’re next): 8 quarts of garlic dill pickles, 8 pints of sockeye salmon, 12 pints of plums, 12 half-pints of jam, 7 half-pints of plum syrup/conserve/sauce (depending on what we put it on/in).

Frozen single servings for work lunches: 56 plums (gave some away), 46 applesauce, 12 pear/applesauce.

What we actually paid for: salmon, cucumbers, white vinegar, pickling salt, sugar, jar lids.

Everything else came either from our garden or friends’ gardens. We all seem to have the mindset that leads us to grow what we can, trade among ourselves, give away what we don’t need, and only purchase what can’t be had another way.

* * * * * * *

Food waste is another story entirely, and one that makes me kind of sad …

While I’ve always agreed with Murray that “food in the house is like money in the bank”, he has much more of a hoarder-type mentality (most of his family are hoarders to one degree or another, and frankly, it drives me up the wall). I feel like I scored a major victory today when he admitted that yes, there is “probably” a lot of stuff in the kitchen that is too old and needs to go.

So I started with one shelf in one cabinet – the one that holds coffee, tea, and cocoa. After a couple of hours !!! of weeding out caked-solid instant coffee and cocoa powder, rock-hard hot chocolate packets, ancient herbal and flavoured teas, and artificial sweeteners we’ll never use (acquired for or brought by guests), and little jars of jam dated 2006, once I’ve scrubbed out the shelf and put everything back there’ll be lots of space freed up for other things. Like my set of Japanese teacups I found shoved way in the back (which I’d given up looking for long ago), and my nice teapot. All told I dumped about five pounds of stuff into the compost, and recycled all the packaging appropriately. But I still feel guilty about the waste, even though it wasn’t all mine.

Apart from that lot, there was one shrivelled carrot, two dead cherry tomatoes, and a really nasty green pepper. Not too bad for a fridge that last got cleaned out in August!

Next weekend I’ll go up a shelf or two and tackle overaged herbs and spices, and dry soup/sauce/gravy mixes. If I’m lucky, the upper shelves won’t need as much scrubbing.

You may be wondering about this sudden burst of domestic energy. It’s simple – most people do “spring cleaning” every year, but I don’t – I do “fall cleaning”. Why? During canning season the other housework falls by the wayside, so there’s a lot of catching up to do anyway. Plus it clears the decks for my holiday baking sprees, and I do like to have the house clean and nice for the upcoming holidays, when we always have family and friends visiting and sharing meals.

* * * * * * *

Karma works! A few weeks ago I did a favour for a friend of Phae’s, so now I’m getting free professional tattoos; the pentacle on my right ankle redone, a yin & yang on my left ankle, and the medic-alert symbol and PENICILLIN ALLERGY on my left arm. All things I would have been willing to pay the going rates for, but the artist wouldn’t let me.

* * * * * * *

Things are totally crazy at work these days. The head sales guy got it into his head that there’d be lots more money coming in if we took on destuffing ocean containers. Well, I’ll be very surprised if the company doesn’t end up paying more in overtime wages than the containers bring in.

Thomas and I each put in at least 8 hours of overtime in the last week. The warehouse is stuffed so full the loaders can’t find what they’re looking for, the warehouse manager can’t give us load plans until he knows for sure what’s actually there, the crew destuffing the containers keep moving freight around to make room for what they’re unloading, there aren’t enough empty trailers for the outgoing loads and if there were they’re blocked in by containers, most of the bay doors have containers backed into them so the loaders can’t load trailers … it’s a nightmare. So if I don’t post again for a while, you’ll know why!

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Summer Is Almost Over

Days are still sunny and warm – not blazing hot any more, for which I’m grateful – and nights are nicely cool.

The garden is almost done for the year. Green beans are over (they were delicious). Critters ate the solanum plants (boo). I’ve picked the last of the apples, and the plums should be ready in about a week.

* * * * * * *

I booked some vacation time and drove up to Vernon to visit Jess and Jeff. We had a wonderful time! We went to the kangaroo farm, where I got to pet kangaroos and wallabies and capybaras:

We went to the local craft fair and the local farmers’ market, and several fruit/vegetable stands, and then I taught Jess how to can the peaches she bought.

We also spent a lovely afternoon with a dear friend and her daughter. The kids helped her daughter strip the last of her fruit trees and grapevines, and we ended up leaving with at least sixty pounds of grapes and Bartlett pears! The kids kept the grapes (a variety Murray and I don’t really care for) and half the pears, quite a lot of which they gave away around their neighbourhood.

Later on I taught Jess the basics of using a sewing machine. I must say that for someone who’d never touched one before, she did extremely well. Phae borrowed my Mason sewing machine years ago but never took care of it, so it’s not working right now. If I can rescue it and get it working again I’ve promised it to Jess; if I can’t, I’ll help her shop for a basic machine.

* * * * * * *

Yesterday’s canning marathon yielded 21 pints of canned pears, plus half a dozen or so pears left over that I’ll add to the last batch of applesauce later today. Once it’s made and frozen in single servings, and the plums are picked and processed, we’ll have enough home-preserved fruit to last until next summer.

The plums won’t be canned this year, though. Lids and rings for canning jars are pretty much impossible to get this year unless one is buying jars as well – they come with lids and rings – and I definitely don’t need any more jars! So the plums will be washed, pitted, quartered, and frozen in single-serving-size freezer bags. We had to freeze some last summer when we ran out of jar lids, and they all thawed beautifully and tasted nice and fresh.

* * * * * * *

As we feared, the fourth wave of Covid-19 is in full swing and shows no signs of easing up. Between the Delta variant being so much more easily transmitted, idiot anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers, and increased tourism from other provinces where they don’t take the pandemic seriously, we are back to the earlier restrictions and mask mandates. Of course the whole family have been wearing our masks outside the house all along, and taking all the recommended precautions, and we’ve all been fully vaccinated, but sadly, the main reason we still have to take all the precautions is because of idiots who didn’t.

Of course I still mask up all day at work, except when I’m eating. But the people who come up to my desk and want to talk unmasked less than two feet from my face … sometimes I just back up, and sometimes I actually sit with my back to them and don’t turn all the way around to answer them. Rude? Perhaps. As rude as they are to do that? Nope.

Covid-19 is also the main cause of the aforementioned lid/ring shortage, between manufacturers having to scale back or close and consumers who are doing so much more gardening and home preserving due to lockdowns and job losses. It is what it is; I just hope we don’t run out of freezer space before all the plums are done! I guess I should have stocked up a lot more the summer before last – but who knew (or even guessed) the the pandemic would still be going on? Believe me, if I see any lids and rings anywhere I’ll be getting as many as I can afford.

Prices are up on pretty much everything, again because of Covid-19. Which is why I was so thrilled when we were given all those pears. I’ve always tried to live frugally, so I could afford the things I really want (like traveling), so it hasn’t been that difficult to tighten the belt just a little more. And I’ve been very fortunate to remain employed through the pandemic. Still, I’m sure there are places where I could reduce expenditures a little more.

The biggest one of those places is smoking. I got another prescription for Champix, and this time I am absolutely determined – I WILL quit smoking. And every week what I didn’t spend will go into my savings account. Next weekend, if I’m not too busy with plums, I plan to visit a couple of thrift stores for long-sleeved tops for work.

* * * * * * *

Sadly, my 32-year-old serger may have finally given up the ghost. I’ll work on it and see what I can do to keep it running a little longer – but it might be time to bite the bullet and replace it. I’d rather not – the main reason it’s lasted this long is that it has all stainless steel gears and innards, where almost all new sergers on the market now have mostly plastic. Sewing machines too, I imagine, which is why I’m so careful to keep mine in good working order.

* * * * * * *

A friend and I, prompted by a facebook post, were discussing what low/no-tech items we have and refuse to part with. (We’re not “preppers” but you just never know …) Here’s my list:

woodstoves (house & workshop), kerosene lamps, candles, Coleman stove & lanterns

treadle sewing machine

hand-crank eggbeater, can openers, meat grinder, & chopper jar

hand-crank radio/flashlight combo

canning equipment/supplies (water bath & pressure canner)

“old-fashioned” skills such as sewing, knitting, preserving food, using basic unpowered tools


What’s on your list?

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And The Holding Pattern Continues …

… with only a few minor changes.

This time last year, we all thought the pandemic would be a thing of the past by now.

We all made Hallowe’en plans, and then cancelled them.

We all made Christmas/New Year’s plans, and then cancelled them.

We all made plans for this summer, and then cancelled most of them.

Some of us have made plans for next winter/spring/summer, and are now wondering which of those plans we’ll have to cancel.

And some of us are increasingly frustrated with all the people who refuse to get vaccinated, who refuse to mask up, who refuse to stop gathering in large numbers, and so are driving the beginning fourth wave and ruining another year for those of us who are actually being responsible adults.

We have a couple of anti-vax anti-mask people at work. Insisting that covid-19 “isn’t real”, “is just a cold/flu”, “is just a giant conspiracy so the government can control us all”. (One of them also keeps trying to convince the rest of us that the pyramids were built by aliens, but whatever.) Sue keeps insisting that nobody knows what’s really in the vaccines and there’s zero science to back them … at this point I just shrug & walk away whenever the subject comes up. Yes, you are entitled to hold whatever opinions you want – but you are not entitled to try to impose them on me. Wally insists that the only purpose of the vaccines is to enable the government to track our every move … hello, you spend all day on your cell phone, and you have a driver’s license …

It’s really true that the penalty for having common sense is having to deal with people who have none.

So even though Murray and I are fully vaccinated, we’ll keep masking up outside of our house, and keeping our distance from people outside our little family bubble, and washing our hands or using sanitizer as often as we feel we need to. Because unlike the idiots driving the fourth wave, we care about more than just ourselves.

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The garden is a mix of successes and failures.

We planted bush beans, snow peas, zucchini, potatoes, spearmint, and solanum. Raccoons dug up and ate the zucchini and snow peas, but the beans are doing well and the potato plants are coming along quite nicely. The spearmint is producing like mad, but the solanum plants are still tiny; I don’t think I’ll get any berries this year, but I have hopes for next summer if I can keep them alive in the basement over the winter.

The fruit trees are doing very well, too. I’ve already gathered enough apples for my first batch of freezer applesauce, and should get more by next weekend.

The recent heat wave seems to have killed off the rhubarb and strawberries for good this time. I’ll get more rhubarb stock, but I think I’ll put it in the raised bed where the strawberries were – the planter that held the rhubarb until now doesn’t get enough sun any more, since the cherry tree seedlings Murray planted there have really bushed out and up, and the hazelnut tree has expanded a lot.

There are only about half a dozen pears on the pear trees; probably because the whole time they were flowering, it was raining and almost nothing got pollinated. All I can is enjoy what I get and hope for a better crop next year. Next time I’m talking with Dan I’ll find out how his pear trees are doing. He and I have a long-standing deal – I help him pick both of his trees, and I get the Bartletts (my favourites) and he keeps all the Boscs (his favourites).

Later today I’ll be organizing my canning jars and supplies, and making a list of what I need for both canning and freezing. The really difficult part of canning season this year will be finding lids and rings; it was almost impossible last summer and I’m afraid it will be the same this summer. I plan to acquire a lot of freezer bags in various sizes as a backup plan.

Murray finally managed to find two blueberry bushes, so with luck we’ll get a good late crop for the freezer. Fingers crossed!

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Now that we’re all fully vaccinated, I’ve been able to resume the every-other-Saturday-evening visits with Mom and Shelan – no hugging/close-up stuff yet, but it sure is nice being able to just sit and chat and watch a video together! I’ve really missed them both, and right now that’s pretty much my only not-on-line social life. This evening I think I’ll invite Dan over for coffee in the garden, so we can socialize in person but still maintain social distancing. Our video nights (alternate Saturdays) will have to wait a while yet, but it will be nice to just sit & talk face to face once more.

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Garden update

What’s new this weekend:

baby plums:

baby pears:

baby apples:

baby strawberries:

the blackberry patch (one of many):

and the solanum finally sprouted!

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