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You breathe the air of your sweat, light and shallow.. the liquid air around you without breath to give you respite. The sun above does little more than remind you that your flesh can cook in the steam just like that nice batch of veggies you dressed with a cool cucumber dressing last night.

Then you hit the shade while the hot wind does whip up-blowing the debris of seasonal blossoms gone to seed and dust from the streets... and it's a cool blessing. You are happy that the sweat pops up to be blown off.. and take a moment to drink deep of that iced beverage.. swat a sweat fly or two. Too hot for skeeters to be bugging, even their spawn is dying in the water tanks, much to the dismay of the birds that like to eat and drink while perched on the ledges.

The high light of summer is already past us, and has been for a couple weeks. We are now on the hot steel slide into the dark.


Sunstruck holiday..

With the weekend of extra time and relaxing travel.. came the time to clean up yards, open up pools and work on gardens, mow the lawns and dig out the grills...

Then came the day of the finishing bits, and weekend plans... the memories of red poppies being sold by vets and families... cemeteries seeing their freshing and flags.... or not.

This morning dawned quiet, warm, and clear... even the usual morning cannons were still today. The birds have been in their twilight activity, despite the glorious sun of the day. Today the sun shone down to the depths of 6 feet as much as it could to warm old bones and bring memories to life in the dappled bowers shades of memory and sweet blossoms while the living quiets to observe. Today the sun shone well on the sons and daughters of fallen.

By the sunset, this fierce day will yield to the exhaust fumes of folks driving home, already stuck in traffic and cussing.. or returning home to their AC after the holiday.. Others will be breaking down in dispair for the first time since that time when their loved one was.. gone. Or come home yet one more time with the house empty, and carrying on.. or from the reunion/parade that was more discussion of who's been lost to the grave this time around or newly finding out old friends and family are missing and why. Sleepy children being carried to bed, not knowing or caring what all the fuss or sorrow was about... yet.


Now the traveling hours..

In days past came the moons full light of hunting.. the suns kiss on gardens and paths to be cleared and anew. Now comes the time when the winds travel round, the honey and butter is set out... the blackbird sings and the tender blossoms of first and last kiss close tonight...

The time of the betweens is come on.. those gossamer moons, gloaming moments, golden times, white-hot strikes is on... now comes the twilight of pounding hoofs and paws.

Upon this first warm kiss of scent upon the air comes more.

Now comes the traveling hours. The twixt..


And the swans are home

This is a highly anticipated time every year... the swans are home.

The sun has been lighting the early morning increasingly for a few weeks now.. the sun starting to feel warm again, the earliest of bulbs and blooms popping. Little birds showing up at the rosebud tree where they know I will be hanging out feeders soon to start watching the early color show.

But it's really the true herald of spring is truly come when the swans are home. We have an island in our pond that has hosted a mated pair since well before I lived here. When it's still chill a pair come back and start swimming again... but there is the one day that for the first time I see Mr. Swan escort Mrs. Swan into the foldback of the reeds and cattails where they have their yearly nest... and Mr. Swan starts patrolling the waters. This means the waters are going to be warm enough to grow the plants they like.

It is a much more reliable way of knowing that winter is finally over and spring is coming on than any ole shadow-scardey and shy groundhog.

And the swans are excellent guardians- they keep all the nasty geese flocks off the property :)


Now the last reaping of the sun

With the evening slanting through the yellows and reds that provide a stained glass effect of fooling ones eye into almost believing it could be just another summer evening out the windowpane comes the last of the reaping... for tonight falls the last light of Samhain.

The beds of promise and bounty have all yielded up their fruits and their bodies laid to rest in the compost bins while their summer beds are tucked under thick mulches. The last moment ripest of seeds before the frosts come have been gleaned. That which is left is left for other reapers than us.

The devils have danced around their fires for a night.. and tucked away their masks for another year. The offerings of Hallows Eve have been anticipated. The sweet savoring of anticipation for spooky has been fulfilled and now the gentler time of this dying season can lay it's leaves and frosts upon us. We are thankful in this time of final turning to the white sleep of death.

For now comes the time to enjoy the reaping, tucked away in our blankets and burrows. Now comes the time of fattening up on the fattening up of the earth. Now is the time to refuse the dearth to come while the sun goes to reap other fields for the last time.



And the sun sets on the last eve of summer

As the sun lowers to the twilight today, so closes the last evening of summer. Tomorrows sunset will be the first of autumn. The fullness of summers reapings are fully over, the tangs and heat of canning are almost done. The last of the summer plants are now being tucked in and protected to let them fully yield out in the next few weeks.

Now comes time for cleaning before the last harvest. The recently culled and cleared beds need to be tucked under the first gatherings of fallen leaves for their winter mulch blankets. Perennial and bulb beds are being planted in and watered in and mulched in just as tenderly as the spring seedlings- now are their weeks to take root and snuggle down. Trimmings and cuttings and deadfall brush that has piled up over the summer is ready for some chilling season bonfires.

The last brush of summers heat is flaring out good and hot, and mellower embers are looked forward to. Now comes the mellower harvests of seeds, and curing off squashes and bulbs and such. The harvest of fallen leaves for mulch. Taking in the fallen fruit from the trees and shucking them off to winter grazing areas for the wildlife.


Second Harvest is Upon Us

Now we have harvested from the first harvest on the high ride of summer, and start into the cullings and final harvests of the second harvest yet to come in a few short days... the one that brings the first reaping of leaves from the trees.

Now the furious steams and tangs of canning kettles and brewing goodies of harvest wane off. We start heating up drinks instead of wanting iced ones to take off the heat of summer. Now comes the combined scents of mowed yards, early leaf collections and later branch burnings making a smokey seasoning to the dying and collecting of the green living season.

The honeybees of the youngest born are now working up to their harvests before the frosts really close off their gates for the season. They are bearing loads of golden and purple flowers bounty off to their hives to store up for chillier days to come.

The summer plants of plenty have now given up their goodly yields for this year. The next few weeks of harvest will leave gleanings till the next time growing touches us again..


This time of year..

The first harvest passed at the end of July, and the garden can tell. It's strong spring growing, and promise of green fruits maturing came full mature, and harvesting season was on. The holiday brought on full bushels of produce. Also the shifting of the sun, and the dry times when gathering up water off the roofs pays off with watering the gardens blooms. Now we are waxing into the second harvest to celebrate in just under three weeks.. and the stockpiles of glass jars, baskets and trays of produce coming in and going out.. the constant smells of low cooking sauces and sharp brines and canning waters of vinegar, salt, water, and spices.. It's also the time for watching out for seed harvests, and final diebacks on under the dirt living plants that should be coming ripe to dig up. And now is the time to plant in the last rounds of the quick growing roots, greens, and herbs and set in the fast setting plants to overwinter in the gardens to be good to go for the last harvest..

Looking forward to celebrating the last harvest for a couple months too. I tend to start early, heh. This year Halloween falls on October 31 like it always does- but the last harvest falls just a wee past midnight of November 7th this year.


Canning up...

I do a lot of small scale farming, preserving, storing up, seed preservation.. Been doing so for many years now.

Tomorrow, I'm going to fire up my first outdoor kitchen action. I picked up a couple big brew kettle burners brand new for super cheap. A new can of gas for a burner. Several bricks to build up a windbreak off the porch to set up a big and deep kettle for a goodly time of canning. Got a big batch of pint and a half and half pint jars in the dishwasher on the sanitizing cycle.

Got thee quarts of darn good enchilada sauce curing up in the fridge, and a couple large heads of fresh cauliflower to pickle up... mmmm.


Undersung heros of survival

WARNING!!! I am not trying to promote any sort of illegal behavior in any way, shape or form. I will be using illegal situation scenarios.

I will be purposing things that may have a medical impact on some people. DO NOT think I am giving any medical advice, but rather my opinion based on experience

I see a lot of threads on this forum about what to do when apocalypse whatever comes knocking. Seems to come up more and more often. Zombies, system collapse, Mama N, bla bla bla.... Weapons, food, shelter, water... All the majors come up, but there are some minors that I think need mentioning.

SALT. If you are on the run from zombies or are hunkering down for the "lockdown", salt is a good thing. Salt tablets if on the run, a bunch of sealed salt if hunkering down. If you are not in a salt producing area, this can be especially important.

MULTIVITAMINS. Probably some of the other major league supplements too. Again, your diet may or not be supplied with what you are used to and/or what you need.

MEDICAL OINTMENTS AND PETROLEUM JELLY. Good for lots of stuff. Im not a medical person, but IMO, a tube of ointment or ointment base is worth it's weight in gold.

CONDOMS. For on the go scenarios. Yeah, sounds funny, but they are perfect tiny sacks sacks for stuffing, and NOT in a sexual context. Small, individually sealed and sanitized, in it's fullest collapsed form, and can really be put to some storage use. And there is also the added bonus that if you hit an area that has already been picked, you will likely see these still on the shelves when other storage devices have already long disappeared. Plastic and latex gloves are good too, but are bulkier and would more likely to be picked sooner.

ASPRIN. Unless you know just what natures alternatives are for it, pick it up.

SUPERGLUE. Found all over the place. Excellent for a lot, including it's original purpose of sealing flesh.

SEEDS. So often I see short plan, or if longer plan scenarios, the problem of food comes up. After a while if you survived the initial whatever, "easily" gotten foods become way the eff harder when it comes to wild gathering for a lot of people. Seeds properly stored can last for years on most of the "essential" crops. If you are stumbling around in holy crap land, don't just seize that produce you recognize. Save the seed if you can.

HAND TOOLS. We use a lot of powered tools. Not a ton of hand tools are required for a base set of usefulness.

THE DEWEY DECIMAL SYSTEM!! Yep, this is one you could know right now. If you are effed and don't know what to do about X, you local library is an excellent resource. And who in the heck hits the library when things are all apocalyptic (outside fortress lockups)? You don't necessarily need to know what's in those books now, but it sure can be helpful to know where you are looking for when time is of the essence.

In our current age of electronic resources, don't forget about our non electronic look up systems.

I know, it's nutty. But I think if it really hits the fan there are a lot of basic things often glossed over in the name of media hype scenarios.


George Washington Carver

I cannot speak enough of my admiration of Mr. Carver.

He was born with nothing, and gave us so much we ignore. He developed hundreds of products based off agricultural products of cotton, peanuts, sweet potato, hemp, soy, and pecans.

Here's just a couple links about him...




This man saw the needs of the poor, of the underutilized agriculture, and spent his life inventing products that could make our lives better. He saw how to make things out of easily grown plants instead of raping the earth for limited resources. Hundreds of products, yet how much are any of them utilized? Very few.

This man in my opinion was a hero of the earth and humanity, a genius. We don't see people like him anymore sadly enough, and I think his song is often unsung. A lot of people that know of him at all just think of him as the peanut guy, but he was so much more than that.

I encourage everyone to learn more about this man. I would even say that more people should emulate him- when they find themselves with nothing, look to him as inspiration that greatness can come from nothing. When people find themselves thinking they made something great, look to him and know there are always more resources in yourself to make something more. When you feel unappreciated, look to this man and realize he was humble and unappreciated, yet created things that we all need- and many things we are just learning again that we can use without being dependent on what corporations tell us to be dependent on.


Is it just me...

I'm not a terrorist by any stretch of the imagination. If fact, I consider myself quite a patriot, I love my country.

Sadly, I really don't like any of the people running my country right now. I don't care for most of the people bidding to run my country either. From what I hear, a lot of other people are in the same boat I am.

So, is it just me, or is it kind of surprising that some gun happy nuts haven't started really killing off politicians yet?

I guess I find it a little shocking that with as much unrest and unhappiness as there is right now, and how accessible weapons are that there aren't more assassination attempts going on.

I'm a little surprised that there haven't been more wealthies getting attacked too.


OWS flash mobs...


I'm not fond of the whole camping out OWS movement. Hanging out day after day, increasing reports of crimes in the camps.. Unsanitary and unhealthy conditions, all sorts of ick.

I want to see OWS take a whole new direction with it's protests... Flash mobs. Instead of staying put in camps that seem to attract ick... Go gorilla tactic and get groups to appear at a place, get all protesting for a while.. Then melt away before any real laws are broken or the cops bust it up. Do it in more public places..

Make sure groups hit media outlets, especially in larger cities. And of course, ensure full footage of all the flash mobs on youtube and other video posting sites.

I'm all for peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. So make this a movement that really employs both, and tries to avoid illegal activities.


U.S. School Food

I get so frustrated with food issues sometimes. I decided to keep it to the blog instead of threads this time.

School food in the U.S. is often as crappy and misunderstood as a lot of the rest of food is in the U.S.. There is currently a to-do with french fries and pizza sauce and the USDA, and schools.. Blech.

There are other preparations of starchy goodness out there that aren't fried so the nutritional goodness of the potato is still passed on. How about a baked potato day? Yeah, offer all the bad for you stuff like cheese and bacon, butter and sour cream. But also offer a variety of steamed or sauteed veggies, whole kernel corn- or even more fun, cut cob sections to go along with that potato.

Maybe a mixed casserole type that has potatoes and veggies in a gratin? Or a baked tater tot instead of a fried potato string?

On to other starches.. after all, why just potatoes.. How about rice dishes, or always offering breads?

On to the dang pizza sauce.. Really? I mean, WTF really? Generally, a serving of veggies is a half cup, or 4 ounces. How much sauce is on a slice of pizza? Depending on the quality of the pizza, a couple Tablespoons, or 1 ounce. Even if the pizza is overboard and has 2 ounces of sauce per slice- that's still only a half serving, not a whole one. So a kid would have to eat 2-4 slices of pizza for the amount of sauce to be considered a serving of veggies.

Take into account how much starch they are eating from the bread, how much protein from the toppings, including cheese or cheese product, how much other nutritional qualities depending on the toppings... Not overall as good for you as some are making it out to be.

A good veggie tie in? Make the pizza sauce with ground up veggies, and use a goodly amount of it. Extra nice is that processors would also have an additional sell point for field goods that aren't quite pretty enough for visual sale, but are completely satisfactory to get pulped and added to pizza sauce.


Food PSA

I see threads come up sometimes about food, things like safety and recalls. So I wanted to put up some of my fave food safety information. :)

Food Safety News is a site that is mostly U.S. orientated, but carries items about some worldwide things too. Has current listings of foodborne illnesses, food recalls and politics, and a world calendar of food safety events. They have a nice primer for foodborne illnesses here.

Iowa State put out this nice list of common foodborne pathogens. The CDC is another nice site, has a lot of common Q&A type stuff.

This FDA link has an excellent list of international agencies. These deal with nations other than the U.S. on food issues.

Not all pathogens are the same. Some suffer from freezing or heat, and some don't. Some need wet environmnets, some don't. Almost all of them can be prevented by proper safety and sanitation measures.

Smell can be an important tool- a lot of stuff smells off when it is. But remember not every pathogen results in a discernible odor.

There are food safety zones. Different countries vary, I'm using U.S.. Food is considered time-temperature abused when it has remained in the temperature danger zone for more than four hours cumulative throughout the flow of food.

Refrigeration (air) temperature 38º F or below

Refrigeration (food) temperature 41º F or below

Seafood 30º F - 34º F

Fresh produce 41º F - 45º F

Deep chill 26º F - 32º F

Freezer (food) temperature 0º F or below

Dry storage 50º F - 70º F

Hot foods need to be cooked to and held at over 135° F, cold foods held below 41° F.

Thawing foods should not be done on the counter. It should be done in the refrigerator, under running water that is below 70° F, or in the microwave. The food should be cooked up to temp immediately following thawing.

Frozen foods really do need to stay frozen. An easy way to tell at the store is ice crystals. From the time of process to when you pick it up out of the case.. There shouldn't be ice formations, that indicates the item has defrosted enough to re-freeze, forming crystals if the temp got that high. Like a bag of frozen veggies that is a block instead of bits in the bag- likely got warm enough that the moisture in the bag got over freezing, then re-froze.

The forumla for Fahrenheit to Celsius: t °C = (t °F - 32) × 5/9, Celsius to Fahrenheitt °F = t °C × 9/5 + 32. F/C calculator , C/F calculator .

And an easy and simple sanitation spray without having to spend a lot- bleach and water. An extremely water downed bleach is considered ok to spray food surfaces with. Not to clean food itself, but stuff like counters, cutting boards, sinks.. 1 teaspoon per gallon water. Or approximately, 1/4 teaspoon in a quart sized spray bottle for general wiping up instead of using commercial cleanser products.