Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Wildlife Refuge

We had our first frost last night, so we fired up the pellet stove. It was nice to wake up in a house that wasn't chilly.  Those in-between days when it is pretty cold at night but hit mid-sixties in the day are challenging, too warm for the pellet stove and too cold to be comfortable.

I did my final harvest of warm season veggies last night in anticipation of the frost.
There are enough peppers to make a new batch of (mostly) jalapeno pepper jelly. With my canning frenzy, I have come to the realization that I need more shelves in my pantry, yet another project to conquer.  The chill has also reminded me that I haven't found the right fabric for curtains in the kitchen/dining area.  I've been carrying around my yardage calculations for a few weeks  since I'm trying to pair it with another errand into the areas. The fabric shops seem to claim a certain radius around themselves, I can drive west 45 minutes to one (Hancock), northeast about 55 minutes to another (Hobby Lobby) and due south for 55 minutes to another (Jo Ann).  Many of the fabric sellers on-line do not seem the have the yardage required to cover four 62 inch long windows, which comes to 10-12 yards.  Gotta drive!

I'm looking out those exposed windows to the bird feeder, which I just filled for the first time this season about two days ago.  The chickens love whatever the squirrels spill, but the wild birds have not yet discovered it. I hope we have the variety that we had in the past year the usual chickadees, robins, sparrows, blue jays, titmice, nuthatches, cardinals, juncos, wrens, then there are (spring and summer) bluebirds (they like the posts we put in for the blackberries), blue gray gnat catchers (had to look them up, again spring/summer), Baltimore orioles, flickers, red bellied woodpeckers, pileated  woodpeckers, mockingbirds, catbirds, brown thrashers, and when a deer gets hit on the road (they have a crossing nearby) the black and turkey vultures (nasty, stinky things), oh yeah, wild turkeys (mom and five babies).  Then, of course, we have mammals deer, bunnies, a big possum, saw a fox once, a bazillion moles that make the lawn squishy. The moles are the reason some of the hawks (red tailed and red shouldered) come--they sit on the "lawn" and wait--then pounce on a mole when it comes up).  Nasty little moles ate the roots of my parsley!  Go Hawks!

The other day in the back yard we had two deer, a  crow and a bunny all just sitting on the lawn near each other, my husband said that it looked like it was an idyllic scene straight out of an old Disney movie and that we should hear perky music in the background.  Much of the land around us platted for development and now the recession is easing the 500K houses are going in, so our wildlife refuge of a backyard will probably be short lived.

Time to fill the feeder, I hope the squirrels will save a little for the birds today.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Apple Butter and Politics

The bag of apples is gone.  It is now proudly displayed on the pantry shelves in jars of applesauce, apple chutney (which tastes like a mincemeat from the Indian subcontinent), apple butter (my daughter thinks it is a full slice of apple pie with a crumb topping per spoonful-must make more), and  the make-do (scorched) apple BBQ sauce which has been given the thumbs up by all tasters.  While I was on a roll and all the equipment was out I made jalapeno jelly from the 3.5 lbs of jalapenos still hanging on the plants, pumpkin butter and toasted pumpkin seeds.  There are more pumpkins left, I need to find more to do with them now that I have discovered that it is not recommended for home canners to can it because of the severe variations in acidity--it can turn very nasty-so we have a freezer full of pumpkin butter. (Remember the photos of the pumpkin patch gone wild in the front yard?)

A little stress can make me very productive, you see, I'm married to a government worker.  The paycheck/no paycheck issue hung over us for a bit.  We knew he would be working--he works no matter what is going on, even during hurricanes.  I just felt better knowing that even if we were going to eat beans and rice for the second half of the month we could have some applesauce with it and spice the beans up with jalapeno jelly.  We'll believe in paychecks when one gets deposited into the checking account,  the HR managers and clerks are furloughed.
With all of the strange and violent behavior that has occurred in the area (DC Metro) I have been waiting for the conversation to  turn to our neglected mental health system, it seems that folks touch on it for half a sound bite and then run the other way.  The Reagan administration pretty much took apart the US mental health system and we have been puzzled by some of the strange happenings since then--school shootings have become a regular occurrence, the shooting in the movie theater, the Navy Yard shooting, the car chase around the Capitol with a baby in the back seat, and today a man immolated himself on the National Mall.  These folks needed help, some had received some help, but clearly not enough. 

I remember a few years back when a coworker was struggling to get her teenage daughter some treatment, but there weren't any pediatric beds available anywhere in the state.    Instead the family spent many evenings in the emergency room whenever the daughter turned for the worst.  They were always sent home after the situation was stabilized, there were no beds. The only way her daughter might have been admitted was if she had attempted suicide.  There are many steps before a kid tries to kill themselves that the healthcare system could help, if there isn't a near complete absence of facilities for youth.

We, as a nation, need to start talking and doing something about re-establishing our mental health care system.  We need everyone to have access to the mental healthcare system, rich or poor.  There is a way to do it that is already law, but by the rhetoric it is hard to discern that.  After more people have access to the system then it is time to build some infrastructure (this is backward, but the capacity needs to be shown to get the funding) and provide real mental health care to our nation for the first time in nearly thirty years.  Otherwise, we can keep putting the folks who need help in prison or  cemeteries, which doesn't sound civilized to me.