7-3-2000 Independence Day

  • Happy Independence Day!                               July 3, 2000
    The wild roses are still blooming, and the garden roses, but the white
    florabunda is on its last few blooms, which is sad, because it smelled
    wonderfully. I thought of dead heading it to keep it blooming, but it
    makes great rose hips, so I didn’t. I am harvesting chamomile and
    calendula at a great rate, and besides the herbs, we get all our lettuce

    from the garden now.  It seems odd to consider it, but while the herbs

    and greens are harvestable- and the strawberries (and the cherries look
    like they will be ready soon), in a self sufficient world, we’d still be
    waiting for most of the vegetables. We’d be gleaning the thinnings, but
    tomatoes aren’t ready yet, nor peas, nor any of the other “early”
    vegetables. We’d still be living on stored food- what there was left,
    anyway.
    But the wild flowers are gorgeous! The black eyed susans are beginning,
    and the queen Anne’s lace and yarrows, the catch fly, and vetches. You
    should have seen the masses of flowers on the median and the verges as
    we drove up 101! Masses of daisies so dense it looked like snow drifts-
    yellows, and whites, and violets and red and golds like flames. If I
    painted it, no one would believe it!
    I’ve found bugs on the potato and bean plants- what’s left of them. One
    can’t leave a garden for almost a week. Now I have to look up one does
    for those- I hope not hand pick. Yuck! And we haven’t got the irrigation
    system in yet this year. Aelfwine is hesitant because the water is low
    already, and if it’s on an automatic timer, it could easily draw too
    much before we noticed.
    The batch of “next batch” seedlings are ready to go in- actually past
    ready, but we didn’t get to it this weekend. We were about to put a two
    foot wide strip of lattice around the bottom of the barn to keep the
    birds from going under there at night instead of inside where it’s
    really safe, and Aelfwine discovered that the barn was settling badly.
    Admittedly, we knew that the springs that run all over the yard had run
    under some of the corner supports. But what we didn’t know was that
    Wally’s assistants who built the thing with far too little oversight,
    had just banged it together with nails (three per joist- which would be
    fine, except that they averaged missing one nail out of three, and
    sometimes two misses). So we had to go buy some joist hangers, jack the
    barn up and retrofit them- which was all done by Aelfwine squirming in
    under the barn and nailing them about three inches over his face.
    Uncomfortable and tricky. I stayed outside just to make sure someone was
    right there in case one of the jacks slipped. Anyway, that took up far
    too much of the weekend. And after all that, Wolf pointed out that it
    would be much easier to just use chicken wire for the bird anti-wander
    guard. So the lattice we bought will go on the front of the woodshed. I
    hope that the rest of the woodshed will also get finished this year too.

    We haven’t had any clear indication of extra weasel (mink) activity-
    but Aelfwine did find a chicken under the barn with no head, and
    otherwise pretty much un-touched. Carla Emory’s book has a section in it
    on diagnosing which predator you have by such habits, but we haven’t
    looked it up yet.
    We have started killing off the extra stock- I did a (45 pound) turkey
    this morning, and we did a (25 pound) kid on Saturday. Basically,
    reinforcing the idea that life keeps pointing out to me that “Just do
    it” is the only way to get anything done. (I sure wish Nike hadn’t
    popularized that phrase!) I noticed that two of Jefferson’s clutch are
    cocks, so I’ll have to catch and kill them too.
    The pea-keets are doing well. The last few days it’s been so hot I’ve
    turned off their heat lamp so they won’t crowd away from it. On the
    other hand we seem to be down to three ducks. Well, we can’t seem to run
    them into shelter at night, and when they sleep, they are on the ground
    (unlike chickens) and heavier sleepers, and much less heavyweight
    fighters than the geese. This makes them “sitting ducks” for any hungry
    predator who may also have a family to feed at this time of year.
    Not much to say this week as I really didn’t do much in Maine. We went
    to the cabin on Clearwater Lake. I still think of it as “camp”, because
    that’s what we called it while I was growing up- although I’ve come to
    understand that most people use that word for some sort of organized
    group of cabins with councilors and activities. When the kids think of
    it, they are very jealous that I got to spend my entire summers there.
    Now of course, all of my sibs take turns visiting- with our respective
    children. What chaos it would be if we were all there at once! And I
    intentionally avoid the Lake between Fourth of July and Labor Day. I
    don’t care for the “partying”, the water skiing, the large groups of
    people, eating, drinking, etc. I like it quiet. Even though I miss a lot
    of the “lake crowd”- the people who visited back and forth, going to
    each others parties and dropping by for supper or cocktails. I have no
    idea if the friends I had among Mother and Dad’s friends kids still come
    up to the lake- some of them do, I’ve heard.
    But what I remember was swimming lessons- even when it was too cold to
    get in the water. “Up, out, sweeze’m” “Kick-two-three-
    four-five-six-seven-eight” Mr. Friburg drilling us on the dock and in
    the water. (Mr. Friburg was my friend Andy’s father, as well as the swim
    teacher in the summer, the ski teacher in the winter, and the gym
    teacher at school.) I remember Mother doing her crossword puzzle on the
    porch with her coffee, or paying bills at the desk Dad made. I remember
    the adults playing bridge or canasta downstairs while we slept- or
    pretended to in the lofts above. I remember playing charades with both
    generations together. Do people still play charades? I remember I spent
    more time under the water than on top of it- and I have come to
    sympathize with my mother about that. As an adult, you may sit on the
    dock and try to read- but every page or so, you have to look up and
    count heads- and if there aren’t the right number, you need to identify
    and locate the missing one. Kat spends far too much time under the water
    for my comfort. My memories of Maine are the weekdays- the down time-
    not the parties. I guess that’s why that’s what I try to recreate for my
    kids.
    While we were in Maine, we ate all the things that had been traditional
    to eat there before we discovered Star’s allergies- Ice Cream, Jello,
    Kraft Mac and Cheese, Chef Boyardee Macaroni, frozen pizza, Oreos,
    Cheese Doodles, and Burger King/McDonalds en route. I think he’s
    somewhat better- but still a long way from cured.
    Dad was up there for most of the week we were there- he was doing all
    those little things that take so much time. He’s got a new motor boat,
    and it has to get registered, and the town office was only open one
    afternoon a week, and the phone company hadn’t gotten the long distance
    service re-attached, and the new boat dock has to be installed, and he’s
    waiting for the EPA to approve his plans for getting his dock rebuilt. A
    ton of little things, one after the other. Still, it was good for us,
    because we got to see him (and got a ride in his new boat!)
    The dock that has to be rebuilt was originally built the year my
    brother Bob got in a car accident with Rolly Holman. I remember because
    Rolly got his hand crushed between the dash and the steering wheel, and
    ripped it out, and was at work again Monday morning, tossing rocks as
    big as basketball into the log crib that went from the lake floor to 4
    feet above the lake, one handed. He was strong! That would have to make
    it in the late sixties. I suppose it is not surprising that it has begun
    to shift and collapse. I bet if we’d known it would last until 2000 we
    would have thought that that was pretty good. And of course, the whole
    idea of having the EPA approval would have been bizarre back then.
    That was a horrible story- Liz had been in the back seat, but had
    gotten out for some reason, and when the lights from the car behind them
    got in Rolly’s eyes, the VW rolled over. Their friends in the other car
    got out and saw them hanging upside down and unconscious, and thought
    that they were dead, so one got back into their car, and backed up over
    one of the other guys, really killing him. Then he got out and ran off
    into the woods. They didn’t find him for three days, to tell him he’d
    only killed one of his friends- not three. That must have been a
    hellacious three days. Bob had his arm stuck inside the seat cushion
    somehow, and Rolly tried to pull him out through the vent window. He
    said he was afraid that he’d actually do it- but he wasn’t badly hurt.
    If Liz had still been in the back seat, she would have been dead- it was
    totally crushed. No one ever mentioned alcohol being involved in that
    accident- just youthful stupidity. There are always bad memories as well
    as good from one’s past.
    Aelfwine and I have been thinking about contributing a raft to the camp
    complex. We had one when we were kids- most of the camps did. Big kids
    could swim out there to get away from the younger ones. And the mothers
    were always worried that you’d get hurt underneath. In those days floats
    were held up on four fifty gallon barrels- often rusty- tethered by a
    chain to an old radiator, car, wagon wheel, or some other heavy piece of
    trash. It was a camp tradition when Dad would go out to attach the chain
    to the anchor each spring. Now I understand they are held up by huge
    blocks of plastic foam. I wonder if there is still an echoey cool cavern
    underneath where you can tread water and talk to your friends (and, I
    expect, worry mothers doing head counts!). We also used to love turning
    Uncle Charleys aluminum canoe upside down and going under that. The
    canoe is still there- although much patched- and needing more patches.
    Willow and Star paddled to the Mills to get a fresh baked mixed berry
    pie in it on Wednesday, and brought it home dry and still warm. I
    wouldn’t say that it was as good as Mrs. Keyes pies we used to get when
    we were kids- but it was pretty darned good!

    We did the traditional things: went in to town one day to check out the
    stores- Butterfly Maqueens’, and Liquid Sunshine, and got sparklers at
    Reny’s which we lit on the dock the last night. We went to the Disney
    movie- I was rather hoping they’d have Fantasia 2000, but they didn’t,
    so we saw Dinosaur. SO trite, SO predictable. We were whispering at bad
    dinosaur: “You’re a Disney villain! Don’t go up on high places!” But did
    he listen? NoOOoo. We got a kids book Which Witch at the bookstore on
    the “Harry Potter will be here on July 8th, until then try these books:”
    display. Worse and worse- not only are the Harry Potter books convincing
    kids to read- they are also getting them to read other books as well!
    And MOST of them don’t show witches in a bad light. It must be driving
    those who disapprove of Harry bananas! And we swam, and played Michigan
    Rummy and Crazy 8s, and read, and watched videos. I watched Saturday
    Night Fever, which I figured I should eventually see as it’s a cultural
    icon, and Mary Reilly, which wasn’t but was still pretty good. The kids
    watched another Science Fiction Theatre 2000 movie, and Mario Brothers,
    and some other silly kids movies. We even had one glorious traditional
    thunderstorm where we watched it come across the lake on the screen
    porch, then scurried inside to close the windows. And we built a fire
    and roasted marshmallows. I finished reading Oceans of Infinity, which
    did tie up most of the loose ends of the first two books, but really
    wasn’t as good as either of them, and not nearly as good as the
    Vorkosigan books. Oh yes. and one other tradition- I got about a one
    hour chat with Aunt Amanda and Uncle Charley as she sped about doing her
    opening camp cleaning. This year they are just back from Alaska! If you
    think I am busy, I could NEVER keep up with her! And before we left, we
    went over to grandmothers cabin to sign the rafters. Ah, tradition. It’s
    what keeps you balanced when the rest of life is twirling too fast.
    Of course, while I was up there goofing off, Aelfwine was down here
    taking care of all the animals, taking care of Fitz and himself- and on
    Wednesday and Thursday, he was helping Honour move. Kami and Michael
    came out from Ann Arbor to help- they got a moving van and put all the
    boxes and bins from her storage locker into it, then, of course, the
    hard part was the un-bin-able stuff- like her great walking wheel. She
    left us her futons, so we will have more crash space in the hall when
    we’re having events again; and I understand that they finally got off on
    Friday afternoon, just as we were getting back in. They did call and
    tell us that they arrived in Michigan safely- and I understand all
    Honour’s worldly goods are now stacked in Kami’s temple. So now they get
    to create some organization out there.
    Saturday, Charlotte (My mother-in-law) and Bob, who have come up for a
    summer visit, and are staying with Steve and Vicki, came up to see us.
    They took it in pretty good humor while we dressed out the goat- we’d
    meant to have it done before they got here, but we kept putting it off,
    and putting it off until after noon. We’d hoped that they could stay for
    supper, but Steve had his hay cut and had to go bale it, so I wouldn’t
    press them to stay. “Make hay while the sun shines.” is a fairly literal
    aphorism. We did have some lovely goat meatballs with rice for dinner.
    Aelfwine caught me sneaking some tumeric into them and asked “just what
    sub-continent do you think we are from?”, but he enjoyed them anyway.
    But after the goat was in the freezer, I made a pan of madelaines-
    which went well with the fresh goat cheese and the strawberries which
    Charlotte had picked that morning and brought up. They were so well
    received that I gave Charlotte one of my pans so that she can make them
    at home. I had to show her first that I have 8 madelaine pans in
    different sizes and shapes (not counting the one I leave with the
    Pennsic cooking stuff). I really like Madelaines because they take only
    15 minutes from the decision to make them `til pulling them out of the
    oven. And every recipe I have read for them is much more complicated
    than mine. You can make them in muffin pans if you want to- but they
    won’t look as cool, and I think the ridges in the pans allow each cake
    to absorb extra butter…

    My recipe for two pans (24) madelaines (obviously it can be cut in
    half):
    Preheat the oven to 350. Take a stick of butter and liberally butter
    the Madelaine pans, rubbing the butter into the ridges of the “shells”.
    Put the rest in a small saucepan and melt it. As soon as it is
    melted,take it off the heat and dump in a cup of sugar. This goes first
    to reduce the heat from the butter so it doesn’t cook the egg. Stir in
    an egg- I use a fork or whisk for this. Dump in a cup of flour and mix
    it in. Stir in a scant teaspoon of rum extract. Spoon the batter into
    the buttered pans. Cook for 12 minutes. Turn out onto a clean surface- I
    lay out a tea towel so I can nudge them out of the pan while still warm.

    To recap:
    1 stick butter

    1 cup sugar

    1 egg

    1 cup flour

    1 tsp. rum extract

    All stirred in one pan with a fork. Not a big deal. But the pans are a
    little hard to find. Madelaines sell really well at bake sales because
    people have probably seen them for $12 a dozen imported from France- and
    they must be stale by then anyway. If that’s the way people have had
    them before, they’ll wonder why these aren’t hard and crunchy- but I
    have never had anyone complain about their freshness. You can play
    around with different flavoring extracts- but you have to use real
    butter. I’ve tried margarine, and it doesn’t brown as well, much less
    taste as good.

    Gary was up visiting Fitz while Charlotte was here, and Mark came over
    afterward. So we are settling back into the normal chaos. While Gary was
    here they looked up Fitz’ meds in the PDR (and called the pharmacist
    too). He’s been having some edema problems (which didn’t respond to the
    anti-edema medication they gave him) and sure enough, it seems to be

    from the Naprocyn, which they prescribed back in Lexington. The slightly

    elevated blood pressure, for which his current doctor prescribed
    something else may well also be a side effect of the Naprocyn. The list
    of contra indications valid for him was huge- and it seems that while
    the usual dose is 100 mg, the Lexington doctors had him on 1000 mg a
    day. Of course, we are feeling a bit silly for not having looked it up
    when he first got here. I was going to give him an anti-edema herb, but
    I wanted to find out what he was taking so I wouldn’t interact badly
    with it. I should think that doctors would take similar simple
    precautions! He’s calling his doctor today to talk about it. I’d better
    make another round of liver cleanser since it’s been compromised again.
    Mari went up to Maine with us, and had a pretty good time. She wasn’t
    as crazy for swimming as Wolfie was, but she loved running up and down
    the bank and was very interested in the ducks. (There was a mother duck
    there who had thirteen ducklings, and we fed them bread. Once it was
    even so clear that we could watch them diving and swimming underwater,
    which I’d never seen before.) Mari’s a very intelligent and responsive
    little dog- albeit still un-housetrained, although she is coming along
    well on that front as well. She is so cute and soft and fuzzy it is hard
    to remember to tell her “Down” when she tries to wiggle into your lap.
    But we are trying to start as we wish to continue.
    Mark Ratner (Yansuf) is back from Detroit. He’s reminded us that we
    haven’t started work yet on Pennsic- as a matter of fact, while we’ve
    got confirmation of merchant space, we don’t know which merchant space
    we have yet, which we should find out. So yesterday I put the big sheets
    of paper (one per day) up on the dining room wall of the “To Do”
    calendar. During July we have to both get to all the usual stuff- plus
    the extra summer farm stuff, PLUS the getting ready for Pennsic stuff
    (which really isn’t as much anymore, since the house and furniture is
    already there, and we already have more garb than we can use), but I
    have also added the category of getting the house ready to leave, which
    I didn’t used to, but it makes the returning much better. Of course,
    that includes finding an animal sitter, but also getting the garden as
    caught up on weeding as possible- and making sure that the house is
    pretty clean and organized. It used to be left with cloth scraps and
    half done projects all over the place. I can’t deal with coming back to
    that any more. And, Willow has to get a replacement PCA for Fitz.
    Travis has agreed to come live here and do the animals and help Fitz
    while we are at the war. I think we will let Star stay too, since he
    hates the war so much; and he’ll have two adults to remind him to change
    his underwear, go to bed before midnight, and maintain a reasonable
    diet.
    Well, have a wonderful holiday. I am feeling a bit petulant because we
    usually watch our copy of 1776 every year at this time, and I can’t find
    it. We don’t even have a tape of the music. Oh well. I’m off to boil up
    some red, white and blue potatoes for tomorrow’s potato salad!

    Tchipakkan
    32.  Share your knowledge.  It’s a way to achieve immortality.

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