Here’s Another Open Thread

It’s rainy and cold and shitty here. BFF Tammy is in town for the weekend, as she came up for the annual church Christmas bazaar that my mom and dad were in charge of this year (Tammy is basically the fifth child, and spends as much time as my parents house as she does here and has sleepovers and watches tv and chats with my parents- which is good, because they are all talkers and it is good to keep them segregated from the gen pop). At any rate, I picked up what is called a “bird bowl” but pretty much looks to me to be a bird house from the local potter:

I’m going to hang it on the front porch near where the fern that hatched my bebbies this spring hangs, so maybe if mama bird comes back she will have the option for an upgrade to a luxury condo. The potter is friend of the family Herb Weaver, who many of you may remember as the man who did the excellent tile work in my bathroom.

At any rate, not much going on here tonight. Weather has kind of dimmed spirits and we’re in homebody mode. Watching Alabama play Georgia and of course rooting for the Dawgs, as it is one of mom’s alma maters and we watched them our entire lives. Also because we love UGA (we’re up to Uga IX now!).



The Good Places

I had a good bit of stuff to do today, but it was really just a beautiful day, so I did none of it. I’ve mentioned before that I hate the fall- everything is so overcast and my allergies act up from all the mold, and the rain- blech. I do, on the other hand, love days like today, where it is sunny and a crisp 40 something degrees out, and I can throw on some wool socks and my overalls and be the perfect temperature all day.

I was close to running out of apples, so I decided I would take a drive on the back roads to the orchard, and since every time I go I call around and see if anybody wants any, I stopped by Harry and Chatman’s bed and breakfast. For those of you who are new here (assuming there are newbies), Harry and Chatman run the most amazing little bed and breakfast on farm about five miles from me called Barn With Inn. You should check out their website and if you are ever going to be around these parts or driving through on your way somewhere else, you should reserve a room and stay for the night. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet.

BTW- Chatman said some of you readers stopped by for a few days but for some reason did not email me before going (actually I can think of a bunch of reasons why I wouldn’t call me if I were going somewhere on vacation near me, but that’s just because I am German and the self-loathing runs strong), and he said you were his favorite guests of all time. So you should go back!

At any rate, when I arrived at the farm, Harry and Chatman were nowhere to be found, so I just got out and hung out with the animals. As you can see here, the ladies were VERY upset that Chatman was not around to receive the day’s egg delivery, and were standing at the doorway raising a ruckus:

The dogs were all locked inside and the barn was sealed up so I didn’t get to say hi to Buddy Ray or the others, but Coop was wandering around so we sat for a while and had a chat:

I apologized profusely about the pork shoulder in my freezer and swore up and down it was no one he knew, but he was having none of it, grunted a few times, and wandered off, giving me the, umm, cold pork shoulder (I should have my ass kicked for that and groaned while I wrote it):

I did get stalked briefly by a feral bobcat, but apparently the wild beast decided I was too much hassle to hunt, sniffed me and let me live.

I waited a bit longer, but still no Harry and Chatman, so I left for the orchard. Again, it was a beautiful day with no cars on the road, so it was a nice drive. I took in the sites and listened to some Outkast, and finally got to the orchard:

As always, they had a wide variety of apples for sale:

I wandered around the crates of apples while trying to make a decision- I’m really like a kid in the candy store there. I got a bag of Ruby Frosts and Honeycrisps for my friend Ashley, and for myself I got some Ruby Frosts (I got those the last time and loved them), some Empires a smaller apple that doesn’t last as long stored as some others, and a new apple (to me) called the Gold Rush:

Whereas the Ruby Frosts are hands down one of the most beautiful apples with their deep burgundy color and red and yellow/orange swirls, the Gold Rush is kind of an ugly little apple. It’s a dark yellow, the skin is rough with a texture almost like a hybrid of an apple and an asian pair, and the skin is a little mottled in places. They look like the kind of apple you would pick off a tree growing in your own yard, if you know what I mean. They payoff, though, is in the consumption. It has a thick, hard and crisp skin that gives a great crunch, and the apple is very juicy, with a great mouth feel, an initial little tang (but nowhere near the tart of other apples), followed with a thick sweet finish. Even though they are a small apple, they are very dense, and eating one of those takes longer to properly enjoy than say a Honeycrisp.

I sat and chatted with the owner for a bit, and when he bought out his grandfather decades ago, they only had six varieties of apples, and don’t even grown some of them anymore. I forget what all of the six were, but I do remember that the Rome was one of them, and I realized I have not had one of those in ages. I told him that if I had to rank my favorites so far this year, I thought the order would be the Ruby Frost, the Gingergold, and the Gold Rush, with the Nittany’s a close fourth. My brother is stopping by on his way home tomorrow, and I told the owner to make sure he gets some of the Gold Rush.

After that, I left and went to the grocery store for some celery, carrots, and ham hocks, and right now I have a delicious pot of black bean soup cooking. The store also had these marvelous shallots that were the size of half dollars across, and I minced some of those up to put in. On my agenda tonight is black bean soup, WVU football, and setting up my fitbit because once again the doctor said there is too much of me and we need to tone it down a notch. In fact, here is a recreation of my last visit to the doctor, with a large cat playing the role of me:

At any rate, today was a good day. I can get the other stuff done tomorrow.

*** Update ***

The soup turned out well:



Lily’s Monthly Chemo Update

Took Lily to chemo today, and she got a clean bill of health, and basically all they said was that everything is great, her numbers are fantastic, come back in a month, and btw several of the vet techs were plotting to steal her:

Since she is on no meds anymore except her monthly bloodwork and vincristine, this was the cheapest visit yet, at only 200 bucks. Which is down from when it was twice my mortgage a month, then matched my mortgage, to half my mortgage, to a 1/3 of my mortgage- you get the picture. So I am doubly happy today. She’s worth it anyway.

I did make a tactical mistake, today, though, and went to Costco two days before Thanksgiving. I always go when I am up there for her treatments because I have nothing else to do, and dad wanted me to pick up some vitamins and a few other things. I wasn’t at all thinking about the holiday, BUT EVERYONE ELSE IN THE GREATER FUCKING PITTSBURGH AREA SURE WAS. At any rate, it was a horror show, with a thousand people thinking only about themselves just wandering off leaving carts unattended, stopping in the middle of the aisles to talk on the phone, or just stopping everything because there is a god damned free sample of something they won’t buy anyway. It just amazes me how much of the world operates like no one around them exists. The only people who get a pass from this sort of assholish behavior are the mothers with two or three kids running around raising hell. You can see it in their eyes that they are just 50% ready to go off like a hand grenade whose pin has been pulled but no one knows when or 50% ready to just sit down in the aisle and have a solid cry. I feel for them.

Everyone else has no fucking excuse. I do breathing exercises and try to tell myself “Hey, everyone there may be having the worst day of their lives, don’t judge,” and try to be kind, but it just drives me into madness anyway. Is it because people decide “this is going to be awful regardless what I do so might as well just let my asshole flag fly?” Is that what it is? Because that is the opposite of my logic. Maybe it’s my past in the military, because my mentality is “Ok, this is going to be awful, let’s do what we can to not make shit worse and maybe we will get out of here without any felonies, fatalities, or me becoming an infamous youtube star in someone else’s video.”

Regardless, I made it out alive, my dog is healthy, I picked up Chinese food for mom and dad, and now I am off to nap with Lily and Steve. Aren’t you jealous?



Evil Genius Open Thread

I need to share this with you all and not just teh twitterz.

I just did one of the most evil genius things I have ever done. I was trying to make an omelet, and Thurston and Rosie were both in the kitchen and made me almost fall like four times. Instead of yelling, at the same time I took two pinches of shredded cheese, and sprinkled it on the backs of both dogs where they could not reach it.

This caused Thurston to rush over to try to get the cheese off Rosie’s back, which Rosie responded to as aggression, and then she noticed the cheese on Thurston’s back and went for it. They are both still in the back yard chasing each other.

Lily, meanwhile, pranced delicately into the kitchen and at the cheese on the floor, and I was able to cook and eat my omelet in peace.

How do we do this to the Republicans in 2020?



The Market is a Motherfucker- Apple Edition

I went to the orchard this afternoon, and along the way thought about this article I read a few days ago:

Bite into a Honeycrisp apple and you understand why consumers are willing to pay so much for a piece of fruit: the crunch.

That’s no accident. In the pre-Honeycrisp era, apples had just two textures: “soft and mealy (that nobody liked), and then we had the good apples, the hard, crisp and dense,” said David Bedford, one of the original breeders of the Honeycrisp.

Unlike the vast majority of modern commercial produce, the Honeycrisp apple wasn’t bred to grow, store or ship well. It was bred for taste: crisp, with balanced sweetness and acidity. Though it succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, along the way it became a nightmare for some producers, forcing small Northeastern growers to compete with their massive, climatically advantaged counterparts on the West Coast.

If you read more than the excerpt, you will learn that the Honeycrisp, while a good apple and apparently in super high demand, is a total kick in the dick for growers. While I was picking out what I wanted, I asked the guy about them, telling him I had read an article about them. He asked “the one online?” and I responded yes, and his eyes narrowed, face reddened, and he got the same look I get whenever someone brings up Trump or the 2016 primaries- “That article didn’t do it justice.”

He then went on an extended but polite rant about them- they only fruit every other year, they get sunburnt, they grow too big and break branches on young trees, they are susceptible to sunburn and basically anything that can plague any other apple tree, and even storing them is a colossal pain in the ass. You pick them, store them outside for two days, then move them inside for a couple days, then you can refrigerate them, and even then they can start to decay. So the next time you bite into a delicious honeycrisp, just remember that apple growers think you are an asshole.

I browsed around the place for a bit- I just love it. It’s a little garage like building on the outskirts of the orchard, with large 3 foot tall 4-5′ wide bins just filled with all different types of apples, and as soon as you walk into the place the aroma of apples and ciders just takes over. It’s a no fuss operation. Just one guy, a folding table with some bags and a tin for the cash, and the big bins for apples and a couple refrigerators for the cider.

I picked up a couple different varieties- including some small fuji’s for mom (she likes tiny apples, and the galas were done for the season) and a gallon of cider for Harry up the street at the general store. For myself (and I will share a few with dad), I got a bag of Ruby Frosts and a bag of Nittanys. The Ruby Frost is a deep burgundy colored apple, of medium size with good crispness, a nice sweet tart first bite, and then a semi-sweet finish with a solid flavor of what I can only describe as the essence of apple. They are a new variety from New York (although I don’t know how long my guy has been growing them), and I think they are very pretty:

I also picked up a five lb bag of Nittanys. They are also a very pretty apple- a bright red with patches of yellow and orange through out, almost sun kissed, that closely resemble the apple version of a properly mixed tequila sunrise. They are crisp and juicy, with a nice tart taste.

And then, of course, I got a bag of honeycrisps, because we all know I am an asshole and there’s just no hiding it.



Pretty Sunsets

I don’t know the physics of why it happens (well, I mean I think I sort of know that the earth’s position relative to the sun is different and that results in light refracting differently producing a different spectrum ), but the amber glow of fall sunsets has always really messed with my eyes and looked completely different than sunsets in the spring and summer to me. Regardless of whether or not I am just imagining things or I am right about the lighting, tonight’s sunset was really pretty:

West Virginia is such a beautiful state, I wish it wasn’t such a shitshow politically. And I wish we were doing more to protect our water from coal and frackers, because with the earth heating up the way it is, WV is prime to be an agricultural oasis with our good rain fall and soon to be longer growing season.

Very few leaves have changed or begun to change, and I have just had a feeling that we are going to have a very short fall in terms of leaves changing and then a very brutal winter. I don’t know why, but I think we just do. I also always know which way north is (and, I guess, consequently, east, south and west) instinctively. Or maybe I am totally full of shit and we will have a mild winter.

But I think it is going to be a brutal one. I’ve got a feeling that I can’t explain.



A Sort of Sunday Garden Open Thread

It’s going to be 85 degrees today. In October:

Notice the mold on the deck that was painted two months ago. This is what it is like living in a tropical rain forest. I’m going to end up having to purchase a power washer.

On the agenda today is picking the pole beans, picking more tomatoes and pulling up some plants, and football.

BTW- did you notice the angel in the middle of the field just enjoying her best life:

Every time I see her lying in the grass my chest swells and I just sit and watch her for a while. She is just such a sweet, good natured, lovely dog.