Thursday, July 31, 2008


Here I am late on blogging but so busy. This afternoon I am canning 'maters! They have just started ripening, and I am canning the 17th quart. I'm scared to think how many there will be. I am giving choice ones to friends/family/neighbors. J told me that when I get tired of canning, we will just give the rest away. Yes, if I pick them! Never had much luck making soup that we really care for, so for the time being, it'll be just regular sliced/diced or juice. It's not too hard to make juice, and that'll probably what I end up making.

Still doing the shelled beans--cranberry, lima, Christmas butterbeans, pole beans. Haven't counted the pints lately, but they are so popular with family that I don't want to miss one. Having the time of my life status post a mastectomy three weeks ago. God is Good! If, as and when I need chemo in a coupla weeks, maybe I will be caught up on most of the canning if I don't feel too well then. But, I plan to BE FEELING WELL. That's my plan.

Our chillun will be visiting next week mostly for the weekend. We will be feasting on a huge veggie meal on Saturday. I couldn't start to list the menu. May even do a chicken and dressing. If you're from the South, you know it is about the veggies. At least they are healthful.

Our garden, in spite of the heat and no rain, is still producing. Must be doing something right.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Same song, another verse

Got half of my stitches out on the 14th as well as one of the drains. Coping with the drains has been my biggest challenge. On Monday, the 21st, I get the other stitches and the last drain out. Then all I have to do is wait for my Oncology visit on the 12th (he is out of the country for 3 weeks) and presumably to find out my course of treatment--chemo and/or radiation therapy.

It looks like I have an outbreak of lichen sclerosus on my arm! I understand that can come on any part of the body, but it is usually in the very moist areas such as one's bottom. I did have an outbreak of it there a month or so ago, but with application of an ointment I have on hand and liberal applications of vitamin E oil, I had that under control fairly quickly. On my arm, I am still in the rash/itch phase, and I am hopeful that on Monday I can persuade my surgeon to get me in to see a dermatologist while this is still ongoing so that we can find a better treatment, if there is one. From doing research on the Internet, I haven't found much encouragement there. I would nominate that to be one of the great plagues, and I'm not kiddin'.

On to more pleasant topics, I/we have picked, shelled and canned approximately 2 dozen pints of baby limas, Christmas butterbeans, and cranberry beans. That is just the beginning, I hope. Our other veggies are surviving the heat/drought with copious watering. I canned 3 quarts of tomatoes this weekend. They are just now producing more than we consume, so that will be adding up soon. The eggplants are producing well, but the squash is not. Oh, well. But, we have been very surprised at the cantaloupe hill. We have 5 or more at different stages of development and hope to pick the largest one in a day or so.

I'm sterilizing pint jars to can the shelled beans picked today. Don't know yet what the yield will be, but I probably will add an addendum so that I can brag on that. But, first, it's time to cool off and rest a bit. The temp here today is around 97 or 98 and very humid, making it very uncomfortable to be outside.

ADDENDUM: My yield of shelled beans today was: 2 pints baby limas, 2.5 pints Christmas butterbeans, and 2 pints cranberry beans. And they all sealed! That's more than it sounds like.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Getting Caught Up

Goodness. I woulda thought I'd have posted something since the 2nd! I guess it was just my imagination. However, in between the 2nd and the 11th, lots of things have happened.

On the 2nd, my just younger sister died peacefully from a 10-year struggle with COPD. We were able to travel to Florence, Alabama, on Sunday the 6th for her funeral. Won't go into details here, but there is an emptiness when we think about her being gone, but at the same time, we are grateful that her pain and suffering are gone.

The next hurdle was preparing for my mastectomy on the 9th. I would be coming home the next day, so there was not a lot of packing to do; in fact, most of the stuff I did take was never touched. The morning of the 9th, we got up about 5 o'clock. I prepared a traditional breakfast for J--bacon, eggs and toast with coffee. It was so tempting to me, but I could only have a sip of water with my meds. We drove to Tupelo and got to the hospital by 7 a.m. I was taken down for injection of dye for a sentinel node biopsy which I had been told would be gruesome but there was really nothing to it. I guess it was due to the skill of the doctor administering the dye. My surgeon had several surgeries scheduled ahead of me, so we had a bit to wait for my surgery, which allowed the dye to do its stuff. The surgery itself took approximately 40 minutes, and before I knew it, I was back in recovery and then to my room. After just a bit of morphine to get me past waking up, I have not required any pain medication except for one percocet for pain caused by lying down and coughing. Since then, the recliner. Altogether, I have felt great. Our daughter came home with us. We picked up some fast food on the way home from the hospital, and that evening we went to our local Mexican restaurant for a quick Speedy Gonzalez. I slept really well in the recliner, didn't require any pain medication, and was ready for a good breakfast, which J prepared, complete with biscuits. I'm being spoiled. Our daughter went home to her family about mid morning. We enjoyed her visit with us. Maybe she trusted us to care for ourselves at this time.

I simply could not wait to see our garden after being away from it for almost two days! There were more ripe tomatoes, and of course beans and okra to be picked. We saved that until this morning. J and I went to the garden fairly early, and with one hand, I picked some Christmas butterbeans, because I didn't have to bend over to do that. I sat in the comfortable yard chair while he picked the Louisiana purple pod beans and the rattlesnake beans, as well as the okra and eggplant. He had already picked the tomatoes. I felt well enough to prepare lunch, which was just as country as could be but without cornbread, his nemesis. We had the butterbeans, okra, eggplant, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers with a cola beverage. That filled our plates and was so good. We needed just a bite of something for taste, so J microwaved a few pieces of very good bacon, blotting out the grease with paper towels. Really quite delicious. Not from the South? Don't gag. Don't know what you're missing.

I'm looking back on my calendar for the log I've kept on the number of jars I've canned this spring/summer. So far, I have canned 69 pints of pole beans and 7 pints of cranberry beans. Don't know what I'll do with those beautiful beans picked this morning, but they probably will be a gift to the neighbors. Might even spare a tomato or two.

Time for a nap before we think about our evening meal--supper for us Southerners--dinner for foreigners. Still feel great. We got back to my surgeon for a checkup on Monday and hope to get one of the drains out then. Probably know about my appointment with my oncologist then. My mantra: it's always somethin'.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

One Goal Met

Today I canned the 50th pint of green beans for this spring/summer. Go Me! Some of these will be given to family, and J and I will enjoy them during the coming months. If I don't get to can any more green beans, the remainder will be delicious as shelly beans. I may have to scrounge up more jars; however, quarts can be pulled into service if necessary. I use the quarts in a favorite recipe of ours, hamburger pie made with ground turkey instead of beef. I think the recipe is somewhere in this blog. If not, I will find it and post it. It is a very easy but I suspect Southern dish.

Also, today, we had the first large ripe red tomato. You guessed it, a BLT without the L, but cheese instead. Fabulous.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

This 'N That

What beautiful weather we had today! I went to the garden early to do some timely watering. Just about have that down to a science. We are still not having rain, but watering seems to keep everything producing well. There was a cool breeze. The neighborhood air conditioners were not humming, so there was only the birds chirping.

J had suggested that he run to Burger King and get a couple of sausage and biscuits, normally a no-no, but under the circumstances we buckled and said what-the-heck. He brought them back along with two senior coffees, and we prepared to sit in the swing and enjoy breakfast before getting back to the garden. Birds had visited the swing and left their calling card, so we had to go to Plan B, which was NOT sitting in the swing.

When I finished watering vegetables and did the daily inspection of vegetables ready to pick, I was so surprised to find that there was a "picking" of cranberry beans. That happened so fast! A day or two before, I had found just a handful of beans mature enough to have for one meal, and these were on older vines that had not been drowned from the torrential rains we had this spring. We had replanted, and the new vines are probably a week and a half younger; however, they are promising to be prolific. Just from these few vines, I was able to can three pints of cranberry beans. Actually, that is very easy, and shelling the pretty, speckles beans is a pleasure.

It had seemed that the hot weather has slowed down our pole beans. However, this morning I saw a new crop of beans. I did gather enough for three pints of a combination of Louisiana Purple Pod and rattlesnake beans. That totals 43 pints of green beans I have canned this spring. I plan to continue to can them until my surgery this coming week, and after that, if I am not up to canning them at that stage, I will just let them go shelly, as that is delicious, also. That is, if my neighbors don't want to gather them. The baby limas are blooming heavily, as are the Christmas speckled butterbeans.

We are in awe of our tomatoes. It seems that using the gallon-jug-method of watering and feeding has really paid off. Those tomatoes are huge! I hope they are sweet and good as they look. Today we saw two in different stages of ripening. One will be picked tomorrow.

The delightful surprise has been the Japanese eggplant. That is bearing so well. We slice each veggie, microwave just long enough to speed cooking, and put on the stovetop griddle until just lightly browned. With a dusting of salt and pepper, it is ready to enjoy, and how easy is that. I am not good at remembering the names of the different varieties, so as we were familiar with the usual large dark purple variety, we have been pleasantly surprised at one which is a light purple large one. Prepared like the Japanese kind, this is just so good. We try not to use a lot of oil. I use the aerosol spray oil which is convenient, and a little spray will do ya. These plants are so healthy and beautiful.

Unfortunately, our yellow squash is not doing so well. We have had a few off them, but they are suffering, and it could be from the extreme heat. We have started a new batch and hope for better luck there. The older zucchini has had a very few on it, but it is not prolific yet, as one would expect from that variety. But with the eggplant and beans, we have had enough variety to not get bored. We are having a bit of okra. The cucumbers have been delightful, and thankfully are not producing so heavily that we can't take care of them. We have enough to share with family. The two jalapenos are producing enough to have as a condiment, picked before they are too hot. They have such a delicious taste of pepper without the heat. I had never realized their value at that stage before this year. I hope I can save enough to make hot sauce later.

Just as a lark, earlier, I had purchased a pot of cantaloupe seedlings but really didn't expect much from them. Wow! We have counted about seven melons in different stages of development, the largest almost large enough to eat, although it appears that they have a few days to go yet. Certainly hope the bunnies don't catch on. I saw one scamper away when I got to the garden this morning, but apparently he/she doesn't know what lies just a few feet from them.

We have harvested the last of the onions. That has been such a delight. We really had too much rain for them to be cared for properly, but anyway they have done well. We don't plant corn or potatoes because of J's dietary restrictions for diabetes reasons. We lost out on a crop of mustard greens, probably because of the excess water early. Will try again this fall.

A bit further into the back yard, not in the garden, we have three blueberry bushes that have done beautifully this spring. Last spring, we probably got one berry after that fateful freeze. This is a daily thing to do, keeping them picked. The grandsons love blueberries and helped pick when they visited. We can keep that done and really enjoy doing it. Also, our apple trees that we thought were too old to do much have a heavy crop of apples. We had given up on ever having peaches because they would always be nipped in the bud by a freeze, but surprise of surprises, this year we have a heavy crop of peaches which should be ripening fairly soon. Don't know exactly what I'll do with them, but I'll have to do something. There may be some Bartlett pears, also. No pecans, though, thanks to some resident squirrels. We have given up trying to control them. Oh, well.

I guess that just about rounds up my bragging for the day. I am trying to not let the vegetables go to waste, but really, really enjoy taking care of them. Although I am not a worrier, keeping busy with the vegetables has kept me occupied so that I don't have too much time on my hands as I await my mastectomy a week from tomorrow. I am being very positive and not expecting to be "laid up" for long, but if I have chemo, and I bet I will, I am not projecting too far about that just yet.

Tomorrow morning, I plan to finish adding soil to the last two hosta planters. Those two beautiful plants have so patiently waited for me to finish transplanting them. Then they should not need such attention for a long time, other than watering, etc. As Gilda Radner used to say, "it's always somethin'."