Friday, August 31, 2007

The Continuing Adventures of Spike and the Mouse

As the day progressed, the mouse got away from the grasp of Spike and disappeared! Spike spent a few tense hours searching for the critter everywhere and eventually spied him again in the office. Good thing Giddy is not creeped out by little field mice or she wouldn't be sitting here blogging!

Spike searched behind the file cabinet......

Then thought perhaps the wiley rodent had found his way back outside, so peeked out the kitchen window quickly before Mom shooed him off the counter (a big no no)!

Ah, Ha!!! Found you at last and cornered under the bookcase!

Unfortunately, Spike has much to learn about hunting rodents as he let the critter slip through his paws once again. Either that, or he ate him because we can't find him. As a treat, we took Spike outside (with harness and leash). However, from the look on his face, this was more punishment than treat!

Later that evening, Spike's ears perked up at the sound on the deck outside. We looked out and I'm sure he thought "Oh, No! Not another critter with which to contend"!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Spike Earns His Keep

The evening began quietly enough with Mom sitting in her chair knitting, Dad in his chair slipping slowly into his nightly coma, and I was settling down in my favorite spot - the crack between the cushions on the love seat. Ah yes, life has been good since I adopted these two pushovers, three squares a day, a nice, clean kept litter box and a daily show of squirrels and chipmunks dashing across the deck to keep me occupied. What could be better?

I spent a quiet evening with the folks and eventually followed them to bed. It was an early night since they had been hiking all day and were pooped.

I, of course, had also had a long day. It's hard being a watch cat with nothing to watch inside, However! About 3:30 this morning, I heard the sound of tiny paws in my domain. Immediately, I was alerted to the tiny intruder! This shall not stand! No mouse in my house! With lightning speed, I morphed into.........


The intruder had ensconced himself under MY LOVE SEAT, no less. I am incensed. The very cheek of this fellow! I am now ever vigilant, keeping a close eye on the situation.

Will Spike rid his house of the mouse?

Will he save his people from all manner of vile things like mouse droppings, nibbled pantry food, Hanta Virus, or.....

Will the mouse escape the razor sharp claws of the ferocious feline and once again be grateful to be outside with winter coming?

Stayed tuned for more riveting updates on the dire situation in Giddy's household!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Bit of This - N - That

I don't have anything special to post today, so in going through the photos I've taken in the past couple of weeks, I decided to pick out a few favorites.

The purple waves have held up nicely throughout the summer

Last week's lunch on the deck was wonderful, very fresh and healthy

Looking back at the house from the top of the garden

Our favorite spot in the garden. The shade hits there during the hottest part of the day and the breezes coming through the trees makes this a truly delightful spot after working hard all day!

H wanted to know if he could have a "throne" like this one we saw at Kingsbrae Gardens. I don't think the scale would quite fit our little garden!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Late Summer Garden

I took a stroll through the garden yesterday morning just as the sun was peeking above the trees behind the house. The light was so pretty and dappled, so I ran into the house for the camera. Here's what's blooming in late August:Head Gnome, Willy, welcomes everyone to the garden.

The Rudbeckia and Peach Dahlia light up the corner of the fence

The Casa Blanca Lily perfumes the whole garden

A dozen Monarchs flitted around and this guy sat still long enough for a "glamour shot"

The blooms on the Annabelle are so heavy that even with staking they have a hard time holding up their heads!

Looking from the corner of the fence. The Joe Pye Weed in the center planting bed is over 7 feet tall!

Spike was miffed because he couldn't go out with me.

The garage planters really filled out over the summer

We stopped in at Marden's on our way into town and found they were having a huge sale on yarn. Oh, joy! Do you think I have enough to keep me busy this winter?

Yes, life is very good!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Oh, Where to Begin?

First, I have to tell you about the great New Jersey peaches we bought this week! They were delicious and so juicy. I froze a bunch of them for a mid winter treat, but we really enjoyed eating as many as we could out of hand. To everything there is a season, and we take full advantage of all the fresh fruit summer has to offer!

I'm afraid I've neglected my blogging duties horribly in the past two weeks. But, alas, with working too much, the weather being so beautiful, the garden getting away from me with zukes and green beans, there just has not been much time to sit inside and ponder words. I have taken lots of photos, but just have not had time to sift through them and decide which ones to post.

Schoodic section of Acadia National Park

So, here goes - the saga of the past two weeks:

First of all, for those of you who requested it, I will post the "Zucchini Mess" recipe at the bottom of this post. Sandy asked if the pot next to the mess was brown rice, and yes, it was. I buy the brown basmati rice as I think it is infinitely more fragrant and flavorful than the plain stuff and here is how I prepare it:

I always prepare a double batch as it freezes wonderfully and since it takes 45 minutes to make a fresh batch, it's nice to always have some on hand at a moment's notice when we need some to go with another dish.

I use a large, shallow lidded pan, such as a 12 inch fry or sautee pan. The shallow size allows each grain to cook fully and I never end up with a sticky mess.

So, on to the recipe. Rinse 2 cups of brown basmati rice and drain thoroughly. In the mean time, sweat one large onion, finely diced in about 1 tbsp of olive oil. When onions are glassy, but not brown, add the drained rice and sautee for about 1 minute to coat the rice with the oil. Add 3 1/2 cups of canned chicken stock, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Turn off heat and uncover the rice to cool. When cool, fluff lightly with a fork. Simply reheat to eat or put in freezer containers in appropriate serving size and freeze.

This method has never failed to produce perfect brown rice for me.

With the weather being so nice, H and I have been hiking in Acadia, and this week, took a road trip to St. Andrews by the Sea in New Brunswick, Canada. We visited Kingsbrae Gardens, one of Canada's Top Ten gardens. It was beautiful and I look forward to visiting in each season. I got several ideas for my own garden, only on a much smaller scale! We had to drive through St. Stephen to get there and noticed that they had a large chocolate factory, but that's a trip for another time. We really enjoyed all the scenery along the way and look forward to going up there often. Pot sculptures in Kingsbrae Garden

On another note: H and I have been adopted!
When our sweet dog, Bailey, passed away two years ago, we said we were not going to go out and get another one. We said that our next pet would find us. Well, that's exactly what has happened.
About two weeks ago, I spied a little black cat running down our road, chasing squirrels or whatever happened to jump in the weeds. He disappeared and I wondered where in the world he came from as none of our neighbors had cats. I felt sorry for the little guy because I knew he was on borrowed time, what with the coyotes and foxes we had heard or seen.
Last Thursday, he came bouncing down the road again, meowing pathetically. I stepped out on to the porch and he came running over, rubbing on my legs and purring madly. I sent H for a can of salmon out of the pantry and fed the little beggar, as I could not stand the thought of this poor skinny thing being hungry.
We did our best to ignore him the rest of the evening, but he just mewed at the door, and since H was asleep in his life-sucking recliner, I thought I'd just let the little guy in for a few minutes since it was now very dark and I was afraid of the bigger critters getting him. He spent the rest of the evening snuggled up against me on the love seat, purring most contentedly. As I was getting ready to go to bed, I didn't have the heart to put him out, and besides, he was now on H's lap, purring and snuggling up to him. Boy was H ever surprised when he woke up to find this cat kissing him!!!
The next day, we had planned a road trip and would be away all day long, so I put the cat out (after feeding him the rest of the salmon), and while we were gone, we discussed our options about the cat. We could either leave him to his destiny outside (not an option), take him to the shelter, or take him in to live with us. We decided that, if he was still around when we got home, we would consider taking him in. We arrived back home and no cat was to be seen. Relieved, we sat down in the dooryard for our evening ritual feeding of the chipmunk, and within seconds, out from under the porch, comes "Midnight", which we had originally dubbed him. With much purring, rubbing on legs, and letting us scratch him behind the ears and on his belly, the little stinker weaseled his way into our hearts and home.

Spike, as he is now known, has been with us just a few days and, although we were never necessarily cat people, we have come to love this little ball of black fur, who simply loves to be with us. He follows us around the house all day, sitting when we sit and just wanting to be near us at all times. As I write this, he is sleeping contentedly behind me on the office chair. (Doing wonders for my posture, as I cannot sit back and slouch in the chair).

So, as you can see, it has been an exciting few days in our lives!
Life is good on the farm!

As promised, here is the Zucchini Mess recipe: Sautee 1 large, diced onion in 3 TBSP olive oil, when they turn glassy, add 3 large cloves of finely diced garlic. When the garlic begins to get fragrant, add the zukes which you have halved lengthwise and chopped into bite size pieces and a large, green pepper, also chopped into bite sized pieces. Stir and sautee for a couple of minutes. Add one large 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, salt & pepper to taste, bay leaf, a few hot pepper flakes, about a tsp of chicken bullion and about a cup of red wine. Then add about a tbsp of dried oregano, fresh chopped parsley, if you have it, cover and simmer for about 1 hour. This is great served over the brown rice and topped with a bit of parmesan cheese. We sometimes also add a bit of smoked sausage for a heartier meal.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Gad Zukes!

I picked the first flush of zucchini yesterday and made an old family recipe. H's Mom is Italian (yes, from the old country) and every year she would make what she called "Zucchini Mess". It was really nothing more than a ratatouille without the eggplant, but it was delicious and a great way to use up all those zukes that tend to get away from you in the garden. Another benefit is that it freezes well, so you can have it all year long.

A couple of days ago, our friend whose house is surrounded by blueberry barrens, invited us over to pick all the blueberries we wanted. Never ones to turn down anything free, much less all we wanted of it, H and I hurried over to pick to our hearts content. Of course, it was the hottest, most humid day of the year and the sun beat down wickedly on the barrens. We lasted about 1/2 hour before our backs gave out from bending over and were blinded by the sweat pouring into our eyes. Nonetheless, we got about 5 quarts after all the berries were cleaned and picked over. The picking over took 10 times longer than the actual picking. We went from aching backs to aching feet from standing up to clean them.

H in the blueberry barrens (that's a remote weather station on the rock)

These little Maine blueberries have so much more flavor that the larger, highbush berries grown elsewhere. They are a lot of work to harvest, but boy are they ever worth the effort and we enjoy them all year long from the freezer.

Later on that evening, I gratefully got to sit down for a while and, because I cannot just sit and do nothing, I knitted another little guy for the orphans.

Well, that's the report from the farm today! Life is Good!