Mayonnaise and the Ingrates

As my husband was recently throwing together a quick lunch of tunafish sandwiches for the five of us he encountered a problem.


The cans of tuna were already opened.

I guess he missed the writing on the wall.

grocery list

What to do?  What to do?  a little lemon and pepper?  A white bean and tuna salad?

I made some mayonnaise.  To me, it seemed magical – an egg, mustard, some oil, an acid (I used lime juice because it’s what I had in the house), a pinch of salt – and it became something else!  Even better, instead of just being some white stuff we use to make our food a little less dry, it actually tasted good.

My kids wouldn’t even try it until I muttered a good deal about how they wouldn’t know good food if it jumped up and bit them.  I swear if they had a choice between filet mignon and  boxed mac & cheese, they’d take the orange powder. Not that they’ve ever had filet mignon because when we had kids we had to choose between keeping them and eating beef of the unground variety.  But that’s OK – I’d rather eat casserole at home with them than steak at Smith & Wollensky without them – usually.

Well, eventually they ate the tuna with the domestic mayo.  They even managed to offer polite constructive criticism, which was mostly about not using lime juice.

So… ketchup next?




Filed under cooking, general

Our bees flew away.

but there’s no great loss without some small gain, right?

We got bees acomin'!

I don’t know why they left or where they went; all I know is they’re gone.  I see no evidence of infestation or disease.  Just POOF.

Here’s what they left behind.


So I did this.


And got this.


Some time in the next few days I’ll remelt it and run it through a finer sieve.

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I keep telling my children not to fear failure; failure is how we learn.  The garden is a good teacher in this respect.

I had read that bottle gourds could be left on the vine to cure, but ours must not have been mature enough because as soon as we got a couple of frosts and some wet weather, they began to rot.

Today we rescued the last two that haven’t yet developed mushy spots.

Gourds seven weeks ago.

Gourds seven weeks ago.


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Teaching Risk Assessment to Children

by the rocket's red glare

by the rocket’s red glare

Do you have any idea how hard it is to photograph fireworks?

Do you have any idea how hard it is to photograph fireworks?

It was a very nice Fourth.

We have a tradition where I come from, maybe you do too – right around Independence Day we share stories about this and that kid we know or heard of who lost a finger or an eye or a hand because he mishandled fireworks.  The story I had to add this year was tragic.  The only possible good that can come of it is as a word of caution to my children about the dangers of alcohol, youth, foolishness, and explosives.

My husband and I try to explain to our boys that sometimes young people make foolish and dangerous decisions because they don’t accurately assess the risks (and benefits) of their actions.  So we ask the boys to work through it with us: “What bad things could happen?  How likely is that to happen?  Are there things we can do reduce the chances of bad things happening? In light of the possible consequences and how likely those consequences might be, is the benefit we might receive still worth it?”

And very often, the risk is worth taking.  We climb high trees (and sometimes the woodshed roof) and hike along ravines and walk barefoot in the grass and have great big bonfires that we like to poke with sticks.  We’ve thought about the risks involved with these activities, devised plans to minimize those risks, and we truly enjoy the benefits.

I try to have them practice assessing risks for themselves, but they are young and I am the mom and I still sometimes overrule and they just have to trust that I am wiser than they are and that I love them and that I’m really not the meanest mommy in the world.  Or not, but they still have to obey me.

I know it’s not just my boys who have a wild daredevil streak.  I don’t want to break them, but I want them to learn to harness and train that adventurous spirit.  I want them to live long enough to do truly risky things.

It occurs to me now that there are also risks that we might choose to take in which failure is almost certain, but conscience demands that we go forward anyway.  Another topic for another day.  Maybe.    

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Saying Grace

Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.






Filed under chickens, meat chickens

Chicks, Bees and Preachy Preachy

There’s snow today.  I picked up 32 chicks yesterday:  20 cornish cross for meat, 6 rhode island reds and 6 ameraucanas for eggs.  The heat lamps are on them but in these temps, I’m still worried.  They’re in their own stalls in a former dog kennel inside the barn.  It’s pretty snug, but I’ll go add some kind of wrap around the stalls in a little while for my own peace of mind.

I also don’t know what this sudden drop in temperature means for the bees.  I assume they’ll just hunker down for the day, staying in the center of the hive to keep warm.  I’ll top off the sugar water later.

I don’t know why I’ve been so blessed.  I have everything I’ve ever asked for though it doesn’t all look like what I thought it would.

When I realized that life is good, I also learned that it is short.  Friends and relations gone and scattered, bridges burned, and no going back.  I’m not sure what my point is.  Call your mother.  Play checkers with your kids.  Smile at your husband.  Forgive.  Be happy whenever you can.  Do something inconvenient to make someone happy.

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April 23, 2015 · 9:35 am

Our First Bees

The daffs are starting to bloom, there’s not speck of snow anywhere around and our bees are here.

We picked up our nucleus hive on Sunday night, not getting home until almost 10 pm.  We climbed the two hills to the pond using a flash light because I didn’t want us to fall with a carton of live bees in our hands.  My husband placed the nuc on top of the hive with the entrance facing the same direction that the entrance of the hive faces.  Then I pulled out the plug, a bunch of bees bubbled out, and I ran away.  From a safe distance my husband watched them scramble back in.

We could have waited up to a week to install the frames into the hive, but I was worried about leaving the waxed cardboard box out in the rain that we’re supposed to be getting all week.  So I waited for a break in the weather yesterday and got to work.

I had watched several youtube videos and read a few books to learn how to do this bee thing but I was not prepared for what I found when I opened the nuc.  First of all, even using the smoker, the bees were not amused.  I got chased and yes, I scurried several feet away until they calmed down. Also, there was a lot of comb connecting all the frames to each other across the top and to the cardboard along the sides.  I’ve since emailed the folks I bought it from to ask if this is normal but I haven’t heard back from them yet.  I cut through the excess comb with my pocket knife and I lifted each frame out, scared out of my mind that I was going to crush a bee or get stung by one.  I have a tool that could have helped with lifting them out but I foolishly thought it was unnecessary and left it at the house.  I was so nervous and confused and couldn’t figure out how to hold onto the frame that I didn’t even inspect them.

And then I did the terrible, no good, very bad thing.  I dropped a frame on the grass and lost a few bees.  All I can do is pray the queen wasn’t among them.  The hive is still humming. Yesterday I watched bees coming back to the hive loaded with pollen so I’m hopeful.

I’ve been feed the bees a sugar syrup and they seem to dig that.  And I haven’t been stung yet.  Part of me thinks it might be better to get it over with so I can just get used to it but my bees are too nice so far.

Tomorrow I go to pick up the new chicks!


Filed under bees