Blogsam and Jetsam

Flotsam is the part of the wreckage of a ship or its cargo found floating on the water. Jetsam is cargo or parts of a ship that are deliberately thrown overboard, as to lighten the ship in an emergency, and that subsequently either sinks or is washed ashore. This is my personal blog version of the above. Loot freely.

My Photo
Location: The Hinterlands, Upstate NY

I'm annoyed that the world is going crazier faster than it used to be. But it's interesting to watch.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sad Garden

Candy the Gippy-Pig died early Wednesday afternoon. Probably a heart attack since she was okay in the morning and had eaten the lettuce I'd given her. She had a pretty significant rectal prolapse (which didn't seem to be getting her down all that much actually) and had been dwindling a bit but it's still rather shocking.

She did indeed have a long full guinea-pig life--average age for a guinea pig is 2-3 years with 4 uncommon and 7 as oldest recorded age so at five she was venerable (Eldest said she was "in the competition for 16th oldest") but of course we're all crushed. She was a Good Critter. Always great to hold and pet, rather like a tiny teddy bear. She was quite demanding of tomato--got to the point where whenever she heard HBF's voice in the kitchen she'd start squeaking. Squeaked for any fresh-smelling fruit or vegetable being cut up in the kitchen and particularly liked lettuce and cantaloupe but not as well as tomato. She loved tomato. She coo-ed in the way all guinea pigs do and was just so damned loveable. Had a bath just a couple days ago.

The funeral itself was low-key. I found a nice cotton scarf that had been Grandmom's to use as a shroud then wrapped the shrouded body in white tissue paper right after I got home. Youngest, who is only seven and hasn't ever seen death close-up before (she was too little when Grandmom died) held the body for a few minutes and was surprised it was stiff and cold. When I put the cage out in the garage I saw that although "Candy liners" had been on the refrigerator whiteboard for three days and I'd been kicking myself for not ordering them sooner we still had three or four left...which was hard for me because this was the FIRST TIME (despite multiple reminders every time the issue came up) that Eldest had remembered to ask for more cage liners before we were completely out and had to use paper towels/newspapers till the new batch came. So I stood there clutching the liners and bawling while thinking of how I'd clutched Grandmom's new L.L. Bean sheets and bawled the same way five years ago.

Proceedings had to be interrupted because MIL and Middle Duckling were due back from their trip to NYC (part of his birthday from Grandmama.) We picked them up at the corner store (where she was mightily pissed at having been waiting a whole five minutes.) Instead of listening to MIL yammer, I went out to the front garden, picked out a nice corner and started digging. That whole process once again reinforced my deep respect for our human cemetery out back since as bad/hard/rocky/heavy as the dirt is up here I'm amazed that anyone dug a real grave in the days before combustion engines. I went to the old stone wall where I knew there was a huge cornerstone lying on the adjacent grass...a couple of years ago when I'd first seen it I attempted to pick it up and couldn't so had thought (a tad morbidly) "when the time comes, that will make an excellent headstone for Candy" and it turned out to be true. Two years of gardening later I could just barely wrestle the stone into the wagon.

We cut all the roses from my last “you got promoted” bouquet down to the length of the shroud, lit a candle and went outside--Youngest volunteered to carry Candy and I thought "crap, she's like me that way." Eldest was planning on not participating (preferring to remember Candy as she was) but ended up coming out after all where she watched as Youngest put the body in the grave, I put the flowers in and said she'd had a good life and been a great pet and that we'd miss her and remember her. Youngest and I were crying profusely by then. Eldest was trying hard to keep it all inside and did. We put the dirt back and as I was struggling to get the headstone upright Eldest decided it needed to be flat on top of the grave so we did that instead...and she was right; it did look far better. We put one rose on top of the stone and left the candle lit on the porch all night.

HBF commented that "making a sandwich will never be the same" and I know he's right because the next morning I was sad all over again at opening a new head of lettuce for BIL's sandwich and not having anyone to eat the outside leaves. Then on my way out to the car I saw that Eldest Duckling had put a tomato on Candy's headstone and completely lost it...cried halfway to the office. Yeah it's not a person but she was a member of the family all the same. Not only am I missing her in my own right and miserable seeing Eldest Duckling grieve but also we got Candy the day before we went to do Hospice for Grandmom so the two are quite linked in my mind. I'll never forget the visual of coming out of Grandmom's bedroom to see a then-two-year-old Youngest Duckling standing IN the cage with a terrified Pig-Pig (that was her nickname) and cedar shavings everywhere.

The remaining three pets seem to have figured out what's going on...they were all quite subdued last night and the dog slept in till an unheard-of seven the following morning then sniffed all over where the cage had been. The two cats seemed fine and were chasing each other when I left. I was intermittently weepy all the next morning...and of course had to tell everyone at the office so they'd know it wasn't them or the job or anything like that. Which makes one feel a little dopey since there's always that little voice in one's head saying "but it wasn't a PERSON so why don't you just snap out of it?!?" Fortunately my department is a caring bunch.

Youngest asked "shouldn't there be writing on it [the stone]?" Well no, it would look tacky...but if there were it would say:

Requiscat In Pacem Candy

August 2002 - July 25 2007

Beloved Gippy-Pig and Good Real Critter

She will be missed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

For the Knitters...

...who follow this blog I give you a photo update:

First the Mitten Project:

Y'all don't know Eldest but trust me, the whole initials concept suits her well.

Next the Ribbon Experiment:

I'm still not sure where to go. Theoretically that's the front of a pullover for myself but I haven't got any armhole-neck shaping thoughts yet.

And finally, the Whole Leisure Package--both knitting projects and my current book:

(Yeah the photography could always be better...but for last-minute rush job I'm okay with it.)

Monday, July 23, 2007


The best part about things working out at the office is being out of "crisis mode."

The second best part is not having to move away from the new perennial garden just when it's starting to bloom.

Now if only my Asian lilies would take the hint...

Yes, I know it seems silly to some, but I like it up here in The Hinterlands. Part of why I tossed my hat into the ring for the promotion in the first place was because I enjoy living on a retired apple orchard bordered by running water that I know has been deeded as farmland since the late 1700s. A local dairy family is in the middle of our road, the one at the far end raises chickens and there's an organic farmer in between who sells fantastic granola all over the county. If they blow the tits off the world tomorrow in the form of a big EMP or mining the Strait of Hormuz we'll still do okay...the crossroads with the store, church and restaurant is only a mile and a half around the corner. It's reassuring to live on land that's supported humans for so long; makes me not even mind that the oldest grave in our cemetery is only about fifteen feet from the kitchen door.

Now that we know we're staying, Eldest and I broke out the jigsaw puzzles again...nothing says "gonna be around for a while" like bits of cardboard strewn all over two tables:

We're going to try a vegetable garden next year also--that should be an adventure. I haven't grown anything to eat in just years. I'm also happy to be able to go ahead and order the (cheap from a new-to-me-company) bulbs with which I'd been so smitten right before it looked like the promotion was going to the Other Candidate.

"Settled" is good.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Y'all will no doubt recall my asking "whatinthefuck are enzymes anyhow?" in reference to all the packaged cheese a while back.

I had just about gotten over myself and decided they were nothing. Especially when reminded daily just how damned hard it is to avoid additives in the average American grocery retail experience. So fine, one evening I was picking up milk and teas and thought "hmm, what non-additive thing can I eat tonight?"


Yup, our family's favorite corn chip might be made from Thorne Industries corn (I haven't looked yet; not sure I want to know though I realize I ought), but it happens to be additive free.

A grate of cheddar, a bit of salsa and comfort would be had within ten minutes or less which was key on that particular night. So much so that as I was in the dairy aisle I thought "fuck, you and your time are worth it--grab a package of pre-grated."

Damned if there's not modified food starch in it.

I was just floored. "In the cheese?!?" I asked myself. Well, yes. I just spent a half hour trying to get you fine people a link to an ingredient list and still have an empty clipboard (I think that's rather intriguing in its own right) but I did find this.

I grated my own but the whole thing grated at me...

So I made some mozzerella:

Actually I made something which was supposed to be queso blanco first but it resulted in (tasty) cream cheese. So I bought a kit**:

It turned out well; this was the only bit left after 48 hours:

It's not a bit hard--if you can make a cooked pudding (even from a mix) you're halfway there already. I'm sure I'll be doing it again as soon as the big heavy pot isn't full of deep-frying oil.

Oh and I got yet more congratulatory flowers on Saturday too.

That little arm in the upper right of the background is Youngest Duckling waving to the camera.

** The one recommended by Barbara Kingsolver in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which I finished last Wednesday. Powerful and wonderful holy book any other prophet it's a lifestyle we likely won't personally attain but to which we can strive in greater or lesser parts. I'm sure you'll be reading more from me about it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


This is the bouquet one of my staff gives me every year from her perennial garden.
Hasn't she got the greenest thumb?

Good thing too, since this is what my perennial garden looks like today.

These flowers

And all three of these bouquets

And these too

Were to celebrate my long-awaited promotion which finally came through last Wednesday. Also lunch, a huge cake and Crocs--it was a Very Sally Field moment.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Still Alive

Work still uncertain and nasty.

Friends still very good.

Finished the orange "for ME" mittens and realized they weren't mine after all.
On the up side, my mother's October birthday is now covered.
(Knitting Gods aren't letting me knit for myself currently; that's fine by me.)

Started the mittens for Eldest and they're turning out great.

Jersey house "remediation" unexpectedly larger and more expensive. Tenants (rightfully) furious.

Work still sucky and busy and annoying.

Discovered Barbara Kingsolver and fell completely totally head-over-heels in love with Prodigal Summer. I can't remember when I last liked a book that much.

Made one really good loaf of bread and one okay-to-good loaf over the weekend. Had forgotten how primal and soothing that can be. Oh and King Arthur flour IS better than Gold Medal or Pillsbury.

Cleared off the fancy dining room table and laid out a jigsaw puzzle for the first time in over a year.

Found another giant fennel root at the grocery.

Work still wretched.

Discovered that Wii is every bit as fun as the hype suggested. OH is it ever...and healthy too. Nintendo is going to get rich saving the lives of fat technologically advanced kids and I approve. The "boxing" alone rocks...doesn't feel like excercise at all but I worked up enough of a sweat to feel it a bit at the edges today.

One of my lab techs grows flowers and gave me my annual bouquet...yes I took pix which I'll post eventually.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

More Knitting

Mostly done:

I have mixed feelings.
Hope they resolve when the thumb is done.

Meanwhile I cast on for Eldest's pair (which finishes the project.)

(Yes that's part of my right foot in the above shot.) I couldn't decide which of these I liked better so you get both:

Closer view: