Thursday, January 31, 2013

Unsanitary ER Restroom

Yesterday my mom had a visit to her specialist in another city. She has visited this doctor a few times the last year, and every single time I have been along as chauffeur we have had an interesting experience.

This time my mom ended up in the Emergency Room at the hospital. Her blood pressure was waaay too high, and neither the specialist nor her general practitioner trusted it. So off to the ER we went. On the way, we rode in the elevator with a former English teacher of mine. Seeing someone who taught me over 40 years was interesting, but there was more to come.

After getting all set up behind the curtained cubicles in the ER, we waited. Luckily my mom's blood pressure went South (even before medication), and she was visited twice by a very kind and communicative doctor who seemed convinced that maybe Mom had eaten too much salty food the day before. Others in our family are sure that she has a bad case of the "white jacket syndrome." Whatever reason, she was checked out after about four hours and given the okay to go home.

She says she feels fine today, by the way.

Back to the ER situation. If you have ever been there, you know that there is no privacy. Our neighbors heard our conversations, and they even commented on what we said to each other. We tried not to comment on what they were saying to each other, but what a couple of "whackos." The poor woman professed to be in severe pain, but in the meantime she and "Daddy" analyzed the health care plans (they do not have any!), the end of time with our present government, and their own personal finances (not much to brag about).

After listening to that drivel, I tried out the nearest WC (toilet). Dirty! It was dirtier than most roadside service station toilets I have used. And they are far from clean. It was a shocking experience. (The ER neighbors let us all know they were surprised when they heard me tell my mom.)

Now I plan to tell the hospital CEO how dirty his ER toilets are. Hope I never have to go back there to see if he responds to complaints.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Winter and Summer in The Netherlands

I am sitting behind the PC where all of the photos are stored.

In the top photo, I thought I'd show you a January kind of day at our old house in The Netherlands. That was over 6 years ago. Today the temperature in The Netherlands is the warmest January day since they have been keeping track of the weather. 12 degrees C/ 53 degrees F!!!!! No Snow!

The lower photo is on a summer day. Since I wrote about sitting to do my gardening this morning, I thought I would show you that we had raised flower beds around the old hay stack.  The new owners knocked them down :(.

Back in the days that we lived in Zoeterwoude, I did my gardening sitting on the edge of the raised bed or on my little scooter.

Things haven't changed much except the scenery.

Gardening While Sitting

Several years ago we purchased a rolling garden box. Actually it works like the Fisher Price bus that our toddler son scooted on back 27 years ago. I sit on the garden scooter and am just the right height for weeding our raised veggie beds.

And that is what I have been doing the last two mornings. All five of the beds are weed free and ready for new nourishment (compost) and new seeds or plants.

Sometime in the last year, we purchased a child's schoffel. It isn't a hoe, but it works sort of like that. Instead of chopping down and then pulling towards you, with a schoffel you push away from you and under the weed. This loosens the soil and sometimes cuts the roots. The soil in our garden beds is so soft, that the weeds just push right out. With the child's schoffel, I then drag the weed plant closer to me and throw it into my compost collector basket. Easy Peasy!

(Funny Note:I just checked out the Dutch translation of the text above, and notice that weed is translated as marijuana. LOL Sorry, we do not have that stuff growing in our garden. Just Weeds!)

Monday, January 28, 2013

She Did It Again!

My blog follower M did it again! She put my blog over the 7,000 viewers mark. Thanks for reading my drivel (wonder if Google will translate that "nonsense" word).

How do I know that it was M and not V? I can see on my blogspot Stats the country location of the follower. And I know that M uses an iPad. Oops, V uses an iPad now, too. So maybe it was V who pulled me over the 7,000 mark. I will have to ask her.

Anyway, 7000 hits in 370 days is not bad.

As for numbers, I now have over 500 followers and 13,500 pins on Pinterest.

Now to just put into practice some of those garden tips on

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Not Your Mamma's Cinnamon Rolls

This morning as I pinched off a big grapefruit size hunk of bread dough to get ready for the oven, I decided to give a cinnamon roll a try with another big grapefruit size piece.

The dough was not too sticky, and I floured the countertop so it would not stick. Then I smooshed the dough out as flat and as big as I could and smeared on melted butter. A lot of melted butter!

Then I sprinkled a lot of plain white sugar over the salted butter.

Lastly I sprinkled on speculaas spices (good, but next time I will stick to cinnamon).

Then I rolled up the dough tightly from the long side of the rectangle, pinched the edges of the bottom and flopped the whole thing into a baking paper lined pan.

I then treated the roll just like my bread. They both rested in the light heated oven for 15 minutes. Then I set them on the countertop to wait for the oven to heat to 450 degrees F. Just before I shoved them into the oven, I used my kitchen scissors to snip the tops. The cinnamon roll got lots of cuts down into the butter, sugar, and cinnamon. That is to let the heat get to the rolled up dough.

After 30 minutes the cinnamon roll looked done, so it left the heat while the regular bread continued baking for 5 more minutes.

Here is the results of the cinnamon roll. Not overly sweet, since this is "bread" dough. But it isn't a bad cinnamon roll. (not Memaw's, but a lot easier)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Directly from the Farmers' Almanac

Think I will try this:

This calendar lists favorable and not so favorable dates for various gardening and farming chores.

January 2013
24th-26th Favorable Planting Days: First Two Days Are Best For Planting Aboveground Crops. Especially Good For Peas, Beans, Cucumber, And Squash. Last Day Is A Most Fruitful Time To Plant Beets, Carrots, Onions, And Other Hardy Root Crops. Also Good For Transplanting.
27th-30th A Barren Time. Best For Killing Weeds, Briars, Poison Ivy, And Other Plant Pests. Clear Woodlots And Fencerows.
31st Favorable Day For Planting Root Crops. Fine For Sowing Grains, Hay, And Forage Crops. Plant Flowers.

February 2013
1st Favorable Day For Planting Root Crops. Fine For Sowing Grains, Hay, And Forage Crops. Plant Flowers.
2nd-4th Plant Carrots, Turnips, Onions, Beets, Irish Potatoes, And Other Root Crops In The South. Lettuce, Cabbage, Collards And Other Leafy Vegetables Will Do Well. Start Seedbeds. Good Days For Transplanting.
5th-6th Neither Plant Nor Sow On These Barren Days.
7th-8th Any Root Crops That Can Be Planted Now Will Do Well.
9th-11th Barren Days. Fine For Clearing, Plowing, Fertilizing And Killing Plant Pests.
12th-13th Plant Peppers, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, And Other Aboveground Crops In Southern Florida, California, And Texas. Extra Good For Cucumbers, Peas, Cantaloupes, And Other Vine Crops. Set Strawberry Plants.
14th-15th Seeds Planted Now Will Grow Poorly And Yield Little.
16th-18th Fine For Planting Beans, Peppers, Cucumbers, Melons, And Other Aboveground Crops Where Climate Is Suitable.
19th-20th Any Seed Planted Now Will Tend To Rot.
21st-22nd Fine For Planting Beans, Tomatoes, Corn, Cotton, Cucumbers, Peppers, Melons, And Other Aboveground Crops Where Climate Allows. Plant Seedbeds And Flower Gardens.
23rd-26th Clear Ground, Turn Sod. Kill Plant Pests.
27th-28th Favorable Days For Planting Root Crops. Fine For Sowing Grains, Hay, And Forage Crops. Plant Flowers.

March 2013
1st-2nd Excellent Time For Planting Root Crops That Can Be Planted Now And For Starting Seedbeds. Good Days For Transplanting.
3rd-5th Poor Planting Days.
6th-7th Any Root Crops That Can Be Planted Now Will Do Well.
8th-10th A Barren Period, Best Suited For Killing Pests. Do Plowing And Cultivating.
11th-12th Good Days For Planting Aboveground Crops. Fine For Vine Crops. Set Strawberry Plants.
13th-15th Cultivate And Spray, Do General Farm Work, But No Planting.
16th-17th Favorable For Planting Crops Bearing Yield Above The Ground.
18th-19th Seeds Planted Now Tend To Rot In The Ground.
20th-22nd Best Planting Days For Aboveground Crops, Especially Peas, Beans, Cucumbers And Squash Where Climate Is Suitable. Plant Seedbeds And Flower Gardens.
23rd-26th A Most Barren Period, Best For Killing Plant Pests Or Doing Chores Around The Farm.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Where Would We Be Without Aluminum Foil?

Scrubbing pots and pans! That is where we would be!

I am a firm believer that if you can line a pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and bake your dinner either on it or in it, then you have saved yourself a lot of time in washing up.

Tonight was no exception. We had a real "Little House on the Prairie" root dinner with a piece of fish. And the veggies and also the fish were baked in aluminum lined pans in a hot oven. When we were finished eating, I folded up the aluminum foil and dropped it into the garbage. The small square metal pan for the salmon and the large metal cookie sheet for the sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, carrots, onions, turnips, and garlic were spotless, so they were returned to their usual storage places as clean as before the bake.

Whether you call it tin foil (not made of tin anymore), aluminium foil ( not the original British spelling), or aluminum foil (Americans claim this spelling), "The first use of foil in the United States was in 1913 for wrapping Life Savers, candy bars, and gum. Processes evolved over time to include the use of print, color, lacquer, laminate and the embossing of the aluminum." (Wikipedia quote with my spelling changes)

Sooooo Happy 100th Birthday to American aluminum foil.

I can't cook without it!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Arbor Day in the Country

Actually Arbor Day was last Friday here in Louisiana. It is always the 3rd Friday in January, and I guess that has to do with the fact that our winter temps are so mild that we can plant trees in the "dead" of winter.

Today was Wetcreek's own Arbor Day. Early this morning my hub, Flip, and I went down to the NRCS to buy a few trees to add to our collection. Really we are thinking about replacing some red oaks with some live oaks. Besides buying the five live oaks, we purchased a dogwood, a crabapple, and a pecan. Then we dropped by the Mennonite garden shop and bought more trees- a satsuma, a peach, and a plum.

When we got home I had no intention of planting the trees, but my hub was ready to get them into the soil. So I helped. We planted everything except the satsuma, since it will be replacing a fig tree that refuses to grow tall. We are planning to give the fig a new home next to its distant relative that is doing quite well next to the warm swimming pool wall. But since red ants have infested the little fig, we will wait until another day to move it. It is too risky to get so close and personal to those little creatures.

Spring temps for the rest of the month!

Where was winter?

Monday, January 21, 2013

40th Anniversary Roe vs. Wade

My last two years of teaching were memorable. So memorable that I have never returned to the school. I did attend the graduation exercises of my last Junior English class, but that ceremony was held at the local civic center down the road from the school. I said my congrats to the kids who invited me and got out of there as soon as the commencement was finished.

My last 7th grade English class will graduate this May. I don't think anyone will remember to invite me, but that's okay. My memory is so poor lately that I do not remember too many of their names anyway.

But I do remember one of the last of my teaching responsibilities was to teach Drug Ed. Not how to use drugs, since I have never smoked anything (not one cigarette!), rarely drink alcohol or even coffee, and sometimes even forget to take my baby aspirin and blood pressure meds. Actually the physical education/health teacher was supposed to teach the drug ed lessons, but it was assigned to me to be completed in my 11th grade English class. Go Figure!

No materials, so I downloaded the US Government Drug Ed lessons and dived into the deep. For sure my students knew more about drug abuse than I would ever know. But we spent one English class each week discussing the abuse of drugs.

One day during lessons, someone asked a question about sex education. Bingo! They told me that no one at school had discussed AIDS with them since Junior High. And they said that those discussions were usually filled with lots of giggles/laughter and red-faced teachers.

That is when I decided to sneak in a few US Government Sex Ed lessons on STD's and AIDS.

Just a year before a female student said in my class, "No one around here has AIDS. We are all clean." When I heard she was pregnant some months later, I hoped that she was right.

Until we (parents and schools) teach sex education, abortion will be a topic of contention. And English teachers should teach their own subject (predicate, direct object, etc.).

January 22, 2013 is the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.

"Abortion should not only be safe and legal, it should be rare."
BILL CLINTON, speech at DNC, Aug. 29, 1996

Day 4 Artisan No Knead Bread

Here is the last loaf of this batch. A little smaller (will try to divide and weigh better next batch) and a little "holier."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wetcreek Organic Restaurant--It's for the Birds!

I  know, I know.  We just opened the Wetcreek Museum a little while ago.

Yesterday we set up the Wetcreek Organic Restaurant. Three levels of good, fresh, healthy food. All for the birds!

A couple of years ago, my hub saw a really great bird feeder for sale in The Netherlands.  Knowing that one day we would be shipping some furniture back to the US, he purchased the supreme feeder and set it in the garage at his folks' apartment. Well, the bird restaurant finally arrived here safely in Louisiana a month ago with the rest of the antique stuff.

This is a unique construction. Handmade and homemade by a Dutch man who I am sure would be surprised to see his creation on the WorldWideWeb. It has a fantastic straw roof, but we know what Louisiana rain and wind can do to normal roofing. So yesterday my hub added red metal rooftops to the two main dining rooms. Now this restaurant can endure the moisture and wind.

We situated our feeding place near our front porch so that we can keep an eye on our  hungry clients. The little birdies "found" our gourmet seeds within the first 24 hours of its relocation from the garage to the front lawn. Early this afternoon we were able to watch the little critters enjoy all three dining areas.  I just need to buy some fruit for the special third area.  Maybe a pinecone smeared with peanut butter will be a good substitute.

Now to watch to see if the squirrels have spied this new establishment.

Day 3 Artisan No Knead Bread

Friday, January 18, 2013

Kitchen Chemistry

Whenever one of my colleagues at ASH offered his Kitchen Chemistry elective, I knew we could expect homemade ice cream in a couple of months. The kids loved the class, and the neighboring teachers did, too. Yummy!

I experience my own kitchen chemistry every time I step up to the kitchen counter. Today it was artisan bread and my homemade Greek yoghurt. The yoghurt deal is pretty much down pat. I do not have many goofs with that. Sometimes the end product is better than others have been, but the yoghurt is always edible.

As for the artisan "no knead" bread, that is another story. Yesterday I tried it again. As for me, it was a tad salty, but I can "fix" that the next time around. But for the rest, this was a good loaf. There should be three more in this batch of dough in the fridge. I found the recipe on Pinterest from You will notice that I gave the recipe my own twist.

Artisan Bread Recipe January 2013
(L: is Linda=Me)
Makes four 1 pound loaves.

3 cups lukewarm water (L:1/4 cup of this used with 1/2 teaspoon sugar to proof yeast)
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated fast acting yeast (2 packets)
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt (L:will try 1 tablespoon next time)
6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached all purpose white flour *

* (My favorite way to make this bread now is to use half bread flour, half all-purpose flour and throw in 3/4 cup wheat bran into the dough.)

tip: After baking, if your bread is gummy on the inside, try either increasing the amount of flour by 1/4 cup and/or increasing the baking time by 5-10 minutes.

Also, If the dough is just too sticky for you to work with comfortably, increase the flour in your next batch.

Mixing and Storing the Dough

1. Warm the water slightly. It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100 degrees F. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. (L: used water cooker for 1/2 and cold tap water for 1/2. Tested with finger.)

2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart bowl or a plastic container with a lid. (L:used plastic shoe box[new] with lid from Dollar Store)

(Note: I dump all this in my KitchenAid mixer, let it mix it for just about 10 seconds and then put it in the plastic container. I just find it easier to let the mixer do this part).
(L: rather do the mixing with a wooden spoon inside the box where the dough will rise)

3. Mix in the flour - kneading is unnecessary. Add all of the flour at once, measuring the flour by scooping it and leveling it off with a knife. Mix with a wooden spoon - do not knead. You're finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. This step is done in a matter of minutes. The dough should be wet and loose and shaggy.

4. Allow to rise. Cover with a lid (not airtight). Lidded plastic buckets designed for dough storage can be purchased many places. (I used a plastic square food storage container from my local grocery store. I just punctured a small hole in the top). (L: I used the same shoe box as I mixed it in. I put it in a cold oven with no extra heat or light. Dough had risen in 2 hours.)You want the gases to be able to escape a little. You can also do this in a large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and puncture a small hole in the top. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on top), about two hours. Longer rising times will not hurt your dough. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature. So, the first time you try this method, it's best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours) before shaping a loaf.


5. Shape your loaf. Place a piece of baking parchment paper on a pizza peel (don't have a pizza peel - use an unrimmed baking sheet or turn a rimmed baking sheet upside down). Sprinkle the surface of your dough in the container with flour. Pull up and cut off about a 1-pound piece of dough (about the size of a grapefruit), using scissors or a serrated knife. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball as you go. Dust your hands with flour if you need to. This is just to prevent sticking - you don't want to incorporate the flour into the dough. The top of the dough should be smooth - the object here is to create a "gluten cloak" or "surface tension". It doesn't matter what the bottom looks like, but you need to have a smooth, tight top. This whole step should take about 30 seconds! Place the dough onto your parchment paper.

6. Let the loaf rise for about 30 - 40 minutes (it does not need to be covered). If it doesn't look like it has risen much, don't worry - it will in the oven. This is called "oven spring". (L : I placed the unbaked loaf on the parchment and the cookie sheet bottom in the oven with the light on [~100F] for the 30 minutes. Not much rise during that time.)

7. Preheat a baking stone on the middle rack in the oven for at least 20 minutes at 450 degrees F. Place an empty rimmed baking pan or broiler pan on a rack below the baking stone. This pan is for holding water for steam in the baking step. (If you don't have a baking stone, you can use a baking sheet, but you will not get the crisp crust on the bottom. You will still have a great loaf of bread. Baking stones are cheap and easy to find - Target carries them - and are a must for making pizzas, so go out and get one as soon as you can.)
((L: I used an old rusty pizza pan for the water and baked the bread on the parchment on top of a cookie sheet. Bottom of bread came out brown and crusty!))
8. Dust the loaf with a little flour and slash the top with a knife. (L: used scissors) This slashing is necessary to release some of the trapped gas, which can deform your bread. It also makes the top of your bread look pretty - you can slash the bread in a tic tac toe pattern, a cross, or just parallel slashes. You need a very sharp knife or a razor blade - you don't want the blade to drag across the dough and pull it. As the bread bakes, this area opens and is known as "the bloom". Remember to score the loaves right before baking. (L: made three slices with the scissors and dusted with a little flour)

9. Bake. Set a cup of water next to your oven. Slide the bread (including the parchment paper) right onto the hot baking stone. (L: or cookie sheet!)Quickly pour the water right into the pan underneath the baking stone and close the oven door. This creates the necessary steam to make a nice crisp crust on the bread. Bake at 450 F for about 30 - 35 minutes, (L: small one pound loaf, but 35 minutes) depending on the size of your loaf. Make sure the crust is a deep golden brown. When you remove the loaf from the oven, you will hear it crackle for a while. In baking terms, this is called "sing" and it is exactly what you want.

10. Cool. Allow the bread to cool for the best flavor and texture. It's tempting to eat it when it's warm, and that's fine, but the texture is better after the bread has cooled.

11. Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use for up to 14 days. Every day your bread will improve in flavor. Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them. When your dough is gone, don't clean the container. Go ahead and mix another batch - the remaining bits of dough will contribute flavor to the next batch, much like a sourdough starter does!

The Italian Dish

###Photo of Linda's Artisan Bread

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Another Found Topic

Never Again!

If you never go anywhere or do anything, then you have nothing to write about. At least that is the way I look at it. Yesterday we did not go anywhere, but we did something.

First, I took out the garbage. Then while discussing where to put the garbage can, my hub and I decided to open the last two wooden crates containing our newly inherited large paintings. After doing that and moving them into the warm house (freezing temps here at the moment), we decided to transport the empty crates into the barn. Tractor out of the barn and then over to the garage. Crates on the tractor forks he made for the initial container transport, and then all of the crates were moved to a wood collection place in the barn.

Before I could get a broom to sweep out the garage, we both looked at each other and decided to transport the 30 year old mattress to its final resting place, the bed in the barn apartment. And we did!

Then there was one last unpacked box in the corner of the garage. We knew it contained a replacement toilet pot for our "off the floor" toilets, but I would wonder what else was packed in that box if we never opened it. So we opened The Last Box! And you guessed it, just the toilet pot and LOTS of packing paper for padding.

Now we have really, really finished unpacking the shipment. Still a few things to hang on the wall, but we made this move and unpacking on our own! Are we proud? You are darn right! Another one of those things that I do not plan to do again. Ever!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Grand-autos, Not Grand Theft Autos

My brothers have grand-children. My neighbors have grand-dogs. We are special, since we have grand-autos.

Our son doesn't have kids or pets yet, but he has automobiles.

They say that the apple does not fall too far from the tree. My father-in-law was first a mechanic and repaired cars and then later in life sold autos. My hub once collected vintage cars, was an active member of a Mercedes vintage car club, and still likes to watch Formula 1 races. So that our son collects exclusive vehicles, sometimes tries his hand at repairing them, and watches Formula 1 races is not extraordinary.

Where does he keep the grand-autos?

At his home.

Where else do you keep grand-things?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Beauregard Master Gardeners Course Begins on January 31, 2013

For those who are interested, the Beauregard Parish Master Gardeners Course for 2013 begins on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 6:00 pm at the Civic Center (Old USO building) behind the hospital in Deridder, Louisiana.

Due to an error in the local newspaper, I am using my blogspot to get this info out into the WorldWideWeb.

Also, this is a good opportunity to remind my blog followers that I have made a special Beauregard Master Gardeners board on Pinterest.

If you have time to read this, you have time to weed.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jelly Roll Quilt Top is Finally Done

Back in July 2012, I started assembling my Jelly Roll quilt top or duvet cover.

Well yesterday I completed the top part. I had cut and sewn just enough strips to make a 140 cm x 210 cm cover for a duvet or maybe a twin size quilt.

It was a cinch! The most time consuming was the piece cutting ( now I have new blades and my own really large cutting board) and sewing the strips in one continuous length.

Yesterday the putting the quilt top together was easy. And my 40+ year old sewing machine (that has seen Europe on two cruises/ once in a small box cushioned by a bed pillow by post in 1979 and later in a box in a huge sea container in 2006) worked like it was new.

Today I added the border, so now to decide what is next. I have the batting and back material for a quilt, but that takes time. A duvet cover may be easier.

Think I will think about this.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, Wetcreek

Today is my little brother's birthday, but actually I am celebrating my blog's year one birthday. 355 posts ago I started this Wetcreek Blog on January 10, 2012. Some days it is a challenge to find a good topic, and other days they just flop right onto my iPad screen.

As for numbers, I passed the 6,000 blog visitors mark and the 13,000 pins on Pinterest with 470 followers. Not bad for someone who does this computer stuff for fun.

Now where did I put my Sudoku book?  Haven't done that in a while.

The joys of not having to grade essays anymore!!!!!

Waste Not, Want Not

Several years ago my hub and I made a trip to Greece. Trying to read the road signs was disturbing, since it was All Greek to us. (LOL) But what was really disturbing was the heaps of trash on the sides of the roads.

When we moved back to the US in 2006, we noticed that peculiar similarity with Greece out here where we live. Some families set their overflowing garbage in containers a week in advance of the pick up! If the weather does not scatter it, then the varmints do.

Garbage pick up is often a puzzle, too, since we never receive any communication or information about when the trash will be collected. And what can you actually discard? I have seen everything from bedroom furniture to lawnmowers next to the white see-through garbage bags. Our son who lives in a BIG city even had auto tires collected from his yard last week. And once when he was replacing his bathroom toilets, a used toilet pot disappeared before he could get it from the stoop to the street.

This "trash talk" all leads to some really great news for us. For several years now, we have been saddled with garbage container "duty" at the apartment in The Netherlands. When my in-laws were still alive, they did their best to roll the large metal container from the garbage shed to and from the front curb in front of the apartment complex. The duty was "only" two weeks per year (two times each week), but once they could no longer do that shoving and pulling, someone else had to do it.

For the last three years since they left the apartment, the kind neighbors have pitched in to take over the duties. Not only for my in-laws, but for other apartment dwellers who just could not manage that task anymore.

Finally, Finally, the trash problem is solved!!!! No more pushing metal monstrosities onto the main thoroughfare before 7:00 am on Mondays and Thursdays!

Now it is mandatory that everyone use a trash pass card to open an underground trash receptacle across the street from the apartment. That is for normal trash. Plastic will now be collected every other Wednesday in bags set next to the garbage receptacle. Glass and paper will be collected from bags/heaps/boxes by the back fence every other week. Calendars have been provided, plus there is always the website on the Internet.

Guess I will have to find out what to do with my table scraps/veggie scraps, since there is no compost heap nearby. And the apartment we stay in has no garden!

At least we will not have to spend $10 on gas to drive to the recycling plants like we do here in Louisiana.

But will the streets be full of trash, like Greece and the US?

Will let you know later.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Black Spiders and Blood

Finally sunshine here again. After three days of rain and more rain (8 inches/203 mm), today we can see all of the dirty windows, dust on the furniture, and spiderwebs on the untouchable landing upstairs. ( photo below) Yuck and yuck!

Speaking of yuck, I had two dreams last night. At least two, in any case. One was about a couch full of black spiders. In the dream, I had just slept on that couch before the spiders appeared. That was a nightmare!!! Then I was sitting in an uncomfortable school desk waiting to see a lawyer about it. Every time I stood up from the desk, someone turned it around 180 degrees. How creepy is that?

The other dream was about blood. More than that, I won't share what I remember.

I think the movie we watched on television last night was too, too much for me.
Think I will stick with DIY and craft shows from now on.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sweep the Kitchen Granola

My recipe for Sweep the Kitchen Granola:


4 1/2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sweetened coconut
3/4 cup dried blueberries
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1stick) salted light butter
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large bowl, mix together the oatmeal, pecans, coconut, blueberries, cranberries, and cinnamon. Feel free to add more or different nuts and dried fruit. (I used up small packages in my cupboards.)

Then heat brown sugar, butter, and water in a small pan until mixture begins to bubble. Take off stove and add salt and vanilla.

Stir butter/sugar mixture into dry granola until everything is good and wet.

Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes. Then spread granola on baking paper covered cookie sheet.

Bake for 25-30 minutes in a 350 degrees F oven until brown.
(Mine was still too moist, so I "teased" it with a fork and shoved it back into the oven for 5 more minutes or maybe do that a couple of times until it tastes the way you want it. It continues to brown on the bottom after leaving the oven, tho'. So beware.)

Then let it cool and store in a sealed container. Mine is going to the freezer, since this is a lot of granola. Won't it be yummy on my homemade Greek yoghurt? Maybe I will not need too much honey!

Yielded exactly 8 cups/2 quarts granola.

What Do You Like The Most?

My title today sounds very childish, but the humorous article on Huffington Post is even more so. Read it and have a good laugh this cold, wet winter morning.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tribal Feeling

Several times since we joined this community we have been invited to participate in a local church's celebrations. Every single time I have left these "events," I have asked myself, "what was that?"

Last night was not an exception. Our neighbor's son and wife are leaving next week for a two year missionary stint in eastern Africa. The event last night was their commission. For a couple of weeks my Dutch hub has been asking me what this means to have a "commission." As a long time Christian, I guess I should have known. But as usual the locals always either prove me wrong or surprise the heck out of me.

Most of the ceremony was churchlike, and the young pastor, as usual, showed us all how sharp and knowledgeable he is about "The Bible." In fact, his interpretation of the Old Testament reminds me of my favorite childhood minister. We also learned all about the two year challenge from our friend who is leaving in one week. So that was informative.

Then it happened! A mass of deacons and pastors of other churches (all men) crowded around the missionary couple and prayed. From where we were sitting, I could not see my former tutoring colleague and her author husband. They were surrounded by mostly elderly men. All at once I felt that I was transported to a village tribal meeting in Africa where only the "elder" men participated.

Not a good feeling for me.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

No Chicken Coop Today

My hub, our dog Flip, and I took a short drive today in the pouring rain to see a chicken tractor.  Actually it is a chicken coop with two wheels.  Five good looking chickens were picking the grass while enclosed in the wooden and wire cage.  A few "free range" fowl were enjoying the damp grass and mud outside the pen.

We had seen this particular chicken tractor for sale on Craigslist a couple of nights ago.  After emailing to determine if it was sold yet, we were contacted by the owner that we could come out anytime and see it. So in the downpour of rain this midday, we went out into the "real" country to see if this was what we are looking for.

This morning before I even phoned the young man for an address and a definite appointment, I began to think about how I sometimes do not even want to take care of our beagle.  What would it be like to take care of chickens?

But we went out to see it anyway.

Last evening before bed, my hub and I had discussed that the asking price was about $100 more than the coop was worth.  You could tell from the photo on Craigslist that the coop was bought as a kit, and we could do that! Then our chicken tractor would be new. Poop free!

But we went out to see it anyway.

The rain came, the ground was sopping, and the young man was full of information and very nice. But the moment my hub mentioned that the price was too high for something he could put together himself, the young man said he stood by his price of $350. We reminded him that he had advertised it for $300 on Craigslist. So, I guess he wasn't really trying to sell his chicken tractor anyway.  I thought that when you are dealing, you try to get close to the bid, not farther away!

No hard feelings on either side, but we did not purchase the chicken tractor. No worries for me, and I hope the young man finds a buyer.

Somehow I do not think he learned much about making business deals from us. Or is that the modern way?

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Our adult son shared the following blog post with us.

It is an iPhone contract for a teenage son. Actually it should apply to all of us!
I am sharing it with my followers.

Thank you, Janell Burley Hofmann

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bricks in Order

To say that we are busy with bricks is an understatement.

Remember I scrubbed the bricks on the floor.

Today my hub stacked other bricks around our live oak trees. We both had to do a lot of stooping and squatting, but he worked mostly on his knees. Thanks to brick layers' kneepads, he may have saved his knees.

He plans to "ring" both trees, so he is at the halfway point.

Maybe tomorrow? That is, if he can still move ;)

The first photo is the tree to do tomorrow.
The second is the professionally completed job of the first tree today :))))
What a great job!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Frogs on High

It rains. It rained. It will rain.

We are high and dry, and so are the frogs. This morning I saw the cutest frog clinging with his little sucker feet to the glass on the porch door. He was high up, since we have had almost constant rain since midnight.

After  4 1/2 inches of rain, everything is drenched. And our pond is now up onto our yard.

Global weather changing or just Louisiana New Years?

This is a shot from the levee overlooking the flooded pond and our house in the distance.
Our walkpath alongside the pond is completely covered with water. Immediately in the foreground is the spillway, and normally it is dry.
The second photo is NOT the pond, but the overflow pond on the "landing strip" between our new levee and the old drainage pipe (camouflaged middle left in photo). So actually we have two ponds.

This third photo is on the paparazzis' land. Now they have a pond, whether they want it or not! Thanks to lots of taxpayer money!
Best Wishes in 2013!