Too Much to Do, Too Little Time

My first grandbaby is due in about 3 weeks; the layette set I’ve been knitting and ripping for months still isn’t ready.  It is finally proceeding nicely though (I switched to a pattern that doesn’t require me to continually drop stitches and start over) and I hope at least the jacket and booties will be ready by then.  I’m also knitting some stuffed toys for her.  I had to make two trips to town to get the stuffing as I forgot it the first time (even though I was at the craft shop).

I have 5 pounds or more of tomatoes in those green bags that are supposed to retard the rotting process in my fridge, with about that many more on my counter awaiting being made into – something.  I am running out of storage jars, storage space in the freezer, and the will to do this after all I’ve done so far.  I was planning on saucing the tomatoes into more spaghetti sauce, but I flatly refuse to blanche, peel, and seed any further tomatoes by hand.  Four hours twice now is plenty, especially since the heat makes my tomatoes pretty small.  Five pounds of juliet grape sized tomatoes having all that done really, really, really sucks.  Did I mention it sucks?  It does.  They’re very flavorful but very small.  I did order a saucer/seeder from Seeds from Italy, but they’re on back order and I’m not sure I will win the race between when my tomatoes start to rot and when the saucer gets here.  I am hoping I do though.

Mr. Tin Foil just picked another monster cucumber from the garden, it has to weigh three pounds all by itself.  So I have another five pounds of cukes to start fermenting, or maybe I’ll make relish this time.

My canning class is this Saturday, yay!  I am excited about that, because I want to start making my own chilis and such.  The only thing holding me back is fear, due to ignorance and lack of experience.  This class will hopefully take care of that.

I need to get my fall crops started.  If I don’t get them planted soon, they won’t be ready by the time it gets cool.

I want to start spinning again…as soon as I get caught up on everything else that has a deadline.

Oh, and yeah.  Work.  Gotta fit that in there somewhere, or I won’t have a house/garden/spinning wheel to stress about anyway.

I need a personal assistant.  My cat is failing miserably at the job.

Independence Days Week…?

Plant something:  nope, but I have bush beans and my fall crops to get started later this week.

Harvest something:  tomatoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, chard, chiles.

Preserve:  brined dill pickles.  The brine was pretty cloudy, but the pickles weren’t slimy and they tasted OK so I canned them anyway.  I read up on that, got pretty freaked out by listeriosis but it was all related to refrigerator pickles and so I’m pretty positive the fact that they aren’t allowed to ferment through before getting put in the fridge (bad bacteria wins in that case) is the main culprit.  Plus, some of the organic places that have websites highlight the fact that their dills are cloudy, because they are fermented through before canning, so I figured it was probably a good thing.  I have just never in two years of brining my cukes seen it THAT  cloudy.

We tried to make raisins, which you can’t do very well on an electric dehydrator; they get cooked crispy.  So I’ll be getting my solar dehydrator out and trying that.  I put up 8 bags of pre-measured 2 cup bags of zucchini for the annual Christmas zucchini bread I make.  The raisins were to go into the bread too; I have organic ones I bought in bulk from the coop but I was hoping we could use our own this year.

My friend is taking care of her friend’s farm in addition to her own, and was getting over run with milk to the tune of about 8 gallons a day.  We worked out a deal and I made cheese from 16 gallons of raw cow’s milk and two and a half gallons of goat milk.  Yum!  I learned that when you are using raw milk you need more citric acid and slightly more rennet if you want the mozzarella to come out firm.  Most of it is in the freezer. I’m looking forward to winter evenings of pizza with our own cheese, veggies, sauce, and a hand made crust.  We already did one and it was pretty fantastic.

Eat the food:  pizza, cheese, cantaloupe, pickles, grapes, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bread, bulk storage.

Build community food systems:  nope.  I had my annual visit with the doctor after getting my annual blood work.  My thyroid dosage was raised.  No wonder I was so tired all the time!  Maybe I’ll get motivated to actually do something in this regard when the weather cools down a little.  We’re back up in the upper 90’s to 100’s every day, with the humidity of the monsoon season too.  Yuck.

Reduce waste:  nope.  Well, I made ricotta from all the whey, and used some on the plants, and gave a lot to the chickens.  Wow!  Their eggs got huge, and the shells are massively thick now!

New blog links

I finally decided to add the blogs that I read that don’t have a lot to do with peak oil, financial collapse, doom and gloom.  And some that do, but are funny in a guffaw, laugh out loud sort of way.

As you might be able to tell, I’m a fiber nut as well…I literally have a room full of alpaca fiber, angora,  unwashed wool from various breeds, nice roving, silk fiber, yarns of all sorts in bins boxes, and bags, cloth scraps saved from previous projects as well as cloth purchased for future ones, embroidery thread, …well you get the idea. Some people collect shoes or purses.  I collect fiber.  Scrooge had his vault of gold coins; I have my bags of alpaca.  We both feel wealthy when we spend time with our loot.

Anyway, if you click on any of the links for crafting type stuff, I think you’ll find that they are a good read even if you’re not a fiber junkie like me.  And the photos are luscious.  Some people dream of flat screen TV’s.  I dream of silly things like spinning wheels, time to use them, faster knitting, the pure sensuous pleasure of natural fibers sliding through my hands and the beauty of the colors as they form the finished product.

We can’t have healthcare anyway, why debate?

I wish I was a writer.  Sadly, I’m not.  I pretend with this blog, but I write this blog in the same way I have always done my homework throughout all my years of school:  I think and ponder and put off until the very-last-minute then I purge my system of my cluttered thoughts, let it sit for an hour, reread, and then publish.  Not the best way for making good, well researched arguments, I’ll definitely concede.

But anyway.

We bailed out the banks.  We are funding a war on three fronts now:  Afganistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.  We are bailing out the car companies.  We have sent all our manufacturing overseas.  Our infrastructure is crumbling.

We can’t afford healthcare now.  If indeed we ever could, as it is defined presently.

I made a post on Automatic Earth yesterday in response to someone who claims to be an anesthesiologist in the Dallas area…quite interesting to see the responses.  People really do have a faith in the medical profession’s abilities and skills that appears to border on the mystical.  And most scary, several people who claim to also be in the medical field ALSO appear to have a faith in their own abilities and skills that appears to border on the mystical.


To me, although I’m not a Christian, I do think that the sacred books of the world contain much good sense.   For me, the line ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’ resonates as though it was written 2000 years ago especially knowing I would end up being born and needing to read it, to understand it, and to live each day knowing I will be held accountable in some karmic way to that statement.  I was born in a family where intelligence is the norm, and being a complete screwball is also the norm…as is not living up to one’s potential.  I am still, to this day, a disappointment to my family in that I did not finish becoming a doctor (I started on that path several times and each time I ended up saying ‘whoa, this is a lot of work for a slacker like me’)

Another line that really resonates with me is this:  ‘he who would be master of all, would be servant of all’  Now I have misplaced pride just like the next person, but I really think this is true of my profession like perhaps no other.  I really have to be of service to humanity.  It’s part of my ‘lot’ in life.  I’m in a helping profession.

Where the problem comes is that my profession, like the medical industry generally, is just that:  an industry.  We are glorified factory workers with a never ending conveyor belt in front of us, trying our best to slap bandaids on broken human beings as they move down the line.  When did this happen?  How did it happen?  How can we fix it?  I wake up at night more nights than not with those questions hanging like a sword over my head.  I don’t know the answers and it bugs me that the only solutions I can think of aren’t palatable options at all.

Several people have posited that the true solution to our problems lies in simply going back to plain ole’ fee for service, direct pay.  I simply don’t know how that can possibly work.  Physicians have worked very hard since the Puritan days to achieve that mystical status and prestige.  When someone lays claim to an exclusive status and is able to enforce that legally, it automatically becomes only the province of those who can afford it.  I don’t think we want that to continue.  I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interests.  Including the physicians.

As part of that, some think that negotiating with the hospitals will mean you will get a better deal.  Not so, at least in my experience.  My youngest son was hospitalized with pneumonia when he was 15, on a monitored floor, for several days.  Not only would they not negotiate price with me, they also insisted on $500/month payments or they would (and did) turn me over to a collection agency.  I tried repeatedly to explain to them that if I could afford $500 a month I would have had insurance for him in the first place, as that is what my employer sponsored insurance wanted for me to get the family plan.  They didn’t care, so I have this hospital bill on my credit rating, and probably will for the rest of my life.  I pay them anywhere from $25 to $50 per month, and I still owe well over $5500 on a nearly $10,000 bill.  I can’t for the life of me understand why they were willing to sell the debt to a company for pennies on the dollar but they weren’t willing to negotiate a payment plan we both could live with directly with me.

If we are to accept a direct pay plan, it will mean the costs must come down drastically and immediately, which I don’t see happening.  I can’t afford it.  I incurred tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt that I must pay off, as well as a mortgage and a car. If the price is to come down, my pay scale must also come down.  The only way I can afford that is if the government forgives my debt ($500 a month to those alone).  Now, I’m willing for that to happen, but I’m not sure my colleagues would be as willing.  For me, it would mean dropping to a lower tax bracket to take a $500 per month hit — which would add up to less taxes overall at the present rates.  Some of my colleagues have contracted with our employer in return for employment commitments to pay their student loan debt…I’m simply not willing to bind myself to any company for that amount of time in order to have someone peruse my every bank statement under the guise of making sure I’ve paid my loans myself (for purposes of reimbursement, of course — also taxable as income).

So, so far, in order to get a more affordable health care system, we must take away prestige, reduce wages, and remove it from industry status.  I really don’t know how that will ever happen except that we are going to get very very poor in the waiting time.  It will happen, I just don’t think it will happen in my lifetime.  What I do think will happen is that it will become the province of those who can afford to pay cash, as much of our elective stuff (like plastic surgery and dental care) is now.  Not a palatable thought.  But one that keeps me up at night none the less.

One of my friends suggested that Mr. Tin Foil and I begin learning ‘forbidden’ skills to our certification/license levels, as we could end up being the community ‘go to’ resource for under the table medical care.  That frightens me on a level you can have no understanding of.  I have done many hours of research into the demonization and marginalization of midwives for example; I don’t want to go to jail, nor do I want to be hung, nor do I want my land and home taken from me as punishment for serving my neighbors with something that others view as their rightful province.  Is that what it will come to?  Not a palatable thought either.  One that also keeps me up at night.  Especially when I know how much I DON’T know and probably never will.

How much we owe to the simple existence of antibiotics is incalculable.  And you can’t stockpile those.  Will there be a black market trade in those and other medicines for those who can afford them?

Oy.  I think too much.  I wish I could think of solutions as much as the causes and the problems.  Well, I can, but I don’t like the answers.  I really think that provision of preventative care, and some access to affordable illness care when necessary, is absolutely the responsibility of us all in civilized society.  The problem is that we are becoming less and less civilized, and more and more unwilling/unable to even listen to each other.  Or to work together.

Independence Days Week XIV

Planted something:  mini pumpkins (the independent local grocery store that carried all the good organic bulk stuff closed, so no pie pumpkins this year unless I grow them).

Harvest something:  6 1/4 lbs tomatoes, 1 3/4 lbs zucchini, 7/8 lb eggplant, 3 1/2 lbs armenian cucumbers.

Preserve something:  12 lbs tomatoes into 4 pints sauce (now there was a revelation).

Reduce waste:  nope, just still composting. Well, I did make bread with some of the whey from making cheese.

Manage reserves:  making sure we rotate.

Build community food systems:  not so much.

Eat the food:  home made bread, nan, dill and bread & butter pickles, pickled beets, baba ganoush, hummus, tomatoes, basil, oregano, home made mozzarella.

The corn is getting ears; my friend says I have it planted too close together (4″) in my raised bed so we’ll see what kind of yield I get.  I might have to hand pollinate if that is so.  I have another bed with it planted 6″ apart, we’ll see which works better.

Mr. Tin Foil is going to town to get a ham radio today.  I’m not happy about that.  I wanted him to get a USED one from the local Ham Festival next month…not sure why suddenly it’s this great big priority to get one NOW.  Especially when we have so much to do to the house still.  Well, happy birthday, and merry yule too I guess.   So I’m going too so I can get my uniform stuff from the store nearby, and we can get more organic feed for the chickens.  Which he’s not happy about, he wants to go by himself.