Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor Day Weekend...Summer's Officially Over

The past few weeks have just flown by and Labor Day has suddenly jumped up to surprise me! Like every summer, this one just seemed to fly by and so many of my good intentions went undone. I intended to paint the master bedroom. Not done. I intended to weave more rugs and retie the warp colors on the rug loom. Not done. If I continue listing the undone tasks on my list I will just become depressed. Fortunately my list of accomplishments is much longer than the other list, so I try to focus on those. I suspect that I am not so very different from everyone else who reads this blog.

Last week I was so lucky to be able to stay with grandchildren, Olivia and Max, while my daughter, Amy, and son-in-law, Steve, went to San Francisco and Napa Valley for a little business and a little break. Although the kids were already back at school, we had time for a little fun. I got to see Max play in his first 8th grade scrimmage game. I am the proud g-ma of Weaver Middle School's ace quarterback. Olivia and I love to cook together so this visit gave us ample time to create new recipes. She had made a lasagne using zucchini strips as the noodles which we had for dinner one night. Yummy! Olivia has become an accomplished cook at the tender age of 16. Another night we made home made flour tortillas from my old friend, Juanita's, recipe and had tacos for dinner. Max, hungry after football practice, chowed down on three of them! Olivia and I also had a chance to make roasted red pepper/three cheese ravioli, using the pasta making kit I got her for her birthday. Rich joined us on Saturday night for take out pizza night.
Max and Olivia clowning around on their trip to Paris this summer.
I always have such a good time staying with the kids. The only thing missing is my youngest granddaughter, Zaidee, who is out in Portland so far away.

I awoke on Sunday morning, the day that Amy and Steve were to be returning, turned on the morning news and heard that there had been a destructive, 6.something earthquake in Napa where they had been staying! I immediately texted Amy asking if they were ok. For the next two hours I worried and watched the TV waiting to hear from them. When Amy finally replied, she informed me that they had moved to a hotel that was closer to the airport the night before. Whew! What a relief. Even so, she told me, the quake woke them up at 3:20 a.m. but there was no destruction in their area. 

I returned home on Sunday evening and spent the next day washing, ironing, cleaning, and generally catching up on work that I had neglected while I was gone. I was able to freeze some green beans from my in-laws' garden; and roast and freeze some Roma tomatoes from our garden. The four Roma plants and one Better Boy that were the only things in the garden this year, are still yielding about 1/2 peck a day of fruit that I am freezing.

As a matter of fact, I roasted more tomatoes yesterday and have a couple of trays of tomatoes in the oven today. It's so much easier than juicing or saucing and then freezing tomatoes, like I used to do before my doctor Amy, an avid gardener and gourmet cook, told me about this easy trick. All you do is halve the tomatoes, sprinkle with olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, and pop them into a 375 degree oven for about an hour or until they start to caramelize. Then cool them to room temperature, bag them in freezer bags and freeze. All winter long I have roasted tomatoes for making marinara sauce or for using in soups and stews. Easy peasy!

Now and for the next two or three weeks, I am staying pretty much close to home, since our Mango is due to have her first cria. If you remember, Mango, named by our granddaughter, Olivia, came to us as a six month old cria with her mother, Took, a couple of years ago. Last September she took a short journey south to be bred to Grass Run Alpaca's Black Night. Their female, Lacy, who had also been mated with Black Night a little earlier, had a beautiful brown, female cria last month just before the Crawford County fair. We have high hopes for Mango's little one. 

Mango's sides have been noticeably swelling for the past month. Since alpacas are pregnant for 11-1/2 months (give or take a week or so) they don't really show much until the end of the term. This week her bag has been slightly swelling with milk and her sides are twitching with the movement of the cria. Mango is also laying around more than she usually does and often lays with her back legs to one side to alleviate the pressure a bit. I check her regularly when I am home, peeking out the back windows that overlook the pasture and often walking out there just to have a little talk with her about how much we want a little girl. Mango is serenely unconcerned with my requests and just keeps munching on the green grass. Who knows? Maybe my next post will have a picture of the newest member of our herd family.

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