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"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful."
- Unknown

"That which does not kill you, makes you stronger."
- Handed down through the ages.

"Life's tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid."
- John Wayne

Bah Humbug!

Grump, grump, grumble, grumble.  It's my Sunday, and I'm NOT ready to leave the homestead tomorrow!  And, I'm going to a BBQ tonight, so that cuts my day short - especially since I'll definitely need to shower before heading out.  Do I want to go to the BBQ?  Yes.  Do I want to do both:  stay at home AND go?  Yes.  Grump, grump, grumble.  There's just not enough time in the days.  Grump, grump.  And I don't feel like I got enough done here at home (OR my work-from-home office stuff).  Poor me, wah, wah.

Oh, geez, I just resituated my car and put one of the legs down on a cat's tail.  And then sat in the chair.  THAT'll pull me out of my pity party!  ;)

Plus, tonight I'll get to see Bundle of Joy and her parents - we're long overdue for a visit - PLUS My Girl AND the whole family from Let's Get Real!  AND some other friends!  I think there'll be cold beer there, too, and I'm out.  ;)  I was told, "What can you bring?  YourSELF!"  Of course, that means that I'll make rhubarb muffins for dessert.  ;)  Who can go empty-handed?  Oh, right:  men.  (Hahahaha!  Sorry just had to throw that one out there!)  Ooooh, AND, I just saw that the Let's Get Real family has named their acreage:  Tanglewoods Homestead!  I LOVE it!

Hang on, since my time is precious today, I need to make a list.  Scratch paper . . . ???  And I even got up and down w/o stepping on a cat!

I know that another reason I'm complain-y is due to my espresso machine and washing machine.  Which have both gone belly-up.  After a long stint of inactivity, I put the espresso machine in a more user-friendly location in the kitchen and got all set to use it on Monday.  I was really looking forward to it!  And . . . nothin'.  The water does NOT come out.  I took off all the visible-screw parts but couldn't get far enough into the guts.  Eventually, I found a hidden, miniscule screw which I think will afford me that access, but I can't get the dang thing off and fear stripping the head.  I need to soak it in WD-40 and hope that will do the trick . . . and that the WD-40 won't drip into any of the wrong places.  WD-40 infused lattés?  Mmmm, don't think so.  ANYWAY, I'm hoping that the problem is just a clogged water tube.  Something I can easily fix.  I don't relish the thought of boxing up the heavy beast and sending it . . . where? . . . for repairs.  Plus, it was an expensive, quality bugger that I CAN'T just chalk off to our throw-away society. 

And, remember how I said I got a load of rugs washed on Monday?  The proper nomenclature would be "I TIRED to get a load of rugs washed on Monday".  And all night Monday into Tuesday.  And all day yesterday.  Finally, I took out the sopping rugs and, having the same problem with NO LOAD in the machine, realized I need a repairman.  I realized, too, that this problem has been long in coming.  I've had to baby this new (what, in the last 5 years?), digital (bah!) machine for several months.  Unless I do various re-sets to the program after re-sets, it wouldn't finish a load.  So, literally, a single load would take all day to complete.  Not an efficient use of my time NOR off-grid power!  In a whacky way, I almost hope the cost to fix it is too prohibitive in comparison with a new machine.  Mama Pea is giving up her (one of the first) front-loading energy & water-efficient machines for a good, simple, old-fashioned top loader.  And, I want to copy her.  I HAVE found the need for a machine in which clothes could soak.  And, you can't do that in a front loader.  I shudder to think, too, what a service call alone (forget about the repair work!) will cost all the way out here!  Time will tell.  Stay tuned.  Until then, in I go to the laundromat tomorrow.

Speaking of things not working right . . . I didn't think it was possible to screw up rhubarb crisp, but I did it!  I made (correction:  attempted to make) Mom's recipe yesterday, and it was a failure.  Not in the "can't eat" kind of failure but definitely the "wow, that's ugly!" category.  The sugar-cornstarch mixture (need to buy some arrowroot - didn't know that cornstarch was made with GMO corn, but, of course, that doesn't surprise me) was quite thick (maybe I cooked it too long?) and just sat on top of the rhubarb.  ALL through the baking process . . . and I even baked it 15 minutes longer than called for.  Wouldn't soak in at ALL.  Very weird.  And, none of the usual moisture came out of the rhubarb, so the bottom crust / crumb mixture stayed dry.  What the?  Yeah, I checked all my measurements - and they were all correct.  Harrumph!

At least things looked pretty until they came out of the oven!  ;)

AND, to top it all off, I've been having problems with my new laptop being s-l-o-w . . . which, as you can imagine, is neither RIGHT nor stress-relieving.  So, trying to do my office work, 95% of which is online, has been aggravating.  But, Norton is showing no viruses or worms AND I downloaded and ran Housecall yesterday which also picked up no problems.  So, that narrows it down to my Internet connection.  Either the satellite my dish uses is becoming too filled up (something I've already heard tell of) OR a tree has grown into the telecommunications path.  I'll have to look into that latter option.  Unfortunately, there's not much I can do about the first.

In other news, critters and phenology.  (What's phenology of your own making - your front yard - called, I wonder?)

The dragonflies have arrived but NOT in the droves I need them to in order to really make a dent on the bugs (dragonflies eat mosquitoes).  I think it was Judy who made a comment about the bugs - happy for me that they've abated a bit - and it made me wonder:  do most of my readers think that we have an outbreak at the end of May / beginning of June and then they go away?  No, no, no, no, no, no, and au contraire!  As the joke goes, northeastern Minnesota has two seasons:  winter and bug season.  Here at Swamp River Ridge, I'll have three full months (June, July & August) of needing to keep bug dope, head net, and my bug jacket handy.

Lilacs are my ALL-TIME FAVORITE flower, and I was sad to leave the four (?) bushes I had planted at the old house, Hastings-on-the-Lake.  One was situated in a spot that I thought I could sneak it out w/o the buyer noticing too much and so did just that.  This is the first year that it's flowered at Swamp River Ridge, and it's REALLY flowered!  There's NOTHING like opening the front door in the morning to the smell of lilacs!
Speaking of plantings and when they begin flowering . . . do you know anything about Dolgo Crabs?  I planted several a couple of years ago here and, while they are flourishing and thick with foliage, they've never blossomed.  Mama Pea asked me if they were close enough for cross-pollination, and the majority of them are - all along the front walkways.  Anyone know?
The blue / purple lupines are beginning to bloom, and the bumblebees are loving 'em!
The pink lupines are still a little shy.
Here's a picture of the leaves on the funky Siberian Peashrub I planted.  Each one is no longer than a dime!

Internet update:  yup, I think it must be a tree in "the line of sight" issue 'cause I'm having troubles uploading photos (which require a constant connection) AND it's windy.  If it IS that, though, I'll take it:  that one, I can fix!  Even tho I HATE to cut down a live tree.  :(

I think this large tree in the distance is the culprit.

Finally, here are some current shots of the chicks, now 6 weeks old.  This is a Faverolle in the foreground.  In the rear is Blinky, the only one I've named . . . she's smaller than the rest, probably because she's blind in one eye!  Or, more to the point, it never opened.  Other than a slightly slower physical development, tho, she seems to be just fine!

Another shot of the Faverolles and their feathered feet.

One of the Barnvelders.  I love when they're young and their feet are such a vibrant color . . . before they start to bleach out with age.

This Faverolle looks as if she's (??) saying to me, "I'll be a good broody hen!  See?  I'm already practicing!!"

Well, this post is going to have to wait to be published, because I can't upload any more pictures or save my work.  I think I'll have to wait until the wind dies.

Okay, it is 4:05 now, and the Internet is finally cooperating (although it's still windy, so . . . ?!).  Rhubarb muffins are out of the oven (at least I can still bake THOSE), and it's time for me to jump into the shower.  Of course, on the one of my three days that I haven't spent any time outside, it's cooler with a lovely breeze keeping the bugs away.  Go figure.


  1. Don't know if it would do any good for you, but I had washer problems lately and after two service calls, I finally found out it was a kink in the drain hose, not letting the water spin out. Simple change of the hose angle straightened out the kink and the washer worked fine! Wish I'd noticed it earlier and I'd have saved the days of resetting and resetting the washer, AND the $85 service call. Can't hurt to check it. Here's hoping it's that simple for you.

  2. Those front loaders are a nightmare, I am happily rid of my fancy LG and now have an AWESOME new $299 top loader LOL, life is good again. It took all of 5 minutes for someone driving by to snatch the LG off the curb and all I could think of was "sucker!"! Thing broke 3 times in 5 years, expensive fixes, too. One thing - if you toss it, rip out the drum first, they make fantastic outdoor firepits as the holes in the drum force hot air out the sides like a high powered furnace, we used to be able to sell them out in the CA desert for $50 a piece LOL.

    Now the espresso - is it a Breville? I have the big heavy stainless Breville and they amazed me when I called them. It was out of warranty and they said they would send a prepaid FedEX box to my house, but when the FedEx guy showed up he had an empty box for mine, and a NEW machine for me, unbelievable! Their customer service is like Apple products, only even better :)

    Love the photos of the chicks, have fun at your BBQ!

  3. OMG--I saw my name in print- I am so low maintenance and easy to please it's sickening [ my kids wouldn't say so].I hate bugs,so ya that was me that keeps complaining about them and worried if the little ones don't get carried away by bugs or bears , how is the bear situation ,I have not heard you mention them but I've only been with you a short time.The only other person I know that would take a coffeemaker apart or another appliances like a TV is my son Dan, I should introduce you to him---jk he is even to OCD FOR ME AND I'M HIS MOTHER HE ALMOST DRIVES ME NUTS. Why do you use a bed net-don't you have screens or am I missing something here?

  4. The last time I invested in a new washer- I got a pretty basic, high efficiency top loader. It does have a few bells and whistles- it doesn't have an agitator so I can do bulky items like comforters or rugs easily- and it self adjusts how much water to use based on the weight of the load in it LOVE IT!!

  5. What a post! It was fun to see what's going on up there now. It was so great seeing you tonight too. Your chicks look great. Even though new chicks are cute and fuzzy and older chicks are such awkward "teenagers", I can't wait until our new ones are a bit less fragile. Also, pasty butts aren't so cute. :/
    I can't wait to see your office tomorrow (I guess that's almost today now!). I can't believe I haven't been there yet!
    I'm so glad you like the name we finally gave our little homestead. It took a long time to find one that suited the place, but I really like it too!

  6. Trailshome, welcome! THANKS for the heads-up on the hose issues, but I beat you to it a few months ago. I'd REALLY been hoping that was the issue and so, instead of the hose being long and heading down a plumbing line in the back of the machine, I cut it short and drained it right into the utility sink next to the machine. Sadly, it didn't provide the fix I needed . . . or, at least, not the TOTAL fix!

    Erin, ain't it ridiculous?! The other thing I don't like about my expensive front loader is that it ties clothes, sheets, ANYTHING long enough into twists and knots that are insane! What brand is your new cheapy? And, if I can't find anyone to take my Kenmore Elite off my hands, I *will* pull the drum out!

    My espresso machine is a Solis (Swiss-made). I can only HOPE I'll get as much help from them that you got from Breville! The one problem, tho, is that I'll have to contact a distributor vs. them directly as they have NO American website. So, stay tuned. There was a great place in Mpls. for support, advice, etc. when I bought this machine, but now that I live up here . . . I'd still have to ship. Or, wait for someone coming/going who could drop it off.

  7. Fullfreezer, how the heck does a top-loading washing machine work if it doesn't have an agitator? The whole drum just agitates back & forth?

    Ms. Tanglewoods, I didn't realize how tired I was last night! Despite my Night Owl tendencies, I went to bed as soon as I got home! :)

  8. Ohmigosh YES, the knots in the sheets LOL!

    My Breville is Australian and I was pretty hopeless about contacting them, but after saying "U.S." into the phone prompt I was amazed that I wasn't transferred to India but a real English speaking espresso dude, LOL - wish you luck, I know my life depends on that darn thing working. When our power was out I disconnected the water pump from the generator to plug my Breville in, yep, it's that important LOL!

  9. ooops, almost forgot - my new "old skool" washer is a Kenmore.

  10. Judy, I really need to see if I can fix the espresso maker myself . . . rather than having to deal with sending it in. No sense calling in a repairman if you can fix something yourself! :)

    Oh, and I DEFINITELY have screens . . . it's just that the bugs are SO BAD up here that screens aren't enough! To sleep uninterrupted, a canopy over the bed is still needed!

    Matter of fact, Mama Pea e-mailed me right away this AM to tell me to not enter the house thru the greenhouse today as I sometimes do, since that's how I let the dogs into the yard when I drop them off. She said the greenhouse is FULL of mosquitoes and she doesn't (understandably) want to have to open that door to let 'em in!


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