Sunday, June 17, 2007

What's goin' on

• After years of making do with a percolator, we bought a new drip coffeemaker. It is programmable, so it can make coffee all by itself and have it waiting for me when I get up in the morning. Needless to say, this represents a huge jump in Quality of Life.

• The s.o. completed an outdoor chickenwire-and-netting aviary for Chicken House #2--a porch-covered vestibule area that will later lead to a number of separate pens--and today the young chickens and turkeys ventured into the great outdoors for the first time. Bravery is definitely breed-specific: Barred Rocks were the first out the door, followed by Red Star boys (remember them--the padding in the shipment? they are nice guys and we will be rather sorry to eat them, but there's nothing that can be done, because we all know the problems associated with Too Many Roosters), then Speckled Sussexes. Cornish boys were curious, but very flighty and scaredy. Ameraucanas were so docile that they would stay outside if placed there, but they took no initiative. Brahmas, Langshans, and Mille Fleur banties wanted nothing to do with the strangeness, and only ventured out after everyone else had been happily pecking grass for quite a while.

• We are harvesting the first Sungold tomatoes. There is a small Lemon cucumber on the vine, and green beans are starting to roll in in quantity.

• My back is getting better.

• My chores--the ones I can do with a delicate back, at least--have recently been made more interesting by heavy use of podcastable language lessons. I'm taking three languages at once, something my mom did one semester in college. "It won't screw you up," she reassured me. Which is a good thing, because I am enjoying all three. The Mandarin is the best by far, and I have actually plunked down money for a basic yearly subscription so I can download the pdfs. That same company also offers Spanish, but I wasn't crazy about the hosts, so I went with this one instead. It's clear and sensible, and kind of quirkily fun because it's taught by Scots. (I hope I'm not picking up an odd accent.) Lastly, I'm doing French. I already read it pretty well, but I speak it quite badly, so I'm using this for review and reinforcement. I recommend podcast language lessons to anyone; they're great for keeping your mind busy when your body has to do the dishes.

• We have bees again, magically. A while ago our hive swarmed, and half the bees absconded to the top of a 60-foot pine tree, from which we were unable to recover them. We watched the remaining bees closely and were horrified that no brood appeared--they seemed to have been unsuccessful in raising a new queen. The colony began, predictably, to die out. And then...inexplicably...there was a healthy hive again, full of young fuzzy bees that are now busily pollinating the garden. We are extremely puzzled, but have decided not to look a gift bee in the proboscis.

• Lately I am all about this recipe, made with shrimp instead of avocado. I love avocado, but trust me when I say shrimp rocks all over it in this particular instance. I suppose one could use both. Hmm.