Thursday, May 26, 2011

Garlic harvest!!!

A few days ago I said the garlic wasn't ready for harvest yet, but I must have been thinking about harvest dates in cool Oregon, not warm Georgia.  I checked on the Dirt Doctor site and found that the big purple one, Duganski, was past ready.  This is the same one that I taste-tasted a couple of days ago.  So -- out I went to pull them up.  Instructions were to not wash off the dirt, not cut off the tops or roots, cure slowly indoors in a cool, dry place.

Well!  There is no cool, dry place right now and I have no clue how long it takes to cure.  But, with thunderstorms looming I brought them inside and made do, for now.

A grand total of 54, including the one I picked earlier in the week.
Beautiful stuff, if you like garlic.  Note the bits of purple -- most of which has peeled away.  That's a bad sign, because it now has fewer outer dry leaves to protect it in storage.  It's because I harvested too late.  But, I'll eat lots of it.
The Duganski is still out there and not as ready to harvest as the Susanville was.  It should still be fine, although I'll probably harvest it this weekend.
This is the closest I could come to a 'cool, dry, place'.  In my pantry, layered on the wire storage shelving.  It smells strong -- like garlic (duh!) and the rotted manure in which it grew.  

I've emailed the garlic expert at Dirt and hope he'll help me figure out how to best cure and store this and the Duganski. I should have about 100 bulbs, which is far more than I will use in the coming year.  I may have to share.  The main thing is to save a few bulbs of the Duganski to re-sow this fall.  I love the big, fat cloves, as compared to the smaller cloves of the Susanville.  I use a lot of garlic, so it's easier to peel fewer bigger cloves than lots of small cloves.  I think it's called lazy.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The perils of sugar....

We all know that sugar is bad for us, but we continue to eat it (including me).  I had a real wake-up call on Friday when I found a magazine in our waiting area that had clearly been left by a customer.  The magazine was Natural Health and they had a big article on sugar.  I'd already made two hits on the M&M Peanut machine, but this article stopped me in my tracks.  Here are the health costs they list of too much sugar:

Anxiety: sugar causes wide swings in blood sugar, wreaking havoc on the nervous system, which can leave you feeling on edge.

Depression: Eating sugary foods rather than nutritionally dense foods often leads to B-vitamin deficiencies which can exacerbate the blues.

Type II Diabetes.  We all know this one, but -- too much sugar can overwhelm the body with the demands of processing all that sugar, which can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain.

Fibromyalgia: Sugar suppresses the immune system (just one 12-oz can of soda can drop immune function by 30 percent for three hours) which makes it harder to fight infection and can lead to both chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Migraines: A drop in blood sugar after a sugar "high" can cause muscles to spasm, causing and worsening tension headaches and migraines.

Sinusitis: Too much sugar causes yeast overgrowth, which may trigger an inflammatory reaction in the nose.

Somehow, seeing all these listed out so clearly made me realize that sugar may well be the cause of many of my current issues.  All the things I've been whining about recently -- anxiety, depression, weight gain, extreme fatigue and pain in the body.  I haven't been checked for chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia and don't intend to do so, but as of Friday afternoon this gal is off sugar in just about every form.  It'll be interesting to see how many of these issues disappear, if any.

I'll still drink milk, despite the natural sugar that's in milk.  But, I'll stop with the candy, baked goods with flour and/or sugar, hot chocolate, apples and other sugary fruits.  Fortunately, I don't have much of a fast-food or processed food habit, and I don't drink soft drinks or fruit juices and rarely drink alcohol.  But, am I going to not eat those nice sugar peas that I harvested from the garden this morning?  Or the carrots that are currently flourishing out there?  Sorry. 

I'll keep you posted if I see any difference, plus now that I've put it out here in public, it'll be harder to fall off the sugar wagon.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Remember back at the end of 2010 when I began my annual alcohol-free month of January, then added coffee and sugar to the banned substances for the month?  I remember saying at the time that sugar would be the hardest to give up, and I was right about that.  Lasted about 6 weeks until Valentine's Day and I baked some brownies for the guys at work.  Such things involve a lot of taste-testing by the cook.

Coffee was a whole nuther story.  I'd quit caffeine months previously, but I liked my morning joe.  The plan was to rest my adrenals, I believe it is, and stop the rapid accumulation of belly fat, by eliminating the effect that coffee has on cortisol.  Sounded like a plan, because nothing else has helped much on the belly fat issue. Well, I can say that for me, at least, eliminating coffee has had no effect whatsoever on the belly fat issue, and since I started craving coffee a couple of weeks ago, I finally gave in and bought some Seattle's Best, which is my favorite.  Would have bought Maxwell House, except that 1) the decaf version cost $2 more per bag at WalMart and that pissed me off; and 2) Kroger didn't have it at all.  In fact, there was precious little decaf on the shelves at either store.  So I went with what I could get.  If I'm going to pay a premium price for decaf, I'm going to get a better coffee.  Period.  I'm loving it -- after over 4 months, it tastes really, really good. 

Still haven't had alcohol, and haven't had any particular urge to do so.  There's no doubt in my mind that I'll put away a cold beer or two over the upcoming summer, but in the meantime, I'm happy to continue giving the body a rest from that stuff.  If only the sugar addiction were so easy to break!

I've had to sit back and admit that depression has shown its ugly head again over the last couple of weeks.  It's something I always try to deny in the hopes that I can beat it that way, but it never works.  I recognize the symptoms -- grouchiness, insomnia in particular -- but try to lay it off to something else.  Not working.  Looking back, it seems to have been triggered by the death of my kitten, for which I still hold a lot of guilt.  There's also been a long string of stress around this house, but that has been stemmed, for now.  For me, meditation is the best medicine for depression, and while I've been meditating, I haven't been meditating well or for long.  Fatigue gets in the way.  Body pain gets in the way.  I sit, but accomplish little.  Still, that's the nature of meditation as well as all of life.  Impermanence!  Everything changes, nothing stays the same.  This will pass.

I rested yesterday, as much because I had no energy as because I wanted to let the body rejuvenate, but today I need to do things because over the years I have learned that action of any kind is the quickest antidote to depression.  And there's work to be done.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Trip Into Family History

Tuesday night I had a long-postponed meeting with my cousins in Alabama, just across the state line. Our common ancestor, William Elliott Williams, moved to this area in the early 1800's and became a large landowner, had many children by two different wives.  He was from North Carolina.  Last year the Williams researchers asked Roy, the cousin I met Tuesday night, to do a DNA test proving the entire lineage back to a Jones Williams, b. 1731.  A straight-line male descendant is needed to do these tests, and Roy fits that bill.

Roy and I are descended from two different sons of William Elliott Williams and his first wife, whose name is unknown.  I was told years ago by an elderly great-uncle that she was 'a Bagwell from Temple, GA'.  The 1850 census shows her first initial as "H".  That's all we know.  William fathered three sets of twins (which run in the family).  Roy is descended from one of these twins, I am descended from another brother. Roy and his wife live on William's original homestead.

Update: For those of you who have an interest in this descendency, we've learned more about William's wives. It seems that Harriet Bagwell is probably not my ancestor. We found a marriage license in Paulding County, GA for these two, dated May 11, 1850, a good while after William's first group of kids were born. After that, we realized that something we'd seen for years in the Rutherford County, NC Marriage book was probably our William. We'd ignored it previously because we were focused on H. Bagwell from Georgia. A William Williams [not an uncommon name around there] married a Nancy Johnson on December 19, 1832.That fits in with the timeline of William's move to Alabama as well.  The first census we have him on in Alabama, in 1840. It seems probable that Nancy Johnston is the mother of William's early children, since he did not marry Harriett Bagwell until 1850.  Further research is needed to prove this. Harriet Bagwell died before 1860, since by that census William was married to Elizabeth. It seems unlikely that there were any children from that marriage, as William's youngest child before his family with Elizabeth was born around 1847, and would have been from Nancy (unless Nancy died earlier and Harriett had children with William before they were married.)

This is the view over the back pastures and fields of the old homestead, from the new home.

William's original barn and outbuilding.  The road leads back to the new house on a hill behind the trees.

The gravestone for William and his second wife, Elizabeth, lies hidden in the brush in an old, abandoned and unkept cemetery called Baker Hill.  William is my great-great-great-grandfather.  Without doubt, his first wife is also buried up here someplace, in a grave that is either unmarked or lost in the undergrowth.

A portion of the Williams Family Cemetery, called Cherry Grove Cemetery.

Augusta Williams is one of the twins, brother to the twin from which Roy is descended.

Gush, or Gushton, is Roy's ancestor.

Andy is the brother from whom I am descended

His wife Nicey, whose maiden name was Pence.

On my way home I had to take a detour because the main highway was closed down due to an accident.  The secondary route took me by this old church, Shiloh Baptist Church in Esom Hill, where most of the rest of my family is buried.  I took a drive up through the cemetery, on the hill in the rear, but it was late and I was tired, so those will need to wait for another day.

It was a fascinating evening.  I drove and listened to them talk and tell tales for about three hours, over hill and dale, over dirt and gravel roads, to hidden churches and old cemeteries, into the heart of my Williams ancestry.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

We're gonna be in pictures....

Just heard on the local radio that a movie called "Jayne Mansfield's Car" will be filmed downtown for a couple of days in June.  It stars Billy Bob Thornton, Robert Duvall and Dennis Quaid, plus others who were unnamed.  Billy Bob and his producer were in town last week checking us out, talking to local shopkeepers.  They'll obviously be filming other places too, with only a couple of days scheduled here.  Maybe Robert Duvall liked filming in Georgia for "Get Low".

Probably won't be a fun movie (are Billy Bob's movies ever fun?).  Jayne Mansfield was killed in an auto accident in a southern state, Louisiana I think. Decapitated.  I remember it clearly. I expect graphic detail and normally would not go see it, but how can I resist?

The back room looks good, aside from two new, deep gouges in the wood inflicted around 4am when I hauled a big exhaust fan into the room and plunked it in a window.  I know this fan is powerful and needs to be held in place by the window sash, and I thought it was, but when I turned away to open the other window, it crashed to the floor -- still running.  Oh, well.  He said people pay him to make holes in new wood so it looks old, so I guess I saved a few bucks.  It won't show or hurt anything.  All my plans for a trip to HD dissolved, since I didn't get much sleep and decided that my body needs a rest day today.  I'm pooped.  Been a long week, and even longer since I took a day to rest this old body.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's been a tough week....

First tornadoes, then the joy of spending a day in meditation, friendship and food, followed by the death of  little Sassy.  My emotions are all over the place.  So I thought it was time to look at what's happening here in the house, once more.

Yesterday while I was at work the man came and sanded down the floor in the back room then put on the first coat of what was supposed to be low-odor polyurethane.  When I got home, even with the doors to the room closed, the house reeked of the stuff.  You need to remember that this is an organic, chemical-free environment and I'm not used to this kind of thing.  I set about opening doors and windows and putting exhaust fans in windows and the worst of it seemed to dissipate.  Even now, though, I can still smell it and he's coming back today for the second coat of three or four.  Egads!  Wish I could just live someplace else for a week or so until it's over with. Or better yet, wish I'd opted to just let him sand it then use a low-odor water-based poly -- although, there's no way to know if that would smell any better.

However, I think I'm going to like the final results.  Here are some hints of things to come.

Before -- some serious spots of wear and lots of general wear.

After the first coat -- smooth and lovely. 
It'll be nice.  It really will.  I keep telling myself that through the fume headache and burning eyes.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Goodbye again, Sweet Sassy

I just heard from the people I gave my kitten to that she was killed by a car in front of their house this evening. I'm trying not to feel guilty for deliberately finding her an outside home where this danger was real.  She wasn't happy living inside, but at least she was safe.  She was a special cat. They felt the same way and are going to miss her.  It's not their fault -- they gave her a good home and she was happy to be outside chasing mice and exploring her world.  I only wish she'd had more years, and that she hadn't needed to explore across the road, but she was a cat doing what cats do. It's nobody's fault. But that doesn't make it hurt any less.

Goodbye, sweet Sassy. You will be missed.