The content of this blog is the author's personal view. I am not a theologian, writer, or photographer. The views in this blog are based on personal experiences and not a judgement of what others are doing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Weather Forecast According to Turk -- A Little More Humid Today!

Todays weather: Find a cool spot to lay
I have found that the older a dog gets, the better they are at telling the forecast.  This summer it was more pronounced than ever.  Turk will tell me what the weather is going to be on our walk.  I don't usually believe him because I suppose I haven't been thinking about it.  Now for the last few weeks since I haven't been watching the news/weather, I am starting to rely on him.  And although he isn't quite Pinpoint Predictor, he is fairly accurate!

Today seemed kind of cool to me.  Yesterday was so gorgeous, it just seemed like that kind of day again.  But Turk said "no".  He wanted to turn back on our walk.  There was a nice breeze coming from the south, which fooled me, but it didn't fool him.  He pulled back on his leash like a moose.  So I pulled him aside and had a little talk with him.  We are WALKING today.  I have to be careful with being so insistant thought because I can't tell the difference between 'a little more humid today' and 'so humid that if you make me walk I'm going to pee on your leg'.  Yeah, that's what he did a couple weeks ago.

I remember when we had Meggy, our Shiatsu/Yorkie (I don't think spell check corrected that misspell of her breed).  She hated going out to potty in the pouring rain and she didn't like the deep snow either.  But as she got older, she learned those weather patterns and she would just buckle down and go as quick as she could.  That was her weather prediction that it was nasty outside.  And her prediction of Fall by toilet paper hanging from the trees (Homecoming).  When she was younger, it freaked her out to see that, but as she got older (17 when she died) and wiser, she would just look at it and if I could read her mind she seemed to just say "Hmmm, it must be fall".

So with his accuracy of a half a block, after a few blocks of walking I realized he was right.  It is quite a bit more humid than yesterday.  I apologized to Turk for not believing him and told him he was a GOOD walker.  He seemed to accept the apology.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I am writing this post mostly for my reference.  Next year about this time, I will say to myself: Now what did I do and what did I decide not to do again?

I planted 4 grapevines a couple years ago.  Seedless grapes of different varieties.  I think 3 of my vines are from an online nursery.  I happened to pick one up at Ace Hardware and that is the one producing.  It is a seedless Concord Grape.

I'm pretty sure I planted these vines in a very bad place, but it may be too late.  I think it will work if I keep them trimmed.  My husband built a sturdier trellis this year because they just took off and got too heavy for the tiny trellis I had them on. 

When I started seeing bunches of grapes, I wasn't sure what kind I had ripening.  As the season went and they turned to purple, I figured they were probably the Concord although I can't quite remember the other varieties I planted.  I do have the info in a file.  I'll worry about that when I see grapes on those.

I'm not exactly sure when to pick these, but noticed that the birds were having no problem at all.  They seemed to be getting pecked at a lot, so I decided to pick them today.  Then I googled 'when to harvest grapes'.  Turns out, I probably picked too early.  I don't regret it because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten any if I waited.  The horticulture site I got said you could put little brown bags over each bunch as they ripen as the grapes themselves don't need sun to ripen, the leaves do.  Good info for next year.

They also mentioned why my grapes were ripening at different rates.  Some seemed well past ripe (raisins?) and some were still green.  They said that heat will do that.  Well didn't we just have a really hot summer?  They also told how you can tell when a Concord Grape is ripe and to me it looked as though the ones I picked were ripe, but when I tasted some they were sour.  The ones that tasted like a sweet Concord grape were the ones that were almost black-looking.  Definitely using bags over them next year!

First year Concord Grape harvest

 Picking was pretty easy, but boy oh boy you don't want them to sit around because the flies and bees were finding me fast! 

De-stemmed and waiting for me to do something with them!

I started de-stemming them in the house, but decided to bring it all outside because there are lots of BUGS in them grapes!  Runaway spiders in my kitchen, earwigs, and black 'berry' bugs.  Ewe!  So I washed them real good.

I wasn't very prepared this year for what to do with them, but didn't want them to go to waste.  Looked up a couple websites on juicing and didn't want to go through all the work of cooking and straining.  Maybe I will next year, given some thought.  I have a really nice juicer, so I decided to juice them in that.  It worked really well!  Took maybe 15 minutes!

Jack LaLain Juicer (around $100) worked really nice
3 cups of juice for the final product

I have had a previous juicer that I pretty much just threw out.  It cost around $30 and was a total waste of money.  It pretty much just mushed everything up and got clogged every time I used it.  The Jack LaLain juicer works like a charm AND is easy to clean up.  I like that part.  You don't want your dirty juicer to sit and get crusty, so it is something you want to put in soapy water right away.  If you do that, it's easy.

There are a lot of uses for the pulp
Although you can do many things with the leftover pulp, I just threw mine out to the birds this time.  I'm not good at multiple projects right now, so instead of making more work for later, I decided to get rid of it.

What's nice about your own grapes is that they don't have any of the herbicides on like all grapes do in the store.  When I don't think about it (buying grapes at the store) it doesn't bother me too much, but every time I read an article on how grapes are one of the worst for sprays I cringe.

So all in all it is kind of fun growing grapes.  I have it happen so many times that what I have planted and waited so long to grow isn't working out (blueberries), that it makes it that much more enjoyable when something does produce.  Maybe I'll get apples next year?

I didn't realize I did this, but maybe subconsciously I am picking my toe colors according to what is in season?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Lilac's are Blooming! -- in August!

My August Blooming Lilac
Last week I was teaching a piano lesson and something caught my eye.  It distracted me enough to say to my student: I don't know what that is outside; there is a flower blooming and I don't have anything planted there!  I think I mentioned that the bush was a lilac bush and she said "Maybe your lilacs are blooming".  Kids say the darnedest things!  Things are obvious to them because they don't know the rules of nature yet and that lilacs are supposed to bloom in May -- always.  So it was easy for her to say that my lilac bush may have bloomed even if it was August, and it was hard for me to believe that would even be possible.

I forgot about it for a few days and then one day when I sneaked out on my back deck for a few minutes to get a break from the air-conditioning, I remembered and went over to check and sure enough! MY LILACS ARE BLOOMING IN AUGUST!  They aren't real pretty, but they are blooming.

We had a really cold spring, basically we had winter right up until summer.  Maybe the lilacs didn't get the memo that it was spring.  None of my lilac bushes bloomed, I lost a lot of perennials, I didn't get a lot of raspberries and lost some bushes.

I was just thinking that the time for trimming lilacs is almost past.  If you do it too late you won't get any blossoms the next year.  I was thinking that maybe I will just leave them alone even though I would love to trim them back right now. 

So this is a first for me.  I wonder what other firsts there are that I don't think are possible?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Still Waiting for Summer

Tazer, the hotdog.  It was too hot to be a dog this summer!
I started this post feeling very whiny.  I am waiting for summer to start and now it is August and where did it go?  In looking back over my blogs though, I realized that summer really didn't get here until late June.  Then the whole month of July we had high humidity.  I think higher than normal for a longer time than is normal.  And Fall is right around the corner.

I can't say that I am sorry to see summer go.  Maybe my tolerance for heat is lower this year.  I think everyone has a different thermostat since some people are enjoying this weather.  I prefer sunny with a high of 75.  Nice in the sun and cool in the shade.  I like to sit on my deck and enjoy being out of the house not stuck inside in my air conditioning (which I'm very thankful for).  Maybe August will bring us some 'summer' weather.

If I weren't taking pictures though, I would think that I just sat and waited for a perfect summer day.  In looking back over my pics I realize that I have had a very nice summer, despite the temps.  I believe in getting out while you can no matter what the season because in Wisconsin you never know when it's going to take a turn.  Here is a few things from summer:
My cactus likes summer on the deck...

It grew about 4 " so far!!!
I am looking forward to grapes for the first time!
had a few fires...
...some not as much fun
read a few books (I don't know why I took this pic!)
had some good family time
with good concerts and a few awesome-weather days
Really in looking back, it was a PERFECT summer and I don't feel quite as whiny as when I started!