I didn’t do my homework and the whole house is going to pay for it.

Last year we were shocked to discover that our apple trees had been brutalized. Small branches snapped, broken off, vandalized. Needless to say, after the carnage, we ended up with a total of three apples, from five trees. At first we thought that it was drunk teenagers, but having been teenagers once ourselves, it seemed a very lame thing to do and one that would afford a teenager zero street credibility. Further investigation lead to the conclusion that it was, in fact, a local gang of deer that had violated our trees so brutally. I was kind of at a loss about what I could do about that, since we live surrounded by forests and the deer were here first and quite frankly, I’m a huge scaredy cat and know in depths of my yellow-bellied toes that I’m incapable of taking on a deer (or even a rabbit) who wants to eat my apple tree(s).

Then, while happily and gratefully stripping a neighbours trees of their delicious pears last autumn, I happened to mention the unprovoked attack to him (we have a handful of neighbours within a ten minute walk), and found out that our local mob of deer had been similarly beastly to his trees and that he resolved the issue by using deer repellant spray that he had purchased from Canadian Tire. Great! I thought to myself. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy. I’ll buy the spray, I’ll use the spray and the deer will be so disgusted that they’ll just pass right on by our trees without another thought and I’ll be, wait for it, a HERO!

And that’s almost exactly what happened. Or at least, I bought the spray and waited for the weather to cooperate and become warm enough for the trees to start waking up. A few Saturdays ago it was a beautiful, warm, clear spring day and that is why I made the dreadful mistake of thinking that nice weather meant that I could safely leave my lovely inside world and venture into the outside. If you know me at all, you may be able to see how my mistakes have already begun to compound, right?

Well, delusional me, with valiant thoughts of heroism and protecting our little apple trees, grabbed the spray (that Canadian Tire had, strangely I thought, put inside a plastic bag and then tied the bag tightly closed) and headed down the driveway towards the trees. On a mission, as it were. Then it hit me. Like a fart in church. Akin to a noxious combination of gallons of decaying cat urine with rotting roadkill, the smell was seeping from the still closed and sealed bottle. Oh, holy Hera, for someone who lives her life, often with the sole daily goal of not catching the scent anything disgusting, to say that this was unexpected and beyond distressing would be understating my alarm. I am a lot of things (slow, prone to falling down, awkward, to name a few) but I am not a quitter. I held my breath, hastily scanned the instructions on the bottle while staving off hypoxia, turned the little nozzle to ‘spray,’ checked the direction of the breeze and pulled the trigger.

Revolting would be doing the resulting stench a kindness. Occasionally, because Mother Nature can be a cruel mother, the breeze would decide to do a loop-de-loop and the spray would come straight back at me. I felt the mist land on my arms and brush my cheeks. I tried not to breath. I thanked God for aging my eyes enough so that I now wear glasses full-time, saving them from the vile droplets that I was sure would burn my retinas. My next thoughts were to curse myself for already having showered that morning and then I felt sad at the realization that I was likely going to have to burn my favourite overall shorts because there was no way that this particular parfum du sack of decaying warthogs would ever come out of the fabric. I may have let out a little shriek, but more likely it was a string of expletives that I’m still not sure that I know the meaning of, all colourfully expressed as I ducked and dodged the spray-back, determined to get the job done, dignity be damned.

And done, I got it. The apple trees finally done, my conscience kicked in and started flashing pictures of our sad little pear tree that lives alone in the backyard. I pictured it surrounded by hunger deer, all clamouring to chomp it’s delicate little limbs. I decided to head into the backyard to spray it, since that poor thing has been a sad specimen since the beginning and since I brought it here, I owe it a chance of survival. I took a deep breath, held it and sprayed the tree while still dancing about trying to avoid any contact with the vile spray and when I was done, despite my best efforts, that spray was the only thing that I could smell and taste.

I tossed the spray bottle into the bike shed (it was closer than the garden shed), went into the kitchen and washed my hands and arms with soap. I scrubbed them with the dishcloth, and somehow convinced myself that I could get away without taking a second shower and burning my clothes. I prefer to think of my self as hopeFUL, rather than hopeLESS, thankyouverymuch.

I’m not sure how long the smell is noticeable to humans, but when two of my children came home from the park, they asked why our driveway smelled “so bad” and why I was twitching and shaking my head so much. I could not get the smell out of my nose. At this point, I was fairly certain that I had killed my sense of smell and that nothing would ever taste or smell the same again. Which, in hindsight, living as I do with five males, could this “loss” be a blessing in disguise? I am fastidious about reading labels for just about everything I purchase and bring into our home and yet I still don’t have a clue what the active ingredients are or what is in that demonic spray that is guaranteed to work as a repellant against deer and rabbit foliage attacks. I simply cannot bring myself to touch the bottle again, not even to check the brand name in order to look it up online. While I’m not proud, I do own my inadequacies.

So, now, I wait and see. If a single deer touches any of those apple trees, it was all for nought and I’ll have to seriously re-evaluate just how attached I am to the idea of growing our own fruit. Conversely, if the apple trees are allowed to grow unmolested, I suppose I will need to consider the experience worth it, even if we only net a single apple. That said, for the next application I’ll be sending one of these kids out there to deal with it. Oh, stop it. First, I’ll give him safety glasses, gloves, and a barf bag, of course. I’m not a complete monster.

~A.

A Canning We Will Go + A Giveaway For You!

This month (and maybe next month too) we’re going to be having a #CanningParty courtesy of the loverly people at Bernardin. In preparation of our first jamming’ cannin’ party I want to give away coupons for $10 off the purchase of your own Bernardin Starter Kit. After our first canning party, we’ll have a draw for this Starter Kit, which retails for $49.99 (see link to Canadian Tire), so one of you can try your hand at preserving for the first time or if you’re a seasoned canner, maybe enjoy some new tools in your kitchen.

It's canning season and giveaway time! Free coupons and a canning starter kit - woo hooo!
Coupons! Save $10 off!

Want a coupon? Like and Share this post, and leave a comment (either here or on The Keswick Blog on Facebook with either your favourite thing to preserve or what you are most looking forward to trying to preserve this year. Ten people will be chosen at random and I’ll mail each of them a coupon out to whatever address provided to me. 🙂 Winners will be chosen next week, on July 11th, 2019.

Bernardin Start Kit Giveaway Preview
This could be yours! Everything you need to start canning and preserving all of the wonderful in-season produce we are currently enjoying.

We’ll start the entries for the Starter Kit next week once we have finished with the coupon draws, but here’s a preview of what could be coming your way. During the week of August 5th, I will either deliver (within Georgina) or make this available for pick up to the winner. Because of the size and weight of this kit, I will not be able to send it out via Canada Post or courier, as the cost would be prohibitive for me to cover. Details to follow next week!

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

Normal is a dirty word.

I was walking across the road to pick up a few of my kids from school last week when it dawned on me that I just may be a complete basket case. Or even worse, I could be completely, disappointingly, and soul-crushingly normal. My mind quickly compiled some of the evidence against the upsetting idea of normalcy and I was almost instantly comforted by the fact that upon examination of the facts, the only reasonable, logical and possible conclusions that one could draw is that I am either a complete dolt or a basket case. The idea of being a dolt does not please me any more than being normal does, and I do like baskets, so I’m going with the latter.

The Evidence:

  1. I live in, and have always lived in, a place where the air hurts my skin 10 out of 12 months. For six months, the air freezes my face and dehydrates my skin so that sandpaper looks soft and supple next to my legs. The other four months, it’s so hot and humid that the walls sweat and my face is in a state of perma-shine, made oh-so-much sexier by my albino-esque need to apply SPF50 with alarming regularity or else suffer the blistering consequences. Anyway you slice this, I spend almost 85% of my life battling various skin-related ailments. And why? Because Canada. That’s why.
  2. I have an unnatural obsession with and laser focus on salt and vinegar potato chips. I can wake up in the morning just fixated on them. No matter how long I resist and hold off, I know that I am going to give in and feed my addiction at some point before the day is done, so I cave and buy a bag. I then proceed to eat the entire bag. Followed by the next week spent dealing with the stupidly sexy sloughing skin inside my mouth and vowing to never touch another potato chip again. But that just means that I wait a month, rinse and repeat. The picture of instability? I’m right here, people.
  3. I derive an inordinate about of pleasure from seeing just how amazingly well my lettuce is doing in the garden and how many flowers are on my zucchini, cucumber and tomato plants. I mean, really? Who the hell brainwashed me and turned me into a freakin’ gardener? I’m the one who doesn’t like dirt. I’m the one who could happily stay inside her house 99% of the time. I’m the one who doesn’t even EAT tomatoes, never mind grow them. Is this a real-life FACE/OFF situation? I mean, when whoever owns this brain comes back, I’ll keep the kids, husband, house, and housework – I accept that those are all mine. But this gardening business, well, that is just not me. Except I really do effing love seeing all the seeds I plant turn into food and seeing said food gobbled up by all of the children that I water and grow daily. Ugh. I’m beginning to think that I may not be a teenager anymore. Feck. This is very disappointing news.
  4. I love makeup. And pretty clothes. And cute shoes. And leather purses. And I have quite a bit of all of it. So, having this information, you wouldn’t be crazy to think that I am probably one of those well put-together types. You wouldn’t be crazy to think that, but you would be wrong. Do you know what look I pull together most days? Eos lip balm, bleach-stained track pants paired with an oversized tee-shirt under a raggedy hoodie, $3 Walmart flip flops (from last year) and a pleather purse. Yup, that’s me. Homeless chic on the outside but really quite fancy-schmancy in my head. I wonder though, for when exactly am I saving that Dior eyeshadow and at which event will I actually attend wearing high heels (please God, don’t let it either be my bail hearing or my funeral), and what needs to happen to get me to stop saving my good leather purses and start using them again?
  5. I will do the same thing, over and over and over again and fully expect that I will achieve a different outcome merely because I want there to be a  different outcome and I think that I should get a different outcome. And then when I get the same undesirable outcome, I’m surprised and disappointed. Every. Single. Time (please refer to point number 3. and the potato chip debacle). And you know what? I will continue to beat my head against that wall because my belief that I should achieve my desired or intended result is just that strong. Now, this bit of information, some would say, tips the scales in favour for a finding of me being a dolt, but this is my blog and I have already said that the idea of being a dolt does not please me, so it shall be  treated as evidence supporting a basket case diagnosis.

Probably the biggest and best evidence I have available to prove my basket case-ediness is that I have actually just spent a not insignificant amount of time out of my life in order to write this post, sharing/trying to prove to you that I am, in fact, mostly unhinged. And I’m okay with that.

And with that final thought, I rest my case.

#OwnIt #EmbraceWhoAndWhatYouAre #NoShame

#OwnIt #EmbraceWhoAndWhatYouAre #NoShame #WordsCanHurt or #WordsCanHelp

Just a rainy day, chocolate-free, word-light post.

I’m a blogger of few words today. It’s rainy, I have a ton to get done, and I am completely out of chocolate. The main issue really is the latter point only, if I’m to be honest.

So, I’m signing off this week of blogging with a few pictures and even fewer words.

I love our library.

I have always been a huge fan of the library. So many books! So many choices!

These are two of the books I’m currently working on. The Food Babe book because I like to read non-scientific hysteria-driven books about food (I’m always looking for ways to motivate myself to eat healthier and am not above scaring the shit out of myself to meet that goal) and Star Island because Skink is BACK! Dirty shower cap, braids, roadkill dinners and all. Lord, I’ve missed him.

My life-long bag addiction remains an active vice.

My life-long bag addiction remains an active vice.

I have carried a ‘purse’ more aptly called a duffle bag for almost ten years. It’s doubled as a diaper bag, emergency supplies bag, snack bag, camera bag, work bag and shopping bag. This is my attempt to get back to a reasonably sized purse. With no zipper, the snap does not stay closed but I have no idea what to stop carrying. It’s all so essential. You’ll notice there are no diapers, so I’ve already eliminated a once essential item. *thud*

This happened this morning. My potato plants have been wilting and dying for the past week or so. And usually, this would mean that there are potatoes ready for harvesting, but it's only JULY and I've always harvested in September/October. So I had pretty much decided that the potatoes had failed, a victim of the crazy amount of rain we've had since I planted them. R.I.P. potatoes, right? WRONG! Here is my mid-July harvest with more plants still alive and more seed potatoes planted, it looks like it's going to be a good year for potatoes after all!

So, this happened this morning. My potato plants have been wilting and dying for the past week or so. And usually, this would mean that there are potatoes ready for harvesting, but it’s only mid-JULY and I’ve always harvested in September/October. So I had pretty much decided that the potatoes had failed, defenceless victims of the crazy volume of rain that has befallen their delicate selves since I planted them in May. R.I.P. potatoes, right? WRONG! Here is my mid-July harvest – 17 beautiful, blemish-free, robust yukon golds with more plants still alive and growing and now more seed potatoes planted, it looks like it’s going to be a good year for potatoes after all! *I’ll spare you the video, but insert my happy dance here*

Sooooooo. Have a wonderful weekend! I’ll likely be offline next week, but I’ll make sure to take notes on the absurdities I encounter while unplugged and report back, with pictures if at all possible.

 

I will never call my daugher ‘Ladybug’ again and here is why.

So I learned something today. Disappointingly enough, it turns out that ladybugs are assholes.

There. I said it. And I don’t regret it. Ladybugs are absolutely outright assholes.

And they are a bitey bunch. I know this to be true because a few of those assholes bit me this afternoon. And I did not appreciate that at all. It made me feel rather stabby.

I also did not appreciate having to re-wash an entire load of laundry because said assholes decided to descend upon my lovely fresh laundry as soon as I hung  said laundry outside on the line. I swear they were like a fat chick (um, yes, that would be me) on a chocolate fountain (yeah, yeah, it was just once and I paid for the damage. Stop judging me).

My photographic evidence (of the ladybugs, not the chocolate fountain) are not all that convincing, because by the time I remembered to take pictures, they had already left their diabolical signatures all over my laundry, so it looks like I hung stained, nasty clothes on the line. But I did not do that. Because that would be weird and bordering on insane and while I may be both of those things, I do not enjoy hanging out laundry enough to bother hanging dirty clothes out there just for a photo-op.

Are you kidding me? I count 11 ladybugs and see one more coming in for a landing!

Are you kidding me? I count 11 ladybugs and see one more coming in for a landing!

This poor crib sheet was cleaner going into the washing machine the first time around...

This poor crib sheet was cleaner going into the washing machine the first time around…

You have GOT to be kidding me with this, right? They are SO TINY. How did this make this much mess? Oh wait. I say that about my kids too.

You have GOT to be kidding me with this, right? They are SO TINY. How did this make this much mess? Oh wait. I say that about my kids too.

It is a lime green crib sheet. I add bleach, I kill it.  I don't add bleach and my small sleeps on ladybug shit. Honestly now, who in their right mind deals with these kinds of issues? Certainly not me, I haven't been in my right mind since the 1990's.

It is a lime green crib sheet. I add bleach, I kill it. I don’t add bleach and my small sleeps on ladybug shit. Honestly now, who in their right mind deals with these kinds of issues? Certainly not me, I haven’t been in my right mind since the 1990’s.

And so, I will never call my only daughter ‘Ladybug’ again. I think I would prefer to call her my sweet ‘Praying Mantis.’  It may not have the same cute ring to it, but a praying mantis has never bitten me and decimated my couture and Fruit of the Looms. (Of course, we all know what female praying mantises do do though, right? If not, click here and then hold on to your seat!)

So, the long and the short of it is, I washed the laundry. I hung the laundry. The ladybug brigade came swooping in and shit all over it. I re-pre-treated and re-washed the laundry. I conceded the win to the ladybugs when I later tossed the re-washed laundry into the dryer (during the low hydro peak time, of course). Heeeeeyyyyy now. Wait a minute.

Fuck. They got me. The hydro company has finally figured out a way to force me to use my dryer. I’ll bet if someone (not me) somehow got into the sinister secret areas of the hydro company, they would find millions and millions of ladybugs, just waiting to be deployed daily, forcing us to abandon our efforts to reduce our usage and hence our monthly bills. But really? Sending the bitey kind was just evil. The shitting, messy kind would have sufficed.

Well played Hydro Company. You blackhearted reprobate. You shall have your extortion money and your pound of flesh (but only because my people like having electricity). Oh, and lastly, ya’ll owe me for the antiseptic cream and bandages (the Hello Kitty kind, ifyouplease) – those ladybugs have killer fangs/teeth/stingers/owie-makers.

image

My garden is possessed and not in a good way

It occurs to me that possession, or being possessed is generally considered to be a big, gaping negative. But, had I happened to be writing a blog post sharing what a killer year that I was having in the garden and was positively drowning in vegetable booty, I would very likely be using the term or idea of possession as well. To me, this indicates that in my twisty world, possession isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can be lovely and good or wicked and bad. Except for possession of or by drugs or weapons – those possession are ugly assholes and will get a sist’a locked up, so we don’t go there. This is not that blog, yes?

Right then. Moving right along, I will be the first to admit that I am not a natural-born gardener. Real interest really only sparked for me sometime over the past five years. Prior to that, I could kinda-sorta keep a house plant alive (mostly), and I have photographic proof that I planted some veggies a few times with Declan when he was small (I’ll dig out that proof if need be), but really, I was not what anyone would call a get-her-hands-dirty kind of girl and just bought whatever we wanted at the store.

But I have a little bit changed my tune on that and get a kick out of walking outside and plucking a tomato off the vine or yanking an onion out of the ground, chopping it up and serving it for dinner that night. In fact, I now look forward to planting my garden every Spring and preserving my excess bounty in the Fall (together with purchased and found apples, pears, onions and tomatoes, of course!). This year, because we had such a LONG winter and Spring didn’t really show up, I kept my garden goals reasonable, my expectations nice and low and decided to go with ‘sure things.’ Well, this rational road I travelled turned into one hoofing kick to the ovaries.

As luck would have it, for the first time EVER, and probably in the history of forever, my go-to, ultimate sure thing, zucchini, is failing on a grand and fabulous scale. So many huge, yellow, horn-like flowers, a few false starts and then NOTHING. Tiny zucchini shrivel up and die and fall off the plant, unfinished. Combine that amazing luck with some kind of tomato plant-eating disease, a chipmunk who has decided that what’s mine is his, and so ‘samples’ my riper tomatoes before I get a chance to pick them, a wily, out of control cucumber plant that is just now starting to show signs of vegetable production (did I mention the whole polar vortex that is coming next month and sure to wipe out everything, garden-wise?) and potato plants that are having some kind of cross-species identity crisis and producing tomato-looking fruit on their plants. Oh, oh, oh! And please don’t let me forget that I am currently babying along four of the world’s most expensive peppers. Ten pepper plants are possibly going to net me FOUR peppers, if I’m really lucky. Worst. Deal. Ever. But enough words. Let’s go to the pictures, shall we?

If you're going to take it, eat it you fucker. Don't leave it beside the plant like a sick game for me to step on. This is not how you repay the kindness of a meal, Chipper.

If you’re going to take it, eat it you fucker. Don’t leave it beside the plant like a sick game for me to step on. This is not how you repay the kindness of a meal, Chipper.

I planted the tubers, and eventually, potato plants sprung (and I'm assuming that potatoes began to grow beneath the soil at the same time). NOW my potatoes have decided that they don't want to be potatoes anymore and so are morphing into tomato plants. Honestly potatoes, wtf?

I planted the tubers, and eventually, potato plants sprung (and I’m assuming that potatoes began to grow beneath the soil at the same time). NOW my potatoes have decided that they don’t want to be potatoes anymore and so are morphing into tomato plants. Honestly potatoes, wtf?

Honestly. Even if there was a chance of having normal, average sized cucumbers out of this plant, the frost that's due to hit us NEXT month will surely take care of that quick smart. Argh!

Honestly. Even if there was a chance of having normal, average sized cucumbers out of this plant, the frost that’s due to hit us NEXT month will surely take care of that quick smart. Argh!

Here is one of four peppers I am currently trying to ease into maturity. Given the rest of my gardening luck this year, I'm not holding out a lot of hope, but damned if I can give up on anything.

Here is one of four peppers I am currently trying to ease into maturity. Given the rest of my gardening luck this year, I’m not holding out a lot of hope, but damned if I can give up on anything.

And now, I am hearing that it is supposed to rain for the rest of the week. Oh  joy. Oh rapture. Just one more thing to throw my garden and winter reserves into a tailspin, as though those identity-crisis- having potatoes and tomato-thieving chipmunks were not enough.

It’s a good thing that I’m too lazy and unmotivated to actually drink. This kind of raggedy-ass nature behaviour/sabotage would likely start me on a three-day bender. Honestly now, what’s a girl to do?